Same setting as in Act I. The agora of the city of Dionysia. To the left the Temple of Bacchus; to the right the Christian basilica. At the back the Prytaneum converted into the Praetorium of the Proconsul. Under its porch a Curule Chair in marble.
CLEONICE, veiled, in a grey cloak, THESSALUS; soon afterwards the MAIDENS in mourning, LYCOPHRON, a few PEOPLE, the HIGH PRIEST of Dionysos, a WOMAN, a YOUNG MAN and an OLD MAN.
CLEONICE (throwing back her veil). What a cloud of anguish darkens the air of this city! Over the houses and countenances of men hovers the livid gleam of Destiny, the relentless master of gods and men. Who will ever be able to lift its weight (To Thessalus.) But Phosphoros, where is he?
THESSALUS. Yonder in the dungeons of the City Hall He surrendered himself, unhappy man! What madness!
CLEONICE. I know why. He has come to face his destiny. He would rather perish than stay away when summoned. When is the judgment?
THESSALUS. I know not. Hush! Here is a train of mourners.
(Cleonice veils her face under her cloak.)
(Six maidens in black veils carrying olive branches, followed by a few of the people, including Lycophron, approach the Temple of Bacchus and prostrate themselves before the altar.)
THE LEADER OF THE MAIDENS. 0 God of this city, mighty Bacchus, look on us virgins suppliant before Thine altar and deign to hear us as we weep in desolation. One of the noblest sons of the city is about to face a terrible judgment. The Lictor’s axe, sharpened by Nemesis, is ready in the shadow, and the sword of wrathful Caesar is suspended above us like the thunderbolt slumbering in the bosom of the storm-cloud. Our souls are aquiver like sycamore leaves and the stream of our tears is shed at Thy feet like dew. Dionysos! Come to the aid of Thy children!
THE MAIDENS IN UNISON. Dionysos, come to the aid of Thy children!
THE HIGH PRIEST (coming out of the Temple). Maidens of the city of Dionysos, I have heard your supplications, and I come to you full of concern and of hope. I bring you the very words of the God. Hear what he spake this morning by the mouth of a blind prophet.
THE PEOPLE. An oracle! Hear the oracle!
THE HIGH PRIEST. ‘The city of Dionysos is tainted by a sacrilege. A hero alone can remove it. Dionysos promises to his children a hero and a god! But for their advent a miracle is needed . . . a miracle in the sight of the whole city . . . a miracle dazzling like the light of the sun which outshines the stars! . . .’
(The Woman, the Young Man and the Old Man gather into a group.)
THE WOMAN. Who is the author of the sacrilege?
THE OLD MAN. It is Phosphoros.
THE YOUNG MAN. No, Phosphoros is the hero.
THE OLD MAN (nodding his head). He will be condemned.
THE YOUNG MAN (to Lycophron). What do you think about it, 0 seer?
LYCOPHRON. A true hero wears a star on his brow. Tear the scales from your eyes and you will see him.
THE LEADER OF THE MAIDENS. 0 Dionysos, god rent asunder by the Titans and reborn daily in living souls, thou who stirrest in the depths of the earth, as in the womb of wives when they conceive sons in thine image, thou who createst men with thy tears and gods with thy smile . . . give us him who fights and him who saves . . . give us the hero and the god!
THE MAIDENS (in unison). Give us the hero and the god!
THE HIGH PRIEST. Come into the Temple to pray during the judgment. (The maidens and the leader enter the Temple with the High Priest.)
CLEONICE (standing apart). The judgment approaches! . . . 0 Heaven, what is to be done?
THE YOUNG MAN. What god did the oracle mean?
THE OLD MAN. Is it Caesar?
THE WOMAN. Is it Christ?
LYCOPHRON. The oracle speaks of a new god.
THE OLD MAN. What name do you give him?
LYCOPHRON. The name comes only with the act. Strange are the words of the prophet, but stranger still will their fulfilment be.
THE OLD MAN. Never shall we hear anything plain from this seer!
THE WOMAN. Let us go to consult the Bishop. He will explain to us.
THE OLD MAN. Let us go! We are Christians after all.
