I came across this on google, and am struggling to flesh it out into something meaningful. Can anyone explain this quote:

"believe with me in Dionysian life... but believe in the miracles of your god"

is it its literal meaning out of context?

  • 1
    You can find useful comment to this passage of Birth of Tragedy googling "Nietzsche believe with me in Dionysian life". See William H.F. Altman, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: The Philosopher of the Second Reich (2013). Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:29
  • 3
    I think that the passage must be read in the context of N's criticsm of "classical" (Socratic illuminism) Greek philosophy and ethics, towards the rediscovery of a Dionysian (i.e. "irrational") philosophy and way of life. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The full quote is:

Yes, my friends, believe with me in the Dionysian life and the rebirth of tragedy. The age of the Socratic man is over; put on wreaths of Ivy, put the thyrus into your hands, and do not be surprised when tigers and panthers lie down, fawning at your feet. Only dare to be tragic men; for you are to be redeemed. You shall accompany the Dionysian pageant from India to Greece. Prepare yourselves for hard strife but believe in the miracles of your god.

He is talking about the miracles of Dionysius; which rather than the simple, virtuous & good life that Socrates advocates and exemplified by the miracles of the God of Christianity; he advocates ecstasy & terror; the two emotional poles of the Bacchic revels of Greece.

Thus strife; thus tragedy; and thus redemption - a curiously Christian word to use in this context.

Rather the straight & narrow path over a flat plain (the rational path); he advocates the adventurous path, that climbs mountains, and drops into abysses (the irrational path); this path is redeemed because of the applause of your peers; and by your own sense of living life fully.

In Aristotelian terms; rather than occupying the golden mean of virtue; to take an example - say courage (lache); one traverses all three points; the place of quietism, that of recklessness and that too of virtue. This is a re-evaluation of the Aristotelian virtue of courage; which is identified as the rational path; the path of reason; but as Nietszche opposes this; his path is called irrational; this, one should note, is not the same as crazy, mad or stupid; for Nietzsche used his reason to adopt this position.

Or so it appears; still one might suspect he is misunderstanding Aristotle deliberately...

Further one can apply Kants categorical imperative here and ask can everyone live the Dionysion life; or can everyone live the Apollonian life; a close examination would reveal that this isn't possible; and one is lead to the notion of a stratification of society...

  • just dionysus or the greek pantheon? pag·eant ˈpajənt/ noun noun: pageant; plural noun: pageants a public entertainment consisting of a procession of people in elaborate, colorful costumes, or an outdoor performance of a historical scene.
    – user6917
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 22:02
  • wrt "rational; this, one should note, is not the same as crazy, mad" it's debatable whether madness is never rational - paranoia is suspicion is noun noun: suspicion; plural noun: suspicions 1. a feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.
    – user6917
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 22:22
  • @user6917: Have you swallowed a dictionary...I've no idea what you are talking about! Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 14:53

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