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Walks on the Land of the Sirens

Walks on the Land of the Sirens

(p.55) Chapter Three Walks on the Land of the Sirens
Nietzsche's Journey to Sorrento
Paolo D’Iorio
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores two small trips that Nietzsche took while living in Sorrento, exemplifying the touristic side of his stay, while also bringing out the immense transformative power of this time, during which the philosopher was truly engaged in a rediscovery of life through a new relationship with the ancients. The first was a trip to Naples, where Nietzsche witnessed, simultaneously, a carnival and a funeral, two opposing images which bore a strong significance for him, showing the ways in which rituals are emptied of their original meaning through time, and become mere charades. The second was a visit to the ancient and mysterious Grotto of Matromania in Capri, which bears many different names—this grotto is believed to have been a temple to the sun god, Helios, in the time of the ancients. Nietzsche wrote about the grotto in obscure and enigmatic terms, in several fragments. D'Iorio connects these fragments and the ideas surrounding the grotto with themes in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, imagining a new form of thought that resists Christianity and affirms earthly life.

Keywords:   carnival, Matromania, Mithras, grotto, Naples, Capri, mystery, Helios, sirens

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