(The three, followed by a few of the people, move towards the basilica.)
CLEONICE, THESSALUS, LYCOPHRON, the OLD MAN, the WOMAN, the YOUNG MAN, PEOPLE.
THE OLD MAN. Shepherd of the Flock of the Faithful, in the name of Christ, come forth from your sanctuary. The city is in distress and the people call upon you.
(A bell sounds within the basilica.)
THE PEOPLE. In the name of Christ, the people call upon you.
(The bell rings again.)
THE BISHOP (coming out of the porch). I am here. What is it?
THE OLD MAN. Most Holy Bishop, our fellow-citizen Phosphoros is about to face a judgment. He is charged with conspiracy against Caesar and the worst outrages await him. Nevertheless, the voice of Dionysos promises us a miracle and a Redeemer. Who is this Redeemer? You must know, you who hold the secret of the only truth.
THE BISHOP. How can you come to speak to me of the falsehoods of Dionysos? Do you not blush for shame, you who call yourselves Christians, that you still frequent the haunts of the devil? Ah! As long as it stands, that den of perdition, that Temple of Bacchus, it will taint the city with the breath of lust and insurrection. You speak of a Saviour? There is no other but Jesus Christ. You speak of a miracle? Christ alone can perform such through His apostles and His Church. Know that in this town this crozier alone can perform them. You who come to me stained with the dregs of Bacchus and the pestilences of Venus, infamous people, I exclude you from the sacraments. Away from here!
THE PEOPLE (dismayed). He curses us!
THE BISHOP. Or else promise repentance!
THE PEOPLE. We promise it.
THE BISHOP. Listen to me then. (He comes down the steps of the basilica.) Approach . . . nearer . . . but do not raise those insolent heads . . . (threatening them with the crozier). Bow yourselves to the earth like the vile sinners that ye are. (Men and women form a circle around the Bishop, with bowed heads and strained attention. The Bishop resumes in muffled and hissing tones, sometimes whispering into the ears of his listeners.) Phosphoros is convicted not only of outrage against Caesar but of criminal intercourse with the demon. He has visited, in the Taurus, the mountain of the Magicians who call up Satan. Only the sons of Lucifer return from it; the others fall headlong into unknown abysses. Further he has seduced a holy virgin and torn her from her Thebaid . . . and none knows what has become of her. (The people react with gestures of amazement and horror.) Such is your hero, Theokles the apostate, Phosphoros the hireling of the devil. But he is about to appear before the tribunal of the Proconsul. He will have to abase himself, to confess his crimes and to crawl in the dust to the cross of my basilica. Then, by God’s grace, it is I who will perform the miracle, I will obtain pardon for him. The Proconsul will listen to me, for my influence with Caesar is great. But should Phosphoros be obdurate, should he defy Caesar and Holy Church, then you must cry: ‘Death to him!’ That is the only thing that can still save you from eternal perdition. Have you understood?
(The people start back in terror. The Bishop solemnly ascends the steps of the Church and turns round under the porch. With outstretched crozier he pronounces the following with the intonation of an officiating priest):
On that condition I promise you pardon for your sins, admission to the sacraments and my priestly blessing.
(The crowd disperses slowly, cowed and with gestures of dejection. The WOMAN, the YOUNG MAN and the OLD MAN go off last, turning several times to point with frightened gesture at the porch.)
LYCOPHRON (aside). What end do the sacraments serve in the hands of oppressors? Only to stifle men’s souls and to kill their consciences. (Exit.)
CLEONICE. They are all against him. Against him, Caesar with his soldiers, and the whole Empire; against him, the Bishop who has the people in the hollow of his hand. They are about to crush the man, the outcast, who wears a star on his agonized brow! I see the judge approach. . . . Behind him an innumerable army . . . and in this sea of men bristling with pikes, not one lance, not one sword which is not aimed at the heart of Phosphoros! O Almighty Lord, where is Thy fire and Thy whirlwind to sweep away the mountain of iron and consume the army of hatred? . . . How can I do it? Did not the risen Christ descend into hell to save the damned? And I, risen again through Love, shall I not have the strength to save my Hero? Help me, powers of Heaven who rain down multitudes of souls through space and who scatter over the earth the seed of free men! Be with me, divine Love, make of my heart a rock of diamond to bear all blows, and of my arms, two flames to burst all bonds and deliver him I love!
