(1844 - 1900)
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
WITH thunder and heavenly fireworks must
one speak to indolent and somnolent senses.
But beauty's voice speaketh gently: it
appealeth only to the most awakened souls.
Gently vibrated and laughed unto me to-day
my buckler; it was beauty's holy laughing and thrilling.
At you, ye virtuous ones, laughed my beauty
to-day. And thus came its voice unto me: "They want- to be paid besides!"
Ye want to be paid besides, ye virtuous
ones! Ye want reward for virtue, and heaven for earth, and eternity for
And now ye upbraid me for teaching that
there is no reward-giver, nor paymaster? And verily, I do not even teach
that virtue is its own reward.
Ah! this is my sorrow: into the basis of
things have reward and punishment been insinuated- and now even into the
basis of your souls, ye virtuous ones!
But like the snout of the boar shall my
word grub up the basis of your souls; a ploughshare will I be called by
All the secrets of your heart shall be
brought to light; and when ye lie in the sun, grubbed up and broken, then
will also your falsehood be separated from your truth.
For this is your truth: ye are too pure
for the filth of the words: vengeance, punishment, recompense, retribution.
Ye love your virtue as a mother loveth
her child; but when did one hear of a mother wanting to be paid for her
It is your dearest Self, your virtue. The
ring's thirst is in you: to reach itself again struggleth every ring,
and turneth itself.
And like the star that goeth out, so is
every work of your virtue: ever is its light on its way and travelling-
and when will it cease to be on its way?
Thus is the light of your virtue still
on its way, even when its work is done. Be it forgotten and dead, still
its ray of light liveth and travelleth.
That your virtue is your Self, and not
an outward thing, a skin, or a cloak: that is the truth from the basis
of your souls, ye virtuous ones!But sure enough there are those to whom
virtue meaneth writhing under the lash: and ye have hearkened too much
unto their crying!
And others are there who call virtue the
slothfulness of their vices; and when once their hatred and jealousy relax
the limbs, their "justice" becometh lively and rubbeth its sleepy
And others are there who are drawn downwards:
their devils draw them. But the more they sink, the more ardently gloweth
their eye, and the longing for their God.
Ah! their crying also hath reached your
ears, ye virtuous ones: "What I am not, that, that is God to me,
And others are there who go along heavily
and creakingly, like carts taking stones downhill: they talk much of dignity
and virtue- their drag they call virtue!
And others are there who are like eight-day
clocks when wound up; they tick, and want people to call ticking- virtue.
Verily, in those have I mine amusement:
wherever I find such clocks I shall wind them up with my mockery, and
they shall even whirr thereby!
And others are proud of their modicum of
righteousness, and for the sake of it do violence to all things: so that
the world is drowned in their unrighteousness.
Ah! how ineptly cometh the word "virtue"
out of their mouth! And when they say: "I am just," it always
soundeth like: "I am just- revenged!"
With their virtues they want to scratch
out the eyes of their enemies; and they elevate themselves only that they
may lower others.
And again there are those who sit in their
swamp, and speak thus from among the bulrushes: "Virtue- that is
to sit quietly in the swamp.
We bite no one, and go out of the way of
him who would bite; and in all matters we have the opinion that is given
And again there are those who love attitudes,
and think that virtue is a sort of attitude.
Their knees continually adore, and their
hands are eulogies of virtue, but their heart knoweth naught thereof.
And again there are those who regard it
as virtue to say: "Virtue is necessary"; but after all they
believe only that policemen are necessary.
And many a one who cannot see men's loftiness,
calleth it virtue to see their baseness far too well: thus calleth he
his evil eye virtue.And some want to be edified and raised up, and call
it virtue: and others want to be cast down,- and likewise call it virtue.
And thus do almost all think that they
participate in virtue; and at least every one claimeth to be an authority
on "good" and "evil."
But Zarathustra came not to say unto all
those liars and fools: "What do ye know of virtue! What could ye
know of virtue!"But that ye, my friends, might become weary of the
old words which ye have learned from the fools and liars:
That ye might become weary of the words
"reward," "retribution," "punishment," "righteous
vengeance."That ye might become weary of saying: "That an action
is good is because it is unselfish."
Ah! my friends! That your very Self be
in your action, as the mother is in the child: let that be your formula
Verily, I have taken from you a hundred
formulae and your virtue's favourite playthings; and now ye upbraid me,
as children upbraid.
They played by the sea- then came there
a wave and swept their playthings into the deep: and now do they cry.
But the same wave shall bring them new
playthings, and spread before them new speckled shells!
Thus will they be comforted; and like them
shall ye also, my friends, have your comforting- and new speckled shells!Thus
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science