For the old gods, after all, things came to an end long ago; and verily, they had a good gay godlike end. They did not end in a “twilight,” though this lie is told. Instead: one day they laughed themselves to death. That happened when the most godless word issued from one of the gods themselves — the word: “There is one god. Thou shalt have no other god before me!” An old grimbeard of a god, a jealous one, thus forgot himself. And then all the gods laughed and rocked on their chairs and cried,
“Is not just this godlike that there are gods but no God?”
In a dream, in the last dream of the morning, I stood in the foothills today — beyond the world, held scales, and weighed the world. . . .
I flew, quivering, an arrow, through sun-drunken delight, away into distant futures where no dream had yet seen, into hotter souths than artists ever dreamed of, where gods in their dances are ashamed of all clothes — to speak in parables and to limp and stammer like a poet; and verily, I am ashamed that I must still be a poet.
Where all becoming seemed to me the dance of gods and the prankishness of gods, and the world seemed free and frolicsome and as if fleeing back to itself — as an eternal fleeing and seeking each other again of many gods, as the happy controverting of each other, conversing again with each other, and converging again of many gods.
Where all time seemed to me a happy mockery of moments, where necessity was freedom itself playing happily with the sting of freedom.
Now I wait for my own redemption — that I may go to them for the last time. For I want to go to men once more; under their eyes I want to go under; dying, I want to give them my richest gift. From the sun I learned this: when he goes down, overrich; he pours gold into the sea out of inexhaustible riches, so that even the poorest fisherman still rows with golden oars. For this I once saw and I did not tire of my tears as I watched it.
My brothers, the firstling is always sacrificed. We, however, are firstlings. All of us bleed at secret sacrificial altars; all of us burn and roast in honor of old idols. What is best in us is still young: that attracts old palates. Our flesh is tender, our hide is mere lamb-skin: how could we fail to attract old idol-priests? Even in ourselves the old idol-priest still lives who roasts what is best in us for his feast. Alas, my brothers, how could firstlings fail to be sacrifices?
But thus our kind wants it; and I love those who do not want to preserve themselves. Those who are going under I love with my whole life: for they cross over.
Everything that the good call evil must must come together so that one truth may be born.
O my brothers, are you evil enough for this truth? The audacious daring, the long mistrust, the cruel No, the disgust, the cutting into the living — how rarely does all this come together. But from such seed is truth begotten.
“Thou shalt not rob! Thou shalt not kill!” Such words were once called holy; one bent the knee and head and took off one’s shoes before them. But I ask you: where have there ever been better robbers and killers in this world than such holy words?
Is there not in all life itself robbing and killing? And that such words were called holy — was not truth itself killed thereby? Or was it the preaching of death that was called holy, which contradicted and contravened all life? O my brothers, break, break the old tablets!
“To the clean all is clean,” the people say. But I say unto you, “To the mean all becomes mean.”
Therefore the swooners and head-hangers, whose hearts also hang limply, preach, “The world itself is a filthy monster.” For all these have an unclean spirit — but especially those who have neither rest nor repose except when they see the world from abaft, the afterworldly. To these I say to their faces, even though it may not sound nice: the world is like man in having a backside abaft; that much is true. There is much filth in the world; that much is true. But that does not make the world itself a filthy monster.
There is wisdom in this, that there is much in the world that smells foul: nausea itself creates wings and water-divining powers. Even in the best there is still something that nauseates; and even the best is something that must be overcome. O my brothers, there is much wisdom in this, that there is much filth in the world.
To gain knowledge is a joy for the lion-willed! But those who have become weary are themselves merely being “willed,” and all the billows play with them. And this is always the manner of the weak: they get lost on the way. And in the end their weariness till asks, “Why did we ever pursue any way at all? It is all the same.” Their ears appreciate the preaching, “Nothing is worth while! You shall not will!” Yet this is an exhortation to bondage.
There stands the bark; over there perhaps the great nothing lies. But who would embark on this “perhaps”? No one of you wants to embark on the bark of death. Why then do you want to be world-weary? World-weary! And you are not even removed from the earth. Lusting after the earth I have always found you, in love even with your own world-weariness. Not for nothing is your lip hanging; a little earthly wish still sits on it. And in your eyes — does not a little cloud of unforgotten earthly joy float there?
There are many good inventions on earth, some useful, some pleasing: for their sake, the earth is to be loved. And there is such a variety of well-invented things that the earth is like the breasts of a woman: useful as well as pleasing.
But you who are world-weary, you who are earth-lazy, you should be lashed with switches: with lashes one should make your legs sprightly again. For when you are not invalids and decrepit wretches of whom the earth is weary, you are shrewd sloths or sweet-toothed, sneaky pleasure-cats. And if you do not want to run again with pleasure, then you should pass away. To the incurable, one should not try to be a physician — thus Zarathustra teaches — so you shall pass away!
But it takes more courage to make an end than to make a new verse: all physicians and poets know that.
What is the highest species of all and what is the lowest? The parasite is the lowest species; but whoever is of the highest species will nourish the most parasites. For the soul that has the longest ladder and reaches down deepest — how should the most parasites not sit on that? The most comprehensive soul, which can run and stray and roam farthest within itself; the most necessary soul, which out of sheer joy plunges itself into chance; the soul which, having being, dives into becoming; the soul which has, but wants to want and will; the soul which flees itself and catches up with itself in the widest circle; the wisest soul; which folly exhorts most sweetly; the soul which loves itself most, in which all things have their sweep and countersweep and ebb and flow — oh, how shoud the highest soul not have the most parasites?
Thus I want man and woman: the one fit for war, the other fit to give birth, but both fit to dance with head and limbs.
And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.
O thou my will! Thou cessation of all need, my own necessity! Keep me from all small victories! Thou destination of my soul, which I call destiny! Thou in-me! Over-me! Keep me and save me for a great destiny!
And thy last greatness, my will, save up for thy last feat that thou mayest be inexorable in thy victory. Alas, who was not vanquished in his victory? Alas, whose eye would not darken in this drunken twilight? Alas, whose foot would not reel in victory and forget how to stand?
That I may one day be ready and ripe in the great noon: as ready and ripe as glowing bronze, clouds pregnant with lightning, and swelling milk udders — ready for myself and my most hidden will: a bow lusting for its arrow, an arrow lusting for its star — a star ready and ripe in its noon, glowing, pierced, enraptured by annihilating sun arrows — a sun itself and an inexorable solar will, ready to annihilate in victory!
O will, cessation of all need, my own necessity! Save me for a great victory!
Thus spoke Zarathustra.