(She remains with outstretched arms as though in a trance.)
THESSALUS. Here come armed men. We might be discovered. Come, let us hide with your sister Cadmea.
(Exit, drawing her after him.)
Enter in haste DAMIS, PHRYGIUS, ANDROCLES, conversing in hushed tones and to an agitated rhythm.
ANDROCLES (to Damis). Have you followed my orders?
DAMIS. At all the gates of the city there are groups of twenty men hidden in houses. They have trusty leaders, and at the first signal will fall upon the legionaries who guard the city. And you, have you planned the surprise attack on the Acropolis?
ANDROCLES. The phalanx has occupied the underground chamber, and is ready to lay hands on the alien guards. But all depends on the first stroke. Once the Proconsul has fallen the people will rise, the guard will be intimidated and the revolt spread as if on wings.
DAMIS. At what moment must we strike?
ANDROCLES. When he pronounces the death sentence on Phosphoros.
PHRYGIUS. But can you be certain of reaching the Proconsul, surrounded by his guards who keep watch over him with Argus eyes? It would need a miracle to accomplish this stroke of audacity. And the people are waiting for it and will not follow us without it.
ANDROCLES. It is our task to bring about the miracle by striking home at the right moment.
PHRYGIUS. Before our swords have entered his breast, a hundred pikes will have pierced our own. Once we are dead, who will raise the town? Who will proclaim the freedom of Ionia?
DAMIS. Are you trying to undermine our enterprise?
ANDROCLES. It would mean certain ruin for us to draw back now!
PHRYGIUS. I require a sign from Heaven. Without it, I shall not move.
(Trumpet call in the Praetorium.)
ANDROCLES. Hush! Here comes the Proconsul!
The PROCONSUL HARPALUS comes forth from the Praetorium, preceded by his Lictors and Herald. He takes his seat on the Curule Chair, at the head of the stairway. Behind him, under the portico, at the back, the legionaries form a barrier. From all sides the PEOPLE pour in and fill the Agora. Amid the throng the YOUNG MAN, the WOMAN and the OLD MAN form a group apart. ALCETAS arrives with the three courtesans AGLAE, CYTHERIS, MIMALONE, attired as Bacchantes. They sit down to the right, on the steps of the Temple of Dionysos. The seer LYCOPHRON, bent over a knobby stick, places himself at their feet. From the right, CLEONICE, her face screened behind the hood of her cloak, appears beneath the porch of the basilica. The three conspirators, DAMIS, ANDROCLES, PHRYGIUS, occupy the centre of the scene.
ALCETAS. A judgment is the finest of all spectacles. We are going to have some fun.
AGLAE (ironically). Let us see whether the son of Dionysos is still as handsome. . . .
CYTHERIS (disdainfully). Still as pure . . .
MIMALONE (bitterly). Still as strong! . . .
AGLAE. Under the Lictors’ rods haply he may regret my goblet. . . .
CYTHERIS. . . . my roses that he rejected. . . .
MIMALONE. . . . and my magic wand!
(From the back three Lictors lead in Phosphoros, bareheaded, wearing his sword. They stand with him on the Proconsul’s right.)
DAMIS. There he is. . . . How pale he looks!
ANDROCLES. He is unmoved.
PHRYGIUS. He is cowed.
CLEONICE (leaning against the pillar of the porch). I feel ready to faint!
(A murmur of emotion runs through the assembly.)
THE HERALD. Silence, all you in the square! The Proconsul is about to speak!
