Tessera caerulea - commentariolum. Tessera rubicunda - nota textualis. Tessera viridis — translatio.
ACT V, SCENE i
ZENO, LONGINUS, PELAGIUS, SEBASTIANUS, URBITIUS, PROCLUS, PHILARGUS, SIX BOY8S, PELAGIUS’ SON, SOLDIERS &c.
Overwhelmed by false accusations, Pelagius is condemned to the axe. Offended by the iniquity of the sentence, Proclus storms out of the council.
ZENO My lords, you glories of the East, you darlings of Zeno whom I choose as jurymen for this unusual case, worship heaven, whose steadfastness has never wavered in the way that ours does now, as we make our doubtful way. God, the world’s Ruler, Who established kingdoms, kings for these realms, and the glory of the scepter for kings, attached to scepters dread of, and faithfulness towards, Himself. I do think that the eternal pillar of our realm consists of these things. And the man who uproots them pulls down the pinnacle of our empire with equal calamity. Let the accused come into the courtroom. Sebastianus, you must act in place of the Augustus.
SEB. If a man’s face and his mind always functioned as a single theater, Pelagius’ case would already have been concluded. But, whereas the face is a stage, the mind is a hidden thing. Often one’s expression hides his disposition: a pretended life misrepresents shamelessness as a sense of modesty, harshness as false gravity, treachery as good faith, extreme ambition as moderation, rancor as affection, a harsh tone of voice as a gentle one, cowardice as courage, dislike of peace as serenity, profanity as piety, and hatred of Themis as lawfulness. Such, they say, is the monster Pelagius as he lurks in the royal household.
PEL. These liars are telling falsehoods.
SEB. Give your evidence, boys. (Four boys are admitted as witnesses.)
BOY 1 I swear that he worshipped Jove before the altar.
BOY 2 He did.
BOY 3 I swear it.
BOY 4 And so do I.
PEL. That’s good! A collection of children have proved such a great crime!
PROC. I swear by heaven’s fires, he worshipped this image of Jove the Thunderer.
PHIL. I swear so too.
URB. I agree.
LONG. Six witnesses have shown that the crime was committed.
ZENO Proclus, read out the letter. Let his treason stand revealed. (Proclus recites the forged letter attributed to Harmatius.)
HARMATIUS TO PELAGIUS, GREETINGS
I have learned the condition of the empire from your letter. What do you want? Those tyrants have their hands on the helm. I am all but overwhelmed by the greatness of my sorrows. My family has been branded with shame. I cannot endure, save by means of the death of those who have laid me low. When the bugle blows, you have a man to follow. You understand the rest. Meanwhile, take care to manage this affair with vigor. Farewell. August 1, from my camp in the suburbs.
ZENO. Do you hear this, you bane on mankind, you enemy of the Thunderer? Now blow your trumpet and proclaim, “But if a comet prevails, dragging its menacing tail of blood-red fire, alas, how much evil it betokened for the earth!” Oh you plague-bearer! Was this what your intimidating expression was concealing? Was this the your austere way of life? Was this the severity of your morals, more so than those of Cato? Was this what was meant by the arch of your eyebrows, as they passed judgment on things ranging from one end of this earth to the other? Oh you deceptive Sinon! But at length the tricks of this elderly fox stand revealed, as do his felonies. By the Styx, you’ll pay the price.
PEL. Heaven defend me, whom this earth pronounces guilty! Prove my innocence. Even if Ambition leads forth its legions from Orcus and Malice spews its poison, pouring forth black poison from its lips, I shall die gladly. I am said to have worshiped Jove with a profane mind. A tremendous accusation! Me worship the images of a shameful monster? I stamp on the wickedness of this monstrosity. (He snatches the effigy of Jove from Proclus’ hand, casts it to the ground, and treads on it.)
The pure course of the life I have led, my upright virtue, and my mind, always adhering to the truth and worshipful of God, deny this. I appeal to the good faith of the eastern world, which knows and can testify concerning my life. But if the world denies to give its vote for my destitute self, You, Christ, Who enters into the locked inner sanctum of my hidden mind, and Who sees that Pelagius has a heart loyal to heaven, demonstrate my innocence.
SEB. By what evidence?
PEL. By means of this wood. Hand me back the image. Oh, God! Read this. (He gives Proclus the effigy of Jove so he may read out an inscription.)
