【P4C5】The Magician


When however Zarathustra had gone round a rock, then saw he on the same path, not far below him, a man who threw his limbs about like a maniac, and at last tumbled to the ground on his belly. “Halt!” said then Zarathustra to his heart, “he there must surely be the higher man, from him came that dreadful cry of distress,- I will see if I can help him.” When, however, he ran to the spot where the man lay on the ground, he found a trembling old man with fixed eyes; and in spite of all Zarathustra’s efforts to lift him and set him again on his feet, it was all in vain. The unfortunate one, also, did not seem to notice that some one was beside him; on the contrary, he continually looked around with moving gestures, like one forsaken and isolated from all the world. At last, however, after much trembling, and convulsion, and curlinghimself-up, he began to lament thus:

Who warm’th me, who lov’th me still?

Give ardent fingers!

Give heartening charcoal-warmers!

Prone, outstretched, trembling,

Like him, half dead and cold, whose feet one warm’th-

And shaken, ah! by unfamiliar fevers,

Shivering with sharpened, icy-cold frost-arrows,

By you pursued, my fancy!

Ineffable! Recondite! Sore-frightening!

You huntsman ‘hind the cloud-banks!

Now lightning-struck by you,

You mocking eye that me in darkness watches:

-Thus do I lie, Bend myself, twist myself, convulsed With all eternal torture, And smitten By you, cruel huntsman, You unfamiliar- God…

Smite deeper!

Smite yet once more!

Pierce through and rend my heart!

What mean’th this torture With dull, indented arrows?

Why look’st you hither, Of human pain not weary, With mischief-loving, godly flash-glances? Not murder will you, But torture, torture?

For why- me torture, You mischief-loving, unfamiliar God?Ha! Ha!

You stealest nigh In midnight’s gloomy hour?…

What will you?


You crowd me, pressestHa! now far too closely!

You hearst me breathing, You o’erhearst my heart, You ever jealous one!

-Of what, pray, ever jealous? Off! Off!

For why the ladder?

Would you get in?

To heart in-clamber?

To mine own secretest Conceptions in-clamber?

Shameless one! you unknown one!- Thief!

What seekst you by your stealing?

What seekst you by your hearkening?

What seekst you by your torturing?

You torturer!

You- hangman-God!

Or shall I, as the mastiffs do, Roll me before you?

And cringing, enraptured, frantical, My tail friendly- waggle!

In vain!

Goad further!

Cruel goader!

No dog- your game just am I, Cruel huntsman!

Your proudest of captives, You robber ‘hind the cloud-banks…

Speak finally!

You lightning-veiled one! you unknown one! Speak! What will you, highway-ambusher, from- me? What will you, unfamiliar- God?



How much of ransom-gold?

Solicit much- that bid’th my pride!

And be concise- that bid’th mine other pride!

Ha! Ha!

Me- wantst you? me?


Ha! Ha!

And torturest me, fool that you are, Dead-torturest quite my pride?

Give love to me- who warm’th me still? Who lov’th me still?Give ardent fingers Give heartening charcoal-warmers, Give me, the most lonesome, The ice (ah! seven-fold frozen ice For very enemies, For foes, do make one thirst).

Give, yield to me, Cruel foe,

-Yourself!- Away!

There fled he surely, My final, only comrade, My greatest foe, Mine unfamiliarMy hangman-God!…


Come you back!

With all of your great tortures!

To me the last of lonesome ones, Oh, come you back!

All my hot tears in streamlets trickle Their course to you!

And all my final hearty fervorUp-glow’th to you!

Oh, come you back, Mine unfamiliar God! my pain!

My final bliss!


-Here, however, Zarathustra could no longer restrain himself; he took his staff and struck the wailer with all his might. “Stop this,” cried he to him with wrathful laughter, “stop this, you stage-player! you false coiner! you liar from the very heart! I know you well!

I will soon make warm legs to you, you evil magician: I know well how- to make it hot for such as you!”

-“Leave off,” said the old man, and sprang up from the ground, “strike me no more, O Zarathustra! I did it only for amusement!

That kind of thing belongs to my art. You yourself, I wanted to put to the proof when I gave this performance. And verily, you have well detected me!

But you yourself- have given me no small proof of yourself: you are hard, you wise Zarathustra! Hard strike you with your ‘truths,’ your cudgel forces from me- this truth!”