HARPALUS (seated in his Praetor’s chair). Theokles, son of Agathon, you were one of the privileged children of this city, you were rich and free, dowered with all the gifts of mind and fortune. You might have become the chief citizen of illustrious Dionysia, aye, even one of the highest in the Empire, had you but been willing to obey the twin powers instituted by God for the governance of the earth: Caesar and the Church. Your father was a noble magistrate, your mother a god-fearing woman. But your perverse soul seems to have been conceived in some wild highland cave by a Phrygian Bacchante and the demon of the storm. From your early years pride dwelt in your untamable heart. You have never consented to bow your head before the Cross of Christ, the Lord of Heaven, nor before the august images of Caesar, lord of the world. You have held aloof from the court of Byzantium and refused to pay homage to the Emperor. If you frequented pagan temples, it was only to seek there weapons against us. No god found favour in your sight. Poor demented wretch, you thought to be yourself God and Caesar! . . . Your travels have been nothing but one long conspiracy. For seven years you have roamed the world with some mysterious purpose . . . and no one knows why. In Chaldea, and in Egypt you gave yourself up to the satanic rites of black magic. You have wandered from riotous Alexandria to venerable Athens, and entered as an enemy into Rome, the Eternal City, founded for the eternal power. Everywhere, in the arenas of athletes, under the porticos of the philosophers, by the fireside of malcontents, you have fomented doubt, resistance and revolt. The eye of Caesar, which sees all, followed you; his clemency spared you still. But after your return to your native town, what is your first act? A monstrous crime. At night, with a jar containing a devilish liquid mingled with your own blood, you have been seen tracing letters under Caesar’s statue. Next day the whole city, struck with horror and dismay, read the sacrilegious verses signed ‘HARMODIUS’!—Wherefore I, Harpalus, Proconsul of Caesar and your judge, I charge you with the crime of high treason. Defend yourself now and rely no longer but on the mercy of Caesar; consider that your life is in my hands. Look around you! Behold this court bristling with pikes and this terrified city—upon which you would like to draw down the wrath of heaven. The Crozier and the Axe are raised against you; the Church and the City accuse you; Caesar questions you. Answer, you who are named Phosphoros.
PHOSPHOROS. I will not plead for myself! How could I lower myself to defend my life when it depends on a word from your lips or a sign from your hand! I have yielded it in advance to your Lictors. But to my last breath I will plead for my country; I will sing a funeral dirge in honour of Dionysia! Ever free since the heroic ages until to-day, Dionysia was once the ally of the people which calls itself the People-King, but was never the subject of Rome. The Dionysian phalanx fought of its own free will for Alexandria and refused its aid to Julius Caesar, who respected its refusal. Neither Tiberius nor Nero—those monsters—durst violate its liberties; neither Trajan nor Marcus Aurelius—those sages—tried to do so. The fasces of the consuls were lowered before our gate; the eagles of the legions saluted our Acropolis from afar. It is only your Christian Emperor who has tried to reduce this town to slavery under the pretext of safeguarding his Church. There are to be no more archons, no more clans, no more consecrated phalanxes. Has Dionysia ever withheld anything of its greatness, of its treasures? No; she has given everything, the poor fallen city which was once warrior and pythoness. She has yielded everything to Caesar; her walls, her lands, her houses and her temples. But there remained to her one unstained marble, one altar, one holy place, always decked with flowers, locks of women’s hair and trophies of the young men. Dionysia could still say to the other cities of the universe: ‘To you wealth and power, the golden treasure of mountains and the clamour of the legions: to you joyous festivals and triumphal marches on the capitol. But I have kept Hope; for I watch by the altar of the last-born of the gods!’—Ah! But insatiable Caesar was jealous even of Hope. To ensure that she should never revive, he has erected his own idol on the holy altar. . . . Yet the soul of Dionysia, Mother of the Heroes and Muses, was not willing to die without having uttered her cry against this sacrilege. It is I, the last of her sons, who have uttered this cry. Yes! It is I who sign myself, with all my blood, Harmodius. I prefer to die under that name; all the others I cast from me!
HARPALUS. You have said enough to deserve your condemnation and too much for my patience. But where are your accomplices?
PHOSPHOROS. Would to God that I had any! Look at this dumb city and these livid countenances. Do they look like the faces of conspirators? Rejoice, Harpalus, and triumph to the full. I am alone in defying you. I should have accomplices if I had brothers in spirit . . . but I have none.
HARPALUS. You have some and I will know them! Hear then my sentence.
