This dissertation focuses on the manifold afterlives of Greek antiquity in the German-language poetry and poetics during the era of Weimar Classicism (1788-1805). I approach this thematic complex through the study of prosody situated at the confluence of poetry, philology, and philosophy. I argue that the unprecedented intensity with which prosody was theorized in the German-speaking lands during the late eighteenth century resulted from an encounter with the possibilities and pitfalls of an aesthetics turned toward ancient Greece. The artwork of ancient Greece served as a model for poetic production while at the same time figuring forth a radical historical alterity that provoked a pivotal investigation of the prosodic conditions of the German language. Prosody came to be conceived as a medium for presencing the poetic past, an embodied vehicle for a poetic memory residing not in the imitation of ancient poets, but rather in the stress of the syllable, in the organizing matrix of meter, in the propulsion of rhythm. Each chapter of this dissertation takes as its object of study one antique verse form (or, in the case of the fourth chapter, multiple verse forms) as theorized and practiced in German-language poetry and poetics around 1800. I show that in each instance, the poet’s handling of the verse form gives rise to new models of poetic inheritance and continuity that overcome the imperative to imitate the ancients. These models find their point of communality in the rethinking of verse as a historically saturated form of embodied cognition produced by prosody.




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