Zarathustra's prologue

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 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 spoke thus to it: You great star! What would be your happiness if you had not those for whom you shine!

For ten years have you climbed here to my cave: you would have wearied of your light and of the journey, had it not been for me, mine eagle, and my serpent.

But we awaited you every morning, took from you your overflow and blessed you for it.

Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that has gathered too much honey; I need hands out stretched 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 you do in the evening, when you goes behind the sea,and gives light also to the nether-world, you exuberant star!

Like you must I GO DOWN, as men say, to whom I shall descend.

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!

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

Thus began Zarathustra's down-going.



Zarathustra went down the mountain alone, no one meeting him. When he entered the forest,however, there suddenly stood before him an old man, who had left his holy cot to seek roots.And thus spoke the old man to Zarathustra:

"No stranger to me is this wanderer: many years ago passed he by. Zarathustra he was called; but he has altered.

Then you carried your ashes into the mountains: will you now carry your fire into the valleys? Fear you not the incendiary's doom?

Yea, I recognize Zarathustra. Pure is his eye, and no loathing lurk about his mouth. Goes he not along like a dancer?

Altered is Zarathustra; a child has Zarathustra become; an awakened one is Zarathustra: what will you do in the land of the sleepers?

As in the sea have you lived in solitude, and it has borne you up. Alas, will you now go ashore?Alas, will you again drag your body yourself?"

Zarathustra answered: "I love mankind."

"Why," said the saint, "did I go into the forest and the desert? Was it not because I loved men far too well?

Now I love God: men, I do not love. Man is a thing too imperfect for me.Love to man would be fatal to me."

Zarathustra answered: "What spoke I of love! I am bringing gifts to men."

"Give them nothing," said the saint. "Take rather part of their load, and carry it along with them--that will be most agreeable to them: if only it be agreeable to you!

If, however, you will give to them, give them no more than an alms, and let them also beg for it!"

"No," replied Zarathustra, "I give no alms. I am not poor enough for that."

The saint laughed at Zarathustra, and spoke thus: "Then see to it that they accept your treasures! They are distrustful of anchorites, and do not believe that we come with gifts.

The fall of our footsteps rings too hollow through their streets. And just as at night, when theyare in bed and hear a man abroad long before sunrise, so they ask themselves concerning us:Where goes the thief?

Go not to men, but stay in the forest! Go rather to the animals! Why not be like me--a bear among bears, a bird among birds?"

"And what does the saint in the forest?" asked Zarathustra.

The saint answered: "I make hymns and sing them; and in making hymns I laugh and weep andmumble: thus do I praise God.With singing, weeping, laughing, and mumbling do I praise the God who is my God. But what do you bring us as a gift?"

When Zarathustra had heard these words, he bowed to the saint and said: "What should I have togive you! Let me rather hurry hence lest I take aught away from you!" - And thus they parted from one another, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing like schoolboys.

When Zarathustra was alone, however, he said to his heart: "Could it be possible! This old saint in the forest has not yet heard of it, that GOD IS DEAD!"