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Nietzsche and the Romans

Richard Bett
Journal of Nietzsche Studies
Vol. 42, No. 1, Special Issue Nietzsche's Ancient History (Autumn 2011), pp. 7-31
DOI: 10.5325/jnietstud.42.1.0007
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/jnietstud.42.1.0007
Page Count: 25
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Abstract

This article examines Nietzsche's interest in and appeal to the Romans in both his published and unpublished work. In most cases he shows little interest in specific figures from ancient Roman politics or military history, literature, or philosophy. Julius Caesar is the conspicuous exception among politicians and generals; he figures among Nietzsche's very short list of truly great human beings. In the literary and philosophical sphere, the major exceptions are Horace and Petronius, but the latter only at the end of his working life. He admires both writers, Petronius especially, and this attitude is connected in some ways with his general estimation of the Romans. His attitude to the Romans in general becomes increasingly positive, and they serve in his writing increasingly as a foil for Christianity, over the course of his career, culminating in The Antichrist.

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