Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Thus Spoke Zarathustra Summary and Analysis of The Fourth and Final Part

The Honey Sacrifice

Many years pass and Zarathustra is an old man. He is sitting on his mountain and speaking with his animals. Zarathustra has found complete happiness, but he hides his happiness from the animals. Though he is content in his happiness, his still has work ahead of him.

Zarathustra says that his happiness is a lure to others. He compares himself to a fisherman that uses his happiness out as a lure. Zarathustra knows that he must once again descend and encounter mankind again in order to lure them to experience the same kind of happiness.

The Cry of Distress and Conversation with the Kings

The next day, the Soothsayer arrives at Zarathustra's cave. Zarathustra invites the Soothsayer to be a guest at his table, but the Soothsayer tries to make Zarathustra afraid. The Soothsayer tells him that soon others will arrive who will ruin his solitude. He will no longer be able to reflect on his being and his cheerfulness will be gone. The Soothsayer is tempting Zarathustra into despair, a despair that will cause him not to finish the work he has started.

Soon, they hear a cry from someone in need. Zarathustra tells the Soothsayer the man who cried out is the "superior man." Zarathustra is eager to show the Soothsayer that nothing will ruin the happiness in his cave. He leaves the Soothsayer and begins a trek down the mountain to find this superior man.

Zarathustra meets two kings leading a donkey. These kings are bringing the donkey as a gift for the ultimate ruler of all rulers, just as Jesus' disciples had brought a donkey for him to ride into Jerusalem. The kings have tired of dealing with "the rabble" and are seeking an escape from society. They believe Zarathustra will be able to bring this escape to them. Instead, Zarathustra gives them a blasphemous rhyme: the coming of Jesus meant the end of all kings and signaled the true descent of society. With the coming of Christ, the rabble believed they could ascend to the heavens and the kings lost their powers. The kings enjoy Zarathustra's rhyme. They tell him that his enemies still portray him as the devil, but the kings still admire his teachings. They especially admire his teaching on war and they begin a long speech about blood battles and their inherent nobility. The kings are the first in a line of people that Zarathustra meets in his search for the superior man. Many of these chapters deal with the nature of politics and the rule of "the mob." The kings, as well as the other people Zarathustra meets, are on their way to a "donkey festival" to meet this new ruler. These kings are tired of the rule of the mob and they eagerly await this new ruler.

The Leech and The Magician

In "The Leech," Zarathustra stumbles upon a man and the man screams out in pain. Zarathustra tries to calm him with a parable, but the parable is actually meant to insult the man. The man takes offense at Zarathustra's parable and he challenges him. Zarathustra sees that the man is bleeding; he has been bitten by a beast. Zarathustra takes pity on the man and invites him to rest in his cave. The man is grateful and identifies himself as "the conscience of spirit." The man tells Zarathustra that he actually cut himself and allowed leeches to feed on him in order to find Zarathustra and become one with his teaching.

The man represents the scientific and scholarly spirit, knowledge without charm or spirit. This man only sees value in the small part of the world that is knowable, and he seeks Zarathustra's knowledge in order to somehow increase his own knowledge and overcome the human intuition to fear. Zarathustra insults the man, but he still invites the man to his cave to dine and discuss.

Zarathustra then runs into an old rival, the Old Sorcerer. This man had proclaimed himself to be the greatest man of his age. Zarathustra first thinks this is the superior man who he heard cry out, but he is again mistaken. The man is thrashing around like a madman and Zarathustra yells at him to get him to stop. The Sorcerer then begins to sing a series of songs to Zarathustra that echo Zarathustra's own teachings. The Sorcerer proclaims that he has been given the gift of the gods and has attained divinity. The Sorcerer's song speaks of the coming of Dionysus.

Zarathustra is furious at this Sorcerer and begins to beat him with his staff. The Sorcerer begs him to stop and flatters Zarathustra, telling him that he is the "saint of knowledge." Eventually, Zarathustra relents and invites him to his cave as well.

The Sorcerer represents the long battle between poetry and philosophy. The Sorcerer, representing the poet, relays that he himself has found a way to become divine. Zarathustra calls him a deceiver, saying that poetry is the force that leads men to create other gods. The Sorcerer eventually breaks down, admitting that it is Zarathustra he seeks. The Sorcerer asks Zarathustra to take pity on him, and Zarathustra invites another person to his cave for conversation.

