Truly, man is a river of filth. One must be like an ocean to be able to receive a river of filth without being contaminated by it.

— Nietzsche

Walter Kaufmann

Shakespeare, like the Greeks before him and Nietzsche after him, believed neither in progress nor in original sin; he believed that most men merited contempt and that a very few were head and shoulders above the rest of mankind and that these few, more often than not, meet “with base infection” and do not herald progress. The prerogative of the few is tragedy.

…The difference between comedy and tragedy—as is more evident here than almost anywhere else—lies in the point of view. In essentials, Troilus and Cressida agrees with Hamlet; if anything, the poet’s disillusionment has become still deeper in the comedy: he no longer expects anything of men and has ceased to be disappointed by their meanness and stupidity, their lechery and their disloyalty. He almost seems more concerned to show that those who dwell on these faults are in danger of becoming doubly mean by their resentment, like Thersites. The noble man, like Hector, wastes few words upon the wretchedness of mankind and lives and dies nobly.