Footnote translations by C. Porter

 There has been some discussion as to the source of the Schopenhauer quote on the Jews -- attributed to Schopenhauer by Hitler -- describing them as the “Masters of the Lie” ["große Meister im Lügen"].  
I have always wondered why this quote never attracted more attention. The Jews almost never mention Schopenhauer, but if Hitler had been wrong, they would be the first to claim it proved Hitler was ignorant or lying through his teeth. At the same time, no English speaker seemed to know the exact source for it.
The quote is authentic. It is not a mistranslation, nor was it taken out of context. It appears in a footnote appearing immediately after the following passage in a dialogue on the subject of religion:

“I have already touched upon these matters; but when in our day ‘the Latest News from the Kingdom of God’ is printed, we shall not be tired of bringing older news to mind.
"And in particular, let us not forget India, that sacred soil, that cradle of the human race, at any rate of the race to which we belong, where first Mohammedans, and later Christians, were most cruelly infuriated against the followers of the original belief of mankind; and the eternally lamentable, wanton, and cruel destruction and disfigurement of the most ancient temples and images, still show traces of the monotheistic rage of the Mohammedans, as it was carried on from Marmud the Ghaznevid of accursed memory, down to Aureng Zeb, the fratricide, whom later the Portuguese Christians faithfully tried to imitate by destroying the temples and the auto da fé of the  

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inquisition at Goa. Let us also not forget the chosen people of God, who, after they had, by Jehovah’s express and special command, stolen from their old and faithful friends in Egypt the gold and silver vessels which had been lent to them, made a murderous and predatory excursion into the Promised Land [* FIRST FOOTNOTE DELETED], with [the murderer] [words ‘the murderer’ deleted in English translation] Moses at their head, in order to tear it from the rightful owners, also at Jehovah’s express and repeated commands, knowing no compassion, and relentlessly murdering and exterminating all the inhabitants, even the women and children (Joshua x., xi.); just because they were not circumcised and did not know Jehovah, which was sufficient reason to justify every act of cruelty against them. For the same reason, in former times the infamous roguery of the patriarch Jacob and his chosen people against Hamor, King of Shalem, and his people is recounted to us with glory, precisely because the people were unbelievers [** SECOND FOOTNOTE DELETED]


The original quote appears on p. 394 of Parerga und Paralipomena  II, volume 2, of the Diogenes edition of Schopenhauer’s original complete works in German (10 volumes, not numbered, index is completely incomprehensible so you’re on your own when it comes to finding anything. The passage occurs in a long discussion of religion). Detebe-Klassiker 20430. ISBN 978-3-257-20430-8.  In fact, the Internet PDF file deletes all the footnotes as far as I can tell. So do all the printed books containing the same text or excerpts from it (usually in the form of a “Dialogue on Religion” or some such similar title). No complete modern collection of Schopenhauer appears to be available in English.


* 1) Tacitus (Histories, Book V, chapter 2) and Justinus (Book XXXVI, chapter a) have described the historical basis for the book of Exodus, which is as instructive to read as it is amusing, providing a picture of the historical basis for the other books of the Old Testament. There we learn (in the passages cited above) that the Pharaoh no longer wished to tolerate the presence of the creeping, obscene Jewish people in the pure land of Egypt , infected, as they were, with filthy and dangerously infectious diseases (scabies), so that he put them on board ship and expelled them from the Arabian Coast. It is true that a detachment of Egyptian soldiers were sent after them -- not to bring back the wonderful Jews, whom they wished to get rid of, after all, but rather, to get back the golden vessels which the Jews had stolen -- stolen, namely, from the temples of the Egyptians. Who would lend anything to such rabble on trust? It is also true that the detachment of soldiers was destroyed by a natural catastrophe. There were great shortages of all necessities on the Arabian coast -- mainly water. So up rose some insolent character [Moses] who promised to go fetch everything the Jews needed, if they would only follow and obey him [Moses]; after all, he had seen wild asses, etc. etc.
The reason I consider this the historical basis for the book of Exodus is because it is obviously the prose upon which the poetry of the book of Exodus was constructed. Even if Justinus (i.e., Pompeius Trogus) is guilty of a single anachronism in this regard (i.e., according to our assumptions, which are based on the book of Exodus), that doesn’t bother me; to me, 100 anachronisms are nowhere near as dubious as a single miracle. The above mentioned two Roman classics also indicate the degree to which the Jews have been detested and despised at all times and by all nations: the reason for this may lie in the fact that they were the only people on earth who believed in no future life apart from this earthly life, i.e., human beings were regarded as animals. The Jews are the scum of the earth, but they are also great masters in lying
[Auswurf der Menschheit, aber große Meister im Lügen].
[literally: "and were therefore regarded as cattle, scum of the earth, but also great masters in lying".]

