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As it would do. But when he neared his death,
And orders him to make two other rings
And bids him spare nor cost nor toil, that they
The jeweler in this succeeds so well,
That when he brings the rings, the model ring
But love alike. Only from time to time
Did not divide seemed worthier of the ring,
Already I have ended;
The answer to my question?
It shall serve
Saladin-The rings! Sport not with me! I should have thought
That the religions, which I named to thee,
But only not
As to the grounds on which they're thought to rest.
is it not?
Now by the living God, the man is right,
Now to our rings let us
And now The judge? I long to hear what thou wilt make The judge reply. Relate!
The judge spoke thus:-
For surely the false rings
Must now decide.
Not outward? Does each one love himself the most?
Nathan-And thereupon the judge went on to say:
To suffer any longer in his house
The one ring's tyranny! And certainly,
As he all three did love, and all alike,
He would not willingly oppress the two
To favor one. Well, then! Let each one strive
To imitate that love, so pure and free
And in your children's children prove their power,
Let them appear again before this seat.
A wiser man than I will then sit here
And speak. Depart!" Thus said the modest judge.
ON LOVE OF TRUTH.
(From "Eine Duplik.")
I KNOW not whether it be a duty to offer up fortune and life to the truth: certainly the courage and resolution necessary to such a sacrifice are not gifts which we can bestow upon ourselves. But I know it is a duty, if one undertake to teach the truth, to teach the whole of it or none at all, to teach it clearly
and roundly, without enigmas or reserves, and with perfect confidence in its efficacy and utility; and the gifts required for such a decision are in our power. Whoever will not acquire these, or when acquired will not use them, shows that he has a very poor opinion of the human intellect; and he deserves to lose the confidence of his hearers, who, while he frees them from some gross errors, yet withholds the entire truth, and thinks to satisfy them by a compromise with falsehood. For the greater the error, the shorter and straighter the way to the truth. On the other hand, subtle error can prevent our recognition of its nature, and forever blind us to the truth.
The man who is faithless to Truth in threatening dangers, may yet love her much; and Truth forgives him his infidelity for the sake of his love. But whosoever thinks of prostituting Truth under all sorts of masks and rouge, may indeed be her pimp, but he has never been her lover.
Not the truth of which any one is, or supposes himself to be, possessed, but the upright endeavor he has made to arrive at truth, makes the worth of the man. For not by the possession but by the pursuit of truth are his powers expanded, wherein alone his ever-growing perfection consists. Possession makes us easy, indolent, proud.
If God held all truth shut in his right hand, and in his left nothing but the ever-restless search after truth, although with the condition of for ever and ever erring, and should say to me, "Choose!" I should bow humbly to his left hand and say, Father, give! pure truth is for Thee alone!"
THE MEANING OF HERESY.
WHAT is called a heretic has a very good side. It is a man who wishes to see with his own eyes. The only question is whether he has good eyes. In certain ages the name of heretic is the best title that a scholar can transmit to posterity; far better than that of sorcerer, magian, exorcist, for these serve to conceal many an impostor.
THE DIFFERING SPHERES OF POETRY AND PAINTING. (From "Laocoön.")
IF it be true that painting uses for its imitations wholly different means or signs from poetry, namely, forms and colors in space instead of articulate tones in time, if it be incontestable that these signs must bear a suitable relation to the thing signified, then coexistent signs can represent only coexistent objects, and successive signs only successive objects.
Coexistent objects are called bodies; consequently bodies with their visible attributes are the proper objects of painting. Successive objects are called in general actions; consequently actions are the proper objects of poetry.
Bodies exist, however, not only in space, but also in time. They continue, and at every moment of their duration appear differently and in different relations to each other. Each of these momentary appearances and relations is the effect of a preceding and can be the cause of a succeeding one, and therefore the center of an action; consequently painting can imitate actions, but only suggestively through bodies.
On the other hand, actions cannot exist in themselves, but must inhere in certain beings. So far as these beings are bodies or are regarded as bodies, poetry describes bodies, but only suggestively through actions.
Painting can use in its coexistent compositions only a single moment of the action; and must therefore choose the most pregnant one, which will render what precedes and follows most comprehensible.
In like manner poetry in its progressive imitations can use only a single property of bodies; and must therefore choose the one that awakens the most sensible image of the body, for the purpose to which it is to be put.
Hence the rule of singleness in picturesque epithets and of frugality in descriptions of material objects.
I should have less confidence in this dry deduction, if it were not fully confirmed by the practice of Homer; or if it were not rather the practice of Homer, from which I have derived it. The grand style of the Greeks can be determined and elucidated only by these principles, which are also justified by the opposite style of so many modern poets, who wish to vie with the