PROC. LAUSUS CARVED THIS FOR LONGINUS. (With a drawn dagger, Longinus hurls himself at Proclus as he is reading.)
LONG. Why read that with your unclean mouth, liar?
PHIL. Stop him, my prince.
PROC. This is the genuine inscription of the sculptor, he wrote this.
LONG. I entirely deny that.
PROC. I swear this is his writing. Is this how we pass judgment? Caesar, I quit. (An angry Proclus dashes out of the council.)
LONG. The hell with this villain, he may go and burst his guts. My mind shudders. Brother, he forged these markings so as I would be branded with perjury and fraud.
PEL. Let the workman be sought.
LONG. Produce this Lausus, soldiers.
PHIL. Word has it that he has died by poison. I don’t know the rumor’s source.
ZENO Oh, the way of his sly mind! Is this how you have committed one crime to conceal another? Announce, my lords, in what direction Themis’ scales should tilt. Does this trial condemn Pelagius as guilty?
ALL Guilty. (Zeno pronounces the death sentence.)
ZENO Well then, soldiers, off with this convict’s head.
PEL. Yield, virtue. Craft has overwhelmed good faith. Give a cheer, Longinus, you have achieved the pinnacle of your desires. Now my blood will dye my gown black, whereas you will be clad in purple. Now happily mount your throne. Lend an ear, you kings: Christ has bidden me speak these words to the man who flaunts the proud powers of tyranny, who, when he chooses, exchanges a church for a scaffold, the glory of his scepter for a flesh-rake, his robe for a soldier’s cloak, his royal collar for fetters, his ability to grant life for death-dealing, his triumphs for slaughter, his celestial home for a grave. How long are you going to provoke the fire of avenging heaven in this way? The degree and number of your crimes has mounted to the sky. How much blood, alas, is flowing in every quarter! Debaucheries, Sodom’s sin, the collapse of law, and a vast confusion of misdemeanors are right now challenging the vengeful hand of Nemesis. Your case has been tried, the verdict has been handed down, and punishment is not far off. Beware, you brothers. Now the blazing fires of Orcus’ furnaces, their pillars of flame and glowing fireballs, and now their wrath, mingled with their sulphurous torches, summon you sinners.
ZENO In his delirium, he makes vain pronouncements.
LONG. Pale with fear over his impending execution, he’s playing his tricks. Let us depart, brother. The emblems of rule summon me.
PEL. You’re mistaken, Longinus. My mind is scornful of this light, and would gladly purchase this triumph at the cost of my blood Oh, your gullible hope! Your mind, blind to the future! Why seek the scepter? Turn in every direction, muster all your strength of cleverness and armaments, you’ll never gain the glory of rule. And you, mighty for your realms, will lose the honor you imagine you can shore up by my execution, consigned to a horrific death.
LONG. The jaws of Avernus?
ZENO Soldier, take him to his execution. Sebastianus, quickly assemble my bodyguard. (Enter Pelagius’ son, dressed in mourning, who begs for his father.)
SON Where are you going, father, where? What road are you taking, leaving your son behind? Caesar, today bids his son hope for something. Oh, rescue my father!
PEL. Cease, my son. You are issuing your entreaties in vain. They breathe the spirit of bloodshed.
SON Return to this wretched boy his father. Punish me instead, Caesar. Strike me, but let my father live. Oh, let my father live, since he is worthy of living forever.
ZENO Rather it is you who must live, you boy worthy of a better father. Abandon this rebel, and I’ll play the part of your father. You will be called Caesar’s son. Come to court and join me in ruling the empire, you sweet lad.
PEL. You should shudder, my boy. Royal favor is an empty thing. It is better for the undeserving, but it is unreliable for good men. Does the royal court glitter? See how its brilliance blinds you. Is royal court to your liking? You should be afraid, for a downfall is near at hand. The royal court amuses you? Beware, its amusement will unman you. As your father, I give you these warnings. Do not be captivated by its meaningless good and eagerly worship its deceptive beauties. With these words I appoint you heir of your father’s mind: avoid the foul pinnacles of royalty, shun tyrants.
ZENO Take away this stubborn fellow, soldier.
SON Oh, spare my father! You are going to die, father
LONG. Let your father burst with ill-will, you’re coming to court. Force will compel you if you resist.
PEL. Let this woe be added to Pelagius’ woes. (Pelagius’ son Erastus is dragged off to the court.)
