Várias Histórias By Joaquim Machado de Assis Os contos destas ' Várias histórias ', originalmente publicados em jornal entre e , trazem Machado de. A obra de Machado de Assis constitui-se de 10 romances, contos, 10 peças teatrais, .. Literatura e história: aspectos da crítica de Machado de Assis. Várias histórias para um homem célebre (biografia intelectual). . Disponível em pflegeelternnetz.info; Revista de Letras . Sobrevevência e autonomia femenina nas Várias Historias de Machado de Assis : Cargado por Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd. Flag for.
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Autor: Assis, Machado de, Título: Várias histórias. Edição: 1ª Edição. Editor: Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert C. Editores. Data do documento: 28 jul. Machado de Assis's achievement in both novels and poetry make him Brazil's paradigm of a writer. His novels are characterized "by a. Since Machado de Assis (who should precede Azevedo) and Coelho Netto (who . Quincas Borbas, Historias Sem Data, Dom Casmurro, Varias Historias_ and.
His second manner, then, of which these books are the best example, is only the logical, natural, spontaneous development of his first, or rather, it is the first manner with less of the romantic and more of the critical tendencies Those who depart at the birth of empires bear with them the impression of their perpetuity; those who die at their fall, are buried in the hope of their restoration; but do you not realize what it is to see the same things unceasingly,--the same alternation of prosperity and desolation, desolation and prosperity, eternal obsequies and eternal halleluiahs, dawn upon dawn, sunset upon sunset? Guilhermino, Almir. Biografias Brasileiras. ChickCult - Laura Ruzickova.
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Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the face. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other room. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed.
My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it.
I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.
The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon as possible under the pretext that my brother was ill; and in reality I had received, several days before, from Rio, a letter telling me that he was not at all well. But I considered that my immediate departure might arouse suspicion, and I decided to wait. I laid out the corpse myself, with the assistance of an old, near-sighted negro.
I remained continually in the room of the dead. I trembled lest something out of the way should be discovered. I wanted to assure myself that no mistrust could be read upon the faces of the others; but I did not dare to look any person in the eye. Everything made me impatient; the going and coming of those who, on tip-toe crossed the room; their whisperings; the ceremonies and the prayers of the vicar The hour having come, I closed the coffin, but with trembling hands, so trembling that somebody noticed it and commented upon it aloud, with pity.
Despite what he has suffered from his master, he is strongly moved. I was anxious to have it all over with. We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to daylight dazed me and I staggered.
I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime?
I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares And as I spoke in such wise, I convinced myself, at least for a few moments at a time. Another interesting phenomenon was taking place within me--I tell it to you because you will perhaps make some useful deduction from it--and that was, although I had very little religion in me, I had a mass sung for the eternal rest of the colonel at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament.
I sent out no invitations to it, I did not whisper a word of it to anybody; I went there alone. I knelt during the whole service and made many signs of the cross. I paid the priest double and distributed alms at the door, all in the name of the deceased. I wished to deceive nobody. The proof of this lies in the fact that I did all this without letting any other know.
To complete this incident, I may add that I never mentioned the colonel without repeating, "May his soul rest in peace! About a week after my arrival at Rio I received a letter from the vicar. He announced that the will of the colonel had been opened and that I was there designated as his sole heir. Imagine my stupefaction! I was sure that I had read wrongly; I showed it to my brother, to friends; they all read the same thing. It was there in black and white, I was really the sole heir of the colonel.
Then I suddenly thought that this was a trap to catch me, but then I considered that there were other ways of arresting me, if the crime had been discovered. Moreover, I knew the vicar's honesty, and I was sure that he would not be a party to such a plan.
I reread the letter five times, ten times, a hundred times; it was true. I was the colonel's sole heir! At first I thought of refusing the legacy.
It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.
This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight. I made hurried preparations and left. As I neared the little village the sad event returned obstinately to my memory. Everything about the place, as I looked at it once again, suggested tragic deeds.
