(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
46.The Vision and the Enigma
WHEN it got abroad among the
sailors that Zarathustra was on board the ship- for a man
who came from the Happy Isles had gone on board along with
him,- there was great curiosity and expectation. But Zarathustra
kept silent for two days, and was cold and deaf with sadness;
so that he neither answered looks nor questions. On the evening
of the second day, however, he again opened his ears, though
he still kept silent: for there were many curious and dangerous
things to be heard on board the ship, which came from afar,
and was to go still further. Zarathustra, however, was fond
of all those who make distant voyages, and dislike to live
without danger. And behold! when listening, his own tongue
was at last loosened, and the ice of his heart broke. Then
did he begin to speak thus:
To you, the daring venturers
and adventurers, and whoever hath embarked with cunning sails
upon frightful seas,To you the enigma-intoxicated, the twilight-enjoyers,
whose souls are allured by flutes to every treacherous gulf:
-For ye dislike to grope at
a thread with cowardly hand; and where ye can divine, there
do ye hate to calculateTo you only do I tell the enigma that
I saw- the vision of the lonesomest one.Gloomily walked I
lately in corpse-coloured twilight- gloomily and sternly,
with compressed lips. Not only one sun had set for me.
A path which ascended daringly
among boulders, an evil, lonesome path, which neither herb
nor shrub any longer cheered, a mountain-path, crunched under
the daring of my foot.
Mutely marching over the scornful
clinking of pebbles, trampling the stone that let it slip:
thus did my foot force its way upwards.
Upwards:- in spite of the spirit
that drew it downwards, towards the abyss, the spirit of gravity,
my devil and archenemy.
Upwards:- although it sat upon
me, half-dwarf, half-mole; paralysed, paralysing; dripping
lead in mine ear, and thoughts like drops of lead into my
it whispered scornfully, syllable by syllable, "thou
stone of wisdom! Thou threwest thyself high, but every thrown
stone must- fall!
O Zarathustra, thou stone of
wisdom, thou sling-stone, thou star-destroyer! Thyself threwest
thou so high,- but every thrown stone- must fall!
Condemned of thyself, and to
thine own stoning: O Zarathustra, far indeed threwest thou
thy stone- but upon thyself will it recoil!"
Then was the dwarf silent;
and it lasted long. The silence, however, oppressed me; and
to be thus in pairs, one is verily lonesomer than when alone!
I ascended, I ascended, I dreamt,
I thought,- but everything oppressed me. A sick one did I
resemble, whom bad torture wearieth, and a worse dream reawakeneth
out of his first sleep.But there is something in me which
I call courage: it hath hitherto slain for me every dejection.
This courage at last bade me stand still and say: "Dwarf!
Thou! Or I!"For courage is the best slayer,- courage
which attacketh: for in every attack there is sound of triumph.
Man, however, is the most courageous
animal: thereby hath he overcome every animal. With sound
of triumph hath he overcome every pain; human pain, however,
is the sorest pain.
Courage slayeth also giddiness
at abysses: and where doth man not stand at abysses! Is not
seeing itself- seeing abysses?
Courage is the best slayer:
courage slayeth also fellow-suffering. Fellow-suffering, however,
is the deepest abyss: as deeply as man looketh into life,
so deeply also doth he look into suffering.
Courage, however, is the best
slayer, courage which attacketh: it slayeth even death itself;
for it saith: "Was that life? Well! Once more!"
In such speech, however, there
is much sound of triumph. He who hath ears to hear, let him
"Halt, dwarf!" said
I. "Either I- or thou! I, however, am the stronger of
the two:- thou knowest not mine abysmal thought! It- couldst
thou not endure!"
Then happened that which made
me lighter: for the dwarf sprang from my shoulder, the prying
sprite! And it squatted on a stone in front of me. There was
however a gateway just where we halted.
"Look at this gateway!
Dwarf!" I continued, "it hath two faces. Two roads
come together here: these hath no one yet gone to the end
This long lane backwards: it
continueth for an eternity. And that long lane forward- that
is another eternity.
