IN THE CATACOMBS Dramatic Poem
IN THE CATACOMBS Dramatic Poem
To my esteemed confrere A.Krymsky
Catacombs near Rome. A small congregation of Christians is gathered in a crypt that is dimly illuminated by oil lanterns and tapers. The Bishop is concluding his sermon, to which the standing men and women listen with pious, rapt and meek attention.
BISHOP Now, brethren, let us Jesus praise, our Lord, who martyred brother Haricleus raised to sit beside His throne in Paradise. CHOIR Oh glory to our Lord in heaven, Christ, He sets us free from our terrestrial chains, He leads us forth from sin’s abysmal darkness into the Kingdom of eternal light. DEACON Amen. BISHOP On earth our brother was a pagan’s slave, but now his master is the Lord alone.
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE The Lord his master? What? Slaves there as well? But you averred that in the House of God there are no slaves or masters! BISHOP Verily, to God all men are equal.
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Yes, but slaves? BISHOP Slaves only of the Lord, do not forget, and Christ has said: My yoke is sweet to bear, my load is light. Now do you understand? NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (after deep meditation) I don’t!... I cannot comprehend those words. CHRISTIAN SLAVE WOMAN (prophesies in sudden transport) The axe already lies beside the tree!... “I’ll splinter it and cast it to the flames,” the Lord has said. O Jesus, Son of God, come quickly, come! For see, the corn is ripe,
it bends its head and waits the sickle’s blade... How long, O Lord, how long? Poor Rachel weeps, she mourns her children... (Incoherent talk turns into delirious lament, other women also begin to wail and some of the men, too, cannot contain themselves.) BISHOP (in masterful, strong tone) Satan, get ye hence! We’re not within thy sway! (Approaches Seeress, who is writhing in convulsions, and lays his hand on her head.) Pray, sister, pray! In faith and prayer your salvation lies from the black spell cast by the Evil One. (Under his gaze the woman gradually calms down and reclines inertly in the arms of her women friends, who support her) CHRISTIAN WOMAN (one of those supporting Seeress, she speaks timidly) But yesterday her master sold her child to some Hellene in Corinth... BISHOP Hold your tongue! “A woman,” our apostle has decreed, “in congregation shall not have a voice.” (Meanwhile Seeress is led out. Silence.) NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (approaches Bishop. Speaks tremulously from embarrassment but in a despairing and determined tone) Forgive me, but I still don’t understand how any yoke can to a slave be sweet or heavy load be light. BISHOP Oh brother, when of your free will you gladly bend your neck the yoke of Jesus Christ to take, then sweet that yoke shall be to you; when of your will the cross you carry, can that cross to you be as a heavy load?
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE But why should we who suffer under slavery so much, of our free will place yokes about our necks and carry heavy crosses on our backs? The yokes and crosses rub our necks and souls so raw that we no longer can endure I did not come to your church here to seek another yoke to wear or cross to bear. Ah no, ‘twas freedom that I sought to find, for it was said: no masters and no slaves. BISHOP That freedom, brother, shall be yours indeed as soon as you accept the yoke of Christ. The servants of the Lord all equal are. You’ll bear the yoke through life down here below and then you’ll enter the abode of God where masters there are none but He alone and He’s our Father. But if you refuse to God the Father’s power to submit, your arrogance will be like Satan’s pride, the pride of Lucifer. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Nay, father, nay! What pride can bondsman harbor in his breast! So be it then, let God the Father be our only master, but when shall we see the Kingdom of the Lord? Where look for it? One brother claims that it is in the sky, another says on earth... (Gazes inquiringly with fervent expectation.) BISHOP They both are right.
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Where is God’s Kingdom on the earth? BISHOP It’s here. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE In Rome?
BISHOP It’s in our church. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE These catacombs? BISHOP You must not say “it’s here” or else “it’s there”. It’s everywhere where God dwells in the heart. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE When will He enter all the people’s hearts? BISHOP That time will come when Jesus Christ returns t he second time to earth. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (sadly) One brother says a thousand years are scheduled yet to pass between the second coming and the first... BISHOP That, brother, is the talk of heretics, for no one knows the day or hour... NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (interrupts with joyous hope) That means God’s Kingdom may arrive at any time? BISHOP ‘Tis so indeed. (Neophyte-Slave ponders, then turns sad again.) What, brother, think you now? NEOPHYTE-SLAVE I think... You said the Kingdom of the Lord is here among us... Why then do we have patricians and plebeians in our midst, and slaves as well? (Surveys whole congregation, some lower their eyes.)
