I'm trying to figure out the meaning/role of dessen in this sentence:

und wurde dessen zehn Jahr  nicht müde

(An excerpt of Also sprach Zarathustra)

The sentence translation is:

and for ten years he did not weary of it.

So the most accurate meaning of dessen, according to the translation, would be for, but that doesn't fit any of the meanings I find for dessen in the dictionary.

A literal translation would look like:

and was his/its ten years not tired

Does this words placement make sense in German, any thoughts about it?

  • 2
    "Dessen" has the same function as "of it" in the English translation
    – Beta
    Mar 31, 2017 at 15:29
  • 2
    It's the “of it” part.
    – Carsten S
    Mar 31, 2017 at 15:29
  • What do you mean by "does this words placement make sense in German"? Yes, it does make sense. Nietzsche was quite fluent in German. Or what is your question? Mar 31, 2017 at 16:37
  • Another possible word order in German is und wurde zehn Jahr(e) nicht müde dessen but that one is preferred only when there's some explanation about the "dessen" following. E.g. und wurde zehn Jahr(e) nicht müde dessen, was er tat. Oh, and of course und wurde zehn Jahr(e) dessen nicht müde is also okay.
    – Janka
    Mar 31, 2017 at 16:42
  • The "dessen" refers to the part before the "und" (just like the "of it" in the English translation) that you did not cite. German often expresses relations with Genitive or Dative where English needs a preposition.
    – tofro
    Apr 28, 2017 at 7:43

3 Answers 3


The role of "dessen" in this sentence is a genitive object to "müde werden". (Not, as you seem to assume, that of an attribute to "zehn Jahr".

Its meaning is "of it".

The literal translation would be

and did of it for ten years not tire

The word order is perfectly normal for a (somewhat antiquated) German sentence.


Would this

He did not get tired of it for ten years.

be a satisfying translation for you?


May I suggest a more "holistic" approach? You seem to study German rather seriously.

I think that you should look at the whole sentence, and not just the fragment you have posted. When raking through the "Zarathustra", I found quite a few instances of the word DESSEN (eg http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/-3248/5):

Ich liebe Den, dessen Seele sich verschwendet ...

which, in my understanding translates to ... whose soul ...

On the same page, you will also see several instances of

Ich liebe Den, welcher sich schämt ...

Thus, you may be able to get a feeling for the differences between "dessen" and "welcher": "dessen" is used for referring to an attribute (or characteristic or aspect) of DEN, whereas "welcher" refers to DEN himself.

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