They are antithetical to one
another, these roads; they directly abut on one another:-
and it is here, at this gateway, that they come together.
The name of the gateway is inscribed above: 'This Moment.'
But should one follow them
further- and ever further and further on, thinkest thou, dwarf,
that these roads would be eternally antithetical?"Everything
straight lieth," murmured the dwarf, contemptuously.
"All truth is crooked; time itself is a circle."
"Thou spirit of gravity!"
said I wrathfully, "do not take it too lightly! Or I
shall let thee squat where thou squattest, Haltfoot,- and
I carried thee high!"
I, "This Moment! From the gateway, This Moment, there
runneth a long eternal lane backwards: behind us lieth an
Must not whatever can run its
course of all things, have already run along that lane? Must
not whatever can happen of all things have already happened,
resulted, and gone by?
And if everything has already
existed, what thinkest thou, dwarf, of This Moment? Must not
this gateway also- have already existed?
And are not all things closely
bound together in such wise that This Moment draweth all coming
things after it? Consequently- itself also?
For whatever can run its course
of all things, also in this long lane outward- must it once
more run!And this slow spider which creepeth in the moonlight,
and this moonlight itself, and thou and I in this gateway
whispering together, whispering of eternal things- must we
not all have already existed?
-And must we not return and
run in that other lane out before us, that long weird lane-
must we not eternally return?"Thus did I speak, and always
more softly: for I was afraid of mine own thoughts, and arrear-thoughts.
Then, suddenly did I hear a dog howl near me.
Had I ever heard a dog howl
thus? My thoughts ran back. Yes! When I was a child, in my
most distant childhood:
-Then did I hear a dog howl
thus. And saw it also, with hair bristling, its head upwards,
trembling in the stillest midnight, when even dogs believe
-So that it excited my commiseration.
For just then went the full moon, silent as death, over the
house; just then did it stand still, a glowing globe- at rest
on the flat roof, as if on some one's property:Thereby had
the dog been terrified: for dogs believe in thieves and ghosts.
And when I again heard such howling, then did it excite my
commiseration once more.
Where was now the dwarf? And
the gateway? And the spider? And all the whispering? Had I
dreamt? Had I awakened? 'Twixt rugged rocks did I suddenly
stand alone, dreary in the dreariest moonlight.
But there lay a man! And there!
The dog leaping, bristling, whining- now did it see me coming-
then did it howl again, then did it cry:- had I ever heard
a dog cry so for help?
And verily, what I saw, the
like had I never seen. A young shepherd did I see, writhing,
choking, quivering, with distorted countenance, and with a
heavy black serpent hanging out of his mouth.
Had I ever seen so much loathing
and pale horror on one countenance? He had perhaps gone to
sleep? Then had the serpent crawled into his throat- there
had it bitten itself fast.
My hand pulled at the serpent,
and pulled:- in vain! I failed to pull the serpent out of
his throat. Then there cried out of me: "Bite! Bite!
Its head off! Bite!"-
so cried it out of me; my horror, my hatred, my loathing,
my pity, all my good and my bad cried with one voice out of
me.Ye daring ones around me! Ye venturers and adventurers,
and whoever of you have embarked with cunning sails on unexplored
seas! Ye enigma-enjoyers!
Solve unto me the enigma that
I then beheld, interpret unto me the vision of the lonesomest
For it was a vision and a foresight:-
what did I then behold in parable? And who is it that must
come some day?
Who is the shepherd into whose
throat the serpent thus crawled? Who is the man into whose
throat all the heaviest and blackest will thus crawl?
-The shepherd however bit as
my cry had admonished him; he bit with a strong bite! Far
away did he spit the head of the serpent:- and sprang up.No
longer shepherd, no longer man- a transfigured being, a light-surrounded
being, that laughed! Never on earth laughed a man as he laughed!
O my brethren, I heard a laughter
which was no human laughter,- and now gnaweth a thirst at
me, a longing that is never allayed.
My longing for that laughter
gnaweth at me: oh, how can I still endure to live! And how
could I endure to die at present!Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science