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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christ Souled Caesar

"The great cultivator ... the Roman Caesar with Christ's Soul".
[Nietzsche WP 983]

How are we to take this pronouncement?

It is a challenge to Nietzscheans and Anti-Nietzscheans alike.

What? - Could it mean that Nietzsche has overcome you all?

Who can even think this formulation of the 'Christ-souled Roman Caesar’?

You may not be surprised to hear that I am thinking it right now!


The Christ-Soul

The problem:

The Christ/Caesar is neither a Christian thing, nor is it a Nietzschean thing.

And Jesus answering said unto them,
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.
[Mark 12:17]

To Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to Christ's Soul the things that are of Christ's Soul.

And what of the 'Soul' itself?

"Our body is only a social structure composed of many souls."
[Nietzsche, BGE 19]

Nietzsche considered our souls to be complex things which he compared to a political hierarchy.
He talks of 'Undersouls' within this complex obeying the other commanding aspects of the Soul [one is tempted to include here 'Oversouls' after Emerson's formulation, knowing that Nietzsche read Emerson with especial interest and attention].

Therefore the complexity of the Will too, and that of the emotions or affects, are seen by Nietzsche as the 'Soul' of man, and the Soul is therefore identical with the Body.

Nietzsche explicitly says that he means to retain the old [Christian/Platonist] Soul concept, but to re-value it.
We should never lose sight of this method of re-valuation, especially when Nihilists voice their Siren-song of ‘destroy everything'.
To recap: Nietzsche retains the Soul, but has it stand for the overall human body-complex of willing and feeling.

Likewise, the 'Spirit' is re-valued also. It appears to apply specifically to the Will.
'Free Spirit' means 'Strong Will'.
He subtitles his book 'Human All-Too Human', a 'Book for Free-Spirits'. In BGE he has to explain that this 'free spirit' has nothing in common with the liberal, democratic use of the term. The Preface to BGE drops this hint where he talks of the need of the Spirit being sapped by the 'democratic enlightenment'.

As I have said, this 'spirit' is nothing more than the Strong Will.

'Will' and 'Affect' are both approximate terms, and are always inadequate - like all language - to express the vast complexities with which we are dealing here. Retaining the traditional words of Soul and the Spirit - with all their accreted meanings - at least enriches the flat psychological terminology of 'drives' etc.
This retention of philosophical/theological language relates to Nietzsche's exhortation that we over-come things, rather than avoid them. We do not dally with them longer than we need to, but we both revalue and overcome them. And we find in most cases that we are merely reclaiming much that was transvalued by slave morality in the first place. 

The Types of Christ and Caesar

"Education in those rulers' virtues that master even one's benevolence and pity: the great educator's virtues ... the affect of the creator must be elevated - no longer to work on marble! - The exceptional situation and powerful position of those beings ...: The Roman Cesar with Christ's Soul."
[WP 983]

We stand back from such a quote just as we stand back from a great Old Master painting; we gaze in awe. How elevated must have been the mind that thought this ... how able to look down upon things from a great height; from a wide and lofty perspective.
The context of the saying suggests that the Caesar masters his own 'benevolence and pity'.

The Christ Soul is that of benevolence and pity.

'Christ' and 'Caesar' are both titles:

Christ is the English term for the Greek Χριστός (Khristós) meaning 'the anointed one'. It is a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Māšîa).
Caesar (plural Caesares), is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator. From Latin caesum, 'cut out', because the first Caesar was cut from his mother's womb ... like Dionysos ...

Nietzsche is using 'Christ' and 'Caesar' as types.
If we assume that the Caesar is possessed of a 'Christ Soul' [perhaps the greater the man the greater the 'Christ Soul']; he doesn't reject it, he overcomes it.
He masters it.

Is it his first great conquest?

This is the ruler's virtue, the great cultivator's virtue.

Of course, Christianity will tell us that we must expand our Christ Soul; Nietzsche tells us that we must master it. It may be the sort of mastery that allows one to perform ruthless tasks with a clinical touch, which if overmastered by the feeling of pity, would cause our hands to tremble.

This brings us to Nietzsche's very apt sculptor metaphor;
"No longer to work on marble!"
He says.
Does not the sculptor use a hard chisel to work on hard marble to create, in the case of Michelangelo, the flowing contours of living flesh?
In other words, only by those harsh Nietzschean virtues can beauty be created. But first the cultivator must master his own softness; exercise his own constructive hardness.

