Thus Spake Zarathustra

A Book for All and No-one


Translation by Thomas Common

Table Of Contents
Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
1. The Three Metamorphoses
2. The Academic Chairs of Virtue
3. Backworldsmen
4. The Despisers of the Body
5. Joys and Passions
6. The Pale Criminal
7. Reading and Writing
8. The Tree on the Hill
9. The Preachers of Death
10. War and Warriors
11. The New Idol
12. The Flies in the Market-Place
13. Chastity
14. The Friend
15. The Thousand and One Goals
16. Neighbour-Love
17. The Way of the Creating One
18. Old and Young Women
19. The Bite of the Adder
20. Child and Marriage
21. Voluntary Death
22. The Bestowing Virtue
23. The Child with the Mirror
24. In the Happy Isles
25. The Pitiful
26. The Priests
27. The Virtuous
28. The Rabble
29. The Tarantulas
30. The Famous Wise Ones
31. The Night-Song
32. The Dance-Song
33. The Grave-Song
34. Self-Surpassing
35. The Sublime Ones
36. The Land of Culture
37. Immaculate Perception
38. Scholars
39. Poets
40. Great Events
41. The Soothsayer
42. Redemption
43. Manly Prudence
44. The Stillest Hour
45. The Wanderer
46. The Vision and the Enigma
47. Involuntary Bliss
48. Before Sunrise
49. The Bedwarfing Virtue
50. On the Olive-Mount
51. On Passing-by
52. The Apostates
53. The Return Home
54. The Three Evil Things
55. The Spirit of Gravity
56. Old and New Tables
57. The Convalescent
58. The Great Longing
59. The Second Dance Song
60. The Seven Seals
61. The Honey Sacrifice
62. The Cry of Distress
63. Talk with the Kings
64. The Leech
65. The Magician
66. Out of Service
67. The Ugliest Man
68. The Voluntary Beggar
69. The Shadow
70. Noontide
71. The Greeting
72. The Supper
73. The Higher Man
74. The Song of Melancholy
75. Science
76. Daughters of the Desert
77. The Awakening
78. The Ass-Festival
79. The Drunken Song
80. The Sign


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 at last his heart changed,- and rising one morning with the rosy dawn, he went before the sun, and spake thus unto it:

Thou great star! What would be thy happiness if thou hadst not those for whom thou shinest!

For ten years hast thou climbed hither unto my cave: thou wouldst have wearied of thy light and of the journey, had it not been for me, mine eagle, and my serpent.

But we awaited thee every morning, took from thee thine overflow, and blessed thee for it.

Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it.

I would fain bestow and distribute, until the wise have once more become joyous in their folly, and the poor happy in their riches.

Therefore must I descend into the deep: as thou doest in the evening, when thou goest behind the sea, and givest light also to the nether-world, thou exuberant star!

Like thee must I go down, as men say, to whom I shall descend.

Bless me, then, thou tranquil eye, that canst 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 thy bliss!

Lo! This cup is again going to empty itself, and Zarathustra is again going to be a man.

Thus began Zarathustra's down-going.

1. The Three Metamorphoses

THREE metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.

Many heavy things are there for the spirit, the strong load-bearing spirit in which reverence dwelleth: for the heavy and the heaviest longeth its strength.

What is heavy? so asketh the load-bearing spirit; then kneeleth it down like the camel, and wanteth to be well laden.

What is the heaviest thing, ye heroes? asketh the load-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.

Is it not this: To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one's pride? To exhibit one's folly in order to mock at one's wisdom?

Or is it this: To desert our cause when it celebrateth its triumph? To ascend high mountains to tempt the tempter?

Or is it this: To feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge, and for the sake of truth to suffer hunger of soul?

Or is it this: To be sick and dismiss comforters, and make friends of the deaf, who never hear thy requests?

Or is it this: To go into foul water when it is the water of truth, and not disclaim cold frogs and hot toads?

Or is it this: To love those who despise us, and give one's hand to the phantom when it is going to frighten us?

All these heaviest things the load-bearing spirit taketh upon itself: and like the camel, which, when laden, hasteneth into the wilderness, so hasteneth the spirit into its wilderness.

But in the loneliest wilderness happeneth the second metamorphosis: here the spirit becometh a lion; freedom will it capture, and lordship in its own wilderness.