[Oxford University Press translation:
"and were, therefore, regarded as cattle, as the dregs of humanity, but as MASTERS AT TELLING LIES."]

Note: This is a run-on sentence which uses pronouns in a very confusing way. It is not absolutely certain who "scum of the earth" refers to, or even whose opinion it is, but it is perfectly obvious from the context and the footnotes that "great masters in lying" is Schopenhauer's opinion of the Jews. Schopenhauer wrote very quickly.
I am reminded of the play "Henry II" by Christopher Marlowe in which an assassin is given a note in dog-Latin, without commas, reading: "Eduardum occidere nolite timere bonum est". Depending on where you insert the comma, it means either "Do not be afraid to kill the King, it's OK", or, "Do not kill the King, it is good to be afraid".
The real problem is the comma. Ambiguities like this in contracts have been known to cost millions of dollars.
Since I have translated contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros -- not once but many times -- I think I am entitled to believe that my interpretation of the phrase is correct, even if less literal than certain others.

** 2) Anyone truly wishing to understand the Old Testament must read the Septuagint or Greek translation, since it is the most correct, most authentic and, at the same time, the most beautiful of all translations, characterised by an entirely different tone and colour. The style of the Septuagint is, for the most part, noble and naive, not the slightest bit “churchified”, and without any presentiment of Christianity. Luther’s translation seems vulgar and pious by comparison, and is often incorrect -- even deliberately so -- written in a totally “churchified”, devotional tone. Luther even softens the above cited passages in a manner redolent of falsification: where Luther writes “banished”, the Greek translation says “killed them”; there are many other examples.
My study of the Septuagint has also inspired me with a sincere love and heartfelt respect for the Great King Nebuchadnezzar, even if he was a bit too soft with a people who worshipped a God which gave them, or promised them, the lands of their neighbours as free gifts, of which they took possession by robbery and murder, after which they built a temple to that same God in those lands! May every people worshipping a God that turns adjacent countries into “Promised Lands” soon find their own Nebuchadnezzar, and their Antoniochius Epiphanes to boot, with no more pussyfooting  about!   
[Antoniochius Epiphanes = [Greek tyrant who outlawed Judaism and desecrated the sacred temples at Jerusalem.]

[all above footnote translations by C. Porter]


All following material stolen from starting at

The Tacitus quote is as follows:

Moses Hadas, translation

Evidence of this is sought in the name [for the origin of the Hebrew people]. There is a famous mountain in Crete called Ida; the neighbouring tribe, the Idi, came to be called Judaei by a barbarous lengthening of the national name. Others assert that in the reign of Isis the overflowing population of Egypt, led by Hierosolymus and Judas, discharged itself into the neighbouring countries. Many, again, say that they were a race of Ethiopian origin, who in the time of king Cepheus were driven by fear and hatred of their neighbours to seek a new dwelling-place. Others describe them as an Assyrian horde who, not having sufficient territory, took possession of part of Egypt, and founded cities of their own in what is called the Hebrew country, lying on the borders of Syria. Others, again, assign a very distinguished origin to the Jews, alleging that they were the Solymi, a nation celebrated in the poems of Homer, who called the city which they founded Hierosolyma after their own name.

3. Most writers, however, agree in stating that once a disease, which horribly disfigured the body, broke out over Egypt; that king Bocchoris, seeking a remedy, consulted the oracle of Hammon, and was bidden to cleanse his realm, and to convey into some foreign land this race detested by the gods. The people, who had been collected after diligent search, finding themselves left in a desert, sat for the most part in a stupor of grief, till one of the exiles, Moyses by name, warned them not to look for any relief from God or man, forsaken as they were of both, but to trust to them selves, taking for their heaven-sent leader that man who should first help them to be quit of their present misery. They agreed, and in utter ignorance began to advance at random. Nothing, however, distressed them so much as the scarcity of water, and they had sunk ready to perish in all I directions over the plain, when a herd of wild asses was seen to retire from their pasture to a rock shaded by trees. Moyses followed them, and, guided by the appearance of a grassy spot, discovered an abundant spring of water. This furnished relief. After a continuous journey for six days, on the seventh they possessed themselves of a country, from which they expelled the inhabitants, and in which they founded a city and a temple.