CHRISTIAN-PATRICIAN (steps slightly forward) You are perturbed in vain, my brother. See, I’m a patrician born and he’s my slave, (points to old man) but that’s just for the world, because before the Lord we brothers are. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (to Old Slave) How’s that, you but pretend to be his slave? OLD SLAVE Oh no, I serve my master faithfully. Not out of fear, but conscientiously as God as willed. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE But if you’re equal, why should you his servant be and toil for him? OLD SLAVE It was God’s will that he was born a lord and I a slave. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE God’s Kingdom then contains both slaves and masters? (Old Slave is silent.) PATRICIAN Here he’s not my slave. I’m here prepared to even wash his feet. Together at one table we partook of sacred bread and wine. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (to Old Slave) Do you at home together at one table eat your meals? OLD SLAVE No, brother, no! That would not seemly be!
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE But why? OLD SLAVE ‘Twould not be proper... not be right at all... BISHOP (to Neophyte-Slave) Don’t tempt him. See, he is a simple soul and such as he stand closest heaven’s gate. He happy is who meekly suffers all, to him it makes no difference if on earth he is a slave or master. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Father, no! It’s not the same... (Passionately) If you had only heard how yesterday our little baby cried – the infant’s meek and quiet as a rule, but it went hungry all the day and night, my wife served at an orgy until dawn,
she could not even run into the hut to feed the child. And now the mite is ill, but she is not allowed to shed a tear because her master cannot bear to see the trace of tears in comely bondmaid’s eyes. BISHOP E’en if your child should die, you should not weep because eternal joy awaits it there in Paradise. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Does not that self-same joy fall to the lot of each patrician tot that leaves this life in infant innocence? BISHOP (somewhat nonplussed) The innocents are all alike to God. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (downcast) The masters’ children then get double joy, first on the earth and then in heaven too... 9
OLD SLAVE Don’t envy others, brother, save your soul, do not besmirch its sacred godliness. E’en though your pagan master treats you ill (a Christian could not be so cruel, of course), he can’t defile your sanctity of home so long as your’s and your wife’s souls are pure. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Oh man, I pray don’t sear me with such words!... Forgive me, you don’t know... I’m shamed to say... Eh, what is shame to slaves! So I will speak! What “sanctity” and what “pure souls” remain? My heart is sore within my breast to see my wife returning from an orgy flushed with wine, her eyes still glowing bright from songs obscene. The flowers in her hair, not wilted yet, so radiant appear against the dingy background of our hut... She hastens to remove patrician robes and quickly change into a slavey’s rags lest she should soil them in our “cleanly” home and at such times I often have observed my wife in tears... The luxuries she knows among the rich corrode her soul like rust, she finds it hard to live without them now... Yet I confess I could not stop myself from beating her for those weak tears although I knew she’d hate our horrid home the more... PATRICIAN Convert her, brother, to our Christian faith and she’ll no longer weep for worldly things, vain luxuries. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE My lord! – or should I call you “brother”, as the custom ‘mong you is – I can’t convince myself I should convert my wife to this new faith. I would prefer that she should weep for clean attire and rooms than o’er the purity and godliness of soul and body. Nothing she can do can serve to save her, therefore why torment her heart with thoughts of sanctity and sin? It will far better be if she won’t know!
BISHOP Whoever by compulsion sins, stays clean. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE We slaves quite often do not know ourselves what of our will we do and what are forced... Yet, sin or not, the pain of it remains... It’s hard to say... I do not know myself if mine’s the child or if the master’s seed... I love the tot, yet sometimes hate it too... OLD WOMAN To hate’s a sin: the child is innocent. (Glances at Bishop and falls silent.) BISHOP Sometimes a woman, too, speaks words of sense. (A young but worn-out and ill-dressed woman whispers something in the ear of sedate old widow-deaconess.) DEACONESS (to Bishop) Right rev’rent Father, have I leave to speak? BISHOP You may, but briefly. Speak. DEACONESS (points to young woman) This sister here would like to help this brother in his plight. (Points to Neophyte-Slave.) BISHOP How would she help? DEACONESS She begs his wife to bring the babe to her when she is called to serve her master at an orgy of the lords – this sister has her own small child to feed and says she’ll spare some milk for that one too and give it proper care until the night.