At every turn in the road I seemed to see the ghost of the colonel loom. And despite myself, I evoked in my imagination his cries, his struggles, his looks on that horrible night of the crime Crime or struggle?
Really, it was rather a struggle; I had been attacked, I had defended myself; and in self-defence It had been an unfortunate struggle, a genuine tragedy. This idea gripped me. And I reviewed all the abuse he had heaped upon me; I counted the blows, the names It was not the colonel's fault, that I knew well; it was his affliction that made him so peevish and even wicked.
But I pardoned all, everything! The worst of it was the end of that fatal night I also considered that in any case the colonel had not long to live. His days were numbered; did not he himself feel that? Didn't he say every now and then, "How much longer have I to live?
Two weeks, or one, perhaps less? And who knows, who can say that the struggle and his death were not simply a coincidence? That was after all quite possible, it was even most probable; careful weighing of the matter showed that it couldn't have been otherwise.
At length this idea, too, engraved itself upon my mind Something tugged at my heart as I entered the village; I wanted to run back; but I dominated my emotions and I pressed forward. I was received with a shower of congratulations. The vicar communicated to me the particulars of the will, enumerated the pious gifts, and, as he spoke, praised the Christian forbearance and the faithfulness which I had shown in my care of the deceased, who, despite his temper and brutality, had so well demonstrated his gratitude.
I was astounded. Everybody praised my conduct. Such patience, such devotion. The first formalities of the inventory detained me for a while; I chose a solicitor; things followed their course in regular fashion. During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest's moderation.
I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere? He is dead, and it's all over now. But he was a regular demon! Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent Why he was as furious as a snake!
And all--the collector, the apothecary, the clerk--all were of the same opinion. And they would start to relate other anecdotes. They reviewed the entire life of the deceased. The old folks took particular delight in recalling the cruelties of his youth. And that queer pleasure, intimate, mute, insidious, grew within me--a sort of moral tape-worm whose coils I tore out in vain, for they would immediately form again and take firmer hold than ever. The formalities of the inventory afforded me a little relief; moreover, public opinion was so unanimously unfavorable to the colonel that little by little the place lost the lugubrious aspect that had at first struck me.
At last I entered into possession of the legacy, which I converted into land-titles and cash. Several months had elapsed, and the idea of distributing the inheritance in charity and pious donations was by no means so strong as it had at first been; it even seemed to me that this would be sheer affectation.
I revised my initial plan; I gave away several insignificant sums to the poor; I presented the village church with a few new ornaments; I gave several thousand francs to the Sacred House of Mercy, etc. I did not forget to erect a monument upon the colonel's grave--a very simple monument, all marble, the work of a Neapolitan sculptor who remained at Rio until , and who has since died, I believe, in Paraguay. Years have gone by. My memory has become vague and unreliable.
Sometimes I think of the colonel, but without feeling again the terrors of those early days. All the doctors to whom I have described his afflictions have been unanimous as regards the inevitable end in store for the invalid, and were indeed surprised that he should so long have resisted. It is just possible that I may have involuntarily exaggerated the description of his various symptoms; but the truth is that he was sure of sudden death, even had this fatality not occurred Good-bye, my dear sir.
If you deem these notes not totally devoid of value reward me for them with a marble tomb, and place there for my epitaph this variant which I have made of the divine sermon on the mount: This was the selfsame explanation that was given by beautiful Rita to her lover, Camillo, on a certain Friday of November, , when Camillo laughed at her for having gone, the previous evening, to consult a fortune-teller.
The only difference is that she made her explanation in other words. That's just like you men; you don't believe in anything. Well, let me tell you, I went there and she guessed the reason for my coming before I ever spoke a word. Scarcely had she begun to lay out the cards when she said to me: If you only realized in what anguish I went there, all on account of you.
You know. I've told you before. Don't laugh at me; don't poke fun at me He swore that he loved her ever so much, that her fears were childish; in any case, should she ever harbor a fear, the best fortune-teller to consult was he himself.
