Persian Literature & The West – Part V
Nietzsche‘s Zarathustra, like the original Zarathustra …goes to the mountain for meditation when he is thirty years old and, like him, descends ten years later to convey his message for humanity. By choosing the name of ‘Zarathustra’ as prophet of his philosophy…he followed the paradoxical aim of paying homage to the original Aryan prophet and reversing his teachings at the same time.
The original Zoroastrian world view interprets being essentially on a moralistic basis and depicts the world as an arena for the struggle of the two fundamentals of being, Good and Evil, represented in two antagonistic divine figures. In contrast, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra puts forward his ontological immoralism against this view, and tries to reestablish the primordial innocence of ‘being’ by destructing philosophically all moralistic interpretations. In this way, the ontological immoralism of the Nietzsche’s Zarathustra stands, philosophically and historically, antipodal to the moralism of the archaic prophet and thinker.
“What the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth, the mouth of the first immoralist: for what constitutes the tremendous historical uniqueness of that Persian is just the opposite of this. Zarathustra was the first to consider the fight of good and evil the very wheel in the machinery of things: the transposition of morality into the metaphysical realms as a force, cause, and end in itself… Zarathustra created this most calamitous error, morality, consequently, he must also be the first to recognize it…. To speak the truth and to shoot well with arrows, that is Persian virtue.—-Am I understood?—The self-overcoming of morality, out of truthfulness; the self-overcoming of the moralist, into his opposite—into me—that is what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth.”
Another singular feature of Zarathustra, first presented in the prologue, is the designation of human beings as a transition between apes and the “Übermensch” (either the “overman” or “superman”; or, superhuman or overhuman) which alludes to Nietzsche’s notions of “self-mastery”, “self-cultivation”, “self-direction”, and “self-overcoming”.