Frederick and the Academy
ANY SERIOUS STUDENT of the history of Frederick will realize again and again that there is something that makes it difficult to understand and describe this life, yet that also accounts for the fascination of such an attempt. This life, even less than others, cannot be reduced to a simple formula; behind Frederick’s every act and utterance, there is the whole complex and mercurial personality we have come to know. At every turn, various aspects crystallize or else dissolve in rapid change: his eagerness to enjoy life in pleasant company, in conversation, music, reading, and his own literary endeavors, and the consciousness that the state demands the sacrifice of the prince; the ambition of the commander-in-chief who yearns for military glory, and the philosopher-king who wants to make his people happy and further the progress of mankind; the cult of friendship and friendly association with literary figures on a footing of equality, and the imperious self-assurance in the solitary heights of genius and absolute power; yielding to momentary impulses to the point of abandon, and heroic courage in the face of adversity which has parallels and examples only in the classic days of Rome. It was these dichotomies which filled... all who approached this personality with enthusiastic admiration, attracted them, yet also kept them at a distance and even repelled them; something in this personality always remained enigmatic and awe-inspiring.
KeywordsCultural Policy Regular Member Intellectual Movement European Scholarship Parisian Academy
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