Sunday, September 15, 2013

An effective charade (δράμα)

"There was a money-changer in a city, one of whose inhabitants came bringing him a precious stone worth five hundred pieces of gold.  'Take this stone,' he said, 'and provide me with a portion of its value when need arises,' but there was nobody there when he gave him the stone.  One of the illustrious persons of the city, however, was outside the Exchange walking back [home].  He was listening and saw that he gave him the stone, but the money-changer did not know he was listening.  Some days later, he who gave the stone came and said to the money-changer:  'Give me [something] on the stone, for I have need.'  He, confident that there was no one present when the other gave him the stone, refused, saying:  'You never gave me anything.'  As he came out of there in an agitated state, that illustrious person met him and said to him:  'What is the matter?'  He told him about the affair and the other said to him:  'Did you really give it to him?'  Yes', he said, and [that person] said to him:  'Tell him:  'Come and assure me at Saint Andrew's' and that will suffice for you',for there was a martyrion of Saint Andrew there.  When [the money-changer] was going to take the oath, that illustrious person took his slave and went to Saint Andrew's, saying to his slave:  'Whatever I do this day, do not be disturbed; just be patient.'  Coming into the martyr's chapel, he took off his clothing and began behaving like one possessed of a demon, crying out in a disorderly manner.  When they came in, he began to say:  'Saint Andrew says:  "Look:  this wicked fellow took the man's five hundred gold pieces and he wants to swear falsely by me."'  Then he went out and took him by the throat saying:  'Saint Andrew says:  "Give up the man's five hundred gold pieces."'  The other, troubled and terrified, confessed, saying:  'I am bringing them', but [the person] said:  'Bring them right now.'  Off he went and promptly brought them; the pseudo-demoniac said to the owner of the money:  'Saint Andrew says:  "Put six pieces of gold on the [holy] table"' and he gladly put [them there].  When they were gone [that person] took his clothes, dressed decently and went walking by the Exchange again, as usual.  The money-changer looked him up and down when he saw him and that illustrious person said to him:  'Why are you staring at me, friend?  Believe me, by the grace of Christ, I have no demon; but, since I was walking outside when the man gave you the stone, I heard and saw clearly.  And in case they said to you:  'You have to say that a single [witness] is not believed' I decided to enact this charade to prevent you from losing your soul and the man from being wickedly deprived of what is his.'"

     Anonymous saying of the Desert Fathers no. 48 (=BHG 1328g, de ponderatore).  The anonymous sayings of the Desert Fathers:  a select edition and complete English translation, ed. & trans. John Wortley (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013), 44-45.
     This one is striking for its secularity.  The saint does nothing overtly, and the city father (Εἷς . . . τῶν λαμπρῶν τῆς πόλεως) everything.