Dionysian Christ

I see Christ as the moralised Dionysos.
It is with the aid of Caesarean hardness that Christ will be transvalued back to Dionysos.
But there is no antithesis here.. Christ and Dionysos are polarities of the same sphere. Caesar is the star that guides us to the pole of Dionysos [and he we recall the similarity in the sea-faring stories of both Caesar and Dionysos].
Further, we might compare this type of Caesarean polarity with the Apollonian.
We must - particularly in this study - differentiate between the degenerate Christ [i.e., that of Christianity] and the healthy Christ [i.e. the Dionysian Christ, borne of a synthesis of the Apollonian and the Dionysian].
Does Nietzsche want the sick Christ Soul or the healthy one?
We can only be worldly if we have explored both poles.

Jacta alea est
['the die is cast', Caesar]

But this is not enough. The profundity of the quote is barely touched; it is merely introduced...
We need to know more of what it means to be a Caesar type and a Christ type.
Let us take a historical perspective.
We all know of Caesar's military genius, his mastering of the beast that was Rome.

But listen to what Belloc says here;

"The Roman Empire might have remained, and so one would think it naturally would have remained, a Mediterranean thing, but for that capital experiment which has determined all future history - Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul - Gaul, the mass of which lay north, Continental, exterior to the Mediterranean Gaul which linked up with the Atlantic and the North Sea: Gaul which lived by the tides: Gaul which was to be the foundation of things to come. It was this experiment - the Roman conquest of Gaul - and its successes which opened the ancient and immemorial culture of the Mediterranean to the world. It was a revolution which for rapidity and completeness has no parallel."

Today we may not appreciate what Caesar's conquest means for world history. It was a transformation in itself which made possible Christ's transformation of world religion. The Christ-Souled Roman Caesar would then conquer the world both materially and spiritually: totally.

There is more to be said ... keep thinking, keep meditating on this.

Vicisti, Galilaee
['Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean', Swinburne] 

Do we actually have this cultivator, this Roman Caesar with Christ's Soul?
Or do we not rather have the opposite, the spirit of the degenerate Christ corrupting the soul of a vanquished Caesar?
Do we not now have the bitter paradox of this passive degeneration conquering like Caesar himself?
Take a look our contemporary world, our anti-culture; there is not much of a decision for the honest man with eyes wide open.
The spirit of the degenerate Christ has conquered like Caesar, and we have the inverted formula of the 'great cultivator' before our very eyes. Could it be any clearer that we are living through a hopelessly lost and decaying culture?
How much longer will it be before we come to the realisation that we have been (un)consciously breeding this anti-culture and that to dream of its opposite is foolish?
This debased culture must surely be leveled before its revaluation is made possible.

The Mantra

We must concentrate on the formula itself;










Three Centuries

Nietzsche advised the philosopher to put at least three centuries between himself and the present day.

That could project one into the future, just as much as the past.

But if one has the swirling dust of the present-day in one's eyes, one cannot focus on these most profound questions.


In early 20th century Nietzsche studies, the Christ/Caesar formula importuned many thinkers and doers. Oswald Spengler, for instance, proclaimed his historical/philosophic doctrine of 'Caesarism';

"The coming phase of history will henceforth be lived out far above economic crises and the ideals of domestic politics. Elemental forces of life itself are now entering the fray where the stakes are all or nothing. The prototypes of Caesarism will soon become more clearly defined, more conscious, and more brazen. The masks surviving from the parliamentary age of transition will fall away entirely. All attempts to determine the shape of the future within political parties will be forgotten. The fascist formulations of these decades will turn into new ones as yet unpredictable, and even nationalism as we know it will disappear...The Legions of Caesar are reawakening ".

Spengler - the author of the 'Decline of the West’ was always prophetic. But we can see that his Caesarism lacks the mastery of the Christ Soul.
It is a barren Caesarism.

A quote from Jaspers on the subject of Nietzsche and Christianity is very suggestive to our line of inquiry;

"The most amazing attempts to bring together again into a higher unity what Nietzsche has first separated and opposed to each other...the synthesis of the ultimate opposition".

