Current Auction Is Open For Bidding
Our Current Auction Closes Nov 07    
Home |Sitemap|Contact Us| Past Auctions  
 How to Bid   Register to Bid   Auctions   Consign   About Us   Featured Lots   Reviews 
Bidder Login
Bidder #

New Bidder Registration
Forgot your password?

The Current Auction
Ends November 7th
Marvels Of Modern Music Auction Preview
Begins Nov 08
Advanced Search
By Item Number
Gallery Search
Past Auction Search
How Do I Bid?
What is BidTracker™?
New Bidder Registration
The 30-Minute Rule
Terms and Conditions
New to RR Auction?
About Us
Register to Bid
Jobs at RR Auction
Press Releases
Consign to RR Auction
How to Consign
2018 Auction Calendar
Dec 13
Dec 5
Nov 15
Nov 7
Oct 18
Oct 10
Sep 25
Sep 12
Aug 8
Jul 19
Jul 11
Jun 28
Jun 21
Jun 13
May 17
May 9
Apr 19
Apr 11
Mar 15
Mar 7
Feb 15
Feb 7
Jan 18
Jan 10
  More Dates & Deadlines

Item 246 - Friedrich Nietzsche Catalog 439 (Oct 2014)

Back To Previous Page
(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Minimum Bid: $1,000.00
Sold Price: $31,409.00 (includes buyer's premium)


Monumentally important German philosopher (1844–1900) whose writings influenced legions of major figures across the entire spectrum of philosophy, politics, and culture. Very rare handwritten letter in German, unsigned, one page on a 5.5 x 3.5 postcard, September 28, 1877. Letter to his friend, the writer and painter Reinhart von Seydlitz, about the meaning of the phrases "pollice verso" and "pollicem premere.” In part (translated): “Did you receive my card, dear friend? Do not think ill of me if you once more fail to receive a letter today. My sincere thanks to your esteemed mother for affording me the opportunity to be a classical scholar (sometimes I forget). 'pollice verso' means: 'thumb directed against the chest', the gesture by which the people would demand the gladiator to be killed. 'pollicem premere', literally 'to press the thumb', i. e., 'clench one's fist and hide the thumb therein' is the same as our German 'Jemandem den Daumen halten’, 'to press one's thumb for someone', that is to say, 'to keep one's fingers crossed for somebody'—a sign of goodwill. By raising the index finger the gladiator would crave the spectators' mercy; when it was granted, by the said gesture, this was called 'missio.'” In fine condition.

This letter dates to the same period that Nietzsche was writing his important early work, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, first published in 1878. This was the first book written in the aphoristic style that would come to dominate his writings, and the discussion of the ‘free spirit’ anticipates the development of his most famous concept of the ‘Ubermensch.’ One idea he espoused in Human, All Too Human was that war was essential to maintain sophisticated culture, and that as civilization grew weary of warfare it turned to surrogates—relative to this letter, he observed: ‘When the Imperial Romans had tired somewhat of wars, they tried to gain new strength by animal-baiting, gladiator contests, and the persecution of Christians.’ An exceptional and incredibly rare letter with interesting content from this most important philosopher. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.

You must be a registered user and logged in to view Past Auction Item Images

If you do not currently have an account, click here to go to our secure registration page.

Important Information

Tips For Consignors


For a complete list of auction beginning and ending dates, check our dates and deadlines page.