Retired, The Ugliest Human Being, and The Voluntary Beggar

When Zarathustra leaves the magician, he sees another man dressed in black, and is angry at finding another follower of the dark arts. This man is not a sorcerer; he is the last Pope to have seen God before God's death. Zarathustra wants to know whether "pity choked [God] to death." The Pope does not have an answer but admits that, for him, God has also died. Zarathustra gives him permission to speak ill of God now that he had died, and the Pope is glad to be able to do so. The Pope tells Zarathustra that God was subjected to the rule of man. The Pope recognizes in Zarathustra the makings of another kind of god, one that will take him "beyond good and evil." As the chapter closes, the Pope lays his hands on Zarathustra in a kind of blessing ceremony.

The next man that Zarathustra meets, the ugliest human being, again gives Zarathustra an explanation for the death of God. The ugliest man says to Zarathustra that he himself is the one who murdered God because he could not stand the idea of a God who saw him and pitied him. Zarathustra is also moved to pity, but unlike God, Zarathustra attempts to move beyond pity to a hardness of heart. The ugliest man tries to keep Zarathustra from escaping from him by telling him that he is already rich even though he is ugly. He is rich with ugliness, rich with what is terrible. It is the ugliest man who organized the "donkey festival" in order to comfort himself.

As Zarathustra continues to walk, he finds the voluntary beggar. When Zarathustra finds him, he is speaking to a group of cows. Zarathustra demands to know what the man seeks to gain by speaking to these cows. The man answers, "the same thing you seek...happiness on earth." The man is trying to learn the secret of happiness from the cows, for, as he says, "unless we are converted and become as cows, we will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." When Zarathustra makes the man explain himself, he learns that the man is the voluntary beggar, the man who became sick of his wealth and threw it all away. The man became so sick of society and culture that he decided to go to the animals to find happiness.

Though Zarathustra finds this man's trust in animals to be foolish, the beggar still has nobility because he is attempting to overcome the structures of the world. By voluntarily refusing wealth and by seeking his redemption not in religion but in nature, he joins Zarathustra as a seeker of the true way to the eternal return.

The Shadow and At Noon

Zarathustra has become annoyed at the proliferation of people on his mountain and wonders where his solitude has gone. There is one more individual that Zarathustra has left to meet: his own shadow. His shadow has followed Zarathustra through each step of his teaching. His shadow has found that it has become a nihilist, finding nothing to be true anymore. Zarathustra is upset to find that the one who is possibly the closest to his teaching and to himself has become a nihilist. For now, however, there is nothing that he can say to the shadow to refute such an idea.

The shadow is the representation of one of the consequences of Zarathustra's teaching, though it is not the result that Zarathustra wants. The shadow represents the criticisms of Zarathustra's enemies who say his teaching is nothing but a bitter refutation of God, replacing belief with wicked nihilism. Zarathustra warns the shadow not to cut his journey short. This would result in a narrow-minded worldview, something just as harmful as belief in God and Christianity.

Zarathustra has met the final person he will meet this day, and after wandering in solitude, he stops by a tree and rests beside it. He lies down, and as he begins to fall asleep, he begins to speak to his own heart. Zarathustra recounts the many miles and lands he has traversed to come to his current blissful happiness. His language shows his love of nature and all that is around him. Zarathustra is in an utter state of bliss. When he awakens, he finds that the sun is still overhead, which means that he has not slept very long.

This respite in the narrative of part four is a Dionysian psalm about Zarathustra's happiness. It contains imagery of divinity and an eternity of bliss. Zarathustra is tempted to remain at rest, to selfishly enjoy his happiness, a result not entirely antithetical to his own teaching. He also knows that his work is only half completed, for he set out that morning to find those who were seeking him. Though he found those individuals, he has not yet converted them to his true teaching, so his work is still ahead of him.

The Welcome and The Last Supper

In the late afternoon, Zarathustra returns to his cave. As he approaches, he once again hears the cry of distress. This time, the cry comes from multiple voices in his cave. As he enters the cave, he sees all of the characters from the day gathered there. The ugliest human has draped himself in purple sash because "he [loves] to disguise himself and act beautiful." Zarathustra is disappointed to realize that the cry of the higher man was actually the collective cry of all these characters. One of the kings tries to explain that there will be another higher man coming after them, but Zarathustra rebuffs the king, telling him that they are not the ones for which he has been waiting. Zarathustra begins a speech in which he imagines his true "children" and their return to him. He imagines that these children have become like "lions" in the world.

The Soothsayer interrupts Zarathustra's speech by saying that preparations for supper need to be started. The kings offer their wine, but several of the guests, including Zarathustra, only want water. The last supper begins with Zarathustra quoting Jesus, saying "man does not live by bread alone." Instead, Zarathustra offers two sacrificial lambs for dinner. The voluntary beggar refuses the food for his customary pittance.

In these two speeches, Zarathustra discovers that the people he met during the day were really the ones he heard crying out in distress. This disappoints him because he imagined that the higher man would be of a purer nature than these men are. The last supper that they all enjoy is a parody of the biblical last supper of Jesus and his disciples. Zarathustra brings Passover lambs, but he continues to insult his guests in a joking manner, calling one of the kings an "ass."

