Zarathustra was a Persian prophet (called "Zoroaster" by the Greeks, and most of the Western world) who lived and preached in the fifth century B.C.E. He was the first philosopher to conceive of a universe that is fundamentally defined by a struggle between good and evil. Nietzsche uses him as his protagonist, since, Nietzsche supposes, the first prophet to preach about good and evil should also be the first to move beyond good and evil. In the book, Zarathustra preaches about the overman who has moved beyond the concepts of good and evil, and has embraced the eternal recurrence. It is unclear whether or not Nietzsche means Zarathustra himself to be an overman, though if this is the case, he only becomes so in the fourth part of the book, when he finally embraces the eternal recurrence.

The Saint

A man living alone in the forest who Zarathustra encounters after emerging from the cave and heading into the town. This saint once loved mankind, but grew sick of their imperfections and now loves only God. He tells Zarathustra that mankind doesn't need the gift he brings, but rather help: they need someone to lighten their load and give them alms. Taking his leave of the saint, Zarathustra registers with surprise that the old man has not heard that "God is dead!"

Tightrope Walker

A man that Zarathustra speaks to and offers comfort to after he has what will prove to be a fatal fall from the tightrope due to the actions of the jester.

The Jester

The person responsible for the tightrope walker's fatal fall. While Zarathustra is on his way out of town with the tightrope walker's body, the jester approaches him and warns him to leave. The jester says that Zarathustra is disliked in the town by the good and the just, and by the believers in the true faith.


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