I translated this article of Evola in english. Many of Evola’s books have been translated in different languages but other minor writings have been relegated to the italian world. In this article Evola discusses about the bourgeois view of the classical world, and how this infection must be surpassed instead by what truly profoundly the classical world manifested.
One of the factors that majorly cause obstacle to the comprehension of what are the most pure and originary characteristics of ancient civilization is the so called “classical prejudice”. Such prejudice essentially derives from the aestheticized and “humanistic” mentality, or in other terms from a mentality inclined to view the world as “literature, art and culture”, also tied with what we could call the refinement of individual and collective material existence, considered the essential of a civilization.
In a mentality of this sort the ancient world is appreciated mostly in relation to what is classical in this sense, for such Athens is a better example than Sparta, and hellenized romanity is considered more progressed than Rome at its origins, reviewed more as semi barbaric.
Even in regards to other historical time spans, the attitude of these environments is mostly the same: this is easily recognizable from the overvaluation of the humanistic and renaissance realms in relation with the feudal and imperial ones of the middle age.
Now, there should be a precise perception that all of this is nothing else than a state of distortion; a dangerous one because it gives birth to a form of confusion with twisted principles, where the superficial is excessively prized, while the profound essence is ignored or deformed.
In fact, “classical” should mainly allude at a precise style, a formation of life, a form of inner being, a certain view of the world, a tradition that lives in the blood as a primordial force and that surpasses even this bond, having in its aesthetic creativity and in the “world of thoughts and arts” only a reflex, a secondary and relatively important expression.
In ancient Greece, as in ancient Rome, and we would dare to involve in this category even the middle age and the sacred roman empire, something “classical” can be captured in their atmosphere of power and silent grandeur whose essence cannot be butchered from the expressions and creations of aesthetic nature.
The main stronghold of the classical ideal is, without doubt, the love for objectivity and form (Goethe); but form is to be intended and realized on a different level, of pure forces, as ethos, a style with a clear and dominated life, free from disorderly passions and meaningless agitations, “containing in its magnificent measures the lack of borders of the infinite itself.”
The true classical foundation has always something “elemental”, we could even risk saying “barbaric”, and on this Nietzche, who on the other hand completely misunderstood the true meaning of the “apollonic” ideal, has made no errors: this is because there is no classical style where the touch with the originary is interrupted, where the limit and the shape express the power , of a full life, of a life that dominates itself and that in its intensity and purity keeps good distance from every psychologic and subjectivistic approach.
So, the real doric style, as the one of the first romanity and of the best middle age, is essentially a style of active impersonality, adverse to anything of accessory, contingent and unessential nature. In this scenario what shines is the opera, not the “creator”, the action itself and not the author; what is valued is the monumental, not the “expressionistic”, the lyric or the humanistic; the gold here is what manifests as the great voice of things themselves, not the produce of artificial or industrial ability and of disorderly geniality.
Here discipline is a value. Firmness and calm dignity are a value. The law, firm and not attenuated, is a value.
We could also consider as of value the olympic ideal, the one of clarity, sovereignty and order, or cosmos, that submitted chaos and won over the purely human element.
What is classical in this key of things is still awaitened, for the most part, to be properly comprehended. This is not easy, because its home is in the origins, where forces were still gathered in a severe intensity so that they were able to give birth to a treasure of expressions and peripherical forms that are appreciatable in terms of “civilization and culture”- in the already decaying, aesthetic way of such expressions.
So the rediscovering of the classical world and its form has as foundations the overcoming of the academic “classical” mentality and the collection of historical revisions. This is also the condition necessary to grasp what is more pure and uncontaminated of the roman tradition itself.
In the first romanity- the one that still did not came across hellenization and asianization, but only Etruscan and Sabine influence-many aspects of the classical power concept emerge.
Classical are the traits of style, virtus, of inner stability and control that roman traditions always considered key component of the maiores nostri. (the forefathers)
These are the same features, to which the first greek ambassadors, who imagined upon meeting the roman senators that they would of encountered a barbarian coterie, had to reconsider their prejudice to such a degree, so that to refer back to homeland that they felt amongst them as in a “council of kings”.
Classical are the characteristics of the most ancient roman gentile rights. Classical are, again, the diverse founding elements of the roman cult, free from forms of mysticism and superstitious devotion, more focused on the raw power, thought to be objective, of rituals.
Classical is the roman will of form that in the origins didn’t bother creating statues or art operas, but crafted instead ethically, politically and sacredly centered men: the flamen dialis, the typical figure of the roman sacerdote, would of appeared as an “alive statue of the olympic deity”.
Classical is, at last, the roman will of imperium as intended by Virgil himself: because, if the virgilian words: tu regere imperio populos Romane memento, are mostly known by everybody, less known is the true and deep meaning of such words: remember that what keeps upright the different people, o Roman, is your ideal and not the arts or the letters-such is the overall idea of the virgilian text, in every way similar to the “spartan” way, antihumanistic and severely ethical of the catonian period.
Today, to rediscover and understand the entirety of meanings of a faraway classicism, far distant from the aestheticizing holes and the empty academic assumptions, for the majority will not be an easy task.
Even more unlikely is the chance to find men that can in a way or another incarnate them, in this epoch where one side belongs to the contingent and to the inner and outer disorder, while the other one to an emergency state of the elemental forces that will very hardly let themselves be consumed by the world of “culture” that belongs to the bourgeois.