What possible allure can a Persian prophet hold for a philhellenic philosopher? “Zarathus- tra’s Preposterous History” discusses the conspicuous heritage of Nietzsche’s figure, arguing that Nietzsche’s turn to Zoroaster itself functions as an instance of affirmation, the difficult affirmation of even that which must be overcome. The self-overcoming that structures Also sprach Zarathustra comes to characterize the figure of Zarathustra itself, both within this book and in Nietzsche’s later writings. But only through the preposterous imposition of this characteriz- ation can Nietzsche identify Zarathustra with Zoroaster and portray the moralist as the necess- ary precursor to the immoralist. Inverting chronology, Nietzsche not only affirms that which must be overcome, but also demonstrates how one can master the past by making of the “it was” of history a “thus I willed it.”
Zoroaster, Zarathustra, affirmation, history
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Westerdale, Joel, "Zarathustra’s Preposterous History" (2006). German Studies: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.