-“Flatter not,” answered Zarathustra, still excited and frowning, “you stage-player from the heart! you are false: why speak you- of truth!

You peacock of peacocks, you sea of vanity; what did you represent before me, you evil magician; whom was I meant to believe in when you wailed in such wise?”

“The penitent in spirit,” said the old man, “it was him- I represented; you yourself once created this expression-

-The poet and magician who at last turns his spirit against himself, the transformed one who freezes to death by his bad science and conscience.

And just acknowledge it: it was long, O Zarathustra, before you discovered my trick and lie! you believed in my distress when you held my head with both your hands,-

-I heard you lament ‘we have loved him too little, loved him too little!’ Because I so far deceived you, my wickedness rejoiced in me.”

“You may have deceived subtler ones than I,” said Zarathustra sternly. “I am not on my guard against deceivers; I have to be without precaution: so wills my lot.

You, however,- must deceive: so far do I know you! you must ever be equivocal, trivocal, quadrivocal, and quinquivocal! Even what you have now confessed, is not nearly true enough nor false enough for me!

You bad false coiner, how could you do otherwise! your very malady would you whitewash if you showed yourself naked to your physician.

Thus did you whitewash your lie before me when you said: ‘I did so only for amusement!’ There was also seriousness therein, you are something of a penitent-in-spirit!

I divine you well: you have become the enchanter of all the world; but for yourself you have no lie or artifice left,- you are disenchanted to yourself!

You have reaped disgust as your one truth. No word in you is any longer genuine, but your mouth is so: that is to say, the disgust that cleaves to your mouth.”- -

-“Who are you at all!” cried here the old magician with defiant voice, “who dares to speak thus to me, the greatest man now living?”- and a green flash shot from his eye at Zarathustra. But immediately after he changed, and said sadly:

“O Zarathustra, I am weary of it, I am disgusted with my arts, I am not great, why do I dissemble! But you know it well- I sought for greatness!

A great man I wanted to appear, and persuaded many; but the lie has been beyond my power. On it do I collapse.

O Zarathustra, everything is a lie in me; but that I collapse- this my collapsing is genuine!”-

“It honors you,” said Zarathustra gloomily, looking down with sidelong glance, “it honors you that you sought for greatness, but it betrays you also. You are not great.

You bad old magician, that is the best and the honestest thing I honor in you, that you have become weary of yourself, and have expressed it: ‘I am not great.’

Therein do I honor you as a penitent-in-spirit, and although only for the twinkling of an eye, in that one moment wast you- genuine.

But tell me, what seek you here in my forests and rocks? And if you have put yourself in my way, what proof of me would you have?-

-Wherein did you put me to the test?”

Thus spoke Zarathustra, and his eyes sparkled. But the old magician kept silence for a while; then said he: “Did I put you to the test? I- seek only.

O Zarathustra, I seek a genuine one, a right one, a simple one, an unequivocal one, a man of perfect honesty, a vessel of wisdom, a saint of knowledge, a great man!

Know you it not, O Zarathustra? I seek Zarathustra.”

-And here there arose a long silence between them: Zarathustra, however, became profoundly absorbed in thought, so that he shut his eyes. But afterwards coming back to the situation, he grasped the hand of the magician, and said, full of politeness and policy:

“Well! Up there leads the way, there is the cave of Zarathustra. In it may you seek him whom you would rather find.

And ask counsel of my animals, my eagle and my serpent: they shall help you to seek. My cave however is large.

I myself, to be sure- I have as yet seen no great man. That which is great, the acutest eye is at present insensible to it. It is the kingdom of the rabble.

Many a one have I found who stretched and inflated himself, and the people cried: ‘Behold; a great man!’ But what good do all bellows do! The wind comes out at last.

At last bursts the frog which has inflated itself too long: then comes out the wind. To prick a swollen one in the belly, I call good pastime. Hear that, you boys!

Our today is of the popular: who still knows what is great and what is small! Who could there seek successfully for greatness! A fool only: it succeeds with fools.

You seek for great men, you strange fool? Who taught that to you? Is today the time for it? Oh, you bad seeker, why do you- tempt me?”- -

Thus spoke Zarathustra, comforted in his heart, and went laughing on his way.