WHEN Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the lake of his home, and went into the mountains. There he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and for ten years did not weary of it. But finally he had a change of heart - and rising one morning with the dawn, he went before the sun, and spoke thus to it:
"Oh great star! What would your happiness be if you did not have us to shine for?
"For ten years you have climbed here to my cave: you would have become weary of shining and of the journey, had it not been for me, my eagle, and my serpent.
"But we waited for you every morning, took from you your overflow, and blessed you for it.
"Behold! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that has gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it from me. I wish to spread it and bestow it, until the wise have once more become joyous in their folly, and the poor happy in their riches.
"For that I must descend into the depths, as you do in the evening when you go below the sea and bring light also to the underworld, you superabundant star!
"Like you, I must descend - as the men, to whom I shall go, call it.
"So bless me then, you tranquil eye that can behold even the greatest happiness without envy!
"Bless the cup that is about to overflow, that the water may flow golden out of it, and carry everywhere the reflection of your bliss!
"Behold! This cup wants to become empty again, and Zarathustra wants to be a man again.
Thus began Zarathustra's descent.
Zarathustra came down from the mountains alone, meeting no one. Eventually he entered a forest, and there suddenly stood before him an old man, who had left his hermitage to dig for roots. And the old man spoke to Zarathustra:
"This wanderer is no stranger to me! Many years ago he passed this way; Zarathustra he was called, but he has changed. Then you carried your ashes into the mountains: will you now carry your fire into the valleys? Do you not fear to be punished for arson?
"Yes, I recognize Zarathustra. His eyes are clear now, no longer does he sneer with loathing. Just see how he dances along!
"How changed Zarathustra is! Zarathustra has become a child, an awakened one. What do you plan to do in the land of the sleepers? You have been floating in a sea of solitude, and the sea has borne you up. At long last, are you ready for dry land? Are you ready to drag yourself ashore?"
Zarathustra answered: "I love mankind."
"Why," said the saint, "did I go into the forest and the desert? Was it not because I loved mankind far too well? Now I love God! Mankind I do not love; mankind is a thing too imperfect for me. Love of mankind would be fatal to me."
Zarathustra answered: "Did I speak of love? I am bringing a gift for mankind."
"Give them nothing!" said the saint. "Take rather part of their load, and carry it along for them - that will be most agreeable to them, if only it be agreeable to you. If, however, you want to give them something, give no more than alms, and let them beg for that!"
"No," replied Zarathustra, "I will give no alms. I am not poor enough for that."
The saint laughed at Zarathustra, and spoke: "Then see to it that they accept your treasures! They are mistrustful of hermits, and do not believe that we come to give. The fall of our footsteps rings hollow through their streets. And what if at at night, when they are sleeping in their beds, they hear a man walking abroad long before sunrise? Will they not ask themselves: 'Where goes the thief?'
"Go not to mankind, but stay in the forest! Go rather even to the animals! Do you not want to be like me - a bear among bears, a bird among birds?"
"And what does the saint do in the forest?" asked Zarathustra.
The saint answered: "I compose hymns and I sing them; and in making hymns I laugh and I weep and I hum: thus do I praise God. By singing, weeping, laughing, and humming I praise the God who is my God. So, do you bring us a gift?"
When Zarathustra had heard these words, he bowed to the saint and said: "What could I have to give to you? I should leave now lest I take something away from you!" - And thus they parted, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing like two schoolboys.
But when Zarathustra was alone, he spoke to his heart: "Could it be possible? This old saint in the forest has not yet heard the news, that God is dead!"
When Zarathustra arrived at the edge of the forest, he came upon a town. Many people had gathered there in the marketplace to see a tightrope walker who had promised a performance. The crowd, believing that Zarathustra was the ringmaster come to introduce the tightrope walker, gathered around to listen. And Zarathustra spoke to the people:
"I bring you the Superman! Mankind is something to be surpassed. What have you done to surpass mankind?
"All beings so far have created something beyond themselves. Do you want to be the ebb of that great tide, and revert back to the beast rather than surpass mankind? What is the ape to a man? A laughing-stock, a thing of shame. And just so shall a man be to the Superman: a laughing-stock, a thing of shame. You have evolved from worm to man, but much within you is still worm. Once you were apes, yet even now man is more of an ape than any of the apes.
"Even the wisest among you is only a confusion and hybrid of plant and phantom. But do I ask you to become phantoms or plants?
"Behold, I bring you the Superman! The Superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: The Superman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beg of you my brothers, remain true to the earth, and believe not those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poisoners are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying ones and poisoned ones themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so away with them!
"Once blasphemy against God was the greatest blasphemy; but God died, and those blasphemers died along with him. Now to blaspheme against the earth is the greatest sin, and to rank love for the Unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth!
"Once the soul looked contemptuously upon the body, and then that contempt was the supreme thing: - the soul wished the body lean, monstrous, and famished. Thus it thought to escape from the body and the earth. But that soul was itself lean, monstrous, and famished; and cruelty was the delight of this soul! So my brothers, tell me: What does your body say about your soul? Is not your soul poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency?
"In truth, man is a polluted river. One must be a sea to receive a polluted river without becoming defiled. I bring you the Superman! He is that sea; in him your great contempt can be submerged.
"What is the greatest thing you can experience? It is the hour of your greatest contempt. The hour in which even your happiness becomes loathsome to you, and so also your reason and virtue.
"The hour when you say: 'What good is my happiness? It is poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency. But my happiness should justify existence itself!'
"The hour when you say: 'What good is my reason? Does it long for knowledge as the lion for his prey? It is poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency!'
"The hour when you say: 'What good is my virtue? It has not yet driven me mad! How weary I am of my good and my evil! It is all poverty and filth and miserable self-complacency!'
"The hour when you say: 'What good is my justice? I do not see that I am filled with fire and burning coals. But the just are filled with fire and burning coals!'
"The hour when you say: 'What good is my pity? Is not pity the cross on which he is nailed who loves man? But my pity is no crucifixion!'
"Have you ever spoken like this? Have you ever cried like this? Ah! If only I had heard you cry this way!
"It is not your sin - it is your moderation that cries to heaven; your very sparingness in sin cries to heaven!
"Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue? Where is the madness with which you should be cleansed?
"Behold, I bring you the Superman! He is that lightning, he is that madness!
And while Zarathustra was speaking in this way, someone in the crowd interrupted: "We've heard enough about the tightrope walker; now it's time to see him!" And while the crowd laughed at Zarathustra, the tightrope walker, believing that he had been given his cue, began his performance.