FIRST PART. ZARATHUSTRA'S PROLOGUE. ZARATHUSTRA'S DISCOURSES.
19. XIX. THE BITE OF THE ADDER.
One day had Zarathustra fallen asleep under a fig-tree, owing to the heat,
with his arms over his face. And there came an adder and bit him in the
neck, so that Zarathustra screamed with pain. When he had taken his arm
from his face he looked at the serpent; and then did it recognise the eyes
of Zarathustra, wriggled awkwardly, and tried to get away. "Not at all,"
said Zarathustra, "as yet hast thou not received my thanks! Thou hast
awakened me in time; my journey is yet long." "Thy journey is short," said
the adder sadly; "my poison is fatal." Zarathustra smiled. "When did ever
a dragon die of a serpent's poison?"--said he. "But take thy poison back!
Thou art not rich enough to present it to me." Then fell the adder again
on his neck, and licked his wound.
When Zarathustra once told this to his disciples they asked him: "And
what, O Zarathustra, is the moral of thy story?" And Zarathustra answered
The destroyer of morality, the good and just call me: my story is immoral.
When, however, ye have an enemy, then return him not good for evil: for
that would abash him. But prove that he hath done something good to you.
And rather be angry than abash any one! And when ye are cursed, it
pleaseth me not that ye should then desire to bless. Rather curse a little
And should a great injustice befall you, then do quickly five small ones
besides. Hideous to behold is he on whom injustice presseth alone.
Did ye ever know this? Shared injustice is half justice. And he who can
bear it, shall take the injustice upon himself!
A small revenge is humaner than no revenge at all. And if the punishment
be not also a right and an honour to the transgressor, I do not like your
Nobler is it to own oneself in the wrong than to establish one's right,
especially if one be in the right. Only, one must be rich enough to do so.