(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
67.The Ugliest Man
-AND again did Zarathustra's
feet run through mountains and forests, and his eyes sought
and sought, but nowhere was he to be seen whom they wanted
to see- the sorely distressed sufferer and crier. On the whole
way, however, he rejoiced in his heart and was full of gratitude.
"What good things," said he, "hath this day
given me, as amends for its bad beginning! What strange interlocutors
have I found!
At their words will I now chew
a long while as at good corn; small shall my teeth grind and
crush them, until they flow like milk into my soul!"When,
however, the path again curved round a rock, all at once the
landscape changed, and Zarathustra entered into a realm of
death. Here bristled aloft black and red cliffs, without any
grass, tree, or bird's voice. For it was a valley which all
animals avoided, even the beasts of prey, except that a species
of ugly, thick, green serpent came here to die when they became
old. Therefore the shepherds called this valley: "Serpent-death."
Zarathustra, however, became
absorbed in dark recollections, for it seemed to him as if
he had once before stood in this valley. And much heaviness
settled on his mind, so that he walked slowly and always more
slowly, and at last stood still. Then, however, when he opened
his eyes, he saw something sitting by the wayside shaped like
a man, and hardly like a man, something nondescript. And all
at once there came over Zarathustra a great shame, because
he had gazed on such a thing. Blushing up to the very roots
of his white hair, he turned aside his glance, and raised
his foot that he might leave this ill-starred place. Then,
however, became the dead wilderness vocal: for from the ground
a noise welled up, gurgling and rattling, as water gurgleth
and rattleth at night through stopped-up water-pipes; and
at last it turned into human voice and human speech:it sounded
Read my riddle! Say, say! What is the revenge on the witness?
I entice thee back; here is
smooth ice! See to it, see to it, that thy pride does not
here break its legs!
Thou thinkest thyself wise,
thou proud Zarathustra! Read then the riddle, thou hard nut-cracker,-
the riddle that I am! Say then: who am I!"
-When however Zarathustra had
heard these words,- what think ye then took place in his soul?
Pity overcame him; and he sank down all at once, like an oak
that hath long withstood many tree-fellers,heavily, suddenly,
to the terror even of those who meant to fell it. But immediately
he got up again from the ground, and his countenance became
"I know thee well,"
said he, with a brazen voice, "thou art the murderer
of God! Let me go.
Thou couldst not endure him
who beheld thee,- who ever beheld thee through and through,
thou ugliest man. Thou tookest revenge on this witness!"
Thus spake Zarathustra and
was about to go; but the nondescript grasped at a corner of
his garment and began anew to gurgle and seek for words. "Stay,"
said he at last-"Stay! Do not pass by! I have divined
what axe it was that struck thee to the ground: hail to thee,
O Zarathustra, that thou art again upon thy feet!
Thou hast divined, I know it
well, how the man feeleth who killed him,- the murderer of
God. Stay! Sit down here beside me; it is not to no purpose.
To whom would I go but unto
thee? Stay, sit down! Do not however look at me! Honour thus-
They persecute me: now art
thou my last refuge. Not with their hatred, not with their
bailiffs;- Oh, such persecution would I mock at, and be proud
Hath not all success hitherto
been with the well-persecuted ones? And he who persecuteth
well learneth readily to be obsequent- when once he is- put
behind! But it is their pity-Their pity is it from which I
flee away and flee to thee. O Zarathustra, protect me, thou,
my last refuge, thou sole one who divinedst me:
-Thou hast divined how the
man feeleth who killed him. Stay! And if thou wilt go, thou
impatient one, go not the way that I came. That way is bad.
Art thou angry with me because
I have already racked language too long? Because I have already
counselled thee? But know that it is I, the ugliest man,
-Who have also the largest,
heaviest feet. Where I have gone, the way is bad. I tread
all paths to death and destruction.
But that thou passedst me by
in silence, that thou blushedst- I saw it well: thereby did
I know thee as Zarathustra.
