No Comment — February 4, 2008, 6:36 am

Hölderlin on Pindar’s Nomos

oedipus

Das Gesetz,
Von allen der König, Sterblichen und
Unsterblichen; das führt eben
Darum gewaltig
Das gerechteste Recht mit allerhöchster Hand.

Das Unmittelbare, streng genommen, ist für die Sterblichen unmöglich, wie für die Unsterblichen; der Gott muß verschiedene Welten unterscheiden, seiner Natur gemäß, weil himmlische Güte, ihret selber wegen, heilig sein muß, unvermischet. Der Mensch, als Erkennendes, muß auch verschiedene Welten unterscheiden, weil Erkenntnis nur durch Entgegensetzung möglich ist. Deswegen ist das Unmittelbare, streng genommen, für die Sterblichen unmöglich, wie für die Unsterblichen.

Die strenge Mittelbarkeit ist aber das Gesetz. Deswegen aber führt es gewaltig das gerechteste Recht mit allerhöchster Hand.

Die Zucht, sofern sie die Gestalt ist, worin der Mensch sich und der Gott begegnet, der Kirche und des Staats Gesetz und anererbte Satzungen (die Heiligkeit des Gottes, und für den Menschen die Möglichkeit einer Erkenntnis, einer Erklärung), diese führen gewaltig das gerechteste Recht mit allerhöchster Hand, sie halten strenger, als die Kunst, die lebendigen Verhältnisse fest, in denen, mit der Zeit, ein Volk sich begegnet hat und begegnet. »König« bedeutet hier den Superlativ, der nur das Zeichen ist für den höchsten Erkenntnisgrund, nicht für die höchste Macht.


The law is
The king of all, mortal and
Immortal; and thus it guides powerfully
The most just law with a hand from above

The immediate is, taken strictly, impossible for the mortals to obtain, just as it is for the immortals. God must differentiate the different worlds according to his nature because heavenly goodness must for its own sake remain holy, and unmixed. The human being, as a creature of reason, must differentiate between these different worlds, because recognition is possible only through a process of juxtaposition. And for that reason, the immediate is just as impossible for the mortals as for the immortals.

However, law is strict communicability. This is why it powerfully guides the most just law with the highest hand.

Discipline, to the extent that it is the form in which man encounters himself and God, constitutes the laws and inherited regulations of the church and state (the divinity of God, and for the individual human the possibility of recognition, of an explanation), they powerfully guide the most just law with the highest hand, they grip the conditions of life which a people has and will encounter in the course of life more firmly than art. “King” means in this case the superlative, it is but a sign for the highest stage of recognition, not for the highest power.

Friedrich Hölderlin, Pindar-Übersetzungen: Fragmente – Das Höchste unpublished manuscript from 1805 in Sämtliche Werke und Briefe, vol. 2, pp. 320-21 (G. Mieth ed. 1970) (S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Cassandra Among the
Creeps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

PBS Self-Destructs

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Monkey Did It

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Rebecca Solnit on silencing women, a Marine commander returns to Iraq, the decline of PBS, and more
Article
Cassandra Among the Creeps·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On silencing women
“The old framework of feminine mendacity and murky-mindedness is still routinely trotted out, and we should learn to recognize it for what it is.”
Photograph © Sallie Dean Shatz
Post
Ending College Sexual Assault·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is not a fable about a young woman whose dreams were dashed by a sexual predator. Maya’s narrative is one of institutional failure at a school desperately trying to adapt.”
Photograph © AP/Josh Reynolds
Post
 
"Clothes are a bit like eating: you have to dress yourself. You have to eat, and even if you eat pizza all day long, that’s still a choice."
Photograph © G Powell
Article
“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Iraq has every disease there is; its mind is deranged with too many voices, its organs corrupted, its limbs only long enough to tear at its own body.”
Photograph by Benjamin Busch

Abortions per 1,000 live births in New York City:

852

Researchers discovered an “Obama effect”: African Americans’ performance on a verbal test improved, to equal that of white Americans, immediately after Obama’s nomination and his election.

“All I saw,” said a 12-year-old neighbor of visits to the man’s house, “was just cats in little diapers.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today