Its last Lord it here seeketh: hostile will it be to him, and to its last God; for victory will it struggle with the great dragon.

What is the great dragon which the spirit is no longer inclined to call Lord and God? "Thou-shalt," is the great dragon called. But the spirit of the lion saith, "I will."

"Thou-shalt," lieth in its path, sparkling with gold- a scale-covered beast; and on every scale glittereth golden, "Thou shalt!"

The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales, and thus speaketh the mightiest of all dragons: "All the values of things- glitter on me.

All values have already been created, and all created values- do I represent. Verily, there shall be no 'I will' any more. Thus speaketh the dragon.

My brethren, wherefore is there need of the lion in the spirit? Why sufficeth not the beast of burden, which renounceth and is reverent?

To create new values- that, even the lion cannot yet accomplish: but to create itself freedom for new creating- that can the might of the lion do.

To create itself freedom, and give a holy Nay even unto duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion.

To assume the ride to new values- that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverent spirit. Verily, unto such a spirit it is preying, and the work of a beast of prey.

As its holiest, it once loved "Thou-shalt": now is it forced to find illusion and arbitrariness even in the holiest things, that it may capture freedom from its love: the lion is needed for this capture.

But tell me, my brethren, what the child can do, which even the lion could not do? Why hath the preying lion still to become a child?

Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.

Aye, for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: its own will, willeth now the spirit; his own world winneth the world's outcast.

Three metamorphoses of the spirit have I designated to you: how the spirit became a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.. And at that time he abode in the town which is called The Pied Cow.

"-and only when ye have all denied me, will I return unto you.

Verily, with other eyes, my brethren, shall I then seek my lost ones; with another love shall I then love you."- ZARATHUSTRA, I., "The Bestowing Virtue."

23. The Child with the Mirror

AFTER this Zarathustra returned again into the mountains to the solitude of his cave, and withdrew himself from men, waiting like a sower who hath scattered his seed. His soul, however, became impatient and full of longing for those whom he loved: becau se he had still much to give them. For this is hardest of all: to close the open hand out of love, and keep modest as a giver.

Thus passed with the lonesome one months and years; his wisdom meanwhile increased, and caused him pain by its abundance.

One morning, however, he awoke ere the rosy dawn, and having meditated long on his couch, at last spake thus to his heart:

Why did I startle in my dream, so that I awoke? Did not a child come to me, carrying a mirror?

"O Zarathustra"- said the child unto me- "look at thyself in the mirror!"

But when I looked into the mirror, I shrieked, and my heart throbbed: for not myself did I see therein, but a devil's grimace and derision.

Verily, all too well do I understand the dream's portent and monition: my doctrine is in danger; tares want to be called wheat!

Mine enemies have grown powerful and have disfigured the likeness of my doctrine, so that my dearest ones have to blush for the gifts that I gave them.

Lost are my friends; the hour hath come for me to seek my lost ones!With these words Zarathustra started up, not however like a person in anguish seeking relief, but rather like a seer and a singer whom the spirit inspireth. With amazement did his eagl e and serpent gaze upon him: for a coming bliss overspread his countenance like the rosy dawn.

What hath happened unto me, mine animals?- said Zarathustra. Am I not transformed? Hath not bliss come unto me like a whirlwind?

Foolish is my happiness, and foolish things will it speak: it is still too young- so have patience with it!

Wounded am I by my happiness: all sufferers shall be physicians unto me!

To my friends can I again go down, and also to mine enemies! Zarathustra can again speak and bestow, and show his best love to his loved ones!

My impatient love overfloweth in streams,- down towards sunrise and sunset. Out of silent mountains and storms of affliction, rusheth my soul into the valleys.

Too long have I longed and looked into the distance. Too long hath solitude possessed me: thus have I unlearned to keep silence.

Utterance have I become altogether, and the brawling of a brook from high rocks: downward into the valleys will I hurl my speech.

And let the stream of my love sweep into unfrequented channels! How should a stream not finally find its way to the sea!

Forsooth, there is a lake in me, sequestered and self-sufficing; but the stream of my love beareth this along with it, down- to the sea!

New paths do I tread, a new speech cometh unto me; tired have I become- like all creators- of the old tongues. No longer will my spirit walk on worn-out soles.

