Saturday, July 20, 2013

from the long overdue (re)readings XVII

"And so," he said, "answer the question: do you know a certain Judas from Kerioth, and if so, what exactly did you say to him, if you said anything, about Caesar?"
"It happened like this," began the prisoner willingly, "the day before yesterday in the evening, I met a young man near the temple, who called himself Judas, from the town of Kerioth. He invited me to his house in the Lower City and offered me his hospitality..."
"Is he a good man?" asked Pilate, and a diabolical spark flashed in his eyes.
"A very good man and eager for knowledge," assented the prisoner. "He expressed a great deal of interest in my ideas, gave me an enthusiastic welcome..."
"Lit the candles," said Pilate through his teeth, speaking in the same tone of voice as the prisoner, his eyes glittering.
"Yes," continued Yeshua, somewhat surprised by how well-informed the procurator was. "He asked me to express my views on the power of the state. The question was of great interest to him."
"And what did you say?" asked Pilate. "Or will you reply that you forgot what you said?" But hopelessness already sounded in Pilate's voice.
"Among other things," continued the prisoner, "I said that every kind of power is a form of violence against people and that there will come a time when neither the power of the Caesars, nor any other kind of power will exist. Man will enter the kingdom of truth and justice, where no such power will be necessary."
"Go on!"
"There was nothing more," said the prisoner, "because it was then that they rushed in, tied me up, and took me off to prison."

— Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita. Trans. Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor. NY: Vintage, 1996. p. 22.