ACT V, SCENE ii
PELAGIUS, TWO SOLDIERS
Pelagius expresses his feeling about his impending death.
PEL. Heaven has heard me. Oh day, never adequately sought by my prayer! Raise your head, you beaming titan, and, passing through heaven’s dome, supply the starry universe with your better locks. The first day of my better life dawns for me, and the final day of my unhappy life sets. Oh, how night lies upon the royal court, dressed in its black gown of shadows! The brilliance of life is a dead thing, as is reliance on truth. Guilty by the world’s vote, but pure by heaven’s evidence, I am being dragged to my doom. Go now and climb to the highest rung of fortune, dance attendance on rulers, feed your heart on the meaningless favor of kings, and side with the Caesars. If a man chases after them with fawning dutifulness, he is tossed aloft, from where he may fall all the harder when he is overturned. But I appeal to You, Christ, the Judge and Witness of my mind: it was my proper loyalty to my collapsing nation and my love of justice that obliged me to cross the threshold of the Caesar’s house. I have gladly devoted my life to my country, and I shall likewise devote to it my death.
ACT III, SCENE iii
SEBASTIANUS, PELAGIUS, SOLDIERS
Sebastianus presides over Pelagius’ execution.
Sebastianus brings a military squad and stations his soldiers on either side of the stage, these armed with swords, and those with bows.
SEB. Come now, since you are convicted, mount the fatal scaffold. Escort him, soldiers. You trusty band of servants, arm your hands. On the one side let your drawn swords flash. On the other side, let your bowstrings be drawn. If someone in the neighborhood attempts to bring aid to the convicted man, let him die by your steel. If someone cries out that this is an unjust crime, let him be shot from afar, let your spears overcome his shouts. Obey me stoutly, let fear be banished from your minds.
PELAGIUS FROM THE FATAL SCAFFOLD
The place rises up, covered in black hangings.
PEL. At last I tread the fatal scaffold, all the closer to the stars and all the further from the hollow earth. Now I blessedly occupy my home in heaven. (He addresses his crucifix.) Christ, You Who have victoriously trampled death and enriched Yourself with the spoils of the dark region, grant me to win a triumph over conquered death, bestow heaven on me for my struggles.
SEB. You should make a final confession of your crime of worshiping Jove and treason.
PEL. God forbid this false charge!
SEB. It was demonstrated in open court.
PEL. It was fraudulent. Oh, don’t impose even a brief delay on my ardent mind with your talk. To You, Christ, I dedicate my life, and likewise my death. Hail, my wounds, yuou bloody stars of my wounds. Hail, you ruddy light of the setting sun, and you little gems in the east, your faces wealthy with the blood of the Red Sea, you standards of the conquered Styx, the prices I paid for this world, I gladly pour back into you whatever blood runs warm in my veins. But it is not enough to have poured it a single time. Oh, if I could enjoy many a death! Oh, if I could live again and die again! If I could often be reborn, so as to shed new blood for you! And when I have slaked Longinus’ thirst, may a bright day and a snow-white peace brighten the Eastern Empire, and let the shedding of my blood avert whatever evils threaten good men. With this hope, I submit my head to the fatal axe. (He kneels towards Christ’s wounds. Before the place of punishment there are railings hung in black. The executioner thus stands behind the scenes that only his raised arm and the lifted axe are visible. Pelagius is not seen falling beneath its stroke, with the railings obstructing the view.)
ACT V, SCENE iv
PROCLUS, SEBASTIANUS, CITIZENS, SOLDIERS
Having collected a band of citizens, Proclus vainly seeks to interrupt Pelagius’ execution.
PROC. Hold your axe, soldier. Oh, the wrong!
PROC. A helping hand, citizens.
(The axe falls and the curtain is drawn.)
SOLD. 1 It’s done.
SEB. Damn those rebels, to Hell with them. A cowardly drone raise his sword against our king? Cut them down with your steel, let your fury slaughter these artisans. (The citizens are driven back. When they are scattered, a wounded Proclus remains.)
