My brother, if you have a virtue and it is your own virtue, you have it in common with no one. To be sure, you want to call it by a name and caress it; you want to pull its ears and amuse yourself with it. And behold! Now you have its name in common with the people and have become of the people and the herd with your virtue!
You would do better to say: “Unutterable and nameless is that which torments and delights my soul and is also the hunger of my belly.” Let your virtue be too exalted for the familiarity of names: and if you have to speak of it , do not be ashamed to stammer.
Thus say and stammer: This is my good, this I love, just thus do I like it, only thus do I wish the good. I do not want it as the law of God, I do not want it as a human statute: let it be no sign post to superearths and paradises. It is an earthly virtue that I love: there is little prudence in it, and least of all common wisdom. But this bird has built its nest beneath my roof: therefore I love and cherish it – now it sits there upon its golden eggs. Thus should you stammer and praise your virtue.
Once you had passions and called them evil. But now you have only virtues: they grew from out your passions. You laid your highest aim in the heart of these passions: then they became your virtues and joys. And though you came from the race of the hot tempered or of the lustful or of the fanatical or of the vindictive: At last all your passions have become virtues and all your devils angels. Once you had fierce dogs in your cellars: but they changed at last into birds and sweet singers. From your poison you brewed your balsam; you milked your cow, affliction, now you drink the sweet milk of her udder.
And henceforward nothing evil shall come out of you, except it be the evil that comes from the conflict of your virtues. My brother, if you are lucky you will have one virtue and no more: thus you will go more easily over the bridge. To have many virtues is to be distinguished, but it is a hard fate; and many a man has gone into the desert and killed himself because he was tired of being a battle and a battleground of virtues. My brother, are war and battle evil? But this evil is necessary, envy and mistrust and calumny among your virtues is necessary.
Behold how each of your virtues desires the highest place: it wants your entire spirit, that your entire spirit may be its herald, it wants your entire strength in anger, hate and love. Every virtue is jealous of the others, and jealousy is a terrible thing. Even virtues can be destroyed through jealousy. He whom the flames of jealousy surround at last turns his poisoned sting against himself, like the scorpion. Ah my brother, have you ever yet seen a virtue turn upon itself and stab itself?
Man is something that must be overcome: and for that reason you must love your virtues – for you will perish by them.
Thus spoke Zarathustra.
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