Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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Previous Section   61. THE POWER OF WAITING   Next Section

THE POWER OF WAITING.  Waiting is so difficult that even great poets have not disdained to take incapability of waiting as the motive for their works.  Thus Shakespeare in Othello or Sophocles in Ajax, to whom suicide, had he been able to let his feelings cool down for one day, would no longer have seemed necessary, as the oracle intimated; he would probably have snapped his fingers at the terrible whisperings of wounded vanity, and said to himself, "Who has not already, in my circumstances, mistaken a fool for a hero?  Is it something so very extraordinary”?  On the contrary, it is something very commonly human; Ajax might allow himself that consolation.  Passion will not wait; the tragedy in the lives of great men frequently lies not in their conflict with the times and the baseness of their fellow men, but in their incapacity of postponing their work for a year or two; they cannot wait.  In all duels advising friends have one thing to decide, namely whether the parties concerned can still wait awhile; if this is not the case, then a duel is advisable, inasmuch as each of the two says, "Either I continue to live and that other man must die immediately, or vice versa”!  In such case waiting would mean a prolonged suffering of the terrible martyrdom of wounded honour in the face of the insulter, and this may entail more suffering than life is worth.  

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