(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
49.The Bedwarfing Virtue
WHEN Zarathustra was again
on the continent, he did not go straightway to his mountains
and his cave, but made many wanderings and questionings, and
ascertained this and that; so that he said of himself jestingly:
"Lo, a river that floweth back unto its source in many
windings!" For he wanted to learn what had taken place
among men during the interval: whether they had become greater
or smaller. And once, when he saw a row of new houses, he
marvelled, and said:
"What do these houses
mean? Verily, no great soul put them up as its simile!
Did perhaps a silly child take
them out of its toy-box? Would that another child put them
again into the box!
And these rooms and chambers-
can men go out and in there? They seem to be made for silk
dolls; or for dainty-eaters, who perhaps let others eat with
And Zarathustra stood still
and meditated. At last he said sorrowfully: "There hath
everything become smaller!
Everywhere do I see lower doorways:
he who is of my type can still go therethrough, but- he must
Oh, when shall I arrive again
at my home, where I shall no longer have to stoop- shall no
longer have to stoop before the small ones!"- And Zarathustra
sighed, and gazed into the distance.The same day, however,
he gave his discourse on the bedwarfing virtue.
I pass through this people
and keep mine eyes open: they do not forgive me for not envying
They bite at me, because I
say unto them that for small people, small virtues are necessary-
and because it is hard for me to understand that small people
Here am I still like a cock
in a strange farm-yard, at which even the hens peck: but on
that account I am not unfriendly to the hens.
I am courteous towards them,
as towards all small annoyances; to be prickly towards what
is small, seemeth to me wisdom for hedgehogs.
They all speak of me when they
sit around their fire in the evening- they speak of me, but
no one thinketh- of me!
This is the new stillness which
I have experienced: their noise around me spreadeth a mantle
over my thoughts.
They shout to one another:
"What is this gloomy cloud about to do to us? Let us
see that it doth not bring a plague upon us!"
And recently did a woman seize
upon her child that was coming unto me: "Take the children
away," cried she, "such eyes scorch children's souls."
They cough when I speak: they
think coughing an objection to strong winds- they divine nothing
of the boisterousness of my happiness!
"We have not yet time
for Zarathustra"- so they object; but what matter about
a time that "hath no time" for Zarathustra?
And if they should altogether
praise me, how could I go to sleep on their praise? A girdle
of spines is their praise unto me: it scratcheth me even when
I take it off.
And this also did I learn among
them: the praiser doeth as if he gave back; in truth, however,
he wanteth more to be given him!
Ask my foot if their lauding
and luring strains please it! Verily, to such measure and
ticktack, it liketh neither to dance nor to stand still.
To small virtues would they
fain lure and laud me; to the ticktack of small happiness
would they fain persuade my foot.
I pass through this people
and keep mine eyes open; they have become smaller, and ever
become smaller:- the reason thereof is their doctrine of happiness
For they are moderate also
in virtue,- because they want comfort. With comfort, however,
moderate virtue only is compatible.
To be sure, they also learn
in their way to stride on and stride forward: that, I call
their hobbling.- Thereby they become a hindrance to all who
are in haste.
And many of them go forward,
and look backwards thereby, with stiffened necks: those do
I like to run up against.
Foot and eye shall not lie,
nor give the lie to each other. But there is much lying among
Some of them will, but most
of them are willed. Some of them are genuine, but most of
them are bad actors.
There are actors without knowing
it amongst them, and actors without intending it-, the genuine
ones are always rare, especially the genuine actors.
Of man there is little here:
therefore do their women masculinise themselves. For only
he who is man enough, will- save the woman in woman.
And this hypocrisy found I
worst amongst them, that even those who command feign the
virtues of those who serve.
"I serve, thou servest,
we serve"- so chanteth here even the hypocrisy of the
rulers- and alas! if the first lord be only the first servant!
Ah, even upon their hypocrisy
did mine eyes' curiosity alight; and well did I divine all
their fly- happiness, and their buzzing around sunny window-panes.
So much kindness, so much weakness
do I see. So much justice and pity, so much weakness.
