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Existentialism
Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)
Caligula - Act 2
Art does not tolerate reason
Albert Camus

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caligula
- Act one
- Act two
- Act three
- Act four

-
the myth of sysyphus
-
Back Again To Myself
-
Contradictions
-
The Blood of Freedom
- Neither victims nor executioners
- The Night of Truth


ACT TWO

Three years later. A room in Cherea's house, where the senators have met in secret.

OCTAVIUS He insults our dignity.

THE OLD SENATOR Death's too good for someone who calls me "darling" in public!

OCTAVIUS Every evening we have to jog behind his carriage when he goes out into the country.

LUCIUS The exercise will do us good, he says.

THE OLD SENATOR There’s no excuse for it.

CASSIUS No, he can’t be forgiven.

OCTAVIUS He confiscated your property, Patricius. He killed your father, Scipio. He's taken your wife from you, Lucius, and forced her to work in his new public brothel. Cassius, he killed your son. I don’t know about you but I’ve made my choice. Between the risk we have to take and this unbearable life in helpless fear, I cannot hesitate. Can you still hesitate?

CASSIUS We're with you! He gives away our private boxes at the stadium to the rabble and eggs us on to fight with them -- just to have a pretext for punishing us later.

THE OLD SENATOR He's a coward.

LUCIUS A bully.

CASSIUS A buffoon.

THE OLD SENATOR He's impotent -- I say that's his trouble.

Confusion follows as there is a general rush to exclaim indignation and the necessity to act. Cherea strolls in, composed as usual.

CHEREA How energetic you’ve all become. Do you think the palace will welcome such an unruly mob. I assume that’s your next stop.

OCTAVIUS We don’t plan to ask permission to enter.

CHEREA May I have permission to sit down in my own house? (Cherea moves toward a seat studying the others) It's not so simple as you think, my friends. This is all too premature.

CASSIUS If you're not with us, leave us, but keep your mouth shut.

CHEREA Oh I think I'm with you, but not for the same reasons.

CASSIUS We've talked enough!

CHEREA (standing up) Maybe, but you're rushing to your destruction because you haven't recognized the nature of your true enemy.

CASSIUS We see him for what he is, all right -- a crazy tyrant.

CHEREA No. We've had experience of mad emperors. But this one isn't mad enough. He knows exactly what he wants.

OCTAVIUS He wants the death of every one of us.

CHEREA That’s just secondary. Caligula is frightening because he's putting his power at the service of a deadlier passion. Losing my life is no small matter, but seeing it drained of meaning -- that is unbearable! No one can live without justification.

OCTAVIUS Revenge is justification.

CHEREA Yes, and I’ll share it with you. But I've got no interest in avenging your petty humiliations. I intend to fight against an ideal. Caligula is converting his philosophy into corpses and, unfortunately for us, it is an irrefutable philosophy. Where one cannot refute, one must strike.

CASSIUS Act now, then!

CHEREA Fine, we must act. But an imperial madman at the height of his power cannot be attacked head-on. Use a little of his own cunning. Encourage his dispassionate evil and bide your time until its logic founders in sheer lunacy. I’m being quite honest with you. Afterwards, I won’t serve any of your interests. What spurs me on is not ambition but the fear of an inhuman dream in which my life – any life – counts as nothing.

OCTAVIUS (approaching him) I think I have more or less grasped your point. But the important thing is that you, too, feel that the whole fabric of our society is threatened. For me -- and I think you will all agree -- it is first of all a question of right and wrong. Family life is breaking down, respect for honest work is lost. Can we refuse to hear the appeal of traditional values in this hour of danger?

ALL No!

OCTAVIUS Will you tolerate a state of things in which we are forced to run, like slaves, beside Caligula’s carriage?

ALL No!

THE OLD SENATOR Are you willing to be addressed as "darling"?

LUCIUS And have your wives snatched away?

CASSIUS Your money too?

