Antichi misteri e nuova mitologia tra Spätaufklärung e Frühromantik

Gianluca Paolucci


Starting from the Seventies of the Eighteenth Century a strong interest arose in the ancient mystery cults among German intellectuals. Beyond the mere antiquarian interest, the dual structure of the mysteries – an “esoteric” (philosophical) only for the initiated, a “exoteric” (aesthetical) for the people – offered the model for several masonic experiments, particularly the Bavarian Illuminati and the Deutsche Union, which developed projects of moral reform of the German nation on the basis of new forms of governmentality. The interest in mysteries attracted also Goethe in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1796) and Schiller in Die Sendung Moses (1790), in which the political, aesthetical and pedagogical mission of Moses already shaped the idea of an aesthetical education of man. The essay traces the genealogy of this interest between Spätaufklärung and Frühromantik. In this latter context, the dual structure of the mysteries provided the basis for the romantic project of a «new mythology», as it was outlined in Das älteste Systemprogramm des deutschen Idealismus (1796).


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