January 3 through mid-July: Basel
January 18: In the Basel museum, FN gives his lecture Das griechische Musikdrama [The Greek Musical Drama]; on February 1st he delivers the lecture Sokrates und die Tragödie [Socrates and Tragedy]. Wagner, upon reading the manuscript of the latter, recommends that FN present these ideas in a much more complete treatment or book: "...sich zu einer grösseren umfassenden Arbeit darüber sammelten. Dann werden Sie gewiss auch das richtige Wort für die göttlichen Irrthümer des Sokrates und Planton finden." [..to collect yourself to a larger, complete work on this. Then you will most certainly find the right words for the divine errors of Socrates and Plato. (KGB II-2, #71)]
FN continues to visit Wagner on a regular basis, with visits on February 12-14 and June 11-13 (with Rohde). On Cosima's behalf, FN buys a copy of Dürer's Melancholie as a birthday present for Wagner. Erwin Rohde arrives in Basel for an extended visit on 29 May.
Toward the end of January, FN considers getting a dog: "Ich gehe damit um, mir einen Hund zu schaffen--dänische Dogge--anzuschaffen." [I am toying with the idea of getting a dog, a Great Dane (KSB 3 #57)]. Cosima writes him on February 5, suggesting instead he consider a Wachtelhund [spaniel] or a poodle. FN never acquires a pet.
Various philological publications. On April 9, FN promoted to ordinarius. February: studies of Burckhardt's Zeit Constantin des Großen [The Time of Constantine the Great] (checked out from the University library) and Mommsen's Römische Forschungen [Research on Rome]. 12 July: sends Ritschl his work on Homer and Hesiod.
On February 11 Wagner writes FN: "Ich habe jetzt Niemand, mit dem ich es so ernst nehmen könnte, als mit Ihnen--die Einzige ausgenommen... Sie können mir nun viel, ja ein ganzes Halbteil meiner Bestimmung abnehmen. Und dabei gingen Sie vielleicht ganz Ihrer Bestimmung nach." [I have at present nobody with whom I can be as serious as with you--apart from the unique one [Cosima]... You could relieve me of much, yes even a full half of my vocation. And perhaps you would thereby pursue your vocation in full. (KGB, II-2, #73)]
In late March, FN suffers from a toothache; Cosima strongly advises against extraction: "Niemals einen Zahn ausreissen lassen! Die Lücke welche entsteht gefährdet den nächstehenden..." [Never get a tooth extracted! The gap that ensues endangers the one next to it... (KGB II-2, #88)]
23 April: Franz Overbeck arrives in Basel to take up a professorship in theology. Overbeck gives his inaugural lecture on 7 June on the concept of a purely historical examination of the New Testament. He moves into the same house as FN; they will remain there until 1876. they become close friends. The relationship with Overbeck will become FN's most important and lasting friendship.
Overbeck was born on November 16, 1837 (hence seven years older than FN) in St. Petersburg. From 1846 to 1848 he attended school in Paris and so experienced the 1848 upheavals first hand. In 1850 his family moved to Dreseden. Starting in 1856, he attended the universities in Leipzig and Göttingen, receiving his doctorate in 1860. He studied for a year in Berlin and then moved to Jena, where he practiced as a Privatdozent from 1863 to 1870. His appointment in Basel was controversial, as the community expected a professor who would participate in the affairs of the local church. Overbeck did not conceal the fact that he was not a practicing Christian.
April 14-21: travels with his mother and sister to spend a week's vacation in Clarens on Lake Geneva. From May 29th to June 13, Rohde visits FN in Basel and meets Overbeck. Together with FN's mother and sister they spend a few days (June 4-6) in the Bern mountains.
Summer semester courses: lecture: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex (11 students); lecture: Hesiod, Erga (cancelled, no students); seminar: Cicero, Academica (8 participants); Pädagogium: overview of the Greek drama, using Aeschylos, Sophocles, Euripides. This is a substantial load, totalling 20 hours of classroom time each week.
Second half of July to early August: Axenstein bei Brunnen, Tribschen, Maderanertal
July 15: the French parliament declares war on Prussia.
With his sister, FN undertakes a trip to Axenstein bei Brunnen from June 17 to 27. Afterwards they travel together to Tribschen (June 28-30); Elisabeth meets Wagner and Cosima. They travel from there to Maderanertal, where they meet the painter Adolf Mosengel. With Mosengel, FN decides here to serve as a medical orderly in the war [Chronik, p. 223].
During these few weeks, FN composes an essay entitled Die dionysische Weltanschauung, [The Dionysian Worldview] an early ancestor of his first book that will be published in January 1872. [Janz I p. 410]
Early August through October 21: Erlangen, France, Naumburg
Richard Wagner marries Cosima on August 25.
FN proceeds with his decision to volunteer for military service. On August 11 he receives permission from the university but, in light of Switzerland's neutrality, can act only as a medical orderly. Spends August 13-22 in Erlangen for training. FN is on the front approximately a week: near Wörth on August 28, in Pont a Mousson on September 1, Sedan September 2 (Napoleon III is captured on September 3). After accompanying a single medical transport, FN becomes ill with diphtheria and does not return to the front. He is sick in Karlsruhe September 4-6; he is moved to the Hotel Wallfisch in Erlangen on September 6. Spends from 15 September to 21 October recovering in Naumburg.
October 22 through December 24: Basel
Late October takes in an informal lecture by Burckhardt on historical greatness and audits Burckhardt's lectures on the study of history (later published as Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen [Studies in World History]).
FN reads the manuscript of Wagner's book on Beethoven.
The winter semester begins in late October. Courses: lecture, Hesiod, Erga (11 students); lecture: Greek metrics (5 students); seminar: Cicero, Academica (4 participants, 4 auditors); Pädagogium: Plato.
On October 15 (his 26th birthday), possibly in the course of preparing his lectures, FN discovers a new Greek metric: "An meinem Geburtstag hatte ich den besten philologischen Einfall, den ich bis jetzt gehabt habe." [On my birthday I had the best philological idea that I've had thus far. (KSB 3 #110)]. In a letter to Rohde dated November 23, FN reports his discovery: "Wenn Du es mir glauben willst, so kann ich Dir erzählen, dass es eine neue Metrik giebt, die ich entdeckt habe, der gegenüber die ganze neuere Entwicklung der Metrik von G. Hermann bis Westphal oder Schmidt eine Verirrung ist." [If you can believe me, I can tell you, that I have discovered a new metric, according to which the entire development of metrics from G. Hermann to Westphal or Schmidt is an error. (KSB 3 #110)]
Travels for another weekend visit in Tribschen (November 26-28). Wagner has arranged to have his memoirs privately printed in Basel. Cosima prepares a clean copy for the typesetters; FN makes occasional stylistic changes. Wagner requests that FN oversee the typesetting process.
Late December: Tribschen
FN witnesses the playing of Wagner's Siegfried-Idyll (intended as a birthday surprise for Cosima). As his own present for Cosima, FN brings his manuscript Die Geburt des tragischen Gedankens [The Birth of the Idea of Tragedy], a reworking of his earlier manuscript Die dionysische Weltanschauung. The work is well received by Wagner.