Volume 1, 2018
Aesthetics and Philosophies of Art
Hegel on the Crucifixion as Comedy
The process of bringing an exhausted order to the grave to make space for the life of new societal practice and belief is represented in ancient Greek drama by the death of the gods who ‘’die’’ once in tragedy and once again in comedy. Hegel reads the second and final death of the gods in ancient comedy as enacting a kind of societal action through which a community reclaims its creative agency by destroying the social and political orders that structured a tragic stage of history. Although Hegel highlights this creative action as going beyond aesthetic representation, he sees ancient comedy as achieving a superficial sense of freedom from tragedy, because the community sees itself as separate from its creation, which is destructible. For this reason Hegel moves beyond ancient comedy and locates comic resolution not in the representation of the death of the old gods on the ancient stage, but in the narrative of the death of Christ. This paper explores how Hegel’s reading of the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ mirrors the ancient tragedy and comedy. I argue that comedy, for Hegel, is realized through the story of the crucifixion, in which the comic community identifies with that which must be destroyed for the reconciliation of its society.