4. Moyses, wishing to secure for the future his authority over the nation, gave them a novel form of worship, opposed to all that practised by other men. Things sacred with us, with them have no sanctity, while they allow what with us is forbidden. In their holy place they have consecrated an image of the animal by whose guidance they found deliverance from their long and thirsty wanderings. They slay the ram, seemingly in derision of Hammon, and they sacrifice the ox, because the Egyptians worship it as Apis. They abstain from swine’s flesh, in consideration of what they suffered when they were infected by the leprosy to which this animal is liable. By their frequent fasts they still bear witness to the long hunger of former days, and the Jewish bread, made without leaven, is retained as a memorial of their hurried seizure of corn. We are told that the rest of the seventh day was adopted, because this day brought with it a termination of their toils; after a while the charm of indolence beguiled them into giving up the seventh year also to inaction. But others say that it is an observance in honour of Saturn, either from the primitive elements of their faith having been transmitted from the Ideai, who are said to have shared the flight of that God, and to have founded the race, or from the circumstance that of the seven stars which rule the destinies of men Saturn moves in the highest orbit and with the mightiest power, and that many of the heavenly bodies complete their revolutions and courses in multiples of seven.

5. This worship, however introduced, is upheld by its antiquity; all their other customs, which are at once perverse and disgusting, owe their strength to their very badness. The most degraded out of other races, scorning their national beliefs, brought to them their contributions and presents. This augmented the wealth of the Jews, as also did the fact, that among themselves they are inflexibly honest and ever ready to shew compassion, though they regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies. They sit apart at meals, they sleep apart and though, as a nation, they are singularly prone to lust, they abstain from intercourse with foreign women; among themselves nothing is unlawful. Circumcision was adopted by them as a mark of difference from other men. Those who come over to their religion adopt the practice, and have this lesson first instilled into despise all gods, to disown their country, and set at naught parents, children, and brethren. Still they provide for increase of their numbers. It is a crime among them to kill any newly-born infant. They hold that the souls of those who perish in battle or by the hands of the executioner are mortal. Hence a passion for propagating their race and a contempt for death. They are wont to bury rather burn their dead, following in this the Egyptian custom, bestow the same care on the dead, and they hold the belief about the lower world. Quite different is their about things divine. The Egyptians worship many animals and images of monstrous form; the Jews have purely conceptions of Deity, as one in essence. They call those profane who make representations of God in human shape of perishable materials. They believe that Being to supreme and eternal, neither capable of representation or decay. They therefore do not allow any images to their cities: much less in their temples. This flattery paid to their kings, nor this honour to our Emperors. From the fact, however, that their priests used to chant to music of flutes and cymbals, and to wear garlands of [?] and that a golden vine was found in the temple, some thought that they worshipped Father Liber, the conqueror of the East, though their institutions do not by any means harmonize with the theory; for Liber established a festive and cheerful worship, while the Jewish religion is tasteless and mean.

6. Eastward the country is bounded by Arabia; to the south lies Egypt; on the west are Phoenicia and the Mediterranean. Northward it commands an extensive prospect over Syria. The inhabitants are healthy and able to bear fatigue. Rain is uncommon, but the soil is fertile. Its products resemble our own. They have, besides, the balsam and the palm. The palm-groves are tall and graceful. The balsam is a shrub; each branch, as it fills with sap, may pierced with a fragment of stone or pottery. If steel is employed, the veins shrink up. The sap is used by physicians. Libanus is the principal mountain, and has, strange to say, amidst these burning heats, a summit shaded with trees and never deserted by its snows. The same range supplies and sends forth the stream of the Jordan. This river does not discharge itself into the sea, but flows entire through two lakes, and is lost in the third. This is a lake of vast circumference; it resembles the sea, but is more nauseous in taste; it breeds pestilence among those who live near by its noisome odour; it cannot be moved by the wind, and it affords no home either to fish or water-birds. These strange waters support what is thrown upon them, as on a solid surface, and all persons, whether they can swim or no, are equally buoyed up by the waves. At a certain season of the year the lake throws up bitumen, and the method of collecting it has been taught by that experience which teaches all other arts. It is naturally a fluid of dark colour; when vinegar is sprinkled upon it, it coagulates and floats upon the surface. Those whose business it is take it with the hand, and draw it on to the deck of the boat; it then continues of itself to flow in and lade the vessel till the stream is cut off. Nor can this be done by any instrument of brass or iron. It shrinks from blood or any cloth stained by the menstrual of women. Such is the account of old authors; but those who know the country say that the bitumen moves m heaving masses on the water, that it is drawn by hand to the shore, and that there, when dried by the evaporation of the earth and the power of the sun, it is cut into pieces with axes and wedges just as timber or stone would be.