ALL TOGETHER No! (Mereia's "No" ends in an asthmatic wheeze and nearly collapses)

OCTAVIUS Cherea, you’ve given us good advice. We should calm down and take care not to act precipitously. The masses would still be against us. Let’s track public opinion. But when the time is ripe, Cherea, will you join hands with us, and strike hard?

CHEREA (Slowly shakes his head, yes) In the meantime, though, let Caligula follow his dream. We must even encourage his wildest plans. Help organize his madness. Then one day, he will stand alone facing an Empire peopled only by the dead and relatives of the dead.

OCTAVIUS Alright, gentlemen, we stand prepared!

A general uproar. Then silence, but for whispers of a name: "Caligula!" Caligula enters with Caesonia, followed by Helicon and some soldiers. Pantomime. Caligula halts and gazes at the conspirators. Without a word he moves from one to the other, straightens a buckle on one man's shoulder, steps back to contemplate another, sweeps them with his gaze, then draws his hand over his eyes and walks out, still without a word.

CAESONIA (Ironically, pointing to the disorder of the room) Were you having a fight?

CHEREA Yes, we were fighting.

CAESONIA Really. Why were you fighting?

CHEREA No reason at all.

CAESONIA Then it isn't true.

CHEREA What isn't true?

CAESONIA You were not fighting.

CHEREA Have it your own way, then. We were not fighting.

CAESONIA (smiling) Perhaps you'd better tidy up the place. Caligula hates disorder. HELICON You don’t want to make him step out of character.

THE OLD SENATOR But . . . I don't understand. What have we done to him?

HELICON Nothing, and that’s just it. You’re so incredibly unimportant -- boring enough to get on anybody's nerves. Just put yourselves in Caligula's place. (A short pause.) Of course, you were doing a bit of plotting, weren't you?

THE OLD SENATOR That's too absurd. How could Caligula ever think that?

HELICON He doesn't think that. He knows that. But then I suppose that’s what he really wants. Come on now, let’s tidy up. (Caligula enters and watches them)

CALIGULA (to the Old senator) Good morning, darling. (to the others) Cherea, I've decided to have a little lunch in your house. Lucius, I allowed myself to invite your wife. (the servants who came in with Caligula start to uncover the food). Just a moment! Gentlemen, you are well aware that the finances of the State have held up only out of habit and now habit itself has collapsed. Consequently, I feel the unpleasant necessity of reducing my staff. In a spirit of sacrifice that I am sure you will appreciate, I have decided to cut my own expenses, to free several slaves, and to assign you to my service. Please set the table and serve it. (The senators look uneasily at each other) Come on, put your minds to it! Public administrators should be able to develop an efficient system. (To Helicon) It seems to me, they're out of practice.

HELICON To tell the truth, they never were in practice, except to give orders or complain about those they order about. You’ll have to patient, that’s all. It takes a day to make an administrator and ten years to make a skilled worker.

CALIGULA But I’m afraid it will take twenty years to make a skilled worker out of an administrator.

HELICON Nevertheless, they’re showing progress. If you ask me, they have a talent for it. Slavery suits them. Look, they are even beginning to sweat. That’s a step in the right direction.

CALIGULA Yes, they’re not so bad after all. However, we shall have to hurry; I have an appointment at an execution. (The senators freeze with fear). Rufius should thank his lucky stars that I've been seized with hunger. (Confidentially) Rufius is the general who is to die. (short pause) Doesn't anyone want to know why he is going to die? (No one speaks.) Good for you! I see you're growing quite intelligent. You have realized that it is not necessary for a human being to have done anything in order to die. (He stops eating and gazes at his guests with a twinkle in his eye.) My loyal troops, I am proud of you. Don’t you agree Helicon? (Looks at the guests roguishly)

HELICON A formidable army indeed, Caius. But if you ask my opinion, they are getting too intelligent to want to fight. If they make any more progress, the Empire is lost!