Then he reproved her, saying that it was imprudent to visit such houses. Villela might learn of it, and then I was exceedingly careful when I entered the place. On Guarda-Velha Street. Nobody was passing by at the time. Rest easy. I'm not a fool.
It was at this point that she translated Hamlet into every-day speech, assuring her lover that there was many a true, mysterious thing in this world. If he was skeptical, let him have patience. One thing, however, was certain: What more could he desire?
The best proof was that at this moment she was at ease and content. He was about to speak, but he restrained himself. He did not wish to destroy her illusions. He, too, when a child, and even later, had been superstitious, filled with an arsenal of beliefs which his mother had instilled, and which had disappeared by the time he reached twenty. The day on which he rid himself of all this parasitic vegetation, leaving behind only the trunk of religion, he wrapped his superstition and his religion which had both been inculcated by his mother in the same doubt, and soon arrived at a single, total negation.
Camillo believed in nothing. He could not have answered; he had not a solitary reason; he was content simply to deny everything. But I express myself ill, for to deny is in a sense to affirm, and he did not formulate his unbelief. Before the great mystery he simply shrugged his shoulders and went on. The lovers parted in good spirits, he more happy than she. Rita was sure that she was loved; but Camillo was not only sure that she loved him, but saw how she trembled for him and even took risks, running to fortune-tellers.
However much he had reproved her for this, he could not help feeling flattered by it. Their secret meeting-place was in the old Barbonos street at the home of a woman that came from Rita's province.
Rita went off through Mangueiras street, in the direction of Botafogo, where she resided; Camillo entered Guarda-Velha street, keeping his eye open, as he passed, for the home of the card reader.
Villela, Camillo and Rita: Let us proceed to explain. The first two were friends since earliest childhood. Villela had entered the magistracy. Camillo found employment with the government, against the will of his father, who desired him to embrace the medical profession. But his father had died, and Camillo preferred to be nothing at all, until his mother had procured him a departmental position. At the beginning of the year Villela returned from the interior, where he had married a silly beauty; he abandoned the magistracy and came hither to open a lawyer's office.
Camillo had secured a house for him near Botafogo and had welcomed him home. He was always talking about you. They were true friends.
Afterwards, Camillo confessed to himself that Villela's wife did not at all belie the enthusiastic letters her husband had written to him. Really, she was most prepossessing, lively in her movements, her eyes burning, her mouth plastic and piquantly inquiring.
Rita was a trifle older than both the men: The grave bearing of Villela gave him the appearance of being much older than his wife, while Camillo was but a child in moral and practical life He possessed neither experience nor intuition. The three became closely bound.
Propinquity bred intimacy. Shortly afterwards Camillo's mother died, and in this catastrophe, for such it was, the other two showed themselves to be genuine friends of his. Villela took charge of the interment, of the church services and the settlement of the affairs of the deceased; Rita dispensed consolation, and none could do it better.
Just how this intimacy between Camillo and Rita grew to love he never knew. The truth is that he enjoyed passing the hours at her side; she was his spiritual nurse, almost a sister,--but most of all she was a woman, and beautiful.
The aroma of femininity: They read the same books, they went together to the theatre or for walks. He taught her cards and chess, and they played of nights;--she badly,--he, to make himself agreeable, but little less badly.
Thus much, as far as external things are concerned. And now came personal intimacies, the timorous eyes of Rita, that so often sought his own, consulting them before they questioned those of her own husband,--the touches of cold hands, and unwonted communion.
On one of his birthdays he received from Villela a costly cane, and from Rita, a hastily pencilled, ordinary note expressing good wishes. It was then that he learned to read within his own heart; he could not tear his eyes away from the missive.
Commonplace words, it is true; but there are sublime commonplaces,--or at least, delightful ones. The old chaise in which for the first time you rode with your beloved, snuggled together, is as good as the chariot of Apollo.