7. Not far from this lake lies a plain, once fertile, they say, and the site of great cities, but afterwards struck by lightning and consumed. Of this event, they declare, traces still remain, for the soil, which is scorched in appearance, has lost its productive power.


An account of this tale is found in Josephus' second Jewish History:  the first, from The Wars of the Jews (especially the revolt against Rome), the other Antiquitates Judaicae.  Appended to Antiquitates Judaicae is a rebuttal of this tale in Against Appion

Amenophis desired to become a spectator of the gods, as had Orus, one of his predecessors in that kingdom, before him. He communicated his desire to his namesake Amenophis, who was the son of Papis, and one that seemed to partake of a divine nature, both as to wisdom and the knowledge of futurities.

Amenophis the prophet told him that he might see the gods, if he would clear the whole country of the lepers and of the other impure people. The king was pleased with this injunction, and got together all that had any defect in their bodies out of Egypt. He sent eighty thousand to those quarries which are on the east side of the Nile, that they might work in them, and might be separated from the rest of the Egyptians.

There were some of the learned priests that were polluted with the leprosy, but Amenophis, the wise man and the prophet, was afraid that the gods would be angry at him and at the king, if there should appear to have been violence offered them. Out of his sagacity about futurities he foretold that certain people would come to the assistance of these polluted wretches, and would conquer Egypt, and keep it in their possession thirteen years. However, he dared not tell the king of these things, but left a writing behind him about all those matters, and then slew himself, which made the king disconsolate.

After those that were sent to work in the quarries had continued in that miserable state for a long while, the king was desired that he would set apart the city Avaris, which was then left desolate of the Hyksos or foreign kings, for their habitation and protection; which they had requested he grant them. Now this city, according to the ancient theology, was Typho's city. But when these men were gotten into it, in crowds, and found the place fit for a revolt, they appointed themselves a ruler out of the priests of Hellopolis, whose name was Osarsiph, and they took their oaths that they would be obedient to him in all things.

He then, in the first place, made this law for them; that they should neither worship the Egyptian gods, nor should they abstain from any one of those sacred animals which they have in the highest esteem, but kill and destroy them all and that they should join themselves to nobody but to those that were of this confederacy.

When he had made such laws as these, and many more such as were mainly opposite to the customs of the Egyptians, he gave order that they should use the multitude of the hands they had in building walls about their City, and make themselves ready for a war with king Amenophis, while he did himself take into his friendship the other priests, and those that were polluted with them, and sent ambassadors to those foreign kings (Hyksos) who had been driven out of the land by Tefilmosis to the city called Jerusalem; whereby he informed them of his own affairs, and of the state of those others that had been treated after such an ignominious manner, and desired that they would come with one consent to his assistance in this war against Egypt. He also promised that he would, in the first place, bring them back to their ancient city and country Avaris, and provide a plentiful maintenance for their multitude, and that he would protect them and fight for them as occasion should require, and would easily reduce the country under their dominion.

These foreign kings (Hyksos) were all very glad of this message, and came away with alacrity all together, being in number two hundred thousand men; and in a little time they came to Avaris.

Now Amenophis the king of Egypt, upon his being informed of their invasion, was in great confusion, as calling to mind what Amenophis, the son of Papis, had foretold him; and, in the first place, he assembled the multitude of the Egyptians, and took counsel with their leaders, and sent for their holy images to him, especially for those that were principally worshipped in their temples, and gave a particular charge to the priests distinctly, that they should hide the images of their gods with the utmost care.

He also sent his son Sethos, who was also named Ramesses, from his father Rhampses, being but five years old, to a friend of his. He then passed on with the rest of the Egyptians, being three hundred thousand of the most warlike of them, against the enemy, who met them at Pelusium. Yet did he not join battle with them; but thinking that would be to fight against the gods, he returned back and came to Memphis, where he took Apis and the other holy images which he had sent for to him, and presently marched into Ethiopia, together with his whole army and multitude of Egyptians; for the king of Ethiopia was under an obligation to him, on which account he received him, and took care of all the multitude that was with him, while the country supplied all that was necessary for the food of the men. He also allotted cities and villages for this exile,  that was to be from its beginning during those fatally determined thirteen years. Moreover, he pitched a camp for his Ethiopian army, as a guard to king Amenophis, upon the borders of Egypt. And this was the state of things in Ethiopia.