CALIGULA Oh well, let’s relax. Just sit anywhere. Mingle. Don’t pay any attention to rank today. (All are seated, music is playing. Grotesquely forced party atmosphere) There's no denying that Rufius is a lucky man. But I wonder if he appreciates this short reprieve. Nothing is more precious than a few hours grace when death is waiting. (He begins eating; the others follow suit. Caligula's table manners are deplorable. Suddenly he stops and stares at one of the guests) Cassius, you seem in a bad mood. Is it because I had your son killed?

CASSIUS (with a lump in his throat) Not at all, Caius, quite the contrary.

CALIGULA (beaming at him) "Quite the contrary!" It's always nice to see a face that hides the secrets of the heart. Your face is sad, but your heart? Quite the contrary, wouldn’t you say, Cassius?

CASSIUS(doggedly) Quite the contrary, Caesar.

CALIGULA (more and more enjoying the situation) Cassius, there's no one I like better than you. Let us laugh together, shall we? Tell me a funny story.

CASSIUS (who has overrated his endurance) Please ...

CALIGULA All right, all right. I’ll tell you one then. But you will laugh, won’t you, Cassius? (with a glint of malice) If only for the your second son’s sake. (Smiling again.) Besides, you've just said you're not in a bad mood. (He takes a drink, then says in the tone of a teacher prompting a pupil.) Quite . . . quite the ...

CASSIUS (wearily) Quite the contrary, Caesar.

CALIGULA I'm glad. (Drinks again.) Just listen, now. (In a gentle, dreamy tone) Once upon a time there was a poor young emperor whom no one loved. He, loving Cassius, had Cassius’ younger son put to death to remove that love from his heart. (In a different manner) Needless to say, that's not true. Still it's a funny story, isn't it? But you're not laughing. No one is laughing? Now listen! (in a burst of anger) I want everyone to laugh. (he gives a horrible cackling laugh). My army of senators. Caligula’s advisory committee. CAC (he bangs on a table, and in a travesty of laughter) Cac! Cac! Cac! Cac! (no one moves) Stand up, every one of you and laugh. Cassius will lead (He pounds the table violently.) Do -- what -- I -- say. Cac! Cac! Cac! Cac!. (Cassius rises and painfully forces the laughter until it verges on weeping. Caligula looks at Octavius who rises and starts to laugh, then at Lucius, until all the senators are on their feet executing a horrifying loud, mechanical travesty of laughter. Caligula has jumped up on a table and conducts them, like an orchestra leader, in a series of staccato laughs which rise in intensity -- Cac, Cac, Cac. Cac, Cac, Cac. Cac! Cac! Cac! During this scene all the players, Caligula and Caesonia excepted, behave like marionettes in a puppet play. Suddenly, he stops them abruptly with a conductor’s gesture and sinks back on his couch, with Caesonia, beaming with delight, and bursts into a fit of natural laughter.) Oh, Caesonia! Just look at them! I’ve rolled the dice and what do you see. Decency, respectability, regard for public opinion, everything has ceased to have any meaning. The wind of fear has blown them all away. What a noble emotion fear is, Caesonia, pure and unalloyed and disinterested, one of the few to derive its nobility from the guts. (In a friendly tone) Let's change the subject. What do you have to say, Cherea? You've been very silent.

CHEREA I'm quite ready to speak, Caius, as soon as you give me permission.

CALIGULA Excellent. Keep quiet then. I'd rather hear from our friend Lucius.

LUCIUS (reluctantly) As you wish, Caius.

CALIGULA Then tell us something about your lovely, young wife. Send her over to me. (Lucius' wife clings to her husband, but Caesonia takes her and leads her over to Caligula. All the while looking at Lucius, he unbuttons the front of her dress with great deliberation and thrusts his hand in.) Well, Lucius? Cat's got your tongue?.

LUCIUS (hardly knowing what he says) My wife . . . Why, I love her.

Embarrassed laughter from the senators.

