It is I, the ungodly Zarathustra, who saith: ‘Who is ungodlier than I, that I may enjoy his teaching?’

Thus spake Zarathustra, and penetrated with his glances the thoughts and arrear-thoughts of the old pope. At last the latter began:

He who most loved and possessed him hath now also lost him most —

Lo, I myself am surely the most godless of us at present! But who could rejoice at that?

Thou servedst him to the last? asked Zarathustra thoughtfully, after a deep silence. Thou knowest how he died? Is it true what they say, that sympathy choked him —

That he saw how man hung on the cross, and could not endure it — that his love to man became his hell, and at last his death?

The old pope however did not answer, but looked aside timidly, with a painful and gloomy expression.

Let him go, said Zarathustra, after prolonged meditation, still looking the old man straight in the eye.

Let him go, he is gone. And though it honoureth thee that thou speakest only in praise of this dead one, yet thou knowest as well as I who he was, and that he went curious ways.

To speak before three eyes, said the old pope cheerfully (he was blind of one eye), in divine matters I am more enlightened than Zarathustra himself — and may well be so.

My love served him long years, my will followed all his will. A good servant, however, knoweth everything, and many a thing even which a master hideth from himself.

He was a hidden God, full of secrecy. Verily, he did not come by his son otherwise than by secret ways. At the door of his faith standeth adultery.

Whoever extolleth him as a God of love, doth not think highly enough of love itself. Did not that God want also to be judge? But the loving one loveth irrespective of reward and requital.

When he was young, that God out of the Orient, then was he harsh and revengeful, and built himself a hell for the delight of his favourites.

At last however, he became old and soft and mellow and pitiful, more like a grandfather than a father, but most like a tottering old grandmother.

There did he sit shrivelled in his chimney-corner, fretting on account of his weak legs, world-weary, will- weary, and one day he suffocated of his all-too-great pity.

Thou old pope, said here Zarathustra interposing, hast thou seen that with thine eyes? It could well have happened in that way: in that way, and also otherwise. When Gods die they always die many kinds of death.

Well! At all events, one way or other — he is gone! He was counter to the taste of mine ears and eyes; worse than that I should not like to say against him.

I love everything that looketh bright and speaketh honestly. But he — thou knowest it, forsooth, thou old priest, there was something of thy type in him, the priest-type — he was equivocal.

He was also indistinct. How he raged at us, this wrath-snorter, because we understood him badly! But why did he not speak more clearly?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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