TK/B/B: Caligula, via Camus.

CALIGULA I’ve walked a lot.

HELICON Yes, you were away for quite a while. (another short silence)

CALIGULA It was hard to find.

HELICON What was?

CALIGULA What I wanted.

HELICON And what did you want?

CALIGULA (in the same matter-of-fact tone) The moon.


CALIGULA I wanted the moon.

HELICON I see . . . (Another silence. Helicon approaches Caligula.) What for?

CALIGULA Well . . . it’s one of the things I haven’t got.

HELICON Right. And now everything is taken care of?

CALIGULA No. I couldn’t get it.

HELICON Too bad.

CALIGULA Yes, that’s why I’m tired. (Pauses. Then) You probably think I’m insane …

HELICON You know I never think. I’m much too intelligent for that.

CALIGULA … But I’m not insane. In fact I’ve never been so lucid. It’s just that I suddenly felt a desire for the impossible. (Pauses.) Things as they are don’t strike me as satisfactory.

HELICON That’s a widespread opinion.

CALIGULA I suppose it is. But I didn’t know it before. Now I know. (Still in the same matter-of-fact tone.) The world as it is is unbearable. That’s why I need the moon, or happiness, or immortality, or something that may sound insane, but would help correct this world.

HELICON That sounds fine. But no one could ever act on it.

CALIGULA (rising to his feet, but still with perfect calmness) You know nothing about it. It’s because no one dares to be logical and carry it through to its conclusion that nothing is ever achieved. (He studies Helicon’s face.) I can see what you’re thinking. What a fuss over the death of a woman! No, that’s not it. I do recall that a few days ago a woman I loved died. But love is a side issue. Her death is no more than the symbol of a truth that makes the moon necessary to me. A childishly simple and obvious truth, a little stupid even, but hard to discover and harder to bear.

HELICON And what is this truth you’ve discovered, Caius?

CALIGULA (his eyes averted, in a toneless voice) People die. And they are not happy.

HELICON (after a short pause) That’s a truth we manage to live with Caligula. It doesn’t prevent most Romans from enjoying their lunch.

CALIGULA (suddenly throws Helicon down violently) That’s because everyone around me is living a lie, and I want people to live with the truth. Remember, Helicon, I have the means of forcing them to live with the truth. They are deprived of knowledge and need a teacher who knows what he’s talking about.

HELICON Don’t take offense, Caius … but shouldn’t you have some rest. Everything else can wait.

CALIGULA (Sitting down. His voice is gentle again.) I can’t rest, Helicon.

HELICON Why not?

CALIGULA If I sleep, who will give me the moon?

HELICON (after a short silence) That’s true.

(From this translation.)


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