Such is man, and such are the circumstances that surround him. Camillo sincerely wished to flee the situation, but it was already beyond his power. Rita, like a serpent, was charming him, winding her coils about him; she was crushing his bones, darting her venomous fangs into his lips. He was helpless, overcome. Vexation, fear, remorse, desire,--all this he felt, in a strange confusion.
But the battle was short and the victory deliriously intoxicating. Farewell, all scruple! The shoe now fitted snugly enough upon the foot, and there they were both, launched upon the high road, arm in arm, joyfully treading the grass and the gravel, without suffering anything more than lonesomeness when they were away from each other. As to Villela, his confidence in his wife and his esteem for his friend continued the same as before.
One day, however, Camillo received an anonymous letter, which called him immoral and perfidious, and warned him that his adventure was known to all. Camillo took fright, and, in order to ward off suspicion, began to make his visits to Villela's house more rare.
The latter asked him the reason for his prolonged absence. Camillo answered that the cause was a youthful flirtation. Simplicity evolved into cunning.
Camillo's absences became longer and longer, and then his visits ceased entirely. Into this course there may have entered a little self-respect,--the idea of diminishing his obligations to the husband in order to make his own actions appear less treacherous. It was at this juncture that Rita, uncertain and in fear, ran to the fortune-teller to consult her upon the real reason for Camillo's actions. As we have seen, the card reader restored the wife's confidence and the young man reproved her for having done what she did.
A few weeks passed. Camillo received two or three more anonymous letters, written with such passionate anger that they could not have been prompted by mere regard for virtue; surely they came from some violent rival of his.
In this opinion Rita concurred, formulating, in ill-composed words of her own, this thought: But this did not help to ease Camillo; he now feared lest the anonymous writer should inform Villela, in which case the catastrophe would follow fast and implacably.
Rita agreed that this was possible. If any arrives with writing resembling the anonymous script, I'll keep it and tear it up A short time after this, however, Villela commenced to grow grave, speaking very little, as if something weighed upon his mind. Rita hurried to communicate the change to her lover, and they discussed the matter earnestly. Her opinion was that Camillo should renew his visits to their home, and sound her husband; it might be that Villela would confide to him some business worry.
With this Camillo disagreed; to appear after so many months was to confirm the suspicions and denunciations of the anonymous letters. It was better to be very careful, to give each other up for several weeks. They arranged means for communicating with each other in case of necessity and separated, in tears.
On the following day Camillo received at his department this letter from Villela: Camillo left at once; as he reached the street it occurred to him that it would have been much more natural for Villela to have called him to his office; why to his house? All this betokened a very urgent matter; moreover, whether it was reality or illusion, it seemed to Camillo that the letter was written in a trembling hand. He sought to establish a connection between all these things and the news Rita had brought him the night before.
In his mind's eye he beheld the climax of a drama,--Rita cowed, weeping; Villela indignant, seizing his pen and dashing off the letter, certain that he, Camillo, would answer in person, and waiting to kill him as he entered. Camillo shuddered with terror; then he smiled weakly; in any event the idea of drawing back was repugnant to him. So he continued on his way. As he walked it occurred to him to step into his rooms; he might find there a message from Rita explaining everything.
But he found nothing, nobody. He returned to the street, and the thought that they had been discovered grew every moment more convincing; yes, the author of the previous anonymous communications must have denounced him to the husband; perhaps by now Villela knew all. The very suspension of his calls without any apparent reason, with the flimsiest of pretexts, would confirm everything else.
Camillo walked hastily along, agitated, nervous. He did not read the letter again, but the words hovered persistently before his eyes; or else,--which was even worse--they seemed to be murmured into his ears by the voice of Villela himself. Come immediately,--why? It was now nearly one o'clock. Camillo's agitation waxed greater with each passing moment. So clearly did he imagine what was about to take place that he began to believe it a reality, to see it before his very eyes.