We have already argued that Nietzsche rejects 'antithetical values' in favour of polarities, and so can't quite go along with what Jaspers says here; but we at least think that Nietzsche intended to carry forward the Christ Soul in his Transvaluation.

Jasper's talk of synthesis, higher unities, is Hegelian, and is typical of how Nietzsche was interpreted by those men of thought and action in the 1920's and 30's.

But more on this in a while.

New Worlds Beckon

To Nietzsche, Caesar was an example of the "Highest Human Being". [WP 544].

So in this polarity, Christ is the lowest human being.

And yet both Christ and Caesar were conquerors in their own spheres.

The Emperor Julian [called the Apostate by Christians], who tried to turn Rome back to paganism, said on his deathbed that the Galilean Jesus had conquered.
He knew that the Empire would never again be pagan.

This struggle between Christianity and Paganism is put in a formula by Nietzsche;

"Dionysos versus the Crucified"
[WP 1052]


"We believe in Olympus - and not in the Crucified".
[WP 1034].

But I suspect that this war is an Eternal one.

An ascending spirit recognises not only that Caesar/Dionysos must have victory over Christ Soul/Crucified, but that the enemy is necessary and part of the economy of the whole.

No Christ, no Caesar;
No Caesar, no Christ.

My contention is that Spengler's Caesarism ignores the necessity of a Christ Soul.

George Bernard Shaw's analysis of Caesarism naturally equated it to the Fascism of the 1930's;

"There is nothing new in Fascism ... Caesar, Cromwell, Napoleon, and his nephew Louis Napoleon are the bygone Fascist Leaders we talk most about; but they are only four out of innumerable able adventurers who have headed lawless revolts called coups d'etat, against governmental machinery that will not work fast enough to keep up with its job".

We see here immediately that Shaw is right, but he is not profound enough to see that Julius Caesar's achievement was unique.
His conquest of Gaul, brilliant in itself, created Western Europe as a world-historical force, as Belloc has described.

Could it be that Caesar alone had mastered his Christ Soul, and had therefore gone beyond mere 'Caesarism'.
Do we have in Nietzsche's formulation the key which unlocks those great cultivators, of which Caesar is the exemplar?

I think we do.

Shaw puts his finger on the problem of Caesarism/Fascism;

"The catch in it is that Fascist geniuses are not immortal, and, as happened to the Napoleons, may wear out before they die. If they leave Fascism in incapable or vicious hands, it may produce results which are at best deplorable and at worst diabolical".

This is what Nietzsche meant by the alarmingly chance nature of greatness.
The project is to cultivate the great cultivators.

To make greatness a product of Will.

To be able to make certain that a Caesar will rule, and be followed by an unbroken succession of Caesars; this is the thrust of this philosophy.

So, the Caesar must first of cultivate his Christ Soul - that is imperative.

Where Christ and Caesar are hand and glove!

One would-be 'Fascist Caesar' who imbibed Nietzsche, Spengler and Shaw [and was a friend of Shaw] was the British aristocrat Sir Oswald Mosley.

He gave a lecture in 1935 called 'The Philosophy of Fascism'. 
Griffin quotes an excerpt which he entitles;

Christ, Nietzsche, and Caesar.

The following section from it is quite revealing;

"In the 19th century, the major intellectual struggle arose from the tremendous impact of Nietzschean thought on the Christian civilisation of 2,000 years..
"That impact was only very slowly realised. Its full implications are only today working themselves out. But turn where you will in modern thought, you find the results of that struggle for mastery of the mind and spirit of man...
"I am not myself stating the case against Christianity, because I am going to show you how I believe the Nietzschean and the Christian doctrines are capable of synthesis".

Just as Belloc's work understands the world historical importance of Caesar and Christ, so Mosley here recognises the world historical importance of Nietzsche.

From what else is given in the incomplete excerpt, it seems that Mosley envisaged a combination of certain Christian virtues [e.g.,'service'], with Nietzschean ones [e.g., 'virility'].

We may say this seems unworkable and factitious.

I contend that Nietzsche's doctrine of Caesarean mastery of the Christ Soul is doctrine enough; Caesar serves no man or god because Caesar is divine.

Hah! - just as Christ was a God become man, so was Caesar a man become god!


