Zarathustra’s Speech “On the Tarantulas”

Zarathustra

Zarathustra

tarantula

On the Tarantulas

Behold, this is the hole of the tarantula.  Do you want to see the tarantula itself?  Here hangs its web; touch it, that it tremble!

There it comes willingly: welcome, tarantula! Your triangle and symbol sits black on your back; and I also know what sits in your soul. Revenge sits in your soul: wherever you bite, black scabs grow; your poison makes the soul whirl with revenge.

Thus I speak to you in a parable—you who make souls whirl, you preachers of equality.  To me you are tarantulas, and secretly vengeful. But I shall bring your secrets to light; therefore I laugh in your faces with my laughter of the heights. Therefore I tear at your webs, that your rage may lure you out of your lie-holes and your revenge may leap out from behind your word justice. For that man be delivered from revenge, that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.

The tarantulas, of course, would have it otherwise. “What justice means to us is precisely that the world be filled with the storms of our revenge“—thus they speak to each other. “We shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not“—thus do the tarantula-hearts vow. “And ‘will to equality’ shall henceforth be the name for virtue; and against all that has power we want to raise our clamor!”

You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.  Aggrieved conceit, repressed envy—perhaps the conceit and envy of your fathers—erupt from you as a flame and as the frenzy of revenge.

What was silent in the father speaks in the son; and often I found the son the unveiled secret of the father.

They are like enthusiasts, yet it is not the heart that fires them—but revenge.  And when they become elegant and cold, it is not the spirit but envy that makes them elegant and cold.  Their jealousy leads them even on the paths of thinkers; and this is the sign of their jealousy: they always go too far, till their weariness must in the end lie down to sleep in the snow.  Out of every one of their complaints sounds revenge; in their praise there is always a sting, and to be a judge seems bliss to them.

But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.  They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces.  Mistrust all who talk much of their justice!  Verily, their souls lack more than honey.  And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.

My friends, I do not want to be mixed up and confused with others.  Some preach my doctrine of life and are at the same time preachers of equality and tarantulas.  Although they are sitting in their holes, these poisonous spiders, with their backs turned on life, they speak in favor of life, but only because they wish to hurt.  They wish to hurt those who now have power, for among these the preaching of death is still most at home.  If it were otherwise, the tarantulas would teach otherwise; they themselves were once the foremost slanderers of the world and burners of heretics.

I do not wish to be mixed up and confused with these preachers of equality.  For, to me justice speaks thus: “Men are not equal.”  Nor shall they become equal!  What would my love of the Superman be if I spoke otherwise?

On a thousand bridges and paths they shall throng to the future, and ever more war and inequality shall divide them: thus does my great love make me speak.  In their hostilities they shall become inventors of images and ghosts, and with their images and ghosts they shall yet fight the highest fight against one another.  Good and evil, and rich and poor, and high and low, and all the names of values—arms shall they be and clattering signs that life must overcome itself again and again.

Life wants to build itself up into the heights with pillars and steps; it wants to look into vast distances and out toward stirring beauties: therefore it requires height.  And because it requires height, it requires steps and contradiction among the steps and the climbers. Life wants to climb and to overcome itself climbing.

And behold, my friends: here where the tarantula has its hole, the ruins of an ancient temple rise; behold it with enlightened eyes!  Verily, the man who once piled his thoughts to the sky in these stones—he, like the wisest, knew the secret of all life.  That struggle and inequality are present even in beauty, and also war for power and more power: that is what he teaches us here in the plainest parable.  How divinely vault and arches break through each other in a wrestling match; how they strive against each other with light and shade, the godlike strivers—with such assurance and beauty let us be enemies too, my friends!  Let us strive against one another like gods.

Alas, then the tarantula, my old enemy, but me. With godlike assurance and beauty it bit my finger.  “Punishment there must be and justice,” it thinks; “and here he shall not sing songs in honor of enmity in vain.”

Indeed, it has avenged itself.  And alas, now it will make my soul, too, whirl with revenge.  But to keep me from whirling, my friends, tie me tight to this column.  Rather would I be a stylite even, than a whirl of revenge.

Verily, Zarathustra is no cyclone or whirlwind; and if he is a dancer, he will never dance the tarantella.

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

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5 comments on “Zarathustra’s Speech “On the Tarantulas”

  1. Jay E. says:

    It’s been years since I read Zarathustra; I think the last time was in senior-level German. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. I haven’t read this book yet, is there a specific edition that you would recommend?

    I am also curious; was Nietzsche into Zoroastrianism in some way?

    Like

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