PROC. Oh foul evidence of our plight, foul evidence of our plans! What a bloody catastrophe. Bested by a squad of soldiers, our citizens are falling victims to cruel Gradivus. The red shower of their blood and their gaping wounds bear witness. Now my soul is in my throat. The iron chill of death spreads throughout my limbs. Holy justice, dwelling in heaven! Hurl your lightning, scorch these tyrants. Mad Longinus, are you so headstrong in banishing a friend, giving him a treacherous shove? Pelagius deserved death, I admit, and I have earned this banishment, these reproaches, jeering and mockery, because with my lying voice I condemned that star of the royal court, that pillar of Astraea, that glory of virtue. Heaven forgive me. I am ashamed for having had an unjust disposition. I shall wreak vengeance on his enemies. I shall go where my just ardor takes me, and my fury will not cease its vengeful wrath before my sword-point has been buried in the guts of the Augustus and in the heart of his brother. And see, here are those hellish monsters. My physician calls. (Exit.)
ACT V, SCENE v
SEBASTIANUS, ZENO, LONGINUS
Zeno and Longinus rejoice in triumph after having seen the heads of their victims.
The scene shifts and the heads of Harmatius, Pelagius and eight centurions are visible on the ramparts of the walls.
SEB. The heads are nailed up on the walls. Have a look at that drama of death.
ZENO I like this funeral procession.
LONG. It delights my eyes.
ZENO Their blood feeds my eyesight.
LONG. Well done.
ZENO Happily done.
ZENO Well enough to my liking.
LONG. No part of our prayers has gone unanswered.
ZENO I’ve satisfied my heart.
LONG. Oh, the applause!
ZENO Oh, the triumph!
LONG. Oh happy day! Go now, you rude fellow, and deny Longinus his scepter.
LONG. Pelagius, you’ve paid the price for having an unbending mind. Now, on the threshold of his triumph, Longinus beholds you dead. Oh me, flooded with my joy! Now I take pleasure in seeing you, an object of reproach fallen from your arrogant perch. How your head rivets my attention! How it sates my anger!
ZENO Now I am glad I worshipped the lord of the Styx. I am glad I ravaged households with insatiable slaughter. I am glad I mowed down innocent and guilty with the same sword-stroke. (On either side of the stage, a collection of boys appear atop the walls, dressed in mourning and bewailing their fathers.) Weep, boys, howl and sob over your fathers. Your sweetly-mourning chorus will be music to my ears. Oh, the cheering!
LONG. Oh, the triumph!
ZENO Oh happy day!
LONG. Let Chaos beneath us resound with “ho, the triumph.”
ZENO Come hither, my lords. Let this blessed day continue. While my brother mounts the lofty throne of rule, having received happy auspices for the glories of government, let wealth abound, let banquets be laid out, let Bacchus flow, one bumper after another. Sebastianus, sit here as a companion at my royal table. You pour the wine, Anastasius, as a younger Ganymde. And you, Urbitius, prepare the military games.
ACT V, SCENE vi
Having taken counsel together, Anastasius and Urbitius decide to kill the emperor while he is in his cups (as is his custom).
AN. You make our martial Furies ready to deal with Caesar, and I’ll pour wine. One cupful after another will overwhelm his empty head. Meanwhile keep our battalions ready to receive our command.
URB. But where?
AN. Alongside the walls of the royal court.
URB. That’s all I need.
ACT V, SCENE vii
Urbitius places his soldiers in concealment.
URB. Thus the doom of our kings silently rolls along. With easy hearts they are devoted to feasting and games, while (as is often the case) the evil of a horrific catastrophe is at hand, and punishment for their crimes. See, our soldiers are standing at the ready.
SOLDIER Halt, give the password.
SOLD. That’s what takes down villains.
URB. Come, my comrades, this occasion requires your dutifulness. Vengeance is hastening forward. Stand at the ready. Anastasius will be coming, when the time calls for arms. And see, the festive trumpet signals the start of their feasting.
ACT V, SCENE viii
ERASTUS, THE BOY BASILISCUS, EUPHEMIUS, THE GHOST OF HARMATIUS, BACCHUS, DANCERS &c.
The Caesars’ drinking-bout is disturbed by the intervention of various persons.
Zeno, Longinus, Sebastianus sit at the table. Anastasius, Urbitius. They drink very freely.
ZENO Ho, the triumph!
LONG. Grant us a happy day, Bacchus. Evoe Lyaeus!
ZENO Brother, with this Herculean goblet I toast our reign.
LONG. Good health to Zeno. Ho, the triumph! Touch my liver with your thyrsus, Bacchus.
Bacchus is driven in, riding on a chariot pulled by four kings who once were destroyed by drunkenness. A citizen, a soldier, and others follow along, chained to the chariot. On the chariot ride Bacchantes, tuneful with their voices and their instruments. Bacchus presides over the music.
