XXX. THE FAMOUS WISE ONES
by Friedrich Nietzsche
The people have ye served and the people's superstition--NOT the truth!--
all ye famous wise ones! And just on that account did they pay you
And on that account also did they tolerate your unbelief, because it was a
pleasantry and a by-path for the people. Thus doth the master give free
scope to his slaves, and even enjoy their presumptuousness.
But he who is hated by the people, as the wolf by the dogs--is the free
spirit, the enemy of fetters, the non-adorer, the dweller in the woods.
To hunt him out of his lair--that was always called sense of right by the
people: on him do they still hound their sharpest-toothed dogs.
For there the truth is, where the people are! Woe, woe to the seeking
ones!--thus hath it echoed through all time.
Your people would ye justify in their reverence: that called ye Will to
Truth, ye famous wise ones!
And your heart hath always said to itself: From the people have I come:
from thence came to me also the voice of God.
Stiff-necked and artful, like the ass, have ye always been, as the
advocates of the people.
And many a powerful one who wanted to run well with the people, hath
harnessed in front of his horses--a donkey, a famous wise man.
And now, ye famous wise ones, I would have you finally throw off entirely
the skin of the lion!
The skin of the beast of prey, the speckled skin, and the dishevelled locks
of the investigator, the searcher, and the conqueror!
Ah! for me to learn to believe in your conscientiousness, ye would first
have to break your venerating will.
Conscientious--so call I him who goes into God-forsaken wildernesses, and
hath broken his venerating heart.
In the yellow sands and burnt by the sun, he doubtless peers thirstily at
the isles rich in fountains, where life reposes under shady trees.
But his thirst does not persuade him to become like those comfortable ones:
for where there are oases, there are also idols.
Hungry, fierce, lonesome, God-forsaken: so does the lion-will wish itself.
Free from the happiness of slaves, redeemed from Deities and adorations,
fearless and fear-inspiring, grand and lonesome: so is the will of the
In the wilderness have ever dwelt the conscientious, the free spirits, as
lords of the wilderness; but in the cities dwell the well-foddered, famous
wise ones--the draught-beasts.
For, always, do they draw, as asses--the PEOPLE'S carts!
Not that I on that account upbraid them: but serving ones do they remain,
and harnessed ones, even though they glitter in golden harness.
And often have they been good servants and worthy of their hire. For thus
says virtue: If thou must be a servant, seek him unto whom your service
is most useful!
The spirit and virtue of your master shall advance by you being his
servant: thus will you yourself advance with his spirit and virtue!
And verily, ye famous wise ones, ye servants of the people! Ye yourselves
have advanced with the people's spirit and virtue--and the people by you!
To your honour do I say it!
But the people ye remain for me, even with your virtues, the people with
purblind eyes--the people who know not what SPIRIT is!
Spirit is life which itself cuts into life: by its own torture does it
increase its own knowledge,--did ye know that before?
And the spirit's happiness is this: to be anointed and consecrated with
tears as a sacrificial victim,--did ye know that before?
And the blindness of the blind one, and his seeking and groping, shall yet
testify to the power of the sun into which he hath gazed,--did ye know that
And with mountains shall the discerning one learn to BUILD! It is a small
thing for the spirit to remove mountains,--did ye know that before?
Ye know only the sparks of the spirit: but ye do not see the anvil which
it is, and the cruelty of its hammer!
Verily, ye know not the spirit's pride! But still less could ye endure the
spirit's humility, should it ever want to speak!
And never yet could ye cast your spirit into a pit of snow: ye are not hot
enough for that! Thus are ye unaware, also, of the delight of its
In all respects, however, ye make too familiar with the spirit; and out of
wisdom have ye often made an almshouse and a hospital for bad poets.
Ye are not eagles: thus have ye never experienced the happiness of the
alarm of the spirit. And he who is not a bird should not camp above
Ye seem to me lukewarm ones: but coldly flows all deep knowledge. Ice-
cold are the innermost wells of the spirit: a refreshment to hot hands and
Respectable do ye there stand, and stiff, and with straight backs, ye
famous wise ones!--no strong wind or will impells you.
Have ye never seen a sail crossing the sea, rounded and inflated, and
trembling with the violence of the wind?
Like the sail trembling with the violence of the spirit, doth my wisdom
cross the sea--my wild wisdom!
But ye servants of the people, ye famous wise ones--how COULD ye go with
Thus spake Zarathustra.
the first thought of Zarathustra