Friday, April 22, 2011

How can God die?

PILATE: Claudia, Claudia, tell me—what was this dream of yours?

CLAUDIA: I was in a ship at sea, voyaging among the islands of the Aegean. At first the weather seemed calm and sunny—but presently, the sky darkened—and the sea began to toss with wind…

Then, out of the east, there comes a cry, strange and piercing…

(voice, in a thin wail:
”Pan ho megas thethnéke—
Pan ho megas thethnéke—”)

and I said to the captain, “What do they cry?” And he answered, “Great Pan is dead.” And I asked him, “How can God die?” And he answered, “Don’t you remember? They crucified him. He suffered under Pontius Pilate” …

(Murmur of voices, starting almost in a whisper)

Then all the people in the ship turned their faces to me and said: “Pontius Pilate”….

(Voices, some speaking, some chanting, some muttering, mingled with sung fragments of Greek and Latin liturgies, weaving and crossing one another:
“Pontius Pilate… Pontius Pilate… he suffered under Pontius Pilate… crucified, dead and buried… sub Pontio Pilato… Pilato… he suffered… suffered… under Pontius Pilate… under Pontius Pilate…”)

… in all tongues and voices… even the little children with their mothers…

(Children’s voices: “Suffered under Pontius Pilate… sub Pontio Pilato… crucifié sous Ponce Pilate… gekreuzigt unter Pontius Pilatus…” and other languages, mingling with the adult voices: then fade it all out)

…your name, husband, your name continually—“he suffered under Pontius Pilate”.

PILATE: The gods avert the omen.

CLAUDIA: This day is like my dream, Caius—this darkness at mid-noon… Hark! What was that?

PILATE: Nothing, Claudia, there is nothing to hear… Come away from the window.

Dorothy L Sayers: The Man Born to be King, Gollancz, 1943; Ignatius Press 1999

1 comment:

claire bangasser said...

Ah, I must look for this book now! Thank you :-)