Yes, without a doubt, he was afraid. He even considered arming himself, thinking that if nothing should happen he would lose nothing by this useful precaution. But at once he rejected the idea, angry with himself, and hastened his step towards Carioca square, there to take a tilbury.
He arrived, entered and ordered the driver to be off at full speed. Time was flying, and he would be face to face with danger soon enough. When they had come almost to the end of Guarda-Velha street the tilbury had to come to a stop; the thoroughfare was blocked by a coach that had broken down.
Camillo surveyed the obstruction and decided to wait. After five minutes had gone by, he noticed that there at his left, at the very foot of the tilbury, was the fortune teller's house,--the very same as Rita had once consulted. Never, as at this moment, had he so desired to believe in card-reading. He looked closer, saw that the windows were closed, while all the others on the street were opened, filled with folks curious to see what was the matter.
It looked for all the world like the dwelling of indifferent Fate. Camillo leaned back in his seat so as to shut all this from view. His excitement was intense, extraordinary, and from the deep, hidden recesses of his mind there began to emerge spectres of early childhood, old beliefs, banished superstitions. The coachman proposed another route; he shook his head and said that he would wait. He leaned forward to get a better look at the card-reader's house Then he made a gesture of self-ridicule: In the street men were shouting, dragging away the coach.
That's it! Camillo closed his eyes, trying to think of other things; but the voice of Rita's husband whispered into his ears the words of the letter: He trembled. The house seemed to look right at him. His feet instinctively moved as if to leave the carriage and go in Camillo found himself before a long, opaque veil The voice of his mother was repeating to him a host of extraordinary happenings; and the very sentence of the Prince of Denmark kept echoing within him: He jumped out to the pavement, just before the fortune-teller's door; he told the driver to wait for him, and hastened into the entry, ascending the stairs.
There was little light, the stairs were worn away from the many feet that had sought them, the banister was smooth and sticky; but he saw and felt nothing. He stumbled up the stairs and knocked. Nobody appearing, he was about to go down; but it was too late now,--curiosity was whipping his blood and his heart beat with violent throbs; he turned back to the door, and knocked once, twice, three times.
He beheld a woman; it was the card-reader. Camillo said that he had come to consult her, and she bade him enter. Thence they climbed to the attic by a staircase even worse than the first and buried in deeper gloom. At the top there was a garret, ill lighted by a small window.
Old furniture, somber walls, and an air of poverty augmented, rather than destroyed, the prestige of the occupant. The fortune-teller told him to be seated before the table, and she sat down on the opposite side with her back to the window, so that whatever little light came from without fell full upon Camillo's face. She opened a drawer and took out a pack of worn, filthy cards. While she rapidly shuffled them she peered at him closely, not so much with a direct gaze as from under her eyes.
She was a woman of forty, Italian, thin and swarthy, with large, sharp, cunning eyes. She placed three cards upon the table, and said: The gentleman has just received a severe shock and is in great fear The fortune-teller did not smile; she simply told him to wait.
She took the cards hastily once more and shuffled them with her long tapering fingers whose nails were so long and unclean from neglect; she shuffled them well, once, twice, thrice; then she began to lay them out.
Camillo's eyes were riveted upon her in anxious curiosity. Then she told him to fear nothing. Nothing would happen to him or to the other. He, the third, was aware of nought. Nevertheless, great caution was indispensable; envy and rivalry were at work. She spoke to him of the love that bound them, of Rita's beauty Camillo was bewildered.
The fortune-teller stopped talking, gathered the cards and locked them in the drawer. She arose, laughing. And arising, she touched his head with her index finger. Camillo shuddered, as if it were the hand of one of the original sybils, and he, too, arose. The fortune-teller went to the bureau, upon which lay a plate of raisins, took a cluster of them and commenced to eat them, showing two rows of teeth that were as white as her nails were black.
Even in this common action the woman possessed an air all her own. Camillo, anxious to leave, was at a loss how much to pay; he did not know her fee. Camillo took out a note for ten milreis' and gave it to her.
