Famous Wise Ones
(1844 - 1900)
Thus Spake Zarathustra
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
THE people have ye served and the people's
superstition- not the truth!- all ye famous wise ones! And just on that
account did they pay you reverence.
And on that account also did they tolerate
your unbelief, because it was a pleasantry and a by-path for the people.
Thus doth the master give free scope to his slaves, and even enjoyeth
But he who is hated by the people, as the
wolf by the dogs- is the free spirit, the enemy of fetters, the non-adorer,
the dweller in the woods.
To hunt him out of his lair- that was always
called "sense of right" by the people: on him do they still
hound their sharpest-toothed dogs.
"For there the truth is, where the
people are! Woe, woe to the seeking ones!"- thus hath it echoed through
Your people would ye justify in their reverence:
that called ye "Will to Truth," ye famous wise ones!
And your heart hath always said to itself:
"From the people have I come: from thence came to me also the voice
Stiff-necked and artful, like the ass,
have ye always been, as the advocates of the people.
And many a powerful one who wanted to run
well with the people, hath harnessed in front of his horses- a donkey,
a famous wise man.
And now, ye famous wise ones, I would have
you finally throw off entirely the skin of the lion!
The skin of the beast of prey, the speckled
skin, and the dishevelled locks of the investigator, the searcher, and
Ah! for me to learn to believe in your
"conscientiousness," ye would first have to break your venerating
Conscientious- so call I him who goeth
into God-forsaken wildernesses, and hath broken his venerating heart.
In the yellow sands and burnt by the sun,
he doubtless peereth thirstily at the isles rich in fountains, where life
reposeth under shady trees.
But his thirst doth not persuade him to
become like those comfortable ones: for where there are oases, there are
Hungry, fierce, lonesome, God-forsaken:
so doth the lion-will wish itself.
Free from the happiness of slaves, redeemed
from deities and adorations, fearless and fear-inspiring, grand and lonesome:
so is the will of the conscientious.
In the wilderness have ever dwelt the conscientious,
the free spirits, as lords of the wilderness; but in the cities dwell
the well-foddered, famous wise ones- the draught-beasts.
For, always do they draw, as asses- the
Not that I on that account upbraid them:
but serving ones do they remain, and harnessed ones, even though they
glitter in golden harness.
And often have they been good servants
and worthy of their hire. For thus saith virtue: "If thou must be
a servant, seek him unto whom thy service is most useful!
The spirit and virtue of thy master shall
advance by thou being his servant: thus wilt thou thyself advance with
his spirit and virtue!"
And verily, ye famous wise ones, ye servants
of the people! Ye yourselves have advanced with the people's spirit and
virtue- and the people by you! To your honour do I say it!
But the people ye remain for me, even with
your virtues, the people with purblind eyes- the people who know not what
Spirit is life which itself cutteth into
life: by its own torture doth it increase its own knowledge,- did ye know
And the spirit's happiness is this: to
be anointed and consecrated with tears as a sacrificial victim,- did ye
know that before?
And the blindness of the blind one, and
his seeking and groping, shall yet testify to the power of the sun into
which he hath gazed,- did ye know that before?
And with mountains shall the discerning
one learn to build! It is a small thing for the spirit to remove mountains,-
did ye know that before?
Ye know only the sparks of the spirit:
but ye do not see the anvil which it is, and the cruelty of its hammer!
Verily, ye know not the spirit's pride!
But still less could ye endure the spirit's humility, should it ever want
And never yet could ye cast your spirit
into a pit of snow: ye are not hot enough for that! Thus are ye unaware,
also, of the delight of its coldness.
In all respects, however, ye make too familiar
with the spirit; and out of wisdom have ye often made an alms-house and
a hospital for bad poets.
Ye are not eagles: thus have ye never experienced
the happiness of the alarm of the spirit. And he who is not a bird should
not camp above abysses.
Ye seem to me lukewarm ones: but coldly
floweth all deep knowledge. Ice-cold are the innermost wells of the spirit:
a refreshment to hot hands and handlers.
Respectable do ye there stand, and stiff,
and with straight backs, ye famous wise ones!- no strong wind or will
Have ye ne'er seen a sail crossing the
sea, rounded and inflated, and trembling with the violence of the wind?
Like the sail trembling with the violence
of the spirit, doth my wisdom cross the sea- my wild wisdom!
But ye servants of the people, ye famous
wise ones- how could ye go with me!Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science