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Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Born 10 November 1759(1759-11-10)
Marbach am Neckar, Württemberg (currently Germany)
Died 9 May 1805 (aged 45)
Weimar, Saxe-Weimar(currently Germany)
Occupation poet, dramatist
Nationality German
Literary movement Sturm und Drang, Weimar Classicism

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller [joːhan ˈkʁistɔf ˈfʁiːdʁɪç fɔn ˈʃɪlɐ] (10 November 1759  – 9 May 1805) was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life (1788–1805), Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang Goethe. They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works he left as sketches. This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism. They also worked together on Die Xenien (The Xenies), a collection of short satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe challenge opponents to their philosophical vision.



Schiller was born on November 10, 1759 in Marbach, Württemberg as the only son of military doctor Johann Kaspar Schiller (1733–96), and Elisabeth Dorothea Kodweiß (1732–1802). They also had five daughters. His father was away in the Seven Years' War when Friedrich was born. He was named after Frederick II of Prussia, the king, but he was called Fritz by nearly everyone.[1] Kaspar Schiller was rarely home during the war, but he did manage to visit the family once in a while. His wife and children also visited him occasionally wherever he happened to be stationed.[2] When the war ended in 1763, Schiller's father became a recruiting officer and was stationed in Schwäbisch Gmünd. The family moved with him. Due to the high cost of living—especially the rent— the family moved to nearby Lorch.[3]

Although the family was happy in Lorch, Schiller's father found his work unsatisfying. He sometimes took his son with him.[4] In Lorch, Schiller received his primary education. The quality of the lessons was fairly bad, and Friedrich regularly cut class with his older sister.[5] Because his parents wanted Schiller to become a pastor, they had the pastor of the village instruct the boy in Latin and Greek. Pastor Moser was a good teacher, and later Schiller named the cleric in his play Die Räuber after him. As a boy, Schiller was excited by the idea of becoming a cleric and often put on black robes and pretended to preach.[6]

In 1766, the family left Lorch for the Duke of Wuerttemberg's principal residence, Ludwigsburg. Schiller's father had not been paid for three years, and the family had been living on their savings, but could no longer afford to do so. So Kaspar Schiller took an assignment to the garrison in Ludwigsburg.[7]

There the Schiller boy came to the attention of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg. He entered the Karlsschule Stuttgart (an elite military academy founded by the Duke), in 1773, where he eventually studied medicine. During most of his short life, he suffered from illnesses that he tried to cure himself.

While at the Karlsschule, Schiller read Rousseau and Goethe and discussed Classical ideals with his classmates. At school, he wrote his first play, Die Räuber (The Robbers), which dramatizes the conflict between two aristocratic brothers: the elder, Karl Moor, leads a group of rebellious students into the Bohemian forest where they become Robin Hood-like bandits, while Franz Moor, the younger brother, schemes to inherit his father's considerable estate. The play's critique of social corruption and its affirmation of proto-revolutionary republican ideals astounded its original audience. Schiller became an overnight sensation. Later, Schiller would be made an honorary member of the French Republic because of this play.

In 1780, he obtained a post as regimental doctor in Stuttgart, a job he disliked.

Schiller on his deathbed — a drawing by the portraitist Ferdinand Jagemann, 1805

Following the performance of Die Räuber in Mannheim, in 1781, Schiller was arrested, sentenced to 14 days of imprisonment ,and forbidden by Karl Eugen from publishing any further works.

He fled Stuttgart in 1782, going via Frankfurt, Mannheim, Leipzig and Dresden to Weimar, where he settled in 1787. In 1789, he was appointed professor of History and Philosophy in Jena, where he wrote only historical works.

Marriage and family

On 22 February 1790, Schiller married Charlotte von Lengefeld (1766–1826). Two sons (Karl Friedrich Ludwig and Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm) and two daughters (Karoline Luise Henriette and Luise Henriette Emilie) were born between 1793 and 1804. The last living descendant of Schiller was a grandchild of Emilie, Baron Alexander von Gleichen-Rußwurm, who died at Baden-Baden, Germany in 1947.

Weimar and playwriting

Schiller returned with his family to Weimar in 1799. Goethe convinced him to return to playwriting. He and Goethe founded the Weimar Theater, which became the leading theater in Germany. Their collaboration helped lead to a dramatic renaissance in Germany.

Legacy and honors

Lithograph portrait from 1905, captioned "Friedrich von Schiller" in recognition of his 1802 ennoblement. Digitally restored

For his achievements, Schiller was ennobled in 1802 by the Duke of Weimar. His name was changed with the honor from Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller to Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. He remained in Weimar, Saxe-Weimar until his death at 45 from tuberculosis.

