“As one advances in life, one realities more and more that the majority of men - and of women - are incapable of any other effort than that strictly imposed on them as a reaction to external compulsion. And for that reason, the few individuals we have come across who are capable of a spontaneous and joyous effort stand out isolated, monumentalized, so to speak, in our experience. These are the select men, the nobles, the only ones who are active and not merely reactive, for whom life is a perpetual striving, an incessant course of training. Training = askesis. These are the ascetics.
Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us - by obligations, not by rights….The privileges of nobility are not in their origin concessions or favours; on the contrary, they are conquests. And their maintenance supposes, in principle, that the privileged individual is capable of reconquering them, at any moment, if it were necessary, and anyone were to dispute them.…It is annoying to see the degeneration suffered in ordinary speech by a word so inspiring as ‘nobility.’ For, by coming to mean for many people hereditary ‘noble blood,’ it is changed into something similar to common rights, into a static, passive quality which is received and transmitted like something inert. But the strict sense, the etymon of the word nobility is essentially dynamic. Noble means the ‘well known,’ that is, known by everyone, famous, he who has made himself known by excelling the anonymous mass.… ‘Nobility’ does not appear as a formal expression until the Roman Empire, and then precisely in opposition to the hereditary nobles, then in decadence.”