Urworte. Orphisch

Urworte. Orphisch; Primordial Words. Orphic (written 1817, published 1820)

This poem was written between 6 and 8 October 1817, when Goethe was 68 years old. The poem was inspired by an academic debate on orphic myth between J.G.J. Hermann and G.F. Creuzer. Goethe was interested in Herrmann’s interpretation, which described the orphic tradition in terms of four forces governing human life: Daimon (Destiny); Tyche (Chance), Eros (Love), Anagke (Necessity) and Elpis (Hope).

Further Reading

Michael Minden, ‘Urworte. Orphisch’, German Life and Letters 36:1-2 (1982-83)

Erika Swales, ‘Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “Urworte. Orphisch”’, in Landmarks in German Poetry, ed. by Peter Hutchinson (Bern: Peter Lang, 2000), pp. 57-71