The Dionysiac Chronotope
Before approaching Hölderlin’s poems, Chap. 2 returns to Greece by articulating three successive forms of space and time. Together they represent a secret experience of ritual that the ancient Greeks cultivated. Further, they harness a socio-political potential that is made public with the invention of tragedy. Although indirectly, the chapter implicitly hints at the relevance of this historical transition for Hölderlin whose songs are rooted in his translations of tragic plays. The sufferings of individual isolation and near-death experience that are redeemed by earthly and communal joy are projected onto the public stage. The chapter concludes by turning to one of the most striking, concentrated instances of this double-transformation in the opening verses of the tragedy that Hölderlin translates just before he composes his most meaningful poems: Euripides’ Bacchae.