The eyes of the card-reader sparkled. Her usual fee was two milreis. And well he may. For she loves the gentleman very deeply, too. Go, go in peace, with your mind at ease. And take care as you descend the staircase,--it's dark. Don't forget your hat At the bottom of the first flight Camillo bid her good-bye and ran down the stairs that led to the street, while the card-reader, rejoicing in her large fee, turned back to the garret, humming a barcarolle.
Camillo found the tilbury waiting for him; the street was now clear. He entered and the driver whipped his horse into a fast trot. To Camillo everything had now changed for the better and his affairs assumed a brighter aspect; the sky was clear and the faces of the people he passed were all so merry. He even began to laugh at his fears, which he now saw were puerile; he recalled the language of Villela's letter and perceived at once that it was most friendly and familiar.
How in the world had he ever been able to read any threat of danger into those words! He suddenly realized that they were urgent, however, and that he had done ill to delay so long; it might be some very serious business affair. And he began to think of a plausible explanation of his delay; he even contemplated taking advantage of this incident to re-establish his former intimacy in Villela's household Together with his plans there kept echoing in his soul the words of the fortune-teller.
In truth, she had guessed the object of his visit, his own state of mind, and the existence of a third; why, then, wasn't it reasonable to suppose that she had guessed the rest correctly, too?
For, the unknown present is the same as the future. And thus, slowly and persistently the young man's childhood superstitions attained the upper hand and mystery clutched him in its iron claws. At times he was ready to burst into laughter, and with a certain vexation he did laugh at himself.
The truth is that his heart was happy and impatient, recalling the happy hours of the past and anticipating those yet to come. As he passed through Gloria street Camillo gazed across the sea, far across where the waters and the heaven meet in endless embrace, and the sight gave him a sensation of the future,--long, long and infinite. From here it was but a moment's drive to Villela's home.
He stepped out, thrust the iron garden gate open and entered. The house was silent. He ran up the six stone steps and scarcely had he had time to knock when the door opened and Villela loomed before him. It was impossible to come sooner. What is the matter? His features were distorted; he beckoned Camillo to step within. As he entered, Camillo could not repress a cry of horror: Villela seized the lover by the throat and, with two bullets, stretched him dead upon the floor.
Ahasverus, seated upon a rock, gazes for a long while upon the horizon, athwart which wing two eagles, crossing each other in their path. He meditates, then falls into a doze. The day wanes.
I have come to the end of time; this is the threshold of eternity. The earth is deserted; no other man breathes the air of life. I am the last; I can die. Precious thought! For centuries of centuries I have lived, wearied, mortified, wandering ever, but now the centuries are coming to an end, and I shall die with them.
Ancient nature, farewell! Azure sky, clouds ever reborn, roses of a day and of every day, perennial waters, hostile earth that never would devour my bones, farewell! The eternal wanderer will wander no longer. God may pardon me if He wishes, but death will console me. That mountain is as unyielding as my grief; those eagles that fly yonder must be as famished as my despair. Shall you, too, die, divine eagles? Of a surety the race of man is perished; the earth is bare of them.
I hear a voice The voice of a human being? Implacable heavens, am I not then the last? He approaches Who are you?
There shines in your large eyes something like the mysterious light of the archangels of Israel; you are not a human being? Of a race divine, then? You have said it. I do not know you; but what matters it that I do not? You are not a human being; then I may die; for I am the last and I close the gate of life.
Life, like ancient Thebes, has a hundred gates. You close one, and others will open. You are the last of your species? Then another better species will come, made not of clay, but of the light itself. Yes, last of men, all the common spirits will perish forever; the flower of them it is which will return to earth and rule.
The ages will be rectified. Evil will end; the winds will thenceforth scatter neither the germs of death nor the clamor of the oppressed, but only the song of love everlasting and the benediction of universal justice What can all this posthumous joy matter to the species that dies with me?
Believe me, you who are immortal, to the bones that rot in the earth the purples of Sidonia are worthless. What you tell me is even better than what Campanella dreamed.
