(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
63.Talk with the Kings
ERE Zarathustra had been an
hour on his way in the mountains and forests, he saw all at
once a strange procession. Right on the path which he was
about to descend came two kings walking, bedecked with crowns
and purple girdles, and variegated like flamingoes: they drove
before them a laden ass. "What do these kings want in
my domain?" said Zarathustra in astonishment to his heart,
and hid himself hastily behind a thicket. When however the
kings approached to him, he said half-aloud, like one speaking
only to himself: "Strange! Strange! How doth this harmonise?
Two kings do I see- and only one ass!"
Thereupon the two kings made
a halt; they smiled and looked towards the spot whence the
voice proceeded, and afterwards looked into each other's faces.
"Such things do we also think among ourselves,"
said the king on the right, "but we do not utter them."
The king on the left, however,
shrugged his shoulders and answered: "That may perhaps
be a goat-herd. Or an anchorite who hath lived too long among
rocks and trees. For no society at all spoileth also good
"Good manners?" replied
angrily and bitterly the other king: "what then do we
run out of the way of? Is it not 'good manners'? Our 'good
Better, verily, to live among
anchorites and goat-herds, than with our gilded, false, over-rouged
populace- though it call itself 'good society.'
-Though it call itself 'nobility.'
But there all is false and foul, above all the blood- thanks
to old evil diseases and worse curers.
The best and dearest to me
at present is still a sound peasant, coarse, artful, obstinate
and enduring: that is at present the noblest type.
The peasant is at present the
best; and the peasant type should be master! But it is the
kingdom of the populace- I no longer allow anything to be
imposed upon me. The populace, however- that meaneth, hodgepodge.
is everything mixed with everything, saint and swindler, gentleman
and Jew, and every beast out of Noah's ark.
Good manners! Everything is
false and foul with us. No one knoweth any longer how to reverence:
it is that precisely that we run away from. They are fulsome
obtrusive dogs; they gild palm-leaves.
This loathing choketh me, that
we kings ourselves have become false, draped and disguised
with the old faded pomp of our ancestors, show-pieces for
the stupidest, the craftiest, and whosoever at present trafficketh
We are not the first men- and
have nevertheless to stand for them: of this imposture have
we at last become weary and disgusted.
From the rabble have we gone
out of the way, from all those bawlers and scribe-blowflies,
from the trader-stench, the ambition-fidgeting, the bad breath-:
fie, to live among the rabble;
-Fie, to stand for the first
men among the rabble! Ah, loathing! Loathing! Loathing! What
doth it now matter about us kings!"Thine old sickness
seizeth thee," said here the king on the left, "thy
loathing seizeth thee, my poor brother. Thou knowest, however,
that some one heareth us."
Immediately thereupon, Zarathustra,
who had opened ears and eyes to this talk, rose from his hiding-place,
advanced towards the kings, and thus began:
"He who hearkeneth unto
you, he who gladly hearkeneth unto you, is called Zarathustra.
I am Zarathustra who once said:
'What doth it now matter about kings!' Forgive me; I rejoiced
when ye said to each other: 'What doth it matter about us
Here, however, is my domain
and jurisdiction: what may ye be seeking in my domain? Perhaps,
however, ye have found on your way what I seek: namely, the
When the kings heard this,
they beat upon their breasts and said with one voice: "We
With the sword of thine utterance
severest thou the thickest darkness of our hearts. Thou hast
discovered our distress; for lo! we are on our way to find
the higher man-The man that is higher than we, although we
are kings. To him do we convey this ass. For the highest man
shall also be the highest lord on earth.
There is no sorer misfortune
in all human destiny, than when the mighty of the earth are
not also the first men. Then everything becometh false and
distorted and monstrous.
And when they are even the
last men, and more beast than man, then riseth and riseth
the populace in honour, and at last saith even the populace-virtue:
'Lo, I alone am virtue!'"What have I just heard? answered
Zarathustra. What wisdom in kings! I am enchanted, and verily,
I have already promptings to make a rhyme thereon:-Even if
it should happen to be a rhyme not suited for every one's
ears. I unlearned long ago to have consideration for long
ears. Well then! Well now!
(Here, however, it happened
that the ass also found utterance: it said distinctly and
with malevolence, Y-E-A.)
'Twas once- methinks year one
of our blessed Lord,
Drunk without wine, the Sybil
"How ill things go!
Decline! Decline! Ne'er sank
the world so low!
Rome now hath turned harlot
Rome's Caesar a beast, and
God- hath turned Jew!
With those rhymes of Zarathustra
the kings were delighted; the king on the right, however,
said: "O Zarathustra, how well it was that we set out
to see thee!
For thine enemies showed us
thy likeness in their mirror: there lookedst thou with the
grimace of a devil, and sneeringly: so that we were afraid
But what good did it do! Always
didst thou prick us anew in heart and ear with thy sayings.
Then did we say at last: What doth it matter how he look!
We must hear him; him who teacheth:
'Ye shall love peace as a means to new wars, and the short
peace more than the long!'
No one ever spake such warlike
words: 'What is good? To be brave is good. It is the good
war that halloweth every cause.'
O Zarathustra, our fathers'
blood stirred in our veins at such words: it was like the
voice of spring to old wine-casks.
When the swords ran among one
another like red-spotted serpents, then did our fathers become
fond of life; the sun of every peace seemed to them languid
and lukewarm, the long peace, however, made them ashamed.
How they sighed, our fathers,
when they saw on the wall brightly furbished, dried-up swords!
Like those they thirsted for war. For a sword thirsteth to
drink blood, and sparkleth with desire."- -When the kings
thus discoursed and talked eagerly of the happiness of their
fathers, there came upon Zarathustra no little desire to mock
at their eagerness: for evidently they were very peaceable
kings whom he saw before him, kings with old and refined features.
But he restrained himself. "Well!" said he, "thither
leadeth the way, there lieth the cave of Zarathustra; and
this day is to have a long evening! At present, however, a
cry of distress calleth me hastily away from you.
It will honour my cave if kings
want to sit and wait in it: but, to be sure, ye will have
to wait long!
Well! What of that! Where doth
one at present learn better to wait than at courts? And the
whole virtue of kings that hath remained unto them- is it
not called to-day: Ability to wait?"
Thus spake Zarathustra.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science