On the Higher Man, The Song of Melancholy, On Science, and Among Daughters of the Desert

After the supper, Zarathustra begins a long speech about the higher man. He recounts his folly from the prologue, explaining how he gave his message to the wrong people. Zarathustra tells these men to temper their search because, in reality, the highest state that they seek is unavailable to them. Zarathustra does not want these men's failures to give his own teaching a bad name. He warns them not to be "lastlings," the measure of what a true follower of Zarathustra should be. He knows that these men will only find failure in their search, so he implores them to moderate their expectations.

Zarathustra longs to be with his animals and leaves the cave to find them. When he leaves, the Sorcerer tells the men in the cave that he is being possessed by a devil, the true enemy of Zarathustra. The Sorcerer, however, is cunningly attempting to lead the higher men astray from Zarathustra's teaching, just as he tried to lead Zarathustra astray when he sang his earlier Dionysian song. The Sorcerer begins to claim that Zarathustra is "only a poet," thereby confusing the men gathered because they respect Zarathustra's teaching so much. By doing this, the Sorcerer is elevating himself to Zarathustra's level in an effort to gain the glory of his teaching for himself. The first part of the Sorcerer's song proclaims that night is coming to all things, even Zarathustra and his teaching. The song laments that, in reality, there is no true teaching. The man of science and scholarship comes to Zarathustra's defense, however, saying that Zarathustra's teaching, like the pursuit of science, makes all things knowable.

Both of these interpretations and teachings are false, and Zarathustra's shadow knows this. He is too weak to combat the teachings, however, and a melancholy falls over the group. Instead, he begins to sing a mocking song about a "good European" in a desert surrounded by "maidens of Paradise." The song mocks European moral superiority and skepticism. As the song ends, the cave is filled with laughter.

The Awakening and The Ass Festival

As evening falls, Zarathustra hears laughing from inside the cave. He tries to comfort himself by saying that the day must be a success if they are laughing even after Zarathustra explains how they are not the higher men that he truly seeks. He shrugs off their laughter as their own way of trying to ascend to the heights of his teaching. Soon, however, the laughter ceases and a quiet comes over the cave. Zarathustra sneaks in to see what they are doing, and to his surprise, he finds them all on their knees praying. He thinks they have all gone mad, but in listening to their prayer, he realizes that they are really praying to the donkey. It is the start of the Ass Festival.

Zarathustra interrupts the praying and demands to know what his guests are doing, believing that they have gone mad. They tell him that the old God lives again, that the ugliest human being brought him back. They are worshiping the donkey as the form of God, a form that they can all worship. Zarathustra mocks them and berates them for their foolishness. He tells them that even though they need to be children to enter the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of heaven is not the kingdom for which they should strive. The kingdom for which they should strive is the "kingdom of the earth."

The Festival of the Ass is a festival that mocks modern Christianity. Christian worship has lost all its power, so the higher men might as well worship God in the form of a donkey. This at least gives them something to believe, though they know it is stupid. This is perhaps the greatest insight into God-is-dead theology: in order to continue the murder of God, humanity must mock the old forms of worship. This kills the gravity that once held men to the ground in a carnivalesque manner by taking the power from such rituals.

The Sleepwalker Song and The Sign

Zarathustra and the higher men leave the cave close to midnight. The ugliest human tells Zarathustra that he has begun to appreciate life. As the bell tolls midnight, Zarathustra becomes the ultimate teacher for these men and relates the song of the sleepwalker. In the song, mankind is called to awaken for the task at hand. The bell that tolls midnight represents the will of the past, for even the dead cry out for the past to be willed. Midnight makes these men lords of the earth. As the bell finishes tolling, Zarathustra points these men toward another god, the god of Dionysus, who makes life eternal and sweet. Thus, Zarathustra has taught these higher men the true nature of the eternal return.

The final chapter of the book begins as the prologue did. When Zarathustra awakens in the morning he is greeted by the higher men, who are still happy from the night before. Zarathustra knows that these higher men are not his true children, and he understands that his task has not been completed. Zarathustra realizes that, even though he had pity on these higher men, he can now put his sin behind him. Now he truly knows the way to teach such men. As the book ends, Zarathustra leaves his cave "like a morning sun that emerges from a dark mountain."

Pity is the great sin that Zarathustra knows people must overcome if they are to understand his teaching of the overman, but he realizes that he feels pity for each of these higher men. Zarathustra, reflecting on the previous day, understands that he can now put his sin of pity behind him and focus on the work at hand. Thus, Zarathustra's speaking can continue in the world.