The first significant biography of Schiller was by his sister-in-law Caroline von Wolzogen in 1830.

The coffin containing Schiller's skeleton is in the Weimarer Fürstengruft[8] (Weimar's Ducal Vault), the burial place of Houses of Grand Dukes (großherzoglichen Hauses) of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in the Historical Cemetery of Weimar.[9] On 3 May 2008, scientists announced that DNA tests have shown that the skull of this skeleton is not Schiller's.[10] The physical resemblance between this skull and the extant death-mask[11] as well as to portraits of Schiller, had led many experts to believe that the skull was Schiller's.

In September 2008, Schiller was voted by the audience of the TV channel Arte as the second most important playwright in Europe after William Shakespeare.



Some Freemasons speculate that Schiller was a Freemason, but this has not been proven.[12]

In 1787, in his tenth letter about Don Carlos, Schiller wrote:

“I am neither Illuminati nor Mason, but if the fraternization has a moral purpose in common with one another, and if this purpose for the human society is the most important, ...”[13]

In a letter from 1829, two Freemasons from Rudolstadt complain about the dissolving of their Lodge Günther zum stehenden Löwen that was honoured by the initiation of Schiller. According to Schiller's great-grandson Alexander von Gleichen-Rußwurm, Schiller was brought to the Lodge by Wilhelm Heinrich Karl von Gleichen-Rußwurm. No membership document has been found.[13]


Philosophical papers

Goethe and Schiller monument in Weimar

Schiller wrote many philosophical papers on ethics and aesthetics. He synthesized the thought of Immanuel Kant with the thought of Karl Leonhard Reinhold. He elaborated Christoph Martin Wieland's concept of the Schöne Seele (beautiful soul), a human being whose emotions have been educated by his reason, so that Pflicht und Neigung (duty and inclination) are no longer in conflict with one another; thus "beauty", for Schiller, is not merely an aesthetic experience, but a moral one as well: the Good is the Beautiful. His philosophical work was also particularly concerned with the question of human freedom, a preoccupation which also guided his historical researches, such as the Thirty Years War and The Revolt of the Netherlands, and then found its way as well into his dramas (the "Wallenstein" trilogy concerns the Thirty Years War, while "Don Carlos" addresses the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain.) Schiller wrote two important essays on the question of the Sublime (das Erhabene), entitled "Vom Erhabenen" and "Über das Erhabene"; these essays address one aspect of human freedom—the ability to defy one's animal instincts, such as the drive for self-preservation, when, for example, someone willingly sacrifices himself for conceptual ideals.

The dramas

Schiller is considered by most Germans to be Germany's most important classical playwright. Critics like F.J. Lamport and Eric Auerbach have noted his innovative use of dramatic structure and his creation of new forms, such as the melodrama and the bourgeois tragedy. What follows is a brief, chronological description of the plays.

  • The Robbers (Die Räuber): The language of The Robbers is highly emotional, and the depiction of physical violence in the play marks it as a quintessential work of Germany's Romantic 'Storm and Stress' movement. The Robbers is considered by critics like Peter Brooks to be the first European melodrama. The play pits two brothers against each other in alternating scenes, as one quests for money and power, while the other attempts to create revolutionary anarchy in the Bohemian Forest. The play strongly criticises the hypocrisies of class and religion, and the economic inequities of German society; it also conducts a complicated inquiry into the nature of evil.
  • Fiesco (Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua):
  • Intrigue and Love (Kabale und Liebe): The aristocratic Ferdinand von Walter wishes to marry Luise Miller, the bourgeois daughter of the city's music instructor. Court politics involving the duke's beautiful but conniving mistress Lady Milford and Ferdinand's ruthless father create a disastrous situation reminiscent of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Schiller develops his criticisms of absolutism and bourgeois hypocrisy in this bourgeois tragedy. Act 2, Scene 2 is an anti-British parody that depicts a firing-squad massacre. Young Germans who refused to join the Hessians and British to quash the American Revolutionary War are fired upon.[14] Giuseppe Verdi's opera Luisa Miller is based on this play.
  • Don Carlos: This play marks Schiller's entrée into historical drama. Very loosely based on the events surrounding the real Don Carlos of Spain, Schiller's Don Carlos is another republican figure—he attempts to free Flanders from the despotic grip of his father, King Phillip. The Marquis Posa's famous speech to the king proclaims Schiller's belief in personal freedom and democracy.
  • The Wallenstein Trilogy: These plays follow the fortunes of the treacherous commander Albrecht von Wallenstein during the Thirty Years' War.
  • Mary Stuart (Maria Stuart): This "revisionist" history of the Scottish queen, who was Elizabeth I's rival, portrays Mary Stuart as a tragic heroine, misunderstood and used by ruthless politicians, including and especially, Elizabeth.
  • The Maid of Orleans (Die Jungfrau von Orleans), about Joan of Arc:
  • The Bride of Messina (Die Braut von Messina):
  • William Tell (Wilhelm Tell):
  • Demetrius (unfinished):

The Aesthetic Letters

Portrait of Friedrich Schiller by Gerhard von Kügelgen.