Too slowly runneth all speaking for me:- into thy chariot, O storm, do I leap! And even thee will I whip with my spite!

Like a cry and an huzza will I traverse wide seas, till I find the Happy Isles where my friends sojourn;And mine enemies amongst them! How I now love every one unto whom I may but speak! Even mine enemies pertain to my bliss.

And when I want to mount my wildest horse, then doth my spear always help me up best: it is my foot's ever ready servant:The spear which I hurl at mine enemies! How grateful am I to mine enemies that I may at last hurl it!

Too great hath been the tension of my cloud: 'twixt laughters of lightnings will I cast hail-showers into the depths.

Violently will my breast then heave; violently will it blow its storm over the mountains: thus cometh its assuagement.

Verily, like a storm cometh my happiness, and my freedom! But mine enemies shall think that the evil one roareth over their heads.

Yea, ye also, my friends, will be alarmed by my wild wisdom; and perhaps ye will flee therefrom, along with mine enemies.

Ah, that I knew how to lure you back with shepherds' flutes! Ah, that my lioness wisdom would learn to roar softly! And much have we already learned with one another!

My wild wisdom became pregnant on the lonesome mountains; on the rough stones did she bear the youngest of her young.

Now runneth she foolishly in the arid wilderness, and seeketh and seeketh the soft sward- mine old, wild wisdom!

On the soft sward of your hearts, my friends!- on your love, would she fain couch her dearest one!.

"Ye look aloft when ye long for exaltation, and I look downward because I am exalted.

"Who among you can at the same time laugh and be exalted?

"He who climbeth on the highest mountains, laugheth at all tragic plays and tragic realities."- ZARATHUSTRA, I., "Reading and Writing."

45. The Wanderer

THEN, when it was about midnight, Zarathustra went his way over the ridge of the isle, that he might arrive early in the morning at the other coast; because there he meant to embark. For there was a good roadstead there, in which foreign ships also liked to anchor: those ships took many people with them, who wished to cross over from the Happy Isles. So when Zarathustra thus ascended the mountain, he thought on the way of his many solitary wanderings from youth onwards, and how many mountains and ridges and summits he had already climbed.

I am a wanderer and mountain-climber, said he to his heart. I love not the plains, and it seemeth I cannot long sit still.

And whatever may still overtake me as fate and experience- a wandering will be therein, and a mountain-climbing: in the end one experienceth only oneself.

The time is now past when accidents could befall me; and what could now fall to my lot which would not already be mine own!

It returneth only, it cometh home to me at last- mine own Self, and such of it as hath been long abroad, and scattered among things and accidents.

And one thing more do I know: I stand now before my last summit, and before that which hath been longest reserved for me. Ah, my hardest path must I ascend! Ah, I have begun my lonesomest wandering!

He, however, who is of my nature doth not avoid such an hour: the hour that saith unto him: Now only dost thou go the way to thy greatness! Summit and abyss- these are now comprised together!

Thou goest the way to thy greatness: now hath it become thy last refuge, what was hitherto thy last danger!

Thou goest the way to thy greatness: it must now be thy best courage that there is no longer any path behind thee!

Thou goest the way to thy greatness: here shall no one steal after thee! Thy foot itself hath effaced the path behind thee, and over it standeth written: Impossibility.

And if all ladders henceforth fail thee, then must thou learn to mount upon thine own head: how couldst thou mount upward otherwise?

Upon thine own head, and beyond thine own heart! Now must the gentlest in thee become the hardest.

He who hath always much-indulged himself, sickeneth at last by his much-indulgence. Praises on what maketh hardy! I do not praise the land where butter and honey- flow!

To learn to look away from oneself, is necessary in order to see many things.- this hardiness is needed by every mountain-climber.

He, however, who is obtrusive with his eyes as a discerner, how can he ever see more of anything than its foreground!

But thou, O Zarathustra, wouldst view the ground of everything, and its background: thus must thou mount even above thyself- up, upwards, until thou hast even thy stars under thee!

Yea! To look down upon myself, and even upon my stars: that only would I call my summit, that hath remained for me as my last summit! to himself while ascending, comforting his heart with harsh maxims: for he was sore at heart as he had never been before. And when he had reached the top of the mountain-ridge, behold, there lay the other sea spread out before him; and he stood still and was long silent. The night, however, was cold at this height, and clear and starry.