CALIGULA Of course, my friend, of course. But that’s so ordinary. (He is leaning toward her, tickling her shoulder playfully with his tongue. She is white with fear.) By the way, when I came in just now, you were plotting, weren't you? Indulging in a sleazy little plot?

OLD SENATOR Caius, how can you . . . ?

CALIGULA It’s not at all important, darling. Old age will have its flings. I won't take it seriously. None of you are capable of a courageous act. (Helicon whispers in his ear) It has just occurred to me that I have a political decision of some importance to make. But first, I must answer the overwhelming desires prompted by nature.

Caligula crosses to leave but realizes that Lucius’s wife remains where she was. He motions to her with a little finger and stays where he is. She looks to Lucius but he averts his eyes as Caesonia again leads her over to Caligula. Lucius starts to move, but Helicon moves his hand to his weapon and stops him.

CAESONIA (amiably making conversation) Oh, Lucius, please pour me another glass of this excellent wine. (Lucius complies) Now, Cherea, suppose you tell me why you were fighting a moment ago?

CHEREA (coolly) Our quarrel arose, Caesonia, from a discussion about whether poetry is dead.

CAESONIA An interesting question. It’s beyond my limited intelligence, of course, but I’m surprised that your passion for art should lead you to blows.

CHEREA Indeed. But Caligula used to tell me that there is no true passion without a touch of cruelty.

HELICON Nor any love without a touch of rape.

CAESONIA (eating) There's some truth in that. Don't you all agree?

THE OLD SENATOR Yes. Caligula has rare pyschological insight.

OCTAVIUS He spoke eloquently of courage.

CASSIUS He should write up his ideas. The book would be most instructive.

CHEREA And, what's more, it would keep him busy, because it’s obvious he needs distractions.

CAESONIA (still eating) You'll be delighted to hear that he shares your views. At the moment he is working on a book. Quite a big one, I believe.

Caligula enters, accompanied by Lucius' wife.

CALIGULA Lucius, I return your wife with many thanks. But you’ll have to excuse me, I have such a busy schedule. (wearily) So many orders to give.

He hurries out. Lucius has gone pale and risen to his feet.

CAESONIA (to Lucius, who is standing) Believe me Lucius, this book will be the first of numerous classics. Are you listening, Lucius?

LUCIUS (his eyes still fixed on the door by which Caligula went out) Yes. And what's the book about, Caesonia?

CAESONIA (indifferently) Oh, it's beyond me.

CHEREA Then we must assume it deals with the deadly power of poetry?

CAESONIA That’s just it, I think.

THE OLD SENATOR (cheerfully) Well, that will keep him busy, as Cherea said.

CAESONIA Yes, darling. But I'm afraid you won't be too pleased with the book’s title.

CHEREA What is it?

CAESONIA "The Axe Falls." (Caligula hurries in.)

CALIGULA Excuse me, but I've just made an executive decision ( To the Intendant) Intendant, you are to close the public granaries. I have signed a decree to that effect; you will find it in my study.

INTENDANT But, sir ...

CALIGULA Famine begins tomorrow.

INTENDANT But the masses will protest.

CALIGULA (firmly and sharply) I repeat -- the famine begins tomorrow. Everybody knows famine. It’s a national disaster. Well, tomorrow the disaster begins. And I shall stop it when I feel like it. After all, there are only so many ways of proving that I’m free. One is always free at someone else's expense. Absurd perhaps, but that’s just the way it is. (With a keen glance at Lucius) Apply this principle to your jealousy and you'll understand better. (In a meditative tone) Still, what an ugly thing is jealousy! A disease of vanity and the imagination. To picture one's wife with her lips wrapped . . . (Pause) Gentlemen, let's not forget our dinner. Did you know that Helicon and I have been working hard at some research? We’re putting the finishing touches to an instructional booklet on execution, which I’m sure will interest you.

HELICON Assuming we ask your opinion.

CALIGULA We should be generous, Helicon, and consult with them. Let’s get their advice on section III, first paragraph.

