On Zarathustra’s Prologue

I just read the following from Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra:

To allure many from the herd—for that is the purpose I have come. The people and the herd must be angry with me: a robber shall Zarathustra be called by the herdsmen.

Herdsmen, I say, but they call themselves the good and just. Herdsemn, I say, but they call themselves the believers in the orthodox belief.

Behold the good and just! Whom do they hate most? Him who breaketh up their tables of values, the breaker, the law-breaker:—he, however, is the creator.

Companions, the creator seeketh, not corpses—and not herds or believers either. Fellow-creators the creator seeketh—those who grave new values on new tables.

Companions, the creator seeketh, and fellow-reapers: for everything is ripe for the harvest with him. But he lacketh the hundred sickles: so he plucketh the ears of corn and is vexed.

Companions, the creator seeketh, and such as know how to whet their sickles. Destroyers, will they be called, and despisers of good and evil. But they are the reapers and rejoicers.

Fellow-creators, Zarathustra seeketh; fellow-reapers and fellow-rejoicers, Zarathustra seeketh: what hath he to do with herds and herdsmen and corpses! (11)

I especially love this quote for a few reasons. The character Zarathustra isn’t looking for blind followers like the herdsmen (read, leaders of culture, e.g., Bishops, the Pope, Kings, Politicians, Scholars), but rather co-creators, who will challenge cultural ideas and values and reap a new society, re-writing society. I like his allusion to Jesus Christ: Who do the good and just hate most? “Him who breaketh up their tables of values…“ Remember the story of Jesus when he was angry at those selling religion and he broke up their tables in the market? I think Nietzsche had that story in mind when he wrote this (I could be wrong), and what could be more blasphemous to the herdsmen than saying Jesus wasn’t a herdsmen, but just like Nietzsche, challenging cultural values, asking that his followers re-write culture. It’s unfortunate that Christian priests became the herdsmen Jesus deplored.

But this is great. As I read this, Zarathustra (i.e., Nietzsche, or any prophet who is not a demagogue or herdsman) is going to come in, ask us to challenge our values and culture, leave the herdsmen behind, and become co-creators in a new society.

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