A pivotal work by Schiller was On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, (Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen) first published 1794, which was inspired by the great disenchantment Schiller felt about the French Revolution, its degeneration into violence and the failure of successive governments to put its ideals into practice.[15] Schiller wrote that "a great moment has found a little people," and wrote the Letters as a philosophical inquiry into what had gone wrong, and how to prevent such tragedies in the future. In the Letters, he asserts that it is possible to elevate the moral character of a people, by first touching their souls with beauty, an idea that is also found in his poem Die Künstler (The Artists): "Only through Beauty's morning-gate, dost thou penetrate the land of knowledge."

On the philosophical side, Letters put forth the notion of der sinnliche Trieb / Sinnestrieb ("the sensuous drive") and Formtrieb ("the formal drive"). In a comment to Immanuel Kant's philosophy, Schiller transcends the dualism between Form and Sinn, with the notion of Spieltrieb ("the play drive") derived from, as are a number of other terms, Kant's The Critique of the Faculty of Judgment. The conflict between man's material, sensuous nature, and his capacity for reason (Formtrieb being the drive to impose conceptual and moral order on the world), Schiller resolves with the happy union of Form and Sinn, the "play drive," which for him is synonymous with artistic beauty, or "living form." On the basis of Spieltrieb, Schiller sketches in Letters a future ideal state (a eutopia), where everyone will be content, and everything will be beautiful, thanks to the free play of Spieltrieb. Schiller's focus on the dialectical interplay between Form and Sinn has inspired a wide range of succeeding aesthetic philosophical theory, including notably Jacques Rancière's conception of the "aesthetic regime of art." as well as social philosophy in Herbert Marcuse in the second part of his important work Eros and civilization where he finds Schiller's notion of Spieltrieb useful in thinking a social situation without the condition of modern alienation. He writes "Schiller´s Letters,..., aim at remaking of civilization by virtue of the liberating force of the aesthetic function: it is envisaged as containing the posibility of a new reality principle."[16]


One has to keep in mind that quotations from plays characterize the person in question and are not the poet's confessions.

  • "Stay true to the dreams of thy youth." (Elizabeth, in: Don Carlos)
  • "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans)
  • "Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in any truth that is taught in life."
  • "Eine Grenze hat die Tyrannenmacht", which literally means "A tyrant's power has a limit" (a Swiss freedom fighter, in: Wilhelm Tell)
  • "The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." (Sapieha, in: Demetrius)
  • "It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons."
  • "Live with your century but do not be its creature." (From On the Aesthetic Education of Man.)

Musical settings of Schiller's poems and stage plays

Ludwig van Beethoven said that a great poem is more difficult to set to music than a merely good one because the composer must rise higher than the poet. In that regard, he said that Schiller's poems were more difficult to set to music than those of Goethe.

There are relatively few famous musical settings of Schiller's poems. Two notable exceptions are Beethoven's setting of "An die Freude" (Ode to Joy)[14] in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony, and Johannes Brahms' choral setting of "Nänie". In addition, several poems were set by Franz Schubert in Lieder, such as "Die Bürgschaft", mostly for voice and piano. In 2005 Graham Waterhouse set "The Glove" for cello and speaking voice.

The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi admired Schiller greatly and adapted several of his stage plays for his operas: I masnadieri is based on Die Räuber; Giovanna d'Arco, on Die Jungfrau von Orleans; Luisa Miller, on Kabale und Liebe; and Don Carlos on the play of the same title.[citation needed] Donizetti's Maria Stuarda is based on Maria Stuart, and Rossini's Guillaume Tell is an adaptation of Wilhelm Tell. The 20th century composer Giselher Klebe adapted Die Räuber for his first opera by the same name, premiered in 1957.




  • Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der spanischen Regierung or The Revolt of the Netherlands
  • Geschichte des dreißigjährigen Kriegs or A History of the Thirty Years' War
  • Über Völkerwanderung, Kreuzzüge und Mittelalter or On the Barbarian Invasions, Crusaders and Middle Ages



  • Der Geisterseher or The Ghost-Seer (unfinished novel) (started in 1786 and published periodically. Published as book in 1789)
  • Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen (On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a series of Letters), 1794
  • Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre (Dishonoured Irreclaimable), 1786


Doppel-U has turned Schiller and Goethe's poems and literary works into modern day rap songs.

Notes and citations

GDR postage stamp depicting Schiller
  1. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 18.
  2. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 20.
  3. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 20–1.
  4. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 23
  5. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 24.
  6. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 25.
  7. ^ Lahnstein 1981, p. 27.
  8. ^ Weimarer Fürstengruft, German Wikipedia.
  9. ^ Historischer Friedhof Weimar, German Wikipedia.
  10. ^ Schädel in Schillers Sarg wurde ausgetauscht (Skull in Schiller's coffin is exchanged), Spiegel Online, Saturday 3 May 2008.
    Schädel in Weimar gehört nicht Schiller (Skull in Weimar does not belong to Schiller), Welt Online, Saturday 3 May 2008, [1].
  11. ^ Death Mask,
  12. ^ Friedrich Von Schiller
  13. ^ a b Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freimaurer Lexikon. Herbig publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-3-7766-2478-6
  14. ^ a b c d The Autobiography of Col. John Trumbull, Sizer 1953 ed., pg.184,n.13)
  15. ^ Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, ed. Wilinson and Willoughby, 1967 (OED)
  16. ^ Marcuse, Herbert. Eros and civilization. Beacon Press. 1966
  17. ^ Mike Poulton translated this play in 2004.
  18. ^ Wallenstein was translated from a manuscript copy into English as The Piccolomini and Death of Wallenstein by Coleridge in 1800.


  • Lahnstein, Peter (January 1984) [1981]. Schillers Leben. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. ISBN 3-596-25621-6. 
  • Engel, Manfred: "Schiller und wir – Ferne aus großer Nähe". Oxford German Studies 37 (2008) 1: 37-49

Schiller's complete works are published in the following excellent editions:

  • Historical-critical edition by K. Goedeke (17 volumes, Stuttgart, 1867–76); Säkular-Ausgabe edition by Von der Hellen (16 volumes, Stuttgart, 1904–05); historical-critical edition by Günther and Witkowski (20 volumes, Leipzig, 1909–10). Other valuable editions are: the Hempel edition (1868–74); the Boxberger edition, in Kürschners National-Literatur (12 volumes, Berlin, 1882–91); the edition by Kutscher and Zisseler (15 parts, Berlin, 1908); the Horenausgabe (16 volumes, Munich, 1910, et. seq.); the edition of the Tempel Klassiker (13 volumes, Leipzig, 1910–11); and that in the Helios Klassiker (6 volumes, Leipzig, 1911). Documents and other memorials of Schiller are in the Schiller Archiv, united in 1889 with the Goethe Archiv in Weimar.

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times.

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (10 November 17599 May 1805), usually known as Friedrich Schiller, was a German poet, historian, dramatist, and playwright.



