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Plutarch in Germany: The Stefan GeorgeKreis

  • Lawrence A. Tritle
Article

Abstract

Plutarch’s place in the classical tradition is usually considered as a Renaissance or Early Modern phenomenon, seldom as one extending into the twentieth century. Germany illustrates this perception as exemplified in the celebrated works of Schiller, Hölderlin, and Goethe. Yet Plutarch also influenced later generations in Germany as elsewhere. This is seen in the case of the poet Stefan George and his circle, the so-calledGeorgekreis. Familiar with the Plutarchan legacy, George impressed the style and technique of Plutarch upon his circle. The biographies of Friedrich Gundolf (Caesar) and Ernst Kantorowicz (Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite) demonstrate Plutarch’s continuing impact. Complementing these modern lives are the ideas of George himself as well as other modern thinkers, particularly Friedrich Nietzsche.

Keywords

Classical Tradition Personal Pattern Celebrated Work Literary Context Large Truth 
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References

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    E. Landmann,Gespräche mit Stefan George (Düsseldorf, 1963), p. 126 (a conversation in Basel, c. November 1923–9 March 1924). This remark may be merely a pompous boast, or perhaps a vague and rather generous estimate of the occasions when George dipped into Plutarch for exempla or poetic inspiration.Google Scholar
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    Plutarch’sLife of Phocion enjoys the reputation of being most dominated by anecdotes, yet even here Gundolf’s analysis of Plutarch and his use of anecdotes is erroneous. For full discussion, see L.A. Tritle, “Plutarch’s ‘Life of Phocion’: An Analysis and Critical Report,” inANRW, ed. by W. Haase (Berlin and New York, 1991), II, v. 33, 6: 4258–97, at 4287–90.Google Scholar
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    M. Chambers, et al.,The Western Experience 5 (New York, 1991), p. 378; the description ofKaiser Friederich as a “stimulating interpretation” is that of the late David Herlihy (mentioned to me by M. Chambers). See also T. Reuter,Germany in the Early Middle Ages, 800–1056 (London and New York, 1991), p. 12, who describes Kantorowicz’s work as “new wave.”Google Scholar
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    See Seekamp, et al.,Stefan George,Stefan George, Leben und Werk: Eine Zeittafel (Amsterdam, 1972), p. 234. The references to Plutarch are again suggestive of the interest and stimulus of Plutarch on George and theGeorgekreis.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence A. Tritle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryLoyola Marymount UniversityLos Angeles

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