BISHOP (to young woman) That deed, my daughter, pleasing is to God. (Young woman meekly bows her head.) DEACONESS (to Neophyte-Slave) Inform your wife that she should take the child to Deodatus’ home, the carpenter’s – ‘tis at the Little Forum that he dwells – and place it in Ancillodea’s hands. She may be sure ‘twill have the best of care. ANCILLODEA (the young woman, movingly to Neophyte-Slave) Dear brother, grant to me this favor, please! NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (touched) I thank you, sister! PATRICIAN If you come to me, I’ll give you clothes for her, not new, oil course, but serviceable – clothes my slave girls wear. My wife and I provide them overmuch, so they can share their dresses with your wife since your own master gives her not enough. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (with reserve) I thank you, lord! BISHOP (correcting him) It’s “brother”. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (indifferently) As you will. CHRISTIAN-MERCHANT Your wife loves cleanliness, you said, the while
your hut is dirty. Come then to my shop, some soap I’ll give you free – your master must be stingy with it. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (with barely concealed sarcasm) Well, not liberal! DEACON Perhaps you, brother, hungry go betimes (the pagans usually starve their slaves), so come to our agape once a week – that is a meal each Sunday we provide to feed the poor – your body and your soul will both get proper nourishment. Sometimes the Bishop and the elders of our church arrive as soon as ends the paupers’ meal themselves of bread and wine – the flesh and blood of Christ – to take, to teach them righteousness and wash the brothers’ feet. Next Sunday come to my estate. Agathophil’s my name, I own an oil-mill and I dwell beside the Termae baths. Ask anyone where lives ‘‘the crazy rich man who enjoys to feed the ragged masses” and they’ll show the way. That’s what the pagans call me ‘mong themselves. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (Does not reply to Deacon, stands silent awhile, grasping his head in his hands) So it has come to this! Oh evil fate! In prime of youth a beggar I’ve become! Whom should I curse? My father, who for debts was forced to sell me into bondage vile? Those debts perhaps? Or else the man of wealth who trades in human souls? Or should I curse the day and hour my mother gave me birth? BISHOP Come to your senses, wretch! Restrain yourself! Drive off the evil spirit of despair and arrogance. Your curses are a sin, a deadly sin, especially since they are uttered when such fine fraternal aid the brothers offer.
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Oh, that aid! Those offers were what cut me to the quick... Look at this woman – withered, toil-worn, wan! (Points to Ancillodea) She’s worn down to a shadow, while my wife is young and healthy. Yet my little son is like an orphan lacking sustenance and from another baby’s mouth must take some food or starve to death, the while she serves the lords with wine and favors when they will. Yet I’m supposed to go and beg for clothes for this loose woman, driven to be loose, to gather robes off other slave girls’ backs for her because, though strong and skilled her hands, she cannot spin since daily must carouse. To curse and to despair you call a sin, but is it not a sin to take the food from hungry mouths and clothes from ragged folks? To take from one’s own brothers, toilers, slaves... DEACON With us both poor and rich give charity. 14
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Ah yes, I quite forgot the bar of soap the brother-huckster offers free of charge to clean our slavish beggary a bit that in Godâ€™s Kingdom we should spare the eyes of our rich brothers from such sorry sights, moreover, some poor brother might attend that weekly meal and spread his filthy rags upon the bench beside a tunic white or an embroidered toga. (to Patrician) Thank your friend for offering that soap to me because in token of our Christian brotherhood you may be called to wash my feet one day, and if Iâ€™ve washed them first at home with soap they will be cleaner when your turn arrives and therefore gentler to patrician hands. (Patrician flares up, but restrains himself, only glancing at Bishop.) BISHOP (still quietly and restrained, but already sternly)
What evil spirit has bemused your mind? What causes you your brothers to berate in those so caustic and so painful words? How have we wronged you and what is the grudge you hold against us? NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Yes, my heart is sore, it’s bitter sore against you. Until now I’ve been a slave, a chattel bought and sold, compelled to live in bondage, but today you sought to make of me a beggar too, to get me meekly to hold out my hand f or crumbs of charity. You sought to add a yoke that’s sweet to my most bitter yoke, to my so heavy load add one that’s light. And you expect me to believe your words that this would ease my burden in some way. BISHOP We spoke to you in all sincerity according to the Gospel. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE No, I don’t believe in your sincerity or words. You have on yonder altar silver, gold, with which, if you sincerely wished to help, you could buy out the slaves and set them free i nstead of giving those agape meals; (to Patrician) you, lord, could free your slaves without a price, and we would then be able by ourselves to earn our clothes and bread. BISHOP Nay, who are we that we should seek to change the will of God as who must slave and who the master be? Why does this fret you? “Not by bread alone does man live on the earth, but by each word that’s spoken by the lips of God.” NEOPHYTE-SLAVE No, bread and words are not enough, man must be free as well or else he only vegetates, not lives.