Only through Beauty's morning gate, dost thou enter the land of Knowledge.
  • I feel an army in my fist.
  • The joke loses everything when the joker laughs himself.
    • Die Verschwörung des Fiesco (The Conspiracy of Fiesco), Act I, sc. vii (1783)
  • Did you think the lion was sleeping because he didn't roar?
    • Die Verschwörung des Fiesco (The Conspiracy of Fiesco), Act I, sc. xviii (1783)
  • The lemonade is weak, like your soul.
  • There are three lessons I would write,
    Three words as with a burning pen,
    In tracings of eternal light
    Upon the hearts of men.
    • Hope, Faith, and Love, st. 1 (c. 1786)
  • Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht.
  • Translation: World history is the world's court.
    • Resignation (1786)
  • What one refuses in a minute
    No eternity will return.
    • Resignation (1786)
  • What the inner voice says
    Will not disappoint the hoping soul.
    • Hope, last stanza (1797)
  • If you want to know yourself,
    Just look how others do it;
    If you want to understand others,
    Look into your own heart.
    • Tabulae Votivae (1797)
  • Man is created free, and is free,
    Though he be born in chains.
    • Die Worte des Glaubens (The Word of the Faithful), st. 2 (1797)
  • Virtue is no empty echo.
    • Die Worte des Glaubens (The Word of the Faithful), st. 3 (1797)
  • O tender yearning, sweet hoping!
    The golden time of first love!
    The eye sees the open heaven,
    The heart is intoxicated with bliss;
    O that the beautiful time of young love
    Could remain green forever.
    • The Song of the Bell (1799)
  • Appearance should never attain reality,
    And if nature conquers, then must art retire.
    • To Goethe, when he put Voltaire's Mahomet on the stage (1800)
  • Who dares impede my progress? Who presume
    The spirit to control which guideth me?
    Still must the arrow wing its destined flight!
    Where danger is, there must Johanna be;
    Nor now, nor here, am I foredoomed to fall;
    Our monarch's royal brow I first must see
    Invested with the round of sovereignty.
    No hostile power can rob me of my life,
    Till I've accomplished the commands of God.
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain.
  • Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
    Against stupidity the very gods
    Themselves contend in vain.
    Exalted reason,
    Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
    Wise foundress of the system of the world,
    Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
    Bound to the tail of folly's uncurbed steed,
    Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
    Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
    Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
    And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
    To the fool-king belongs the world.
    • Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans), Act III, sc. vi (as translated by Anna Swanwick) (1801)
    • Variants of the most commonly quoted portion:
      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
      Against stupidity the gods themselves labor in vain.
      Against stupidity the gods themselves fight unvictorious
      Against stupidity even the gods contend in vain.
      Against stupidity gods themselves contend in vain.
      With stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
      With stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain.
  • Pain is short, and joy is eternal.
    • The Maid of Orleans, last line
  • I am better than my reputation.
    • Maria Stuart, Act II, sc. iv (1801)
  • Life is only error,
    And death is knowledge.
    • Cassandra (1802)
  • What are hopes, what are plans?
    • Die Braut von Messina (The Bride of Messina), Act III, sc. v (1803)
  • Don't let your heart depend on things
    That ornament life in a fleeting way!
    He who possesses, let him learn to lose,
    He who is fortunate, let him learn pain.
    • Die Braut von Messina (The Bride of Messina), Act IV, sc. iv (1803)
  • On the mountains there is freedom!
    The world is perfect everywhere,
    Save where man comes with his torment.
    • Die Braut von Messina (The Bride of Messina), Act IV, sc. vii (1803)
  • Only through Beauty's morning gate, dost thou enter the land of Knowledge.
    • Die Künstler (The Artists)
  • Der Menscheit Würde ist in Eure Hand gegeben, bewahret Sie!
    Sie sinkt mit euch! Mit euch wird sie sich heben!
    • The dignity of mankind is in your hands; protect it!
      It sinks with you! With you it will ascend.
      • Die Künstler (The Artists)
    • Variant translation: The dignity of mankind is in your hands, preserve it!
  • Threefold the stride of Time, from first to last!
    Loitering slow, the Future creepeth —
    Arrow-swift, the Present sweepeth —
    And motionless forever stands the Past.
    • Sentences of Confucius.

Don Carlos (1787)

Love is only known by him who hopelessly persists in love.
  • O who knows what slumbers in the background of the times?
    • Act I, sc. i
  • O the idea was childish, but divinely beautiful.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • Grosse Seelen dulden still.
    • Great souls endure in silence.
      • Act I, sc. iv ; as translated by R. D. Boylan and Joseph Mellish (1902)
      • Variant: "Great spirits suffer patiently"; as translated by A. Leslie and Jeanne R. Willson (1983)
  • A moment lived in paradise
    Is not atoned for too dearly by death.
    • Act I, sc. v
  • I am called
    The richest monarch in the Christian world;
    The sun in my dominion never sets.
    • Act I, sc. vi
  • Love is only known by him who hopelessly persists in love.
    • Act II, sc. viii

An die Freude (Ode to Joy; or Hymn to Joy) (1785)

This poem is most famous as providing the inspiration for Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and the lyrics to the choral portion of that work.

