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

Hölderlin on Pindar’s Nomos


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.)

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