"Verily, too early died that Hebrew whom the preachers of slow death honour: and to many hath it proved a calamity that he died too early.
"As yet had he known only tears, and the melancholy of the Hebrews, together with the hatred of the good and just—the Hebrew Jesus: then was he seized with the longing for death.
"Had he but remained in the wilderness, and far from the good and just! Then, perhaps, would he have learned to live, and love the earth—and laughter also!
"Believe it, my brethren! He died too early; he himself would have disavowed his doctrine had he attained to my age!
"Noble enough was he to disavow!
"But he was still immature."
[Nietzsche, TSZ]

Caesar, by the conquest of his Christ-soul brings about that disavowal of the Christ doctrine, as the degenerate Christ is revaluated into Dionysos; the supra-moral affirming nature recurring eternally!

When this occurs in the realm of world-history, we do not have a material conquest - as in today's domination of technics [cf. Spengler and Heidegger], but a spiritual conquest.
Once more doth Master Morality rule the world.

The evolution has been clear. It was said that as 'wild' Rome conquered Greece, so then 'captive' Greece conquered Rome. This was, of course, because Rome owed so much to Greece culturally. Through the Hellenistic Alexander and the Roman Caesar, Hellenism conquered the 'known world'!
But Hellenism was already diluted - Dionysos had become Orphic - and the subsequent Christian conquest of the Empire was parasitic, as Paul's resentful subversion of Christ filled a growing spiritual vacuum.
All this due - in Nietzschean terms - to the erosion of the Order of Rank and a diminishing of the will to power. And yet the Church used the residue of Roman organisational power to attain spiritual/political hegemony.
This Christianity is what Nietzsche called 'Platonism for the people" [BGE]; it was 'Caesar' below, with the moralised Christ on top.
The Nietzschean revaluation will turn the tables: this is the Christ-Souled Roman Caesar.


As to the Soul and 'intelligence', I take it that the 'soul complex' includes the 'spirit' which we take as referring to the quanta of Will available to such a Soul. It may be worth pointing out that the German for 'spirit' - Geist - includes the notion of intelligence within it, the English word 'spirit' having a much narrower meaning than the German one. So intelligence is thought of in terms of Will.
The etymology of the word 'intelligence' is suggestive; intelligent from inter-, between, and 'legere', to gather, to select. Akin to Greek legein, to gather, to say, logos, speech, word, reason.
This is the Will to select from what has been gathered.
Heidegger makes much of this notion of 'gathering' as applied to intelligence.

The Tempter

Christ is not a genius.
The genius is Dionysos;

"The genius of the heart, as the great concealed one possesses it, the tempter god and born pied-piper of conscience whose voice knows how to descend into the netherworld of every soul.
"Of whom am I speaking to you ?..
"He of whom I was speaking just now, and he again and again - namely, no less a one than the god Dionysos ...
"I, the last disciple and initiate of the god Dionysos ...
"Even that Dionysos is a philosopher, and that gods, too, thus do philosophy, seems to me to be a novelty that is far from innocuous and might arouse suspicion precisely among philosophers ...
"Thus Dionysos once said:
'I often reflect how I might yet advance man and make him stronger, more evil, and more profound than he is ... also more beautiful...' "
[BGE 295]


 "In the context of our age, the Christian religion is certainly a piece of antiquity intruding out of distant ages past."
[HA 135]

As mentioned before, we must distinguish between the Christ Soul to which Nietzsche refers, and the religion created in His name. This latter is the work of Paul, "the inventor of Christianness."
[D 68], and is somewhat antithetical to Christ's own teachings.

So unlike Christ and Caesar, this Pauline 'Christianity' itself was far from tolerant. Like the Jews, Christians would not acknowledge the Emperor as a divine being. To the Romans this was an extremely intolerant attitude to have, particularly if one enjoyed the protection of the Emperor.

"Christianity promised a re-valuation of all antique values - It is the Orient, the innermost Orient, it is the Oriental slave who in this fashion took vengeance on Rome and its noble and frivolous tolerance, on Roman 'catholicism' of faith, - and it has never been faith but always freedom from faith, that half-stoical unconcern with the seriousness of faith, that has enraged slaves in their masters and against their masters. 'Enlightenment' enrages: for the slave wants the unconditional, he understands in the domain of morality too only the tyrannical, he loves as he hates, without nuance, into the depths of him ... he feels enraged at the noble taste which seems to deny suffering."
[BGE 46]

So we see that tolerant Rome persecuted Christians and Jews for their intolerance.
The intolerance of today's politically-correct show that they are heirs to this kind of Judaeo-Christianity.