SEB. Thus, thus does Bacchus triumph over lofty rulers.
LONG. Thus may Bacchus lead us to his chariot in triumph. Evoe, let’s drink (Enter Pelagius’ son Erastus.)
ER. Alas, Caesar, I’m looking for my father. Father Pelagius, your unhappy son is calling.
ZENO Why are you howling, you puppy? Away with your grief!
ER. Alas, father. (Longinus catches Erastus’ tears in his goblet and drinks them down.)
LONG. Go ahead and shed your tears, boy, I drink them from this brimming cup as a toast to Pelagius. Get you gone, you unfortunate spawn of a dire father. Evoe, let’s drink. (Enter the Patriarch Euphemius.)
EU. Soon the two of you will be drinking sulphur forever, unless you repent your sin. Our land, alas, is swimming with blood, and you are soaked with wine? Oh, the blind hearts of you brothers?
ZENO Oh, you horrid old man! Talkative old man!
LONG. Chuck him out quickly, soldier.
ZENO You chatter, you profane priest? Let’s return to our drinking.
EU. (Showing Erastus’ belt, stained with the blood of Pelagius.) Caesar, you’ll repent too late. Oh, the fearful cries this blood sends up to heaven!
ZENO Evoe, let’s drink.
SEB. Let the old fellow go burst his sides.
Here seven Ethiopian boys costumed as Turks dance to the music. After an interval, they are replaced by four satyrs.
Enter Basiliscus, the son of Harmatius.
ZENO These lads of Dis are to my liking.
BAS. Oh, heaven, oh, earth! Where shall I seek you, father? Harmatius! Alas, my father. Alas, your blood!
ZENO Oh day, fertile in lamentation! Is there always going to be some owl hooting in my years? Who’s renewing the lamentation.
BAS. I’m that Basilicus, the reproach to your good fortune. I’m searching for my father, Caesar. As his unhappy son, I demand back my father. Return his father to wretched Basiliscus.
ZENO You want your father back? Go, look in the shallows of the Acheron. If you don’t find a skiff, this chalice will carry you. There your father stands, wrapped in fearful darkness. (The ghost of Harmatius appears at Zeno’s side.)
UMBR. Here am I, a shade wrapped in fearful darkness, come to confront you. Have a look, have a look, you bloodthirsty beast. (He points at this throat, marked by a bloody circle, and then at his son Basiliscus.)
LONG. Oh, brother! Are you afraid?
LONG. What’s your horror?
ZENO You see how his eyes are wide open How he is trying to kill me with that menacing stare?
LONG. Where? Who? To arms!
LONG. There’s nobody. By Jove of the Styx, there’s nobody.
HARM. Your deaths are at hand, your grave is dug, Orcus is gaping, your avenger is at hand, your sun is setting.
ZENO Oh, brother!
LONG. In vain you are afraid of an imaginary shade.
ZENO A savage shade, brother! Oh how Harmatius stands there with that face of his! How he thunders with his voice!
LONG. (Kicking Basiliscus away.) Get away, far away, you rascal. And take that image of your father with you.
SEB. A wine-addled mind invents a thousand images for itself.
LONG. Let’s drink. Let the chorus return to the stage. (During the dancing, the emblems of royalty are brought in for Longinus’ coronation.)
AN. Caesar is soaked with wine. I’m summoned to execute my scheme.
While the dancing continues, Anastasius steals away to admit his soldiers to the court. As it draws to a close, terrified boys come a-flying into the royal banquet hall and breathlessly report that soldiers have burst into the court.
BOY 1 Oh, flee, your majesties!
LONG. What’s the threat.
BOY Harmatius’ soldiers are raging through the court.
LONG. Oh, the crime! Flee, brother.
ZENO Arms. To arms. Ar — ar — arms — ar— ar.
BOY The enemy is drawing near. (A drunken Zeno collapses on the middle of the stage and falls asleep. Longinus escapes through another door.)
ACT V, SCENE ix
ANASTASIUS, URBITIUS, PROCLUS, PHILARGUS, CASTOR, SOLDIERS, ZENO drunken
Anastasius is crowned by his soldiers. Zeno is deposited in his grave, drunken but alive.
<AN.> Go, Proclus. Hurry. Keep on Longinus’ heels. Retrieve the fugitive. If you can’t take him alive, cut him down, and bring me back the dead monster’s head.
