The Famous Wise Ones

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 reverence.

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 enjoyeth 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 goeth into God-forsaken wildernesses, and hath broken his venerating heart.

In the yellow sands and burnt by the sun, he doubtless peereth thirstily at the isles rich in fountains, where life reposeth under shady trees.

But his thirst doth not persuade him to become like those comfortable ones; for where there are oases, there are also idols.

Hungry, fierce, lonesome, God-forsaken: so doth 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 conscientious.

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 saith virtue: ‘If thou must be a servant, seek him unto whom thy service is most useful!

  By PanEris using Melati.

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