Who Is Nietzsche's Zarathustra?

Nowhere else—unless at the beginning of Western thought, in Parmenides, though there only in veiled outlines.

Essential to the figure of Zarathustra remains the fact that the teacher teaches something twofold which coheres in itself: eternal return and overman. Zarathustra is himself in a certain way this coherence. That said, he too remains a riddle, one we have scarcely envisaged.

"Eternal return of the same" is the name for the Being of beings. "Overman" is the name for the human essence that corresponds to such Being.

On what basis do Being and the essence of human being belong together? How do they cohere, if Being is no fabrication of human beings and humanity no mere special case among beings?

Can the coherence of Being and the essence of human being be discussed at all, as long as our thinking remains mired in the previous conception of man? According to it, man is animal rationale, the rational animal. Is it a coincidence, or a bit of lyrical ornamentation, that the two animals, eagle and serpent, accompany Zarathustra; that they tell him who he must become, in order to be the one he is? In the figure of the two animals the union of pride and discernment is to come to the fore for those who think. Yet we have to know what Nietzsche thinks concerning these two traits. Among the notes sketched during the period when Thus Spoke Zarathustra was composed we read: "It seems to me that modesty and pride belong to one another quite closely .... What they have in common is the cool, unflinching look of appraisal" (XIV, 99). And elsewhere in these notes (101):

People talk so stupidly about pride—and Christianity even tried to make us feel sinful about it! The point is that whoever demands great things of himself, and achieves those things, must feel quite remote from those who do not. Such distance will be interpreted by these others as a "putting on airs"; but he knows it [distance] only as continuous toil, war, victory, by day and by night. The others have no inkling of all this!