With respect to our problem—which for good reasons

With respect to our problem—which for good reasons we can call a quiet problem, so
refined that it directs itself only at a few ears—there is no little interest in establishing
the point that often in those words and roots which designate “good” there still shines
through the main nuance of what made the nobility feel they were men of higher rank.
It’s true that in most cases they perhaps named themselves simply after their
superiority in power (as “the powerful,” “the masters,” “those in command”) or after
the most visible sign of their superiority, for example, as “the rich” or “the owners”
(that is the meaning of arya, and the corresponding words in Iranian and Slavic). But
they also named themselves after a typical characteristic, and that is the case which is
our concern here.
For instance, they called themselves “the truthful”—above all the Greek nobility,
whose mouthpiece is the Megarian poet Theogonis. The word developed for this
characteristic—esthlos [fine, noble]—indicates, according to its root meaning, a man
who is, who possess reality, who really exists. Then, with a subjective transformation,
it indicates the true man as the truthful man. In this phase of conceptual
transformation it became the slogan and catch phrase for the nobility, and its sense
shifted entirely over to “aristocratic,” to mark a distinction from the lying common
man, as Theogonis takes and presents him, until finally, after the decline of the
nobility, the word remains as a designation of spiritual nobility and becomes, as it
were, ripe and sweet.


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