Round, fair, and considerate
are they to one another, as grains of sand are round, fair,
and considerate to grains of sand.
Modestly to embrace a small
happiness- that do they call "submission"! and at
the same time they peer modestly after a new small happiness.
In their hearts they want simply
one thing most of all: that no one hurt them. Thus do they
anticipate every one's wishes and do well unto every one.
That, however, is cowardice,
though it be called "virtue."And when they chance
to speak harshly, those small people, then do I hear therein
only their hoarseness- every draught of air maketh them hoarse.
Shrewd indeed are they, their
virtues have shrewd fingers. But they lack fists: their fingers
do not know how to creep behind fists.
Virtue for them is what maketh
modest and tame: therewith have they made the wolf a dog,
and man himself man's best domestic animal.
"We set our chair in the
midst"- so saith their smirking unto me- "and as
far from dying gladiators as from satisfied swine."
That, however, is- mediocrity,
though it be called moderation.
I pass through this people
and let fall many words: but they know neither how to take
nor how to retain them.
They wonder why I came not
to revile venery and vice; and verily, I came not to warn
against pickpockets either!
They wonder why I am not ready
to abet and whet their wisdom: as if they had not yet enough
of wiseacres, whose voices grate on mine ear like slate-pencils!
And when I call out: "Curse
all the cowardly devils in you, that would fain whimper and
fold the hands and adore"- then do they shout: "Zarathustra
And especially do their teachers
of submission shout this;- but precisely in their ears do
I love to cry: "Yea! I am Zarathustra, the godless!"
Those teachers of submission!
Wherever there is aught puny, or sickly, or scabby, there
do they creep like lice; and only my disgust preventeth me
from cracking them.
Well! This is my sermon for
their ears: I am Zarathustra the godless, who saith: "Who
is more godless than I, that I may enjoy his teaching?"
I am Zarathustra the godless:
where do I find mine equal? And all those are mine equals
who give unto themselves their Will, and divest themselves
of all submission.
I am Zarathustra the godless!
I cook every chance in my pot. And only when it hath been
quite cooked do I welcome it as my food.
And verily, many a chance came
imperiously unto me: but still more imperiously did my Will
speak unto it,- then did it lie imploringly upon its knees-Imploring
that it might find home and heart with me, and saying flatteringly:
"See, O Zarathustra, how friend only cometh unto friend!"But
why talk I, when no one hath mine ears! And so will I shout
it out unto all the winds:
Ye ever become smaller, ye
small people! Ye crumble away, ye comfortable ones! Ye will
yet perish-By your many small virtues, by your many small
omissions, and by your many small submissions!
Too tender, too yielding: so
is your soil! But for a tree to become great, it seeketh to
twine hard roots around hard rocks!
Also what ye omit weaveth at
the web of all the human future; even your naught is a cobweb,
and a spider that liveth on the blood of the future.
And when ye take, then is it
like stealing, ye small virtuous ones; but even among knaves
honour saith that "one shall only steal when one cannot
"It giveth itself"-
that is also a doctrine of submission. But I say unto you,
ye comfortable ones, that it taketh to itself, and will ever
take more and more from you!
Ah, that ye would renounce
all half-willing, and would decide for idleness as ye decide
Ah, that ye understood my word:
"Do ever what ye will- but first be such as can will.
Love ever your neighbour as
yourselves- but first be such as love themselves-Such as love
with great love, such as love with great contempt!" Thus
speaketh Zarathustra the godless.But why talk I, when no one
hath mine ears! It is still an hour too early for me here.
Mine own forerunner am I among
this people, mine own cockcrow in dark lanes.
But their hour cometh! And
there cometh also mine! Hourly do they become smaller, poorer,
unfruitfuller,- poor herbs! poor earth!
And soon shall they stand before
me like dry grass and prairie, and verily, weary of themselves-
and panting for fire, more than for water!
O blessed hour of the lightning!
O mystery before noontide!- Running fires will I one day make
of them, and heralds with flaming tongues:-Herald shall they
one day with flaming tongues: It cometh, it is nigh, the great
Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science