The Academic Chairs of Virtue
(1844 - 1900)
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
PEOPLE commended unto Zarathustra a wise
man, as one who could discourse well about sleep and virtue: greatly was
he honoured and rewarded for it, and all the youths sat before his chair.
To him went Zarathustra, and sat among the youths before his chair. And
thus spake the wise man:
Respect and modesty in presence of sleep!
That is the first thing! And to go out of the way of all who sleep badly
and keep awake at night!
Modest is even the thief in presence of
sleep: he always stealeth softly through the night. Immodest, however,
is the night-watchman; immodestly he carrieth his horn.
No small art is it to sleep: it is necessary
for that purpose to keep awake all day.
Ten times a day must thou overcome thyself:
that causeth wholesome weariness, and is poppy to the soul.
Ten times must thou reconcile again with
thyself; for overcoming is bitterness, and badly sleep the unreconciled.
Ten truths must thou find during the day;
otherwise wilt thou seek truth during the night, and thy soul will have
Ten times must thou laugh during the day,
and be cheerful; otherwise thy stomach, the father of affliction, will
disturb thee in the night.
Few people know it, but one must have all
the virtues in order to sleep well. Shall I bear false witness? Shall
I commit adultery?
Shall I covet my neighbour's maidservant?
All that would ill accord with good sleep.
And even if one have all the virtues, there
is still one thing needful: to send the virtues themselves to sleep at
the right time.
That they may not quarrel with one another,
the good females! And about thee, thou unhappy one!
Peace with God and thy neighbour: so desireth
good sleep. And peace also with thy neighbour's devil! Otherwise it will
haunt thee in the night.
Honour to the government, and obedience,
and also to the crooked government! So desireth good sleep. How can I
help it, if power liketh to walk on crooked legs?
He who leadeth his sheep to the greenest
pasture, shall always be for me the best shepherd: so doth it accord with
Many honours I want not, nor great treasures:
they excite the spleen. But it is bad sleeping without a good name and
a little treasure.
A small company is more welcome to me than
a bad one: but they must come and go at the right time. So doth it accord
with good sleep.
Well, also, do the poor in spirit please
me: they promote sleep. Blessed are they, especially if one always give
in to them.
Thus passeth the day unto the virtuous.
When night cometh, then take I good care not to summon sleep. It disliketh
to be summoned- sleep, the lord of the virtues!
But I think of what I have done and thought
during the day. Thus ruminating, patient as a cow, I ask myself: What
were thy ten overcomings?
And what were the ten reconciliations,
and the ten truths, and the ten laughters with which my heart enjoyed
Thus pondering, and cradled by forty thoughts,
it overtaketh me all at once- sleep, the unsummoned, the lord of the virtues.
Sleep tappeth on mine eye, and it turneth
heavy. Sleep toucheth my mouth, and it remaineth open.
Verily, on soft soles doth it come to me,
the dearest of thieves, and stealeth from me my thoughts: stupid do I
then stand, like this academic chair.
But not much longer do I then stand: I
already lie.When Zarathustra heard the wise man thus speak, he laughed
in his heart: for thereby had a light dawned upon him. And thus spake
he to his heart:
A fool seemeth this wise man with his forty
thoughts: but I believe he knoweth well how to sleep.
Happy even is he who liveth near this wise
man! Such sleep is contagious- even through a thick wall it is contagious.
A magic resideth even in his academic chair.
And not in vain did the youths sit before the preacher of virtue.
His wisdom is to keep awake in order to
sleep well. And verily, if life had no sense, and had I to choose nonsense,
this would be the desirablest nonsense for me also.
Now know I well what people sought formerly
above all else when they sought teachers of virtue. Good sleep they sought
for themselves, and poppy-head virtues to promote it!
To all those belauded sages of the academic
chairs, wisdom was sleep without dreams: they knew no higher significance
Even at present, to be sure, there are
some like this preacher of virtue, and not always so honourable: but their
time is past. And not much longer do they stand: there they already lie.
Blessed are those drowsy ones: for they
shall soon nod to sleep.Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science