Greek Interpretation of Human Beings [147-148]

being is neither fulfilled in one nor exhausted in the other. That belonging to death and to blood that is proper to human beings and to them alone is itself first determined by the relation of human beings to being itself. The mysterious poem of Hölderlin's, "In Beautiful Blue ..." (VI, 27), closes with the words:

Leben ist Tod, und Tod ist auch ein Leben.

Life is death, and death is also a life.

In order to remain in the realm of the Greek truth of the Antigone tragedy. we must think beyond the cult of the dead and blood-relatedness and retain the word of Antigone as it is said. We can then recognize that, thought in a Greek sense, she names being itself. This is the ground of being homely, the hearth. From here, it becomes clear that the counterplay of this tragedy is not played out in the opposition between the "state" on the one hand and "religion" on the other, but between what constitutes the innermost counterturning of the δεινόν itself, insofar as the δεινόν is thought as the unhomely: The counterplay is played out between being unhomely in the sense of being driven about amid beings without any way out, and being unhomely as becoming homely from out of a belonging to being. The essence of the δεινόν experienced in a Greek way stands within the poetic purview of this poetizing, yet in such a way that what is poetized is a becoming homely in being unhomely.

The truth of the choral ode cannot, therefore, lie in the first words of its beginning, nor merely in its closing words. It is concealed in that which the directly said not only leaves unsaid but through its saying first poetizes into the unsaid. Yet if this is the case, how can we now give an answer to the question of who is saying these closing words? In terms of what we can directly and correctly ascertain, it is the Theban elders who speak. Out of what authority do they say these words concerning the being unhomely of human beings? To what extent can they exempt themselves from the expulsion of the unhomely one? From where does their knowledge of the hearth arise? What kind of knowledge and what kind of word is this? What voice, whose voice comes to word in the choral ode? What is the chorus in Greek tragedy? This question cannot be discussed at length here. There have been many debates and much careful academic work on the issue. The fact that Greek tragedy in general arose from the "chorus" says, when thought in an essential manner, nothing other than the fact that the chorus is the inner middle of the poetizing of tragedy as poetizing. And the choral ode of the completed, tragic poetic work is in turn the middle of this middle. This is why it is the poet himself who speaks in the "choral ode"