VOICES AMONG THE PEOPLE. Mercy! Mercy for Phosphoros!
THE HERALD. Silence! Hear the judgment!
HARPALUS. By your outrages against almighty Caesar you have merited death a hundredfold. I therefore deprive you of your title of Roman citizen and sentence you to perish by the Lictors’ axes on the Acropolis at the feet of Caesar whom you have insulted, after having been scourged with rods before your fellow-citizens . . . (Murmurs of indignation in the crowd.) . . . unless a friend should be found to share your fate. In that case Caesar—for it is he who wills it thus—commutes the death penalty to exile for life among the Scythians. Come now, Orestes, plead your cause and let us see whether you have a Pylades.
DAMIS (to Androcles and Phrygius). I will not desert him! . . . If you do not kill Harpalus, I shall follow Phosphoros.
PHRYGIUS. Poor fool! Do you not see that it is a trap of the Proconsul to discover the confederates?
ANDROCLES. Then let us strike! Now is the moment!
PHRYGIUS. No! The legionaries are watching us and the people will not follow us. Let us wait.
THE HERALD. Is there anyone in the city who is willing to follow Theokles into banishment? Let him come forward!
(The three conspirators cling together as if in consultation. Phrygius holds back Damis and Androcles, who with their hands on their sword hilts, are about to spring forward.)
HARPALUS. Citizens of Dionysia, I call you to witness that Theokles, the enemy of Caesar, has not found a single friend to follow him into banishment. Courage, Harmodius, call upon your guardian spirit. Now Lictors bind him and strike!
(The Lictors bind Phosphoros’s hands behind his back, force him to his knees and raise their rods to strike. A shudder runs through the crowd. Cleonice, throwing off her hood and cloak, rushes forward to the platform, tears the rods from the Lictors’ hands and cries out):
CLEONICE. Hold, wretches! (turning towards the Proconsul and the people). If there is none amongst you to defend the only free spirit in the city, I, Cleonice of Dionysia, I am ready to follow him into exile or to die with him!
(She takes Phosphoros’s head in her hands and kisses him on the forehead. Then she cuts his bonds with a dagger. Everybody remains stupefied.)
PHOSPHOROS (stands up and remains a moment thunderstruck). Cleonice! My Cleonice! What baptism of fire has touched my forehead, already cold with death? It needed your lips to restore me to life!
(Great excitement among the crowd, which breaks into louder and louder clamour.)
THE WOMAN. A miracle! A miracle!
THE OLD MAN AND THE YOUNG MAN. The promised Hero!
VOICES IN THE CROWD. The Virgin of the Desert!
OTHER VOICES. Phosphoros! Cleonice! Cleonice! Phosphoros!
ALL. A miracle! A miracle! Let us haste to their rescue!
PHOSPHOROS (drawing his sword). Harmodius is alive! To my help, all his friends!
HARPALUS (rising, to the Lictors and the legionaries). Strike down the guilty!
DAMIS, ANDROCLES, PHRYGIUS (throw themselves with drawn swords on Harpalus, crying). Death to the Proconsul!
(Harpalus falls back, mortally wounded, on his chair.)
PHOSPHOROS (who has stood still before Harpalus, with sword upraised to heaven). The soul of Dionysia avenges herself. Hail to her Guardian Spirit who hovers above the city!
HARPALUS. Phosphoros! . . . The last-born of the gods! (Dies.)
(The legionaries have made a movement to fall upon the confederates, but are prevented by the people, who rush to disarm and repulse them. The body of Harpalus is removed from the chair. Cleonice throws herself into the arms of Phosphoros, and they stand locked in a long embrace above the Praetorium . . . . From the left, behind the scene, a loud clash of cymbals is heard. The lovers stand motionless, lost in one another.)
DAMIS (rushing to the front of the scene). Hear the voice of the cymbals! The gates of the city are freed! (Trumpet call from the right.)
ANDROCLES (running forward). Listen to the triumphant sound of the trumpet! That is the Dionysian phalanx recapturing the Acropolis!
PHRYGIUS (running forward). Listen to its long-drawn echo! To-morrow Dyrapolis will shake off the yoke of Rome and Byzantium. I, the King’s son, affirm it!
