Dramatic Texts >> Levon Shant >> Ancient Gods
ANCIENT GODS by Levon Shant, translated by Anne T. Vardanian
 
Act I
Scene I

 
The summit of Sevan. A ruin amidst the rocks. Twilight.
The FATHER SUPERIOR is seated on a rock, his chin resting on his hand. As he pensively looks down. From under arch partially destroyed the MAN IN WHITE emerges. The FATHER SUPERIOR is tall, has thick. Graying hair, and is bareheaded. The MAN IN WHITE is likewise bareheaded, has long black hair and a splendid black beard, braided the Assyrian manner. For a moment they stare at each other in silence.

 
MAN IN WHITE (jeeringly)
Oh, how you gaze and stare at your kingdom!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Who are you?
 
MAN IN WHITE
Oh ... Yes! Behold that sight! See those few, small shaky cells. Haven't you built them? Then, that chapel, how it compelled your haste! And lastly, look at your new church, whose dome soars upward day by day, and atop which you shall soon affix the cross with your own hands.
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Yes, if the Lord so wills it.
 
MAN IN WHITE
Look and take pride! Isn't that all born of your zealous desire?
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Who are you?
 
MAN IN WHITE
You, garbed in black! Why have you gathered those black-robed and black-souled people about you? Why have you come to this ancient isle?
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Who are you?
 
MAN IN WHITE
Arise, arise! Drive that miserable, morose throng back to life again. Get out, you who want to dry up the senses and suppress all passions. Out of this isle — you, who are enemies of all beauty, all life and movement, all strength and creation. Out! Do not defile this holy paradise of my gods!!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
There is no paradise here! I founded my monastery here, on this piece of rock. Hereafter, this isle shall be called a desert.
 
MAN IN WHITE
A desert? On the bay of this smiling sea, facing this brilliant sun? Go away! The spot you tread upon is an ancient altar of the gods! Away! I speak to you from the threshold of the ancient gods.
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
From the ruins of the ancient gods!
 
MAN IN WHITE
The ruins of these stones piled by men like you. They have been destroyed, but the temple of life is indestructible, as is life itself. Stones will crumble, names will change, but the gods shall survive forever!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Here died your gods!
 
MAN in WHITE
Here and wherever man treads, they shall be — immortal and eternal.
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Here died your gods, and, upon their ruins, I built my God's temple. Look, see the apex of the dome, almost completed, still visible in the dusk. There, only reigns the spirit; there, only reigns the breath of God.
 
MAN IN WHITE
There, reigns the instrument of suffering and death!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
It is suffering that elevates the soul, and torment that cleanses it. And the most unfathomable mystery of life is death.
 
MAN IN WHITE
Suffering is the submission to a life of pain; and the willful waste of life is death.
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Through you speaks primitive mankind.
 
MAN IN WHITE
It is ailing mankind that speaks through you!!!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Enough! Who are you that speaks so profanely? Begone! There is no place on this island for you and your gods.
 
MAN IN WHITE
This island, too, is the world, and very much like the rest of the world. Oh, you bewildered, pay homage to the eternal gods!!!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Go away!
 
MAN IN WHITE
Confess, and pay homage!
 
FATHER SUPERIOR
Go away!
 
MAN IN WHITE
The day will come and you will confess. (He disappears.)
 
FATHER SUPERIOR (looks about uncomfortably)
Who was that? He vanished! An apparition, a doubt? No, never! The world cannot enter this island. The world shall never enter this island. No!
 


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