PROC. Hasten along the way our enemy has taken, soldiers.
URB. Let Anastasius rule, let him govern the world.
ALL Let Anastasius rule, let him govern the world.
Anastasius puts on the costume and regalia intended for the coronation of Longinus.
URB. Take off your military cloak and receive all Longinus’ marks of royalty, these emblems of rule which his father had prepared for him. The scepter will be more fitting for these hands of yours. Let Anastasius rule, let him govern the world.
ALL Let Anastasius rule, let him govern the world.
AN. I see that Fortune’s wheel has turned at last. See how the man whose proud spirit heaven could not tolerate, and whose crimes this world could not bear, now bites the dust. The infamous monster! That fellow devoted to the Furies! That pool of blood! That beast long concealed in human form! Is this how that brilliance of kingship, that fine glory of good fortune, born of the stock of the Augusti, should have befouled taverns with his filthiness, his belching, his wine? Oh this disgrace to royal rank, this embarrassment of kings! Continue dissipating your wild fury in snoring, toss from one side to the other, with your heart equally buried by wine and sleep. Puke out the blood with which you long drenched your thirsty guts. I’ll soon make you breathe forth your mad soul out of that foul breast of yours. Come now. (He plants a foot on Zeno’s neck.) Get up, you animal. Plead your case, your judge summons you. Let Urbitius recite what the crimes you have dared commit. (Anastasius takes his seat on the throne, like a judge about to preside over Zeno’s trial.)
URB. This man has polluted his bed with incest, his royal court with killings, his courtroom with corrupted law, the earth with bloodshed, heaven with his elated spirits, his realm with disgrace, his royal body with wine, and his mind with criminal thoughts.
CAS. Guilty. He deserves a savage fate.
PHIL. Let him be burned.
His sentence is delivered.
AN. Inasmuch as he has given himself, the honor of his reign, his nation, and his subjects over to destruction, “having been buried before his death, let him breathe out his life in his grave.” Lift him up on a shield, soldiers. (The drunken Zeno is lifted up on a military shield.) Now use that proud voice of yours to call me an owl, call me a bringer of ill tidings. In your notebook right down “simple-minded and upright, neither to be feared or trusted.” Bestial monster! Go now and suffer the hideous punishment which the “simple-minded and upright” man has appointed. Lie beneath a black stone, alive, until in your madness you spew forth your dark soul. Let your brother accompany you. I shall go now and consign this hateful dead man to the grave. Lead the way, my friends. A funeral procession summons us. (Zeno is borne to his grave, accompanied by Anastasius.)
ACT V, SCENE x
Longinus’ panic, madness, and despair.
While the soldiers shout offstage, Longinus enters, his neck wrapped with a black silk scarf, as if it were a noose, wave a naked dagger in his hands, but without a helmet and with his hair in disorder.
LONG. What nook, what cranny in some faraway corner of the world will shield me? Douse your bright daylight, hateful son. Let a dark cloak of shadows, murk, the horror of night, and shadowy chaos envelop the world. Return to me unseen flight. Oh the mockery of the royal court! Fortune’s dire wheel! Unlucky Fates! The light of hateful day! Am I at length whirled down off my high perch? A refugee, wretched and abject, I wonder through all the world’s regions as a target of derision. My fellow citizens press me from the sides, soldiers from behind, and, from the front, whoever has been a victim of my crimes. I am surrounded on all sides. I flee, yet I am not fleeing. Though a man may escape some of his enemies, oh, how frequently his own mind’s imaginary vision terrifies him! How often it shows him the fearful fires of Dis! Do I look up at the sky? I pitifully dread a lightning-bolt. Do I look down at the earth? I imagine that the blackness of Tartarus’ world is gaping. Do I hear a commotion behind me? My fear convinces me an avenger is at hand. Soon a sense of horror makes my heart pound against my ribs. On this side and on that, I see torches burning, firebrands being brandished with a terrible sound. The entire world is conspiring to make me fearful. And yet a greater agony vexes my inward being. A constant cancer chews at my liver, devouring my guts. Thus I exist, among these fires of a dumb-stricken mind, these upheavals, doldrums, panics, and threats, and a thousand forms of punishment. Bah, this kind of punishment! I am spun about, I am whirled, I am snatched, I am swept away, I am oppressed. You win, Pelagius, you win. I have fallen from my position. (He goes mad.)