But for the people of Jerusalem, they got the granaries of Egypt into their possession, and perpetrated many of the most horrid actions there. When they came down together with the polluted Egyptians, they treated the men in such a barbarous manner, that those who saw how they subdued the aforementioned country, and the horrid wickedness they were guilty of, thought it a most dreadful thing; for they did not only set the cities and villages on fire, but were not satisfied till they had been guilty of sacrilege, and destroyed the images of the gods, and used them in roasting those sacred animals that used to be worshipped, and forced the priests and prophets to be the executioners and murderers of those animals, and then ejected them naked out of the country.

The Egyptians themselves were the most guilty, because it was their priests that contrived these things, and made the multitude take their oaths for doing so.

It was reported that the priest, who ordained their polity and their laws, was by birth of Hellopolls, and his name Osarsiph, from Osyris, who was the god of Hellopolls; but that when he was gone over to these people, his name was changed, and he was called Moses.

After this on the thirteenth year, Amenophis returned back from Ethiopia with a great army, as did his son Ahampses with another army also, and both of them joined battle with the foreign kings (Hyksos) and the polluted people, and beat them, and slew a great many of them, and pursued them to the bounds of Syria.

The goddess Isis appeared to Amenophis in his sleep, and blamed him that her temple had been demolished in the war. But Phritiphantes, the sacred scribe, said to him, that if he would purge Egypt of the men that had pollutions upon them, he should be no longer troubled with such frightful apparitions. Amenophis accordingly chose out two hundred and fifty thousand of those that were thus diseased, and cast them out of the country.

Two scribes Tisithen and Peteseph, Peteseph being a sacred scribe, came to Pelusium, and lighted upon three hundred and eighty thousand that had been left there by Amenophis, he not being willing to carry them into Egypt. These scribes made a league of friendship with them, and made with them an expedition against Egypt. The scribes names were Egyptian originally but were changed, Tisithen to Moses and Peteseph to Joseph.

Amenophis could not sustain their attacks, and fled into Ethiopia, but left his wife with child behind him, who lay concealed in certain caverns. There she brought forth a son, whose name was Messene, and when he was grown up to man's estate he pursued the Jews into Syria, being about two hundred thousand, and then received his father Amenophis out of Ethiopia.

The people of the Jews being leprous and scabby, and subject to certain other kinds of distempers, in the days of Bocchoris, king of Egypt, fled to the temples, and got their food there by begging. As the numbers were very great that were fallen under these diseases, there arose a scarcity in Egypt.

Hereupon Bocehoris, the king of Egypt, sent some to consult the oracle of [Jupiter] Hammon about his scarcity. The god's answer was this, that he must purge his temples of impure and impious men, by expelling them out of those temples into desert places; but as to the scabby and leprous people, he must drown them, and purge his temples, the sun having an indignation at these men being suffered to live; and by this means the land will bring forth its fruits.

Upon Bocchoris's having received these oracles, he called for their priests, and the attendants upon their altars, and ordered them to make a collection of the impure people, and to deliver them to the soldiers, to carry them away into the desert; but to take the leprous people, and wrap them in sheets of lead, and let them down into the sea. Hereupon the scabby and leprous people were drowned, and the rest were gotten together, and sent into desert places, in order to be exposed to destruction.

In this case they assembled themselves together, and took counsel what they should do, and determined that, as the night was coming on, they should kindle fires and lamps, and keep watch and that they also should fast the next night, and propitiate the gods, in order to obtain deliverance from them.

On the next day there was one Moses, who advised them that they should venture upon a journey, and go along one road till they should come to places fit for habitation. He charged them to have no kind regards for any man, nor give good counsel to any, but always to advise them for the worst; and to overturn all those temples and altars of the gods they should meet with. The rest commended what he had said with one consent, and did what they had resolved on, and so travelled over the desert.

The difficulties of the journey being over, they came to a country inhabited, and that there they abused the men, and plundered and burnt their temples; and then came into that land which is called Judea, and there they built a city, and dwelt therein, and that their city was named Hierosyla, from this their robbing of the temples. Still, upon the success they had afterwards, they in time changed its denomination, that it might not be a reproach to them, and called the city Hierosolyma, and themselves Hierosolymites.