My heart is sore at what you’ve done to me, for first you promised everlasting life in the eternal Kingdom of the Lord, then offer food and clothes and words instead. BISHOP Not all words, brother, are of equal worth, the Word of God does more to save our souls than all that ever men can do. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE What words? The only words I’ve heard from you today are “patience” and net “meekness.” But can they in truth save people’s souls? Is it for them That Christian martyrs die upon the cross or let themselves be torn by savage beasts? BISHOP They sacrifice their lives for that great Word, which all the words of men are not enough to adequately tell. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE What word is that? BISHOP That word is God. The genesis and end, the alpha and omega. Everything began and lives through Him. No other gods are there in the entire world, except this God. He is the word, the power and the life, while all those others, whom the pagans hold as gods and worship, soulless idols are, or evil spirits, Satan’s wicked crew. The reason we are tortured, crucified, is that to worship idols we refuse, the Prince of Darkness won’t accept as god, since we abide in light, not in the dark. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (excitedly seizes on Bishop’s words) “Since you abide in light, not in the dark” then meek and patient waiting must discard as from his face a mime removes the mask, no longer willing to submit and serve the ones whose sway you do not recognize
within your hearts, and whom your conscience calls on you to fight against with all your might â€“ is that what, father, by those words you meant? BISHOP It is, except that I must add: we fight with patience and with meekness as our arms. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (dejected) Again I fail to understand your words: you fight with meekness. Now what does that mean? BISHOP We fight against the spirit, not the men; we meekly pay all taxes to the state, respect our Caesar and our government, nor seek to injure them by word or deed. Itâ€™s only to the Prince of Darkness we refuse to sacrifices bring or homage pay.
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE But who are Caesar and the government? Don’t they obey the sorcerers that serve the one whom you the Prince of Darkness call? BISHOP Just when they worship idols, all times else they are our rulers by the will of God. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE The will of god? Which one? BISHOP There’s but one God. He is the Word. He is the God of love. He is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Then it was He that gave us Caesar’s yoke, decreed praetorian, patrician rule, the power of the wealthy o’er the slaves?