PHOSPHORUS (loosening himself from Cleonice’s arms). Be free once more, 0 my Dionysia! Let the trumpet call of thy joy, the torch of thy hope leap from height to height, from city to city, through all Ionia, beyond Greece and Propontis, to announce to the whole world: ‘The ancient fetters are broken; there is a god who reigns in the heart of man: an immortal joy soars upward from the earth!’
(The people form a wide circle around the Agora. The three conspirators stand in the middle.)
ALL. Glory to Cleonice! Glory to Phosphoros, Archon of Dionysia!
PHOSPHOROS (steps down from the Praetorium holding Cleonice by the hand). 0 my brothers of the city of Dionysos, it is not I whom you must applaud; it is the all-powerful love of this heroic maiden which has performed the miracle. Her bare arms have been stronger than the pikes of the legionaries. The flames from her eyes have carried further than the torches and tapers of your priests. Her heart of fire has been mightier than all the other hearts together of the unawakened city. It is she who has broken my bonds, drawn your swords from their sheaths and brought forth Victory from the soil of the city like a goddess armed with flashes of lightning. O Cleonice, I do not ask you if you love me . . . for since your arms have clasped me to deliver me, your love surges through my veins and your breath has become my voice! Will you then be called my wife and share my destiny?
CLEONICE. My hero, my husband, my dream and my god! With you I will share all, life and death, heaven or hell, immortality or nothingness! When you were not yet yourself, already you lived radiantly in my thoughts. Now that victory has crowned you, I live only in you!
(They embrace and stand lost in mutual contemplation. The three Bacchantes have stepped down from the stairs of the temple of Dionysos, fascinated at sight of the lovers whom they contemplate with intense curiosity. Suddenly they halt.)
AGLAE. Before their kisses, my goblet’s power is gone. (She averts her eyes and bows her head.)
CYTHERIS. And my flowers wither before their smiles. (She sinks down on the steps of the Temple.)
MIMALONE. Before such love as this I fain must break my thyrsus. (She breaks her thyrsus in two and throws herself down on the stairs in a convulsion of despair.)
ALCETAS (his eyes bent on the couple). What beauty is theirs! I too am overcome.
LYCOPHRON. Tremble, tyrants of the Soul, and pay heed, immortal gods! Behold all-powerful Love in the heart of man, and the heroic couple in the heart of the City!
THE SAME, the BISHOP.
THE BISHOP (coming forth hastily from the basilica). A new and terrible spectacle assails my eyes and ears. Phosphoros, you who have just killed your master and your judge; Phosphoros, sower of revolt in the heart of youth, brazen seducer of a maiden consecrated to Christ, you have thrust this town into an abyss of calamities. You are acclaimed, you are hailed as Archon. But I whose pastoral staff dominates the city, I defy you to name the master through whom your devilish magic works. If you dare to name the source of your power, instantly he will lie shattered on the ground like a statue with feet of clay, and the wrath of heaven will consume you. Wherefore by the power conferred on me by Christ, I summon you to proclaim publicly the god in whose name you are raising the city against its legitimate lords, Caesar and the Church. Speak! or I shall curse you!
PHOSPHOROS. Bishop, you who call yourself Shepherd of the People and Instrument of God, I have no fear of your thunderbolts. If you know only how to curse, it is you who come from hell. This noble maiden has followed me freely. As for myself, I shall not shrink from naming my Guardian Spirit. Like your Christ, the Archangel whom I invoke comes down from heaven; He is the other Voice of the Almighty; and I am about to reveal Him before all. Listen, you my friends, brothers of Harmodius, all you children of struggle and sons of sorrow, of old my fellow-mourners in the silence of oppression, to-day my brothers in arms in the freedom of joy; know that in you all dwells a spark of the hidden godhead—the fire stolen from heaven, an ember from the torch of the Angel who illuminates the world with kindled souls. It is this divine fire that I seek to rekindle in you, in spite of the axe of Caesar which intimidates the flesh, in spite of the crozier of the Church which intimidates the spirit. There was a time when the gods used to come down to men to instruct them. We see now the dawn of the age when emancipated mankind will ascend towards the gods. The Dionysian phalanx has recaptured the Acropolis; people of Dionysos, go you and throw down the statue of Caesar! In its stead, on the altar of the last-born of the gods, we will set up the torch-bearing Angel, the Guardian Spirit of the new city, Lucifer the Liberator!
