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Friedrich Nietzsche Literature

Zarathustra’s prologue, 5



When Zarathustra had spoken these words he looked again at the people and fell silent. “There they stand,” he said to his heart, “they laugh, they do not understand me, I am not the mouth for these ears.[1]

Must one first smash their ears so that they learn to hear with their eyes? Must one rattle like kettle drums and penitence preachers? Or do they believe only a stutterer?

They have something of which they are proud. And what do they call that which makes them proud? Education[2] they call it, it distinguishes them from goatherds.

For that reason they hate to hear the word ‘contempt’ applied to them. So I shall address their pride instead.

Thus I shall speak to them of the most contemptible person: but he is the last human being.”[3]

And thus spoke Zarathustra to the people:

“It is time that mankind set themselves a goal. It is time that mankind plant the seed of their highest hope.

Their soil is still rich enough for this. But one day this soil will be poor and tame, and no tall tree will be able to grow from it anymore.

Beware! The time approaches when human beings no longer launch the arrow of their longing beyond the human, and the string of their bow will have forgotten how to whir!

I say to you: one must still have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star. I say to you: you still have chaos in you.

Beware! The time approaches when human beings will no longer give birth to a dancing star. Beware! The time of the most contemptible human is coming, the one who can no longer have contempt for himself.

Behold! I show you the last human being.

‘What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?’ – thus asks the last human being, blinking.

Then the earth has become small, and on it hops the last human being, who makes everything small. His kind is ineradicable, like the flea beetle; the last human being lives longest.

‘We invented happiness’ – say the last human beings, blinking.

They abandoned the regions where it was hard to live: for one needs warmth. One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs up against him: for one needs warmth.

Becoming ill and being mistrustful are considered sinful by them: one proceeds with caution. A fool who still stumbles over stones or humans!

A bit of poison once in a while; that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end, for a pleasant death.

One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one sees to it that the entertainment is not a strain.

One no longer becomes poor and rich: both are too burdensome. Who wants to rule anymore? Who wants to obey anymore? Both are too burdensome.

No shepherd and one herd![4] Each wants the same, each is the same, and whoever feels differently goes voluntarily into the insane asylum.

‘Formerly the whole world was insane’ – the finest ones say, blinking.

One is clever and knows everything that has happened, and so there is no end to their mockery. People still quarrel but they reconcile quickly – otherwise it is bad for the stomach.

One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night: but one honors health.

‘We invented happiness’ say the last human beings, and they blink.” –
And here ended the first speech of Zarathustra, which is also called “The Prologue,”[5] for at this point he was interrupted by the yelling and merriment of the crowd. “Give us this last human being, oh Zarathustra” – thus they cried – “make us into these last human beings! Then we will make you a gift of the Overman!”[6] And all the people jubilated and clicked their tongues. But Zarathustra grew sad and said to his heart:

“They do not understand me. I am not the mouth for these ears.

Too long apparently I lived in the mountains, too much I listened to brooks and trees: now I speak to them as to goatherds.

My soul is calm and bright as the morning mountains. But they believe I am cold, that I jeer, that I deal in terrible jests.

And now they look at me and laugh, and in laughing they hate me too. There is ice in their laughter.”



The above German-English translation by Adrian del Caro is taken from Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Cambridge University Press, 2006). This Cambridge edition lacks the more detailed notes by Andrés Sánchez-Pascual in Así Habló Zaratustra (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2014), translated below.


[1] Reminiscence of the Gospel of Matthew 13:13: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

[2] On this concept see, in the second part, “On the Land of Education.”

[3] The “last” man means above all the “last” in the human scale. In Ecce homo Nietzsche says: “In this sense Zarathustra first calls the good ‘the last men,’ then later ‘the beginning of the end’; above all, he finds them the most harmful kind of man, because they secure their existence at the expense of truth just as they do at the expense of the future.”

[4] A paraphrase, changing its meaning, of the Gospel of John, 10, 16: “There shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

[5] By the pun in German between erste Rede (first address) and Vorrede (prologue or, also, preliminary speech) Nietzsche actually meant that this first talk to men (redden, to speechify) has not been but a preliminary talk, and that his real talk will now begin. So the true first part of this work is titled precisely “The speeches (Reden) of Zarathustra.”

[6] Echo of the Gospel scene (Gospel of Luke, 23, 18) when the crowd rejects Jesus and claims Barabbas “And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas!”

One reply on “Zarathustra’s prologue, 5”

Nietzsche wrote:

“In this sense Zarathustra first calls the good ‘the last men’… He finds them the most harmful kind of man, because they secure their existence at the expense of truth just as they do at the expense of the future.”

Do “the good” men sound like Christians (or irreligious neo-christians) overwhelmed with guilt?

the last men

But white nationalists are the Overman’s “good” men too. Think for example of the voices from those self-righteous, Christian and atheist nationalists who recently called a lone wolf “an evil sociopath” in Dixie, basically subscribing the meme “black lives matter.”

White- or Southern nationalism is phony, was phony and will be phony until societal collapse forces the survivors to grow a hairy pair. This is Pierce’s Diaries: “His forehead was then marked with an indelible dye, and he was turned out and could be readmitted permanently only by bringing back the head of a freshly killed Black or other non-White.”

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