'Twilight of the Idols' by Friederich Nietzsche (1889)


In all ages one has wanted to 'improve' men: this above all is what morality has meant.  But one word can conceal the most divergent tendencies.  Both the taming of the beast man and the breeding of a certain species of man has been called 'improvement': only these zoological termini express realities - realities, to be sure, of which the typical 'improver', the priest, knows nothing - wants to know nothing... . To call the taming of an animal its 'improvement' is in our ears almost a joke.  Whoever knows what goes on in menageries is doubtful whether the beasts in them are 'improved'.  They are weakened, they are made less harmful, they become sickly beasts through the depressive emotion of fear, through pain, through injuries, through hunger. - It is no different with the tamed human being whom the priest has 'improved'.  In the early Middle Ages, when the Church was in fact above all a menageries, one everywhere hunted down the fairest specimens of the 'blond beast' [note: see the story of Gregory the Great at the slave market in Beedes Eclessiatical History,]- one 'improved', for example, the noble Teutons. But what did such a Teuton afterwards look like when he had been 'improved' and led into a monastery? Like a caricature of a human being, like an abortion: he had become a 'sinner', he was in a cage, one had imprisoned him behind nothing but sheer terrifying concepts.... There he lay now, sick, miserable, filled with ill-will towards himself; full of hatred for the impulses towards life, full of suspicion of all that was still strong and happy.  In short, a 'Christian'.... In physiological terms: in the struggle with the beast, making it sick can be the only means of making it weak.  This the Church understood: it corrupted the human being, it weakened him - but it claimed to have 'improved' him...

One draws a breath of relief when coming out of the Christian sick-house and dungeon atmosphere into this healthier, higher, wider world.