I have fallen? From where? Who was I? A Caesar by rank, and descended from rulers. You too have fallen from your heavenly citadel, you red, red Phaethon. Flee the fire of cruel Jove. (Walking on tiptoe, he feigns flight.) They’re calling for me! Blind Fortune is seeking Longinus everywhere, in the dens of beasts and underneath the silent horns of the moon. Hey, heaven, hold your tongue. Good. You relics of my old good fortune, both this one and that, how greatly you please me! (He first kisses, and then embraces, a rope and a dagger.) Will not this spade make me a route to the shades, a route that is deep, gloomy, furtive, and hollow? I shall dig my way. (Sitting on the ground, he digs the earth with his dagger.) Harder than my stars, the earth denies me success. (He points at his breast.). I’ll do better to carve out a cave in this earth. Come, my blade, show me the way to pallid Erebus, use your steely beak to stab and stab again at my hidden vitals, until my indignant soul escapes from my unclean breast and, with a groan, seeks to return to the Styx. If my blade misses its mark, I shall hang from a beam as its unhappy burden. Sovereign of the Underworld, cruel governor of the lake of Tartarus, the single lord Longinus has always served, open to him the bosom of insatiable Orcus, this guest is trying to burst in to your underground home. Farewell, you stars, shed that light I have always detested. The land of the Styx awaits me. Farewell, you towers, from which I fall headlong into the depths of Dis, to the deepest basement of Tartarus. Farewell, you royal court, the single contriver of my downfall, from where I tumble down to another court by means of an enduring wound. (Enter the ghost of Pelagius, bearing the axe with which he was beheaded. He uses it to knock the dagger out of Longinus’ hand.)
GHOST OF PEL. Beware, another fate awaits you. Do you see? This deadly bloodshed, this axe will destroy you by means of an enduring wound.
LONG. It will destroy, it will destroy, it will destroy? This axe? With an enuring wound? (He grasps the scarf wrapped around his neck, intending to hang himself.) Come here, you instrument of death, I’ll show he’s a liar. You precious rope, worthy to dangle a king from a beam, my dagger has proved disloyal. You be certain, break my neck. (Enter the ghost of Gazaeus, holding up the chalice from which he drank poison.)
GHOST OF GAZ. Sooner will you fill this goblet with the blood you shed.
LONG. Oh, my mass of misfortune! (His pursuers shout offstage.) Move quickly, quickly.
LONG. Oh you wretch, flee, flee, flee. (Enter the ghost of Euphemianus, carrying a dagger and blood.)
GHOST OF EU. Stop, stop.
LONG. Bah, this is a kind of monster! Deep Styx! Profound Styx?
PROC. Move quickly.
LONG. What whirlwind will snatch me away through the air? (Enter the ghost of Harmatius, carrying a bloody axe.)
GHOST OF HAR. Stop, your way is blocked.
LONG. Even down to Orcus?
PROC. Take him.
LONG. Oh earth, gape open. Give me a way.
GHOST OF PEL. Alas, blood!
LONG. Alas, evil Fates.
PROC. This way, this way. He’s nearby, arrest him.
LONG. I’m determined to consecrate myself to the Furies on my own. granted you, come to my aid.
GHOST OF BASILISCUS Back.
Here the ghosts enter from the various directions in which Longinus seeks passage. He is caught in his flight, and beheaded behind the stage-building.
PROC. Bind the fugitive. Behead him, soldier. Strike.
GHOST OF BAS. Thus it is now given me to conclude the final act of this our revenge-play. Caesar will join his brother alongside the Styx. Now a suspended axe is about take the head of the one of them. The other is vomiting up wine and life in the grave, as once did Polyphemus in his uncouth cave. Come, shake off your sleep, you beast. I want to listen to both your complaints and your ravings.
ACT V, FINAL SCENE
ZENO, THE GHOSTS OF LONGINUS AND PELAGIUS &3.
Zeno’s madness in the tomb.
The scene changes, and Zeno appears in his tomb.