BISHOP “All power in the world derives from God.” God is the King and He the master is o’er all the kings that reign upon the earth, He holds them in His hand and He, not we, will punish them for wrongs which they commit. “Mine is the vengeance,” the Eternal says. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE When will they punished be? BISHOP Ah, who can tell the ways of God? NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Perhaps it will not be until the world entire becomes God’s realm a nd Jesus comes a second time to earth? BISHOP The Judgment Day is certain to be then. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE And after that? BISHOP There then will be one flock and He its only shepherd. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Won’t there be assistants then and vicars of the Lord? Won’t overseers then stand over us? Won’t it be then as now that but in thought are people free, while they are slaves in fact? BISHOP I do not know, for neither Christ our Lord nor his apostles spoke upon that point. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Indeed?... Well then, so far as I’m concerned, God’s Kingdom need not come to us at all! OLD SLAVE (with inexpressible horror)
Oh, God! Save us from sin! Oh, what he says! (The entire Christian congregation grumbles and murmurs; the words can’t be distinguished but the uproar keeps rising like a wave, filling the crypt and rolling in echoes down the dark passages of the catacombs.) BISHOP (raises hand high, speaks with vigor) May peace be with you. (To Neophyte-Slave) Godless one, repent! Oh wretch, take back those sacrilegious words or in the next world you will suffer more than even do in this. Who does not wish God’s Kingdom in this world below to see is doomed to lose God’s Kingdom, too, above. He will be hurled into the fires of hell for all eternity, where sinners weep and gnash their teeth, while worms gnaw at the heart. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE (passionately) No, I will not repent. In vain you seek to scare me, elder, with your talk of hell. 1 live in hell each day and every hour, about me people weep and gnash their teeth, the worm each day keeps gnawing at my heart. That’s what has brought me here into your midst in search of right, of freedom and of hope. And what do I find here? Misleading words and idle dreams of bliss in Paradise, the story of a King that’s three-in-one, who over all our earthly masters reigns and gives them leave to rule us as they will until the Second Coming – later, too, perhaps. In that God’s Kingdom after death it may forever be as it is here on transient earth, and disembodied souls will suffer and “with meekness fight” for aye! This slavish soul (to Old Slave) eternally will serve not out of fear but conscientiously the master soul of his patrician lord, while he (to Merchant)
will good and evil weigh and dole out cleanliness in doses small, and he (to Deacon) will once a week spiritual food to rabble souls of such as I provide, and all the while we indigents will stand so mild and meek before the master shades like beggars in the presence of the rich, and patient wait what sign the Bishop makes, perhaps he’ll let us speak a humble word or order us to sing a hymn in praise of Him who is the only king of kings and master of the slaves in Paradise. In truth, it seems to me ‘twould better be if I were cast into eternal hell that in such hopeless slavery to dwell where even death won’t rid me of my bonds. BISHOP (he has been trying to interrupt that speech, banging his crosier on the floor, now drowns out Neophyte-Slave’s words with an angry and threatening roar) Begone, ye son of darkness, get thee hence!
Leave this assemblage! Why have you come here our sacred congregation to confuse? Crawl back into your hole, ye viper’s seed, from which you came to shatter people’s souls! NEOPHYTE-SLAVE You have no right to drive me from your midst because I came in answer to your call, for I believed your cunning promises that here, supposedly, I love would find and peace and everlasting life. But then you took from me what love and peace I had and poisoned them for ever for me– now my soul is dying. What it meant to sin I did not know, I but misfortune knew. Now you have taught me what it means to sin and be unclean in sight of God. I thought that death would spell the end of all my woes, now you’ve revealed to me the fires of hell, for each small sin eternal punishment. You therefore are obliged to shield me, too, from those innumerable hellish sins. You taught that I should love my fellow-man, so teach me also to protect my kind instead of impotently passive stand
the while my brothers die in slavery. Your charities are nothing but a patch that’s sewn on destitution’s sorry rags and just shows up our poverty the more. Can from another woman’s breast the milk provide my child maternal tenderness? And can my wife, who daily is defiled, by wearing cleanly clothes be chaste again? By taking part in your assemblage here will I forget my sad, dishonored home? It is not bread I seek, nor is it words, I long for love that’s pure and undefiled, that knows no jealousy or shameful doubts, I strive to find the light that kindles hope that if not I, at least my son or some descendant will survive to see the day when e’en the term “a slave” shall be unknown. I thirst for faith in such a sacred force that brings the light to even shallow minds and joins all men in free community without a master or a pastor-guard, and not a flock of sheep a shepherd drives with help of savage hounds, a flock that quakes with fear of lions, foxes, jackals, wolves, hyenas and such other beasts of prey. I’m not the only one whose soul is parched, I’m not the only one with hungry heart, there many others are. A fellow-slave has told me that there is on Tiber’s bank, the other side Maremma’s fetid swamp, a secret camp where rebel slaves collect. No longer able thralldom to endure, they’re getting ready to strike off their chains and from their necks shake off the master’s yoke. PATRICIAN How long, think you, that yoke will off remain? NEOPHYTE-SLAVE If but a moment, it will be worthwhile! I hoped in your assembly here to find eternal freedom, but you can’t cast off your “yoke that’s sweet” – not even for a trice. Would it not better be to give up dreams about eternity for present deeds, agape meals exchange for feasts of blood? PATRICIAN For shameful death upon the cross, you mean.
NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Oh, Christians! Since what time have you begun to label execution shameful death? Do you now frighten people with the cross? Your own Messiah did not see disgrace in perishing Himself on that same cross together with two thieves. BISHOP ‘Twas not the thieves, but He that sanctified the cross. He was their Savior, they were not His. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Indeed? Mayhap He’d not be King in Paradise and highest ruler over all the souls if outlaws, rebels and unruly men had not throughout the ages shed their blood to make the slaves and “simple souls” afraid, for “patience, meekness” would have disappeared from earth long since and now forgotten be if we weren’t haunted by the specter grim of bleeding outlaws nailed upon the cross, and feared the loss of life with nothing gained. YOUNG CHRISTIAN The meek and patient have no fear of death upon the cross for Him who for our sake Himself the crucifixion’s pain endured. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE Did He endure that we should suffer still? Where then is our salvation, where the pledge that all the sins on earth would be redeemed, if we must still pay ransom with our blood? BISHOP Redemption is in heaven. That is where our Kingdom is, and not on earth. Therefore, let bodies die so long as blessed souls forever live. Lord Jesus sacrificed his flesh and blood to save the faithful, yet such indolent and crafty slaves as you this sacrifice of Jesus dissipate. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE How many of us, too, have died in vain false gods to sate with bloody sacrifice
and still are being sacrificed today for that God’s sake you say has made us slaves? Can any man that road with crosses lined traverse which slaves have through the ages trod? And who the martyred heroes’ blood can weigh, which has not fallen on their killers’ heads, but still weighs on the children of the slain? A countless phalanx of the gods has gone from here to heaven, wading in that blood as though on royal-purple carpet spread to hail a Caesar’s triumph. Oh, how long will yet incorporeal tyrants’ feet, the feet of bloodless gods and lifeless ghosts on royal carpets walk of human gore? I will not shed a drop of my own blood for that of Jesus. If it be truly so, that He is God, then let the blood divine for once be shed in vain for people’s sake. I do not care if there’s one god above, or three, or thirty, or a myriad gods. For none of them do I desire to die, not for the King in mystic Paradise, nor for the tyrants on Olympus mount – I will not be a slave to any god, I’ve had my fill of slavery on earth! Prometheus alone I homage pay, he did not make his people into slaves, he brought the light with fire and not with words, he fought not meekly but with courage bold, he suffered not just three but countless days, his tyrant he did not a father call but as a universal despot cursed, foreboding the destruction of all gods. I’ll follow in his tracks. And if I die, it’s not for him – he asks no sacrifice – but for those things for which he suffered too. Let no one be discouraged by my cross, because if in my heart the sacred fire I flaming even for a moment feel and live e’en briefly not a pauper slave but free man who’s the equal of the gods, with happy heart I’ll go to meet my death and perish on the cross without regret. (Ancillodea suddenly bursts into uncontrollable sobs.)
(Gently) Why, sister, do you weep? What caused you hurt? Perhaps I pained you with offensive words? Believe me, that was farthest from my wish.
ANCILLODEA No, brother... no offense... I weep because I’m sorry for you... you will surely die... BISHOP Don’t weep. The knavish slave’s not worth your tears. Allegiance to Prometheus he swore – who Satan is, the serpent sly that tempts men e’er to sin and disobedience. There’s no salvation for this wicked slave, redemption’s not for him! By his own words he lost his soul. Let’s leave the reprobate, and turn from evil to do goodly deeds. NEOPHYTE-SLAVE I go to fight for freedom for the slaves, against you I will battle for the truth!
Entire congregation walks with tapers in hand, the Bishop at their head. Neophyte-Slave goes by himself through another passage on the opposite side. October 4, 1905
Translated by John Weir Ilustrated by Mikola Storozhenko Originally published by Mistetstvo Publishers. Kiev, 1971