HELICON (standing, declaims in a droning voice) "Execution relieves and liberates. Capital punishment is a universal tonic, and just, both in application and in theory. The individual is guilty because he is a subject of Caligula. But everyone is a subject of Caligula, hence everyone is guilty. Therefore it follows that everyone dies. It’s merely a matter of time and patience."

CALIGULA (laughing) Well, what do you think? That bit about patience was a nice touch wasn't it? Allow me to tell you, that's the quality I most admire in you. Now, you lot can leave. But you stay, Caesonia. You too, Cassius and Octavius. Mereia too. I want to have a little talk with you about the administration of our National Brothel. I'm quite concerned about it. (The others file out slowly.)

CHEREA What's the trouble, Caius? Is the staff inadequate?

CALIGULA No, but the profits are falling off.

MEREIA The prices will have to be raised.

CALIGULA Mereia, you have just missed a golden opportunity to keep your mouth shut. You're too old to be interested in this subject, and I don't want your opinion.

MEREIA Then why ask me to stay?

CALIGULA In a view moments I shall need some cool, dispassionate advice. (Mereia moves away.)

CHEREA I may be speaking too passionately, Caius, but raising the prices would certainly enhance the prestige of the Brothel.

CALIGULA Nonsense! What's needed is a bigger turnover. I've explained my new initiative to Caesonia, and she will outline it for you. I've had too much wine and I’m beginning to feel sleepy. (He lies down and closes his eyes.)

CAESONIA It's very simple. Caligula is creating a brand new decoration. It will be called the Badge of Civic Merit and awarded to those who have diligently patronized Caligula's National Brothel.

CHEREA That’s brilliant!

CAESONIA I think so. Anyway, the badges will be awarded each month after checking the admission tickets. Any citizen who has not won a badge within twelve months will be exiled or executed.

CHEREA Why "or executed"?

CAESONIA Caligula says it doesn't matter which -- but it's important he should retain the right to decide.

CHEREA Pure genius! The Treasury will wipe out its debt in no time.

HELICON And note that everything’s done in the most moral way. After all, it is better to tax vice than to ransom virtue.

Caligula has half opened his eyes and is watching old Mereia who, standing

in a corner, has produced a small flask and is sipping its contents.

CALIGULA (still lying on the couch) What's that you're drinking, Mereia?

MEREIA It's for my asthma, Caius.

CALIGULA (rises, and thrusting the others aside, goes up to Mercia and sniffs his mouth) No, it's an antidote.

MEREIA Not at all, Caius! You must be joking. I have fits of choking during the

night and I've been taking this doctor's prescription for months.

CALIGULA So, you're afraid of being poisoned?

MEREIA My asthma --

CALIGULA Why beat about the bush? You're afraid I'll poison you. You suspect me. You're keeping an eye on me.

MEREIA By heavens, no!

CALIGULA You suspect me. I'm not to be trusted, am I?

MEREIA Caius!

CALIGULA (harshly) Answer me! (In a cool, judicial tone) Since you are taking an antidote, you obviously think I intend to poison you.

MEREIA Yes . . . I mean . . . no!

CALIGULA And since you think that I have decided to poison you, you are doing all you can to frustrate my plans to restructure Rome. That makes two crimes, plus an alternative from which you can't escape. Either I had no intention of causing your death, in which case you are unjustly suspecting me, your emperor. Or else I do desire your death, in which case, vermin that you are, you're trying to thwart my will. (Pause. Caligula contemplates the old man .) Well, Mereia, is my reasoning sound?

MEREIA It’s water-tight, Caius. But it doesn't apply to the case.