  • Joy, thou spark from Heav'n immortal,
    Daughter of Elysium!
    Drunk with fire, toward Heaven advancing
    Goddess, to thy shrine we come.
    Thy sweet magic brings together
    What stern Custom spreads afar;
    All men become brothers
    Where thy happy wing-beats are.
    • Stanza 1
  • Be embraced, ye millions!
    This kiss is for the whole world!
    Brothers, above the arch of stars
    A loving Father surely dwells.
    • Stanza 5
  • Welcome, all ye myriad creatures!
    Brethren, take the kiss of love!
    • Chorus 1
  • He, that noble prize possessing—
    He that boasts a friend that's true,
    He whom woman's love is blessing,
    Let him join the chorus too!
    • Stanza 3
  • Bow before him, all creation!
    Mortals, own the God of love!
    Seek him high the stars above,—
    Yonder is his habitation!
    • Chorus 3
  • Joy, in Nature's wide dominion,
    Mightiest cause of all is found;
    And 'tis joy that moves the pinion,
    When the wheel of time goes round
    • Stanza 4
  • Joy from truth's own glass of fire
    Sweetly on the searcher smiles;
    Lest on virtue's steeps he tire,
    Joy the tedious path beguiles.
    High on faith's bright hill before us,
    See her banner proudly wave!
    Joy, too, swells the angels' chorus,—
    Bursts the bondage of the grave!
    • Stanza 5
  • To the Gods we ne'er can render
    Praise for every good they grant;
    Let us, with devotion tender,
    Minister to grief and want.
    Quenched be hate and wrath forever,
    Pardoned be our mortal foe—
    May our tears upbraid him never,
    No repentance bring him low!
    • Stanza 6
  • Sense of wrongs forget to treasure—
    Brethren, live in perfect love!

    In the starry realms above,
    God will mete as we may measure.
    • Chorus 6
  • Courage, ne'er by sorrow broken!
    Aid where tears of virtue flow;
    Faith to keep each promise spoken!
    Truth alike to friend and foe!
    • Stanza 8
  • Lo, the dead shall rise to heaven!
    Brethren hail the blest decree;
    Every sin shall be forgiven,
    Hell forever cease to be!
    • Stanza 9

On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1794)

Letters Upon The Aesthetic Education of Man (online at the Modern History Sourcebook)
  • We are citizens of an age, as well as of a State; and if it is held to be unseemly, or even inadmissable, for a man to cut himself off from the customs and manners of the circle in which he lives, why should it be less of a duty, in the choice of his activity, to submit his decision to the needs and the taste of his century?
    • Letter 2
  • The voice of our age seems by no means favorable to art, at all events to that kind of art to which my inquiry is directed. The course of events has given a direction to the genius of the time that threatens to remove it continually further from the ideal of art. For art has to leave reality, it has to raise itself bodily above necessity and neediness; for art is the daughter of freedom, and it requires its prescriptions and rules to be furnished by the necessity of spirits and not by that of matter. But in our day it is necessity, neediness, that prevails, and bends a degraded humanity under its iron yoke. Utility is the great idol of the time, to which all powers do homage and all subjects are subservient. In this great balance of utility, the spiritual service of art has no weight, and, deprived of all encouragement, it vanishes from the noisy Vanity Fair of our time. The very spirit of philosophical inquiry itself robs the imagination of one promise after another, and the frontiers of art are narrowed, in proportion as the limits of science are enlarged.
    • Letter 2 Variant translation of a passage: Utility is the great idol of the age, to which all powers must do service and all talents swear allegiance.
  • It is through beauty that we arrive at freedom.
    • Letter 2
  • When man is raised from his slumber in the senses, he feels that he is a man, he surveys his surroundings, and finds that he is in a state. He was introduced into this state, by the power of circumstances, before he could freely select his own position. But as a moral being he cannot possibly rest satisfied with a political condition forced upon him by necessity, and only calculated for that condition; and it would be unfortunate if this did satisfy him. In many cases man shakes off this blind law of necessity, by his free spontaneous action, of which among many others we have an instance, in his ennobling by beauty and suppressing by moral influence the powerful impulse implanted in him by nature in the passion of love.
    • Letter 3
  • Nothing, it is true, is more common than for both Science and Art to pay homage to the spirit of the age, and for creative taste to accept the law of critical taste.
    • Letter 8
  • The greater part of humanity is too much harassed and fatigued by the struggle with want, to rally itself for a new and sterner struggle with error.
    • Letter 8; Variant: The greater part of men are much too exhausted and enervated by their struggle with want to be able to engage in a new and severe contest with error. Satisfied if they themselves can escape from the hard labour of thought, they willingly abandon to others the guardianship of their thoughts.
  • They have founded the whole structure of their happiness on these very illusions, which ought to be combated and dissipated by the light of knowledge, and they would think they were paying too dearly for a truth which begins by robbing them of all that has value in their sight. It would be necessary that they should be already sages to love wisdom: a truth that was felt at once by him to whom philosophy owes its name.
    • Letter 8; Variant: They would need to be already wise, in order to love wisdom.
  • As noble Art has survived noble nature, so too she marches ahead of it, fashioning and awakening by her inspiration. Before Truth sends her triumphant light into the depths of the heart, imagination catches its rays, and the peaks of humanity will be glowing when humid night still lingers in the valleys.
    • Letter 9
  • No doubt the artist is the child of his time; but woe to him if he is also its disciple, or even its favorite.
    • Letter 9
  • Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.
    • Letter 15
  • While the womanly god demands our veneration, the godlike woman kindles our love; but while we allow ourselves to melt in the celestial loveliness, the celestial self-sufficiency holds us back in awe.
    • On the famous statue "Juno Ludovisi", Letter 15
  • The Greeks put us to shame not only by their simplicity, which is foreign to our age; they are at the same time our rivals, nay, frequently our models, in those very points of superiority from which we seek comfort when regretting the unnatural character of our manners. We see that remarkable people uniting at once fullness of form and fullness of substance, both philosophising and creating, both tender and energetic, uniting a youthful fancy to the virility of reason in a glorious humanity.
    • Letter 35

