Epimenides awakening

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Title: Epimenides awakening
Genus: Festival
Original language: German
Author: Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Publishing year: 1815
Premiere: March 30, 1815
Place of premiere: Berlin
Place and time of the action: "A magnificent colonnaded courtyard."
  • The muse
  • Epimenides
  • various demons and allegorical figures

Des Epimenides Awakening is a festival by Johann Wolfgang Goethe , written in 1814 on the occasion of the planned Berlin celebrations for the victory over Napoleon Bonaparte . It combines elements of drama and opera with those of oratorio and ballet. Bernhard Anselm Weber composed the music . The background to the plot is the story of the Greek philosopher Epimenides , who is said to have slept in a cave for 57 years without aging and finally waking up with heightened wisdom and vision.


Iffland had asked Goethe whether he would write an approximately 20-minute prelude to the celebrations in 1814 for a fee. In the end, the festival was not performed on this occasion, but only on March 30, 1815 in Berlin for the first time.

Epimenides on the Kunz crack


Current events - the ended Napoleonic Wars - are dressed up by Goethe in an allegory. On behalf of the gods, Epimenides is put into a sleep of several years for the second time by two geniuses. After this is done, a centuries-old war machine is set in motion. The demon of war conjures up the forces of destruction (stage direction: "A fire spreads over the theater."). When Epimenides wakes up and becomes aware of the destruction, he propagates a peaceful society as the long-term goal of human activity. Through joint efforts, the peoples finally succeed in leaving the war behind them (symbolized by the personified appearing faith, love and hope).


  • B. Plachta, K. Hassan: Des Epimenides awakening. Festival in two acts. In: G. Busch-Salmen, B. Jeßing (Ed.): Goethe Handbook. Volume 1: Music and dance in the stage works. J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-476-01846-5 , pp. 483-501. ( doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-476-00032-3_41 )

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