I recognise my destiny, said he at last, sadly. Well! I am ready. Now hath my last lonesomeness begun.

Ah, this sombre, sad sea, below me! Ah, this sombre nocturnal vexation! Ah, fate and sea! To you must I now go down!

Before my highest mountain do I stand, and before my longest wandering: therefore must I first go deeper down than I ever ascended:

-Deeper down into pain than I ever ascended, even into its darkest flood! So willeth my fate. Well! I am ready.

Whence come the highest mountains? so did I once ask. Then did I learn that they come out of the sea.

That testimony is inscribed on their stones, and on the walls of their summits. Out of the deepest must the highest come to its height. on the ridge of the mountain where it was cold: when, however, he came into the vicinity of the sea, and at last stood alone amongst the cliffs, then had he become weary on his way, and eagerer than ever before.

Everything as yet sleepeth, said he; even the sea sleepeth. Drowsily and strangely doth its eye gaze upon me.

But it breatheth warmly- I feel it. And I feel also that it dreameth. It tosseth about dreamily on hard pillows.

Hark! Hark! How it groaneth with evil recollections! Or evil expectations?

Ah, I am sad along with thee, thou dusky monster, and angry with myself even for thy sake.

Ah, that my hand hath not strength enough! Gladly, indeed, would I free thee from evil dreams!And while Zarathustra thus spake, he laughed at himself with melancholy and bitterness. What! Zarathustra, said he, wilt thou even sing consolation to the sea?

Ah, thou amiable fool, Zarathustra, thou too-blindly confiding one! But thus hast thou ever been: ever hast thou approached confidently all that is terrible.

Every monster wouldst thou caress. A whiff of warm breath, a little soft tuft on its paw:- and immediately wert thou ready to love and lure it.

Love is the danger of the lonesomest one, love to anything, if it only live! Laughable, verily, is my folly and my modesty in love!, and laughed thereby a second time. Then, however, he thought of his abandoned friends- and as if he had done them a wrong with his thoughts, he upbraided himself because of his thoughts. And forthwith it came to pass that the laugher wept- with anger and longing wept Zarathustra bitterly.


Ah, where in the world have there been greater follies than with the pitiful? And what in the world hath caused more suffering than the follies of the pitiful?

Woe unto all loving ones who have not an elevation which is above their pity!

Thus spake the devil unto me, once on a time: "Ever God hath his hell: it is his love for man."

And lately did I hear him say these words: "God is dead: of his pity for man hath God died."- ZARATHUSTRA, II., "The Pitiful."

61. The Honey Sacrifice

-AND again passed moons and years over Zarathustra's soul, and he heeded it not; his hair, however, became white. One day when he sat on a stone in front of his cave, and gazed calmly into the distanceone there gazeth out on the sea, and away beyond sinuous abysses,then went his animals thoughtfully round about him, and at last set themselves in front of him.

"O Zarathustra," said they, "gazest thou out perhaps for thy happiness?"- "Of what account is my happiness!" answered he, "I have long ceased to strive any more for happiness, I strive for my work."- "O Zarathustra," said the animals once more, "that sayest thou as one who hath overmuch of good things. Liest thou not in a sky-blue lake of happiness?"- "Ye wags," answered Zarathustra, and smiled, "how well did ye choose the simile! But ye know also that my happiness is heavy, and not like a fluid wave of water: it presseth me and will not leave me, and is like molten pitch."Then went his animals again thoughtfully around him, and placed themselves once more in front of him. "O Zarathustra," said they, "it is consequently for that reason that thou thyself always becometh yellower and darker, although thy hair looketh white and flaxen? Lo, thou sittest in thy pitch!"- "What do ye say, mine animals?" said Zarathustra, laughing; "verily I reviled when I spake of pitch. As it happeneth with me, so is it with all fruits that turn ripe. It is the honey in my veins that maketh my blood thicker, and also my soul stiller."- "So will it be, O Zarathustra," answered his animals, and pressed up to him; "but wilt thou not today ascend a high mountain? The air is pure, and today one seeth more of the world than ever."- "Yea, mine animals," answered he, "ye counsel admirably and according to my heart: I will today ascend a high mountain! But see that honey is there ready to hand, yellow, white, good, ice-cool, golden-comb-honey. For know that when aloft I will make the honey-sacrifice."When Zarathustra, however, was aloft on the summit, he sent his animals home that had accompanied him, and found that he was now alone:- then he laughed from the bottom of his heart, looked around him, and spake thus:

That I spake of sacrifices and honey-sacrifices, it was merely a ruse in talking and verily, a useful folly! Here aloft can I now speak freer than in front of mountain-caves and anchorites' domestic animals.

