【P1C19】The Bite of the Adder

One day Zarathustra had fallen asleep under a fig-tree, owing to the heat, with his arm over his face. And there came an adder and bit him in the neck, so that Zarathustra cried with pain. When he had taken his arm from his face he looked at the serpent; and then it recognized the eyes of Zarathustra, wriggled awkwardly, and tried to get away. “Do not go,” said Zarathustra, “as yet have you not received my thanks! you have awakened me in time; my journey is yet long.” “Your journey is short,” said the adder sadly; “my poison is fatal.” Zarathustra smiled. “When ever did a dragon die of a serpent’s poison?”- he said. “But take your poison back! you are not rich enough to give it to me.” Then the adder fell again on his neck, and licked his wound.

When Zarathustra had told this to his disciples they asked him: “And what, O Zarathustra, is the moral of your story?” And Zarathustra answered them thus:

The destroyer of morality, the good and just call me: my story is immoral.

When, however, you have an enemy, then do not requite him good for evil: for that would shame him. Instead, prove that he did some good for you.

And rather be angry than put to shame! And when you are cursed, I do not like it that you want to bless. Rather curse a little also!

And if you are done a great injustice, then quickly add five small ones. Hideous to behold is he who is obsessed with an injustice.

Did you know this? A shared injustice is half just. And he who can bear it, should take the injustice upon himself!

A small revenge is more human than no revenge at all. And if the punishment is not also a right and an honor to the transgressor, I do not like your punishment.

It is nobler to declare oneself wrong than to prove oneself right, especially when one is right. Only, one must be rich enough to do so.

I do not like your cold justice; out of the eye of your judges there always glances the executioner and his cold steel.

Tell me: where do we find the justice which is love with open eyes? Invent for me then the love which not only bears all punishment, but also all guilt!

Invent for me then the justice which acquits every one, except he who judges!

And would you hear this? To him who would be just from the heart, even lies become a kindness to others.

But how could I be just from the heart! How can I give each his own! Let this be enough for me: I give each my own.

Finally, my brothers, guard against doing wrong to any hermit. How could a hermit forget! How could he requite!

Like a deep well is a hermit. It is easy to throw in a stone: if it sinks to the bottom then tell me, who will bring it out again?

Guard against injuring the hermit! But if you have done so, well then kill him also!Thus spoke Zarathustra.