The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist Complete Works, Volume Sixteen

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 9



The formula of my happiness: a Yea, a Nay, a straight line, _goal...._

[1] This is a reference to Seume's poem "_Die Gesänge"_ the first verse
of which is:--

_"Wo man singet, lass dich ruhig nieder,_
_Ohne Furcht, was man im Lande glaubt_;
_Wo man singet, wird kein Mensch beraubt_:
_Bösewichter haben keine Lieder_."

(Wherever people sing thou canst safely settle down without a qualm
as to what the general faith of the land may be Wherever people sing,
no man is ever robbed; _rascals_ have no songs.) Popular tradition,
however, renders the lines thus:--

_"Wo man singt, da lass dich ruhig nieder;_ _Base Menschen_ [evil men]
_haben keine Lieder."_



In all ages the wisest have always agreed in their V judgment of
life: _it is no good._ At all times and places the same words have
been on their lips,--words full of doubt, full of melancholy, full of
weariness of life, full of hostility to life. Even Socrates' dying
words were:--"To live--means to be ill a long while: I owe a cock to
the god Æsculapius." Even Socrates had had enough of it. What does that
prove? What does it point to? Formerly people would have said (--oh,
it has been said, and loudly enough too; by our Pessimists loudest of
all!): "In any case there must be some truth in this! The _consensus
sapientium_ is a proof of truth."--Shall we say the same to-day? _May_
we do so? "In any case there must be some sickness here," we make
reply. These great sages of all periods should first be examined more
closely! Is it possible that they were, everyone of them, a little
shaky on their legs, effete, rocky, decadent? Does wisdom perhaps
appear on earth after the manner of a crow attracted by a slight smell
of carrion?


This irreverent belief that the great sages were decadent types, first
occurred to me precisely in regard to that case concerning which both
learned and vulgar prejudice was most opposed to my view I recognised
Socrates and Plato as symptoms of decline, as instruments in the
disintegration of Hellas, as pseudo-Greek, as anti-Greek ("The Birth
of Tragedy," 1872). That _consensus sapientium,_ as I perceived ever
more and more clearly, did not in the least prove that they were right
in the matter on which they agreed. It proved rather that these sages
themselves must have been alike in some physiological particular, in
order to assume the same negative attitude towards life--in order to
be bound to assume that attitude.

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