In that man's ideal city there were delights and ills; yours excludes all mortal and physical ailments. May the Lord hear you!
But let me go and die. Go, go. But why this haste to end your days? The haste of a man who has lived for thousands of years. Yes, thousands of years. Thousands of years? When he passed my door he weakened under the burden of the beam that he carried on his shoulders, and I thrust him onward, admonishing him not to stop, not to rest, to continue on his way to the hill where he was to be crucified Then there came a voice from heaven, telling me that I, too, should have to journey forever, continuously, until the end of time.
Such was my crime; I felt no pity for him who was going to his death. I do not know myself how it came about. The Pharisees said that the son of Mary had come to destroy the law, and that he must be slain; I, ignorant wretch, wished to display my zeal and hence my action of that day.
How many times have I seen the same thing since, traveling unceasingly through cities and ages! Whenever zealotry penetrated into a submissive soul, it became cruel or ridiculous. My crime was unpardonable. A grave crime, in truth, but the punishment was lenient.
The other men read but a chapter of life; you have read the whole book. What does one chapter know of the other chapter? But he who has read them all, connects them and concludes. Are there melancholy pages? There are merry and happy ones, too. Tragic convulsion precedes that of laughter; life burgeons from death; swans and swallows change climate, without ever abandoning it entirely; and thus all is harmonized and begun anew.
You have beheld this, not ten times, not a thousand times, but ever; you have beheld the magnificence of the earth curing the affliction of the soul, and the joy of the soul compensating for the desolation of things; the alternating dance of Nature, who gives her left hand to Job and her right to Sardanapalus.
What do you know of my life? Nothing; you are ignorant of human existence. I, ignorant of human life? How laughable! Come, perpetual man, explain yourself. Tell me everything; you left Jerusalem I left Jerusalem. I began my wandering through the ages. I journeyed everywhere, whatever the race, the creed, the tongue; suns and snows, barbarous and civilized peoples, islands, continents; wherever a man breathed, there breathed I. I never labored.
Labor is a refuge, and that refuge was denied me. Every morning I found upon me the necessary money for the day See; this is the last apportionment. Go, for I need you no longer. Eternal justice knew what it was doing: One generation bequeathed me to the other. The languages, as they died, preserved my name like a fossil.
With the passing of time all was forgotten; the heroes faded into myths, into shadow, and history crumbled to fragments, only two or three vague, remote characteristics remaining to it. And I saw them in changing aspect. You spoke of a chapter? Happy are those who read only one chapter of life. Those who depart at the birth of empires bear with them the impression of their perpetuity; those who die at their fall, are buried in the hope of their restoration; but do you not realize what it is to see the same things unceasingly,--the same alternation of prosperity and desolation, desolation and prosperity, eternal obsequies and eternal halleluiahs, dawn upon dawn, sunset upon sunset?
But you did not suffer, I believe. It is something not to suffer. Yes, but I saw other men suffer, and in the end the spectacle of joy gave me the same sensations as the discourses of an idiot. Fatalities of flesh and blood, unending strife,--I saw all pass before my eyes, until night caused me to lose my taste for day, and now I cannot distinguish flowers from thistles.
Everything is confused in my wearied retina. But nothing pained you personally; and what about me, from time immemorial suffering the wrath of the gods? My name is Prometheus. And what was my crime? Out of clay and water I made the first men, and afterwards, seized with compassion, I stole for them fire from the sky. Such was my crime. Jupiter, who then reigned over Olympus, condemned me to the most cruel of tortures.
Come, climb this rock with me. You are telling me a tale. I know that Hellenic myth. Incredulous old fellow! Come see the very chains that fettered me; it was an excessive penalty for no crime whatever; but divine pride is terrible See; there they are And time, which gnaws all things, does not desire them, then? They were wrought by a divine hand. Vulcan forged them. Two emissaries from heaven came to secure me to the rock, and an eagle, like that which now is flying across the horizon, kept gnawing at my liver without ever consuming it.