CALIGULA Ah, you take me for a fool. Defaming the character of your emperor. That’s a third crime. Listen carefully. Of these three crimes only one of them is a credit to you, the second one -- because the moment you attribute a decision to me and oppose it, that implies revolt. You are therefore a leader of men, a revolutionary. That is courageous. (sadly) I'm fond of you, Mereia. That’s why you'll be condemned for crime number two, and not for either of the others. You shall die like a man for having rebelled. (While he talks Mereia is shrinking together on his chair.) Don't thank me. That's not necessary. Here. (Holds out a phial. His tone is amiable.) Drink this poison. (Mereia shakes his head. He is sobbing violently. Caligula shows signs of impatience.) Don't waste time. Take it. (Mereia makes a feeble attempt to escape. But Caligula with a wild leap is on him, catches him in the center of the stage and after a brief struggle pins him down on a low couch. He forces the phial between his lips and smashes it with a blow of his fist. After some convulsive movements Mereia dies. His face is streaming with blood and tears. Caligula rises, wipes his hands absent-mindedly, then hands Mereia's flask to Caesonia.) What was it? An antidote?

CAESONIA (calmly) No, Caligula. Asthma medicine.

CALIGULA (A short pause, gazing down at Mereia) No matter. It all comes to the same thing in the end. A little sooner, a little later. . . (He goes out hurriedly, still wiping his hands, Helicon follows him).

CASSIUS (horrified) What shall we do?

CAESONIA (coolly) Remove that body to begin with. It's gross and ugly.

CASSIUS (to Cherea, as he lifts up the body with Cherea and Cassius) We must act quickly.

CHEREA We'll need at least a hundred. (They drag the body into the wings.)

Young Scipio enters. Seeing Caesonia, he makes as if to leave.

CAESONIA Come here.

SCIPIO What do you want?

CAESONIA Nearer. (She pushes up his chin and looks him in the eyes. Pause. Coldly) He killed your father, didn't he?

SCIPIO Yes.

CAESONIA And you hate him?

SCIPIO Yes.

CAESONIA You want to kill him?

SCIPIO Yes.

CAESONIA But why tell me?

SCIPIO Killing him or being killed. Both are ways out of this. Besides, you won't betray me.

CAESONIA You're right. I won't betray you. But I'd like to tell you something -- to speak to the best in you.

SCIPIO You'll be talking to my hatred then.

CAESONIA Just listen. First, try to imagine your father's death. His agonized face as they were tearing out his tongue. Think of that mouth filled with blood and of his screaming like a tortured animal. (SCIPIO is stunned. CAESONIA grabs him and looks directly into his face) Listen: now think of Caligula … and try to understand him. (She exits. Scipio just stands there).

HELICON (Entering) Run along, my little poet.

SCIPIO I need your help, Helicon.

HELICON (Moving away) Too dangerous. And poetry is a closed book to me. Now get going, Caligula will be here in a moment.

SCIPIO You know so much.

HELICON I know that time passes and that growing boys shouldn’t miss a meal. I also know you’re capable of killing Caligula . . . and that he wouldn't be averse to you doing it.

Helicon goes out. Caligula enters.

CALIGULA Ah, it's you, Scipio. (He pauses, seeming embarrassed.) I haven't seen you in a long time. (Slowly approaches Scipio.) What have you been up to? Still writing, I suppose.

SCIPIO (with his back to Caligula; ill at ease, torn between hatred and some less defined emotion) I have written a few poems, Caesar.

CALIGULA About what?

SCIPIO Oh, on nothing in particular. Well, on Nature in a way.

CALIGULA A fine theme. And a vast one. What has Nature done for you though?

SCIPIO (pulling himself together, ironically and defiantly) She consoles me for not being Caesar.

CALIGULA Ah, and do you think she could console me for being Caesar?

SCIPIO (in the same tone) Why not? Nature has cured deeper infections than that.

CALIGULA (in a curiously young, unaffected voice) Infections? I detect malice in your voice. Because I put killed your father? . . . (in a different tone) Well, well, there's nothing like hatred for developing intelligence.

SCIPIO (stiffly) I answered your question.

Caligula takes the young man's face between his hands.

CALIGULA Recite your poem to me, please.

SCIPIO No.

CALIGULA Why not?

SCIPIO I don't have it with me.

CALIGULA Can't you remember it?