THE PEOPLE (streams out with cries of): Lucifer the Liberator!
THE BISHOP (aside). Unloose your inferno; I shall know how to hound it on against you! It is Cleonice who gives him strength; they must be parted at all costs.
(He goes back hastily into the basilica.)
(From within the Temple of Dionysos are heard solemn strains of nuptial music, in which the flute is blended with the lyre, accompanied by the mysterious vibrations of cymbals. The High Priest appears under the portico, preceded by the maidens who have changed their mourning robes into festive garments. The Chorus Leader carries the Flammeum, a purple veil spangled with stars, while the second holds the bridal wreath; with these they attire Cleonice. The others carry torches. The maidens stand at the right, the Dionysian phalanx on the left so as to form a double line leading to the City Hall. It is twilight.)
PHOSPHOROS (turns round sharply and notices the torches being lighted in the courtyard of the Praetorium, to Cleonice). What is happening? Where are we? Are you Cleonice? And am I Phosphoros? Are you the Virgin of the Desert, you who now appear before me under a veil of flame flecked with stars, and who mingle in your eyes, as in brimming cups, the ardour of the mistress with the pride of the wife? This nuptial palace . . . these torches which beckon to us . . . is it not a vision? ... I tremble before the realization of the dream and dare not step into the Temple of our delight. . . .
CLEONICE (radiant). Wherefore, my noble hero, are you become so fearful? My Christ I have renounced for your sake. Can you divine the courage I needed? Henceforth you are my Messiah, and I tremble not before my bliss; I inhale it with all my senses. These torches are too pallid for me, these perfumes too faint. The volcanic fire of my heart, repressed till now, rises to my temples and turns my blood into streams of lava. I am athirst to die in you!
PHOSPHOROS (gazing at her rapturously). How shall we ever expiate the immensity of such bliss?
CLEONICE. Ah! What matters that? Is not this heavenly nuptial night worth eternity? Heaven envies us, and the whole firmament flames upon our hearth. And then, you do not yet know Love. . . . What matter to him joy or sadness, triumph or defeat, glory or ignominy, provided he be Love! He can brave everything if he remain equal to himself, and the soul that loves reigns as a sovereign over the world, even in the very bosom of grief. From the shining summit where we stand, lead me to the depths of the abyss, and you will see whether Cleonice is proud to suffer for you.
PHOSPHOROS. Come! The universe is in your eyes!
(They mount the steps of the City Hall, and turn round on reaching the door-way. With graceful gestures Phosphoros salutes the Dionysian phalanx, and Cleonice the bevy of maidens. At the same moment the three Bacchantes, transfigured, move forward to the foot of the steps.)
AGLAE (pouring a libation from her goblet). To you divine Desire!
CYTHERIS (strewing flowers from her basket). To you, the flowers that never die!
MIMALONE (raising two clusters of palm leaves in her hands). To Love triumphant, palm leaves and wings!
(Damis comes forward as leader of the Dionysian detachment to recite the first verse of the Nuptial Ode.)
Hail to thee, Hail!
Thy day of days has come.
Under the lighted torch
We have awaited thee;
Thy splendour has risen,
Thy hero has conquered.
THE LEADER OF THE MAIDENS.
We have put on
The sword with the myrtle wreath
And the tyrant is no more.
With the myrtle wreath and the sword
We have fought and prevailed.
A new God shall be born,
A hero has come.
(While the married pair slowly move towards the back of the City Hall, the young men and the maidens cross their swords and torches, and alternately recite the epode.)
On this day let us wed
Our torches and our swords
Wreathed in myrtle.
THE LEADER OF THE MAIDENS.
Bear with you your fair dream
To dwell in your home.
A new God is rising
With Love triumphant!
Children of Lucifer