The Talk with Kings
Ere Zarathustra had been an hour on his way in the mountains and forests, he saw all at once a strange procession. Right on the path which he was about to descend came two kings walking, bedecked with crowns and purple girdles, and variegated like flamingoes; they drove before them a laden ass. What do these kings want in my domain? said Zarathustra in astonishment to his heart, and hid himself hastily behind a thicket. When however the kings approached to him, he said half-aloud, like one speaking only to himself: Strange! Strange! How doth this harmonise? Two kings do I see and only one ass!
Thereupon the two kings made a halt; they smiled and looked towards the spot whence the voice proceeded, and afterwards looked into each others faces. Such things do we also think among ourselves, said the king on the right. But we do not utter them.
The king on the left, however, shrugged his shoulders and answered: That may perhaps be a goat-herd. Or an anchorite who hath lived too long among rocks and trees. For no society at all spoileth also good manners.
Good manners? replied angrily and bitterly the other king. What then do we run out of the way of? Is it not good manners? Or good society?
Better, verily, to live among anchorites and goat-herds, than with our gilded, false, over-rouged populace though it call itself good society.
Though it call itself nobility. But there all is false and foul, above all the blood thanks to old evil diseases and worse curers.
The best and dearest to me at present is still a sound peasant, coarse, artful, obstinate and enduring: that is at present the noblest type.
The peasant is at present the best; and the peasant type should be master! But it is the kingdom of the populace I no longer allow anything to be imposed upon me. The populace, however that meaneth, hodgepodge.
Populace-hodgepodge: therein is everything mixed with everything, saint and swindler, gentleman and Jew, and every beast out of Noahs ark.
Good manners! Everything is false and foul with us. No one knoweth any longer how to reverence: it is that precisely that we run away from. They are fulsome obtrusive dogs; they gild palm-leaves.
This loathing choketh me, that we kings ourselves have become false, draped and disguised with the old faded pomp of our ancestors, show-pieces for the stupidest, the craftiest, and whosoever at present trafficketh for power.
We are not the first men and have nevertheless to stand for them: of this imposture have we at last become weary and disgusted.
From the rabble have we gone out of the way, from all those bawlers and scribe-blowflies, from the trader- stench, the ambition-fidgeting, the bad breath; fie, to live among the rabble
Fie, to stand for the first men among the rabble! Ah, loathing! Loathing! Loathing! What doth it now matter about us kings!
Thine old sickness seizeth thee, said here the king on the left. Thy loathing seizeth thee, my poor brother. Thou knowest, however, that some one heareth us.
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