Bite of the Adder
(1844 - 1900)
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
ONE day had Zarathustra fallen asleep under
a fig-tree, owing to the heat, with his arm over his face. And there came
an adder and bit him in the neck, so that Zarathustra screamed with pain.
When he had taken his arm from his face he looked at the serpent; and
then did it recognise the eyes of Zarathustra, wriggled awkwardly, and
tried to get away. "Not at all," said Zarathustra, "as
yet hast thou not received my thanks! Thou hast awakened me in time; my
journey is yet long." "Thy journey is short," said the
adder sadly; "my poison is fatal." Zarathustra smiled. "When
did ever a dragon die of a serpent's poison?"- said he. "But
take thy poison back! Thou art not rich enough to present it to me."
Then fell the adder again on his neck, and licked his wound.
When Zarathustra once told this to his
disciples they asked him: "And what, O Zarathustra, is the moral
of thy story?" And Zarathustra answered them thus:
The destroyer of morality, the good and
just call me: my story is immoral.
When, however, ye have an enemy, then return
him not good for evil: for that would abash him. But prove that he hath
done something good to you.
And rather be angry than abash any one!
And when ye are cursed, it pleaseth me not that ye should then desire
to bless. Rather curse a little also!
And should a great injustice befall you,
then do quickly five small ones besides. Hideous to behold is he on whom
injustice presseth alone.
Did ye ever know this? Shared injustice
is half justice. And he who can bear it, shall take the injustice upon
A small revenge is humaner than no revenge
at all. And if the punishment be not also a right and an honour to the
transgressor, I do not like your punishing.
Nobler is it to own oneself in the wrong
than to establish one's right, especially if one be in the right. Only,
one must be rich enough to do so.
I do not like your cold justice; out of
the eye of your judges there always glanceth the executioner and his cold
Tell me: where find we justice, which is
love with seeing eyes?
Devise me, then, the love which not only
beareth all punishment, but also all guilt!
Devise me, then, the justice which acquitteth
every one except the judge!
And would ye hear this likewise? To him
who seeketh to be just from the heart, even the lie becometh philanthropy.
But how could I be just from the heart!
How can I give every one his own! Let this be enough for me: I give unto
every one mine own.
Finally, my brethren, guard against doing
wrong to any anchorite. How could an anchorite forget! How could he requite!
Like a deep well is an anchorite. Easy
is it to throw in a stone: if it should sink to the bottom, however, tell
me, who will bring it out again?
Guard against injuring the anchorite! If
ye have done so, however, well then, kill him also!Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science