"Against Stupidity The Very Gods Themselves Contend In Vain"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Schiller, a German poet, dramatist, historian, and philosopher of the Romantic Period, is best known for his lyric and philosophical poems and ballads and his historical dramas. In Die Jungfrau von Orleans he depicts the tragedy of Joan of Arc, called La Pucelle by the French and the Maid of Orleans by the English. Born in the village of Domrémy of poor country folk, she, while still a mere girl, assumed military leadership, raised the English siege of Orleans in 1429, and attended the coronation of the Dauphin as Charles VII. Shortly afterward she was taken prisoner by the English and burned as a witch. In Act III Joan leads the French forces to victory at Rheims. Fatally wounded, Talbot, the English general, bemoans the "day of destiny" which "will o'erthrow the English power in France."


TALBOT
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who are thou then, if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly's uncurb'd steed,
Must, vainly shrieking, with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.