Every one else would have thrown
to me his alms, his pity, in look and speech. But for that-
I am not beggar enough: that didst thou divine.
For that I am too rich, rich
in what is great, frightful, ugliest, most unutterable! Thy
shame, O Zarathustra, honoured me!
With difficulty did I get out
of the crowd of the pitiful,- that I might find the only one
who at present teacheth that 'pity is obtrusive'- thyself,
-Whether it be the pity of
a God, or whether it be human pity, it is offensive to modesty.
And unwillingness to help may be nobler than the virtue that
rusheth to do so.
That however- namely, pity-
is called virtue itself at present by all petty people:- they
have no reverence for great misfortune, great ugliness, great
Beyond all these do I look,
as a dog looketh over the backs of thronging flocks of sheep.
They are petty, good-wooled, good-willed, grey people.
As the heron looketh contemptuously
at shallow pools, with backward-bent head, so do I look at
the throng of grey little waves and wills and souls.
Too long have we acknowledged
them to be right, those petty people: so we have at last given
them power as well;- and now do they teach that 'good is only
what petty people call good.'
And 'truth' is at present what
the preacher spake who himself sprang from them, that singular
saint and advocate of the petty people, who testified of himself:
'I- am the truth.'
That immodest one hath long
made the petty people greatly puffed up,- he who taught no
small error when he taught: 'I- am the truth.'
Hath an immodest one ever been
answered more courteously?- Thou, however, O Zarathustra,
passedst him by, and saidst: 'Nay! Nay! Three times Nay!'
Thou warnedst against his error;
thou warnedst- the first to do so- against pity:- not every
one, not none, but thyself and thy type.
Thou art ashamed of the shame
of the great sufferer; and verily when thou sayest: 'From
pity there cometh a heavy cloud; take heed, ye men!'
-When thou teachest: 'All creators
are hard, all great love is beyond their pity:' O Zarathustra,
how well versed dost thou seem to me in weather-signs!
Thou thyself, however,- warn
thyself also against thy pity! For many are on their way to
thee, many suffering, doubting, despairing, drowning, freezing
onesI warn thee also against myself. Thou hast read my best,
my worst riddle, myself, and what I have done. I know the
axe that felleth thee.
But he- had to die: he looked
with eyes which beheld everything,- he beheld men's depths
and dregs, all his hidden ignominy and ugliness.
His pity knew no modesty: he
crept into my dirtiest corners. This most prying, over-intrusive,
over-pitiful one had to die.
He ever beheld me: on such
a witness I would have revenge- or not live myself.
The God who beheld everything,
and also man: that God had to die! Man cannot endure it that
such a witness should live."
Thus spake the ugliest man.
Zarathustra however got up, and prepared to go on: for he
felt frozen to the very bowels.
said he, "thou warnedst me against thy path. As thanks
for it I praise mine to thee. Behold, up thither is the cave
My cave is large and deep and
hath many corners; there findeth he that is most hidden his
hiding-place. And close beside it, there are a hundred lurking-places
and by-places for creeping, fluttering, and hopping creatures.
Thou outcast, who hast cast
thyself out, thou wilt not live amongst men and men's pity?
Well then, do like me! Thus wilt thou learn also from me;
only the doer learneth.
And talk first and foremost
to mine animals! The proudest animal and the wisest animal-
they might well be the right counsellors for us both!"-
Thus spake Zarathustra and went his way, more thoughtfully
and slowly even than before: for he asked himself many things,
and hardly knew what to answer.
"How poor indeed is man,"
thought he in his heart, "how ugly, how wheezy, how full
of hidden shame!
They tell me that man loveth
himself. Ah, how great must that self-love be! How much contempt
is opposed to it!
Even this man hath loved himself,
as he hath despised himself,- a great lover methinketh he
is, and a great despiser.
No one have I yet found who
more thoroughly despised himself: even that is elevation.
Alas, was this perhaps the higher man whose cry I heard?
I love the great despisers.
Man is something that hath to be surpassed."-
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science