In the current issue of Philosophy Today: SPEP Supplement


Classical Literature and Philology | Continental Philosophy | German Language and Literature | History of Philosophy | Philosophy


Nietzsche's Zarathustra echoes Empedocles' as orator or speaker especially if reviewed in terms of Empedocles' esoteric Katharmoi or Purifications. This essay reads Zarathustra teaching of the eternal return of the same as the teaching of going to ground, that is: death and rebirth, arguing that death is present at the start and already at work in the section entitled The Adder's Bite. Indeed it is the explicit subtext of the overman.

Like Empedocles, Nietzsche's Zarathustra tells us that the human being is something that should be overcome. and thus it makes a difference that we hear Zarathustra proclaim this teaching as the tightrope walker begins his doomed dance over the marketplace and that Zarathustra's fate. at least immediately, concerns the downward fall of this overman overcome by the danger of his calling. This same teaching conjoined with Zarathustra's diagnosis of ubiquity of the will to power, especially among the weakest. also underlines an arch or parodic turn and even mockery.

Hence and in order to get to Empedocles, I argue that it is necessary to read Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra as an overtly Menippean satire as Nietzsche refers to this tradition. Inasmuch as the satires attributed to the cynic Menippus of Gadara happen to be lost, I read Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra via the second century AD Lucian's "high" or serious, i.e., truth-purposing (as the ancients described it) kind of parody 1where Lucian relates to Menippus, at least in some part, as Plato does to Socrates.



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