Page:Thus Spake Zarathustra - Alexander Tille - 1896.djvu/17

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INTRODUCTION xiii

distinctly enough. For example, Ruckert's Wisdom of the Brahman, has many suggestions of Nietzsche's book, the third part of which has been strongly influenced by it. The whole orientalising and didactic poetry of the nineteenth century in Germany is inspired by Goethe's Western-Eastern Divan, and although Nietzsche's work does not show that influence to the same extent as A. W. Schlegel, Riickert, Platen, Bodenstedt, and Count Schack, yet it is historically in more than one respect connected with that literary school.

The work takes its title from the mythological founder or reformer of the Avestic religion, Zarathustra, whose name, in its Greek mutilated form, Zoroaster, is familiar to British readers. As the Antichrist shows, Nietzsche had made some studies in oriental religious literature, which Professor Max Muller's Sacred Books of the East had brought within the reach of educated Europe. Yet he either neglected Persian religious tradition or purposely in his prose-poem made no use of any knowledge he possessed in that field. Though attracted by the solemn sound of the name, which in a high degree pleased his musical ear, he declined to describe the life of his hero after the model of the Gâthas, which according to Professor Darmesteter form the oldest part of the Avesta, though belonging, in their present form at least, to no earlier date than the first century of our era. Nietzsche's Zarathustra is neither of the family of Spitama, nor is he the husband of Frahaoshtra's daughter Huogvi, nor yet the father-in-law of Jâmâspa, who had married Pourusishta, Zarathustra's daughter; but he has been disentangled from the whole mythological circle of which the Zarathustra of Persian sacred tradition is part. He is a solitary man, he has no relations, not even a sister. But, like Buddha, Christ, and old Zarathustra, he has a few disciples. Of a miraculous birth of his we learn nothing in Nietzsche's poem.