The Preachers of Death
(1844 - 1900)
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
THERE are preachers of death: and the earth
is full of those to whom desistance from life must be preached.
Full is the earth of the superfluous; marred
is life by the many-too-many. May they be decoyed out of this life by
the "life eternal"!
"The yellow ones": so are called
the preachers of death, or "the black ones." But I will show
them unto you in other colours besides.
There are the terrible ones who carry about
in themselves the beast of prey, and have no choice except lusts or self-laceration.
And even their lusts are self-laceration.
They have not yet become men, those terrible
ones: may they preach desistance from life, and pass away themselves!
There are the spiritually consumptive ones:
hardly are they born when they begin to die, and long for doctrines of
lassitude and renunciation.
They would fain be dead, and we should
approve of their wish! Let us beware of awakening those dead ones, and
of damaging those living coffins!
They meet an invalid, or an old man, or
a corpse- and immediately they say: "Life is refuted!"
But they only are refuted, and their eye,
which seeth only one aspect of existence.
Shrouded in thick melancholy, and eager
for the little casualties that bring death: thus do they wait, and clench
Or else, they grasp at sweetmeats, and
mock at their childishness thereby: they cling to their straw of life,
and mock at their still clinging to it.
Their wisdom speaketh thus: "A fool,
he who remaineth alive; but so far are we fools! And that is the foolishest
thing in life!"
"Life is only suffering": so
say others, and lie not. Then see to it that ye cease! See to it that
the life ceaseth which is only suffering!
And let this be the teaching of your virtue:
"Thou shalt slay thyself! Thou shalt steal away from thyself!"Lust
is sin,"- so say some who preach death- "let us go apart and
beget no children!"
"Giving birth is troublesome,"-
say others- "why still give birth? One beareth only the unfortunate!"
And they also are preachers of death.
"Pity is necessary,"- so saith
a third party. "Take what I have! Take what I am! So much less doth
life bind me!"
Were they consistently pitiful, then would
they make their neighbours sick of life. To be wicked- that would be their
But they want to be rid of life; what care
they if they bind others still faster with their chains and gifts!And
ye also, to whom life is rough labour and disquiet, are ye not very tired
of life? Are ye not very ripe for the sermon of death?
All ye to whom rough labour is dear, and
the rapid, new, and strange- ye put up with yourselves badly; your diligence
is flight, and the will to self-forgetfulness.
If ye believed more in life, then would
ye devote yourselves less to the momentary. But for waiting, ye have not
enough of capacity in you- nor even for idling!
Everywhere resoundeth the voices of those
who preach death; and the earth is full of those to whom death hath to
Or "life eternal"; it is all
the same to me- if only they pass away quickly!Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science