This lasted for time beyond my reckoning. No, no, you cannot imagine this torture Are you not deceiving me? You, Prometheus? Was that not, then, a figment of the ancient imagination?
Look well at me; touch these hands. See whether I really exist. Then Moses lied to me. You are Prometheus, creator of the first men? That was my crime. Yes, it was your crime,--an artifice of hell; your crime was inexpiable.
You should have remained forever, bound and devoured,--you, the origin of the ills that afflict me. I lacked compassion, it is true; but you, who gave me life, perverse divinity, were the cause of all. Approaching death confuses your reason.
Yes, it is you; you have the Olympic forehead, strong and beautiful Titan; it is you indeed Are these your chains? I see upon them no trace of your tears. I wept them for your humankind. And humanity wept far more because of your crime. Hear me, last of men, last of ingrates! What need have I of your words? I desire your groans, perverse divinity. Here are the chains.
See how I raise them; listen to the clank of the iron Who unbound you just now? See whether he will repeat his service now that you are to be bound anew. You are raving. The sky gave you your first punishment, now earth will give you the second and the last. Not even Hercules will ever be able to break these fetters. See how I brandish them in the air, like feathers! All humanity is concentrated within me.
Before I sink into the abyss, I will write upon this stone the epitaph of a world. I will summon the eagle, and it will come; I will tell it that the last man, on departing from life, leaves him a god as a gift.
Poor, ignorant wretch, who rejects a throne! No, you cannot reject it. Now it is you who are raving. Kneel, and let me manacle your arms. So, 'tis well you will resist no more. Bend this way; now your legs Have done, have done. It is the passions of earth turning upon me; but I, who am not a human being, do not know ingratitude. You will not be spared a jot of your destiny; it will be fulfilled to the letter.
You yourself will be the new Hercules. I, who announced the glory of the other, now proclaim yours; and you will be no less generous than he. Are you mad? The truth unknown to man is the madness of him who proclaims it. Proceed, and have done. Glory pays nothing, and dies. This glory will never die. Have done; have done; show the sharp beak of the eagle where it is to devour my entrails. But hear me No, hear nothing; you cannot understand me.
Speak; speak. The ephemeral world cannot understand the world eternal; but you will be the link between the two. Tell me everything. I speak nothing; fetter these wrists well, that I shall not flee,--so that I shall be here on your return. Tell you all? I have already told you that a new race shall people the earth, formed of the chosen spirits of the extinct humanity; the multitude of others will perish.
A noble family, all-seeing and powerful, will be the perfect synthesis of the divine and the human. The times will be others, but between them and these a link is necessary, and you shall be that link.
You yourself; you, the chosen one; you, the King. Yes, Ahasverus.
You shall be King. The Wanderer will find rest. The despised of men shall rule over mankind. Wily Titan, you are deceiving me You, King. Who else, then? The new world needs to be bound by a tradition, and none can speak of one to the other as you can. Thus there will be no gap between the two humanities. The perfect will proceed from the imperfect, and your lips will tell the new world its origin.
You will relate to the new humanity all the ancient good and evil. And thus will you live anew like the tree whose dead branches are lopped off, only the flourishing ones being preserved, but here growth will be eternal.
Resplendent vision! I myself? Your very self. These eyes Glorious vision! Titan, it is just. Just was the punishment; but equally just is the glorious remission of my sin. Shall I live? A new and better life? No, you are jesting with me. Very well, then; leave me. You will return some day, when this vast heaven will be open to let the spirits of the new life descend. You will find me here at peace.
Shall I again greet the sun? The selfsame sun that is about to set. Friend sun, eye of time, nevermore shall your eyelids close. Gaze upon it, if you can. I cannot. You will be able to, when the conditions of life shall have changed. Then your retina will gaze upon the sun without peril, for in the man of the future will be concentrated all that is best in nature, energizing or subtle, scintillating or pure.