Wallenstein (1798)

Translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Prologue - Wallensteins Lager (Wallenstein's Camp)

  • Posterity weaves no garlands for imitators.
    • Prologue
  • He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times.
    • Prologue
  • Life is earnest, art is gay.
    • Prologue
  • Whatever is not forbidden is permitted.
    • Prologue

Part I - Die Piccolomini (The Piccolomini)

  • What is the short meaning of the long speech?
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • Der Krieg ernährt den Krieg.
    • Translation: War nourishes war.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
    The fair humanities of old religion,
    The power, the beauty, and the majesty
    That had their haunts in dale or piny mountain,
    Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
    Or chasms and watery depths,—all these have vanished;
    They live no longer in the faith of reason.
    • Act II, sc. iv
  • In thy breast are the stars of thy fate.
    • Act II, sc. vi
  • You say it as you understand it.
    • Act II, sc. vi
  • When the wine goes in, strange things come out.
    • Act II, sc. xii
  • The dictates of the heart are the voice of fate.
    • Act III, sc. viii
  • The hat is the pride of man; for he who cannot keep his hat on before kings and emperors is no free man.
    • Act IV, sc. v, Kellermeister (Master of the Cellar)

Part II - Wallensteins Tod (The Death of Wallenstein)

  • The empire of Saturnus is gone by;
    Lord of the secret birth of things is he;
    Within the lap of earth, and in the depths
    Of the imagination dominates;
    And his are all things that eschew the light.
    The time is o'er of brooding and contrivance,
    For Jupiter, the lustrous, lordeth now,
    And the dark work, complete of preparation,
    He draws by force into the realm of light.
    Now must we hasten on to action, ere
    The scheme, and most auspicious positure
    Parts o'er my head, and takes once more its flight,
    For the heaven's journey still, and adjourn not.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • Man is made of ordinary things, and habit is his nurse.
    • Act I, sc. iv
  • I have only an office here, and no opinion.
    • Act I, sc. v
  • Virtue has her heroes too
    As well as Fame and Fortune.
    • Act I, sc. vii
  • Many a crown shines spotless now
    That yet was deeply sullied in the winning.
    • Act II, sc. ii
  • There's no such thing as chance;
    And what to us seems merest accident
    Springs from the deepest source of destiny.
    • Act II, sc. iii
  • What is life without the radiance of love?
    • Act IV, sc. xii
  • Time is man's angel.
    • Act V, sc. xi

Wilhelm Tell (1803)

One people will we be, — a band of brothers;
No danger, no distress shall sunder us.
We will be freemen as our fathers were,
And sooner welcome death than live as slaves.
We will rely on God's almighty arm,
And never quail before the power of man.
This feat of Tell, the archer, will be told
While yonder mountains stand upon their base.
By heaven! The apple's cleft right through the core.
No cause has he to say his doom is harsh,
Who's made the master of his destiny.
  • The strong man is strongest when alone.
    • Tell, Act I, sc. iii, as translated by Sir Thomas Martin
  • Wir wollen sein ein einzig Volk von Brüdern,
    in keiner Not uns trennen und Gefahr.
    Wir wollen frei sein, wie die Väter waren,
    eher den Tod, als in der Knechtschaft leben.
    Wir wollen trauen auf den höchsten Gott
    und uns nicht fürchten vor der Macht der Menschen.
    • One people will we be, — a band of brothers;
      No danger, no distress shall sunder us.
      We will be freemen as our fathers were,
      And sooner welcome death than live as slaves.
      We will rely on God's almighty arm,
      And never quail before the power of man.
      • Act II, Sc. 2, as translated by C. T. Brooke
    • Variant translation: We shall be a single People of brethren,
      Never to part in danger nor distress.
      We shall be free, just as our fathers were,
      And rather die than live in slavery.
      We shall trust in the one highest God
      And never be afraid of human power.
  • The mountain cannot frighten one who was born on it.
    • Act III, sc. i
  • Who reflects too much will accomplish little.
    • Act III, sc. i
  • You saw his weakness, and he will never forgive you.
    • Act III, sc. i
  • This feat of Tell, the archer, will be told
    While yonder mountains stand upon their base.
    By heaven! The apple's cleft right through the core.
    • Act III, sc. iii
  • No cause has he to say his doom is harsh,
    Who's made the master of his destiny.
    • Gessler, Act III, sc. iii, as translated by Sir Thomas Martin
  • What's old collapses, times change,
    And new life blossoms in the ruins.
    • Act IV, sc. ii
  • A gloomy guest fits not a wedding feast.
    • Act IV, sc. iii, as translated by Sir Thomas Martin
  • The most pious man can't stay in peace
    If it doesn't please his evil neighbor.
    • Act IV, sc. iii