ZENO (Stripped of his breastplate and laden down with chains.) Has the day not returned to shine in the sky? Dark night! Murky night! (He imagines he’s waking up in bed.) What strength of steel weighs down my limbs? (He tests his limbs by stretching them in various directions.) Or is a great mass of chains restraining me? This steel is cold to the touch. A cell! A cell fearful for its darkness! (He calls for his lords.) Come here, my lords. Is nobody afraid of Zeno’s wrath, should he delay? Brother, lend a hand here. Sebastianus! Proclus! Are you dragging your heels thus, while your king is calling for you? Double-time quick march, soldiers. Come here, my boys. Will nobody lend a hand to the Augustus? (He says all these things slowly and hesitantly). Where am I? In the darkness of Dis or in a black underground cave where dwells the eternal image of death, the horror of night, and Peace, the handmaiden of black silent? (With his hands, he tests the walls.) Brother, oh brother! If I have gained the Styx, deprived of life, why are the flames of vengeful fire lacking? Why do the Furies have their firebrands? You monsters of the Pit, you brutal band of spirits, you common folk of the Acheron, you specters of this pallid religion, come forth. Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Come hither and crowd about the Augustus. (He cocks his ears.) Everything is still, far and wide. Oh, my doubtful condition! Where am I? Am I awake and breathing, or is sleep troubling me with its illusions? The awful evils of Zeno! You harmful shades! Oh, sleep all too heavy. Longinus — (Longinus’ ghost appears from its grave.)
GHOST OF LONG. Cease bothering your brother’s shade with your damnable noise. The sleep of death oppresses me. I have submitted my neck to the axe, while you inhabit your tomb, buried before your death. Come, be quick in breathing forth your dire soul, I am waiting for you. The Judge forbids me to enter the dwelling of the sinful, unless you lead the way.
ZENO Is this how my Fates turn out? Alive in my tomb? Alas the wrong! The Thunderer’s wrong! Does Zeno, the ruler of the earth, the governor of the world, lie beneath a black stone, buried before his ending? My fellow citizen! Bring help! Rescue your king! Break down the doors of this deadly home, lay low everything with a great crash. Hurry. (He cocks his ears.) Is nobody lending the Augustus a hand? Abandoned! Alas, abandoned! I lie here, banished from heaven and earth. Alas, an ugly kind of death! My realm has been stolen, my brother’s dead, my servants are far away. Caesar lies in a confining tomb. Night bristles, these chains are heavy, hunger gnaws me, cold bites me, the air hangs heavy. My mind is quaking, my liver is being pecked by a thousand vultures, as I am guilty of having an evil mind and life. Cruel heaven! Even without light, I am seeing monsters! (The ghost of Pelagius visits the tomb.) Pelagius! You dark specter! Pelagius, take away that fearful face of yours. I murdered you in your innocence, I admit it. Why harass me I am being scorched by your blood. Quit this tomb. Oh, if the world would fall down in ruins! Oh. if all things would return to their ancient chaos and there were no God to requite sins with His scourge. Black death, horrid death, cruel death, come. Air, air! The air is failing my heaving breast. You Sisters of the Styx. Air! (The scene suddenly shifts, and the sight of Zeno dying for lack of air is taken away.)
THE GHOST OF BASILISCUS CONCLUDES THE TRAGEDY
GHOST You’ll get your air on the banks of the Styx. But first you must give up that criminal ghost of yours, we’re waiting. Meanwhile I want to witness the funeral procession of your brother. It is coming beneath the city walls. (Here the scene shifts. Nine tombs are visible, each with its dead. Over them can be seen the emblems of the deceased held up by standards. Those appearing in their tombs are Zeno, Longinus, Harmatius, Pelagius, Euphemianus, and Gazaus. In the other three are the eight captains along with Harmatius.
LONGINUS’ FUNERAL PROCESSION PASSES
Proclus marches at the head of the procession wearing a military uniform. Twelve soldiers follow him, marching in twos with their spears reversed. Soon there comes a drummer, accompanied by a standard-bearer. The drum is covered with a black cloth. There follows the executioner, bearing Longinus’ head on a tall spear. Then come the six boys, clad in black, whose fathers Longinus had murdered. They shoot at Longinus’ head with arrows. Two soldiers bring up the rear.
Such are royal destinies. Ambition raises up the man whom Fortune brings down. His mind, uncontrollable because of his power, perks up and flies up to the citadels of heaven in its pride, and from there it falls down to the deepest waters of the Styx to atone for its crime forever. This theater, completely spattered by murder’s bloodshed, bears witness to this. How much blood had to flow, in order to slake the Caesars’ raging thirst! But in the end they paid the price for their uncontrollable minds. Both have suffered their downfall. Now, damned to Erebus, they join me in suffering everlasting punishments for their crimes.