Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Dancing in Chains.  In the case of every Greek artist, poet, or writer we must ask: What is the new constraint which he imposes upon himself and makes attractive to his contemporaries, so as to find imitators?  For the thing called "invention" (in metre, for example) is always a self imposed fetter of this kind.  "Dancing in chains"— to make that hard for themselves and then to spread a false notion that it is easy — that is the trick that they wish to show us.  Even in Homer we may perceive a wealth of inherited formulae and laws of epic narration, within the circle of which he had to dance, and he himself created new conventions for them that came after.  This was the discipline of the Greek poets: first to impose upon themselves a manifold constraint by means of the earlier poets; then to invent in addition a new constraint, to impose it upon themselves and cheerfully to overcome it, so that constraint and victory are perceived and admired.  

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