What to sacrifice! I squander what is given me, a squanderer with a thousand hands: how could I call that- sacrificing?

And when I desired honey I only desired bait, and sweet mucus and mucilage, for which even the mouths of growling bears, and strange, sulky, evil birds, water:

-The best bait, as huntsmen and fishermen require it. For if the world be as a gloomy forest of animals, and a pleasure-ground for all wild huntsmen, it seemeth to me rather- and preferably- a fathomless, rich sea;

-A sea full of many-hued fishes and crabs, for which even the gods might long, and might be tempted to become fishers in it, and casters of nets,- so rich is the world in wonderful things, great and small!

Especially the human world, the human sea:- towards it do I now throw out my golden angle-rod and say: Open up, thou human abyss!

Open up, and throw unto me thy fish and shining crabs! With my best bait shall I allure to myself today the strangest human fish!

-My happiness itself do I throw out into all places far and wide 'twixt orient, noontide, and occident, to see if many human fish will not learn to hug and tug at my happiness;Until, biting at my sharp hidden hooks, they have to come up unto my height, the motleyest abyss-groundlings, to the wickedest of all fishers of men.

For this am I from the heart and from the beginning- drawing, hither-drawing, upward-drawing, upbringing; a drawer, a trainer, a training-master, who not in vain counselled himself once on a time: "Become what thou art!"

Thus may men now come up to me; for as yet do I await the signs that it is time for my down-going; as yet do I not myself go down, as I must do, amongst men.

Therefore do I here wait, crafty and scornful upon high mountains, no impatient one, no patient one; rather one who hath even unlearnt patience,- because he no longer "suffereth."

For my fate giveth me time: it hath forgotten me perhaps? Or doth it sit behind a big stone and catch flies?

And verily, I am well-disposed to mine eternal fate, because it doth not hound and hurry me, but leaveth me time for merriment and mischief; so that I have to-day ascended this high mountain to catch fish.

Did ever any one catch fish upon high mountains? And though it be a folly what I here seek and do, it is better so than that down below I should become solemn with waiting, and green and yellow-A posturing wrath-snorter with waiting, a holy howl-storm from the mountains, an impatient one that shouteth down into the valleys: "Hearken, else I will scourge you with the scourge of God!"

Not that I would have a grudge against such wrathful ones on that account: they are well enough for laughter to me! Impatient must they now be, those big alarm-drums, which find a voice now or never!

Myself, however, and my fate- we do not talk to the Present, neither do we talk to the Never: for talking we have patience and time and more than time. For one day must it yet come, and may not pass by.

What must one day come and may not pass by? Our great Hazar, that is to say, our great, remote human-kingdom, the Zarathustra-kingdom of a thousand years- How remote may such "remoteness" be? What doth it concern me? But on that account it is none the less sure unto me-, with both feet stand I secure on this ground;

-On an eternal ground, on hard primary rock, on this highest, hardest, primary mountain-ridge, unto which all winds come, as unto the storm-parting, asking Where? and Whence? and Whither?

Here laugh, laugh, my hearty, healthy wickedness! From high mountains cast down thy glittering scorn-laughter! Allure for me with thy glittering the finest human fish!

And whatever belongeth unto me in all seas, my in-and-for-me in all things- fish that out for me, bring that up to me: for that do I wait, the wickedest of all fish-catchers.

Out! out! my fishing-hook! In and down, thou bait of my happiness! Drip thy sweetest dew, thou honey of my heart! Bite, my fishing-hook, into the belly of all black affliction!

Look out, look out, mine eye! Oh, how many seas round about me, what dawning human futures! And above me- what rosy red stillness! What unclouded silence!