Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classical Literature and Philology | Classics | Continental Philosophy | German Language and Literature | History of Philosophy | Scandinavian Studies
Nietzsche’s Übermensch is derived from Lucian of Samosata’s term hyperanthropos. I argue that Zarathustra’s teaching of the overman acquires new resonances in the context of that terminological origination in Lucian’s Kataplous — literally: sailing into port — referring to the journey of the soul into the afterlife, as escorted by Hermes and ferried by Charon along with myriads of others facing the same fate. The Kataplous he tyrannos, a title usually rendered as the Downward Journey (or The Tyrant), is a Menippean satire telling the tale of the “overman” supposed superior to others of “lesser” station in this-worldly life and the very same tyrant after his (ludicrously recalcitrant) transposition to the underworld. Reflecting on the life (and the death) of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, this essay also explores the politics of kingship for Empedocles as reformer as a political model for Zarathustra in terms of Hölderlin’s Death of Empedocles and Nietzsche’s unpublished drafts on the same. In his Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, Nietzsche points to a perspective beyond the here and now, beyond the “values” of our all-too-worldly and all-too-human concerns, whether in terms of perceived political/economic advantage or the pursuit of more everyday enjoyments. In addition to Zarathustra’s literal death (The Adder’s Bite), the essay includes a discussion of Zarathustra’s golden fishing rod (which only makes sense in connection with Lucian’s references in another dialogue, Piscator), food (“with Zarathustra even a king may be a cook”), and Zarathustra’s flight into the volcano together with C.G. Jung’s invocation of Hölderlin’s admirer, the Swabian poet and ghost story teller, Justinius Kerner.
Babich, Babette, "Le Zarathoustra de Nietzsche et le style parodique. A propos de l’hyperanthropos de Lucien et du surhomme de Nietzsche" (2011). Articles and Chapters in Academic Book Collections. Paper 52.
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