Virgil's 4th Pastoral [Eclogue IV] called 'The Golden Age Returns' is very apposite to our discussion as Virgil [died BC 19] was evoking the birth of a miraculous Child. The Child was probably that of Octavian [Augustus Caesar], but the Church [e.g., St. Augustine] later suggested that Virgil was having a premonition of the Christ Child.
To quote from the 4th Pastoral;
"Later, when you have learnt to read the praises of the great and what your father achieved, and come to understand what manhood is, the waving corn will slowly flood the plains with gold, grapes hang in ruby clusters on the neglected thorn, and honeydew exude from the hard trunk of oak ...
"Even so, faint traces of our former wickedness will linger on, to make us venture on the sea in ships, build walls around our cities, and plough the soil ...
"Wars even will repeat themselves, and the great Achilles be dispatched to Troy once more...
The Fates have spoken, in concord with the unalterable decree of destiny."

Here is a blatant espousal of the doctrine of the Eternal recurrence of the Same, as well as an openly amoral stance.
It is all very Nietzschean.

The Pastoral concludes with this;

"Begin then, little boy, to greet your mother with a smile: ten long months have left her sick at heart. Begin, little boy: no one who has not given his mother a smile has ever been thought worthy of his table by a god, or by a goddess of her bed."

Is this the Christ Child or rather the Christ Souled Caesar?

The Vicious Circle

Jesus Christ said, "The Kingdom of God is within you".
But Christianity came to emphasise the gulf between man and God.
A distance like that between Master and Servant; between Landlord and Tenant, between Creditor and Debtor.

Christian man had become wretchedly dependent, as the weaker partner in this power relationship.
Dependence similar to that of a physical addiction.

"All the possibilities of Christian life, the most serious and the most insipid, the most harmless and thoughtless, as well as the best thought through, have been tried out; it is time for the invention of something new, or else we repeatedly will fall back into the same vicious circle: to be sure, it is difficult to break out of this whirlpool now that it has been spinning around for a couple of millennia". [EN]

It would take the type of a Caesar to break this vicious circle.
He shall do it by first of all mastering the Christ-Soul;

"For the strong and independent, prepared and predestined for command, in whom the art and reason of a Ruling Race is incarnated, religion is one more means of overcoming resistance so as to be able to Rule: as a bond that unites together Ruler and ruled and betrays and hands over to the former the consciences of the latter". [Nietzsche BGE 61]

Christs may come and Christs may go, but Caesar lives forever.

So, a 'new religion' is necessary for the Christ-Souled Roman Caesar to extend His Dominion;

"A people which still believes in itself, still also has its own God.

"A proud people needs a God in order to SACRIFICE.

"One has as much need of the evil god as of the good God.

"There is no other alternative for Gods: EITHER they are the Will to Power - and so long as they are that, they will be national Gods - OR else the impotence for power - and then they necessarily become GOOD.

"The Christian conception of God is one of the most corrupt conceptions of God arrived at on earth".
[Nietzsche, A 15-18]

For this Christ-Souled Caesar, God will be both the Nation and the Will to Power DEIFIED!


Belloc, H. Europe and the Faith, 1920
Bible, King Jame's Translation. 1611
Caesar, J. The Gallic Wars, BC 58-50
Emerson, R.W. Essays: First Series, 1841
Griffin, R. Fascism, Oxford Reader, OUP 1995 
Heidegger, M. Early Greek Thinking, HarperCollins, 1975
Jaspers, K. Nietzsche and Christianity, 1938
Joyce, J. Gas From a Burner, 1912
Nietzsche, F. Philosophy and Truth:Selections from the Notebooks of the Early 1870s [EN]
Nietzsche, Human-All-Too-Human, 1878 [HA]
Nietzsche,  Daybreak, 1881 [D]
Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1883-5 [TSZ]
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886 [BGE]
Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 1885-9 [WP]
Nietzsche, The Antichrist, 1888 [A]
Redbeard, R. Might is Right, 1910 
Shaw, G.B. The Intelligent Woman's Guide, 1937
Spengler, O. Years of Decision, 1933
Virgil, Eclogues, BC 37

Additional Links:
Caesar by Plutarch

The Eclogues By Virgil