The Philosophical Letters

Online text at Project Gutenberg
  • The reason passes, like the heart, through certain epochs and transitions, but its development is not so often portrayed. Men seem to have been satisfied with unfolding the passions in their extremes, their aberration, and their results, without considering how closely they are bound up with the intellectual constitution of the individual.
    • Prefatory Remarks
  • The present age has witnessed an extraordinary increase of a thinking public, by the facilities afforded to the diffusion of reading; the former happy resignation to ignorance begins to make way for a state of half-enlightenment, and few persons are willing to remain in the condition in which their birth has placed then.
    • Prefatory Remarks
  • Rarely do we arrive at the summit of truth without running into extremes; we have frequently to exhaust the part of error, and even of folly, before we work our way up to the noble goal of tranquil wisdom.
    • Prefatory Remarks
  • Truth suffers no loss if a vehement youth fails in finding it, in the same way that virtue and religion suffer no detriment if a criminal denies them.
    • Prefatory Remarks
  • The universe is a thought of God. After this ideal thought-fabric passed out into reality, and the new-born world fulfilled the plan of its Creator—permit me to use this human simile—the first duty of all thinking beings has been to retrace the original design in this great reality; to find the principle in the mechanism, the unity in the compound, the law in the phenomenon, and to pass back from the structure to its primitive foundation. Accordingly to me there is only one appearance in nature—the thinking being. The great compound called the world is only remarkable to me because it is present to shadow forth symbolically the manifold expressions of that being. All in me and out of me is only the hieroglyph of a power which is like to me. The laws of nature are the cyphers which the thinking mind adds on to make itself understandable to intelligence—the alphabet by means of which all spirits communicate with the most perfect Spirit and with one another. Harmony, truth, order, beauty, excellence, give me joy, because they transport me into the active state of their author, of their possessor, because they betray the presence of a rational and feeling Being, and let me perceive my relationship with that Being.
    • Letter 4: Theosophy of Julius, Variant portion: "The universe is one of God's thoughts."
  • I speak with the Eternal through the instrument of nature, — through the world's history: I read the soul of the artist in his Apollo.
    • Letter 4: Theosophy of Julius
  • Each state of the human mind has some parable in the physical creation by which it is shadowed forth; nor is it only artists and poets, but even the most abstract thinkers that have drawn from this source. Lively activity we name fire; time is a stream that rolls on, sweeping all before it; eternity is a circle; a mystery is hid in midnight gloom, and truth dwells in the sun. Nay, I begin to believe that even the future destiny of the human race is prefigured in the dark oracular utterances of bodily creation.
    • Letter 4: Theosophy of Julius

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Friedrich Schiller, 1794
File:Goethe Schiller Weimar
A monument of Schiller (right) and Goethe in Weimar.

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (November 10, 1759 in Marbach, Württemberg – May 9, 1805 in Weimar), usually known as Friedrich Schiller, was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and dramatist.





  • Die Räuber (The Robbers) (1781)
  • Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love) (1784)
  • Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien (Don Carlos) (1787)
  • Wallenstein (1800)
  • Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans) (1801)
  • Maria Stuart (Mary Stuart) (1801)
  • Turandot (1802)
  • Die Braut von Messina (1803)
  • Wilhelm Tell (William Tell) (1804)
  • Demetrius (unfinished at his death)


  • An die Freude or Ode to Joy (1785) which became the basis for the fourth movement of Beethoven's ninth symphony
  • The Artists
  • The Cranes of Ibykus
  • The Bell
  • Columbus
  • Hope
  • Pegasus in Harness
  • The Glove
  • Nänie which Brahms set to music

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mrj:Шиллер, Фридрих


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