SCIPIO No.

CALIGULA Tell me at least what's in it.

SCIPIO (still hostile; moves toward Caligula in spite of himself) It speaks of --

CALIGULA Well?

SCIPIO No, I can’t --

CALIGULA Try --

SCIPIO It speaks of a . . . a certain harmony .

CALIGULA (breaking in; in a pensive voice) . . . between one's feet and the earth.

SCIPIO (looking surprised) Yes, it's almost that.

CALIGULA Go on.

SCIPIO And it tells of the silhouette of the Roman hills and the sudden thrill of peace that twilight brings to them --

CALIGULA -- of the sharp cries of swallows winding through the green dusk.

SCIPIO (yielding more and more to his emotion) Yes! And that precarious moment when the sky all flushed with red and gold swings round and shows its other side, spangled with stars.

CALIGULA The faint smell of trees, of wood smoke mingling with the rising night mist.

SCIPIO (completely won over) And the chirr of crickets, the coolness veining the warm air, the rumble of last carts and the farmers' calling, dogs barking --

CALIGULA And the roads drowned in shadows curving through the aromatic olive groves.

SCIPIO That's just it . . . But how did you know it in all the detail?

CALIGULA (drawing Scipio to his breast) I'm not sure! Perhaps because we love the same things.

SCIPIO (not quite knowing how to respond to Caligula) Everything I feel or think of, seems to turn to love.

CALIGULA (stroking his hair) Such transparent innocence, Scipio! That’s why you can’t understand my own appetite for life. You belong to another world. You are as good as I am evil.

SCIPIO I do understand.

CALIGULA No. There's something hidden in me -- a pool of silence matted with rotting weeds. (With an abrupt change of manner) Your poem sounds very beautiful. But if you really want my opinion ...

SCIPIO (his head on Caligula's breast, murmurs) Yes?

CALIGULA It’s all quite . . . anemic.

SCIPIO (Recoils abruptly, as if stung by a serpent; then gazes horrified, at Caligula) Leading me on as always. And now you're just some predator gloating over its kill.

CALIGULA (with a hint of sadness) There is some truth in what you say. I have been pretending.

SCIPIO (in the same tone) It must be torture to put up with that cancer in your heart.

CALIGULA (gently) That's enough.

SCIPIO You sicken me but I pity you more!

CALIGULA (angrily) Enough!

SCIPIO And I just realized how horribly lonely you!

CALIGULA (in a rush of anger, gripping the boy by the collar, and shaking him) Lonely! What do you know of it? The loneliness of teenage poets and impotent men. You babble away, but you don't realize that one is never alone. The same load of the future and the past crushes us all. Those we have killed are always with us. But they are no great trouble. It's those we have loved, those who loved us and whom we did not love; regrets, desires, bitterness and sweetness, whores and gods, the celestial gang! Always, always with us! (He releases Scipio and moves back to his former place.) Alone! If only in this ghoul-haunted wilderness of mine, I could enjoy real silence with only the rustling of a tree! (Sitting down and suddenly weary.) Solitude? No, Scipio, mine is full of gnashings of teeth, hideous with jarring sounds and voices. And lying beside any woman I caress, as night closes over us and my body is finally satisfied, when I hope to find myself poised between life and death even then my solitude is fouled by the stale smell of pleasure from the woman still moaning at my side.

A long silence. Caligula seems weary and despondent. Scipio moves behind him and approaches hesitantly. He slowly stretches out a hand toward him, from behind, and lays it on his shoulder. Without looking round, Caligula places his hand on Scipio's.

SCIPIO Everyone has some secret consolation in life. Have you nothing of the kind? Nothing to which you can turn? No refuge, no mood that makes the tears well up?

CALIGULA Yes . I do.

SCIPIO What is it?

CALIGULA (Pause. Caligula pushes Scipio’s hand off his shoulder. Slowly and deliberately) Scorn.


Ce qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé. Nietzsche, Gay Science

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