Salome: Here it is. So I’ve come after all. Is it a return or a vicious circle? Brr. It’s cold in here. Desolate, famous castle of Macherus, welcome the one who was once almost your ruler! Didn’t you recognise me? I’m not surprised. I’m desolate, too. So desolate that sometimes I can’t even recognise myself. Well. Hal-lo! Nothing. No fanfares, no flags, no one to welcome me, no dignitaries swoon at the sight of my beauty. It’s a long time since anyone swooned at the sight of my beauty. (She looks around her.) Darkness, cold, death. How strangely quiet it is here. Maybe time has stopped in this place. It no longer passes. I left here when I was seventeen. Ten years ago. Since then time has not moved on. It stopped at the point when it happened… Yes, yes… outside time is passing, I’m growing older, one day I shall wither altogether, but there will be nothing left in my life by then. There was nothing anyway. The only important thing remained here, in this cell. The only important thing in my life – death. Death, which I brought to you, Jokanaan. Everything revolved around that point, but everything stopped, too.
Why have I come here? To this place, the castle of Macherus, a magnificent fortress with thick walls, invincible defences, spacious halls and crowded dungeons. Brr.
So this is the prison they threw you in. Here you spent half a year of your life, which I brought to an end with my mad wish. Jokanaan! Where are you…? This is the bloody place which witnessed so many events – terrible, violent, stupid… Probably nothing has changed here underground. What can change in a prison except the bodies that fill it and the people in power who throw them into it: Those in power have changed, it’s true. But the prisoners are either executed immediately, or they are hidden away in other cells. Tiberius was replaced by Caligula, Herod Antipas by Herod Agrippa… it’s all the same!
Macherus Castle! You are now desolate. Where are those one-time ceremonial fanfares, the pompous sounding of trumpets, the festivities before an attack on the enemy and the gluttonous feasts after a victorious battle… How your present ruler has neglected you! Now the people in power make do with intrigues, lies and quiet deceptions, secret murders… and maybe they are so weary of so many wars and devastation, that they don’t celebrate them any more. After all, why hold pompous ceremonies and noisy feasts to mask so much vileness, treacherous betrayals, lechery, murders… like that last one, which I seasoned with your death, Jokanaan.
(Trumpeting heard in the distance. Salome looks around her, startled.)
Salome: (continuing) They are closing the gates of Jerusalem. That means I’ll have to stay here until the morning. Here in my past, among the corpses.
Why did I come here in fact? I’ve no one left alive. Maybe I’m not alive either. What am I doing here? What am I looking for in this desolate military fortress? Why didn’t I avoid this town, this castle I haven’t been in for over ten years, that I swore I would never set foot in again? This piece of ground that remembers my youth, my beauty, even my innocence…
(While uttering these words Salome walks around the walls of the tomb, her speech is rhythmical and accompanied by a hint of dancing. She pauses at a barred window, through which bright moonlight is penetrating.)
Salome: (continues) Ah, how quiet it is here! At least I can rest for a while. After so many dusty roads, noisy inns and stinking stables… Maybe I should stay here for ever. In this silence and coolness. Far from all those lecherous men and shrieking, jealous women…
There is a full moon. How beautiful she is. She is silent, too. Mysterious. Cool and chaste in the dark blue sky. Like a virgin. An eternal virgin. Not one whose passions are aroused and she cannot wait. No. She has never abandoned herself to men. She is quite different from the other goddesses… from other women… from Salome…
Salome the beauty
Salome the wicked
Salome the wretched
Salome, who they all had
Salome, who had them all
(Relaxed at the beginning, she gradually becomes tense)
… all of them! First on a whim, then for sensual pleasure, then out of revenge, and now (a despairing laugh) now – for money!
What are you staring at me like that for? You bore me! You make me sick. Those watery eyes like dead fish! (Quickly) Even as a little girl I noticed that all of you – dignitaries, generals, high priests, governors, kings, philosophers, you all have terribly empty, watery eyes. The dead look of rotting fish…
You bore me! You only know how to bristle when you are pursuing a quail… at the sound of drums and trumpets… you hound her to death, snap at her… hunting hounds, which let themselves be excited by a simple cry! I hate you! All of you who chased after me. You used me to while away the time. Boring, bedraggled dogs, sniffing at their prey. You are repulsive, loathsome and slimy when you shine with your purchased wisdom, while thinking only of how you can cleverly sniff your prey and lick it with your red tongues. Politicians, thinkers, generals, rich men, you are fools. You are all fools! You are excited by every movement of a young body. I twitch my hips, wiggle my bottom and you will forget all your systems of philosophy, your duties as rulers, all your idols and divinities.
The same over and over again. Are you not tired of it yet? I am. Have been for a long time. But there is nothing left for me but to humiliate you with my own humiliation, to deceive you with my own deception, to disgrace you with my own disgrace…
(Mad laughter. A short pause.)
Salome: (continues) “Already the axe is laid to the roots of the trees; every tree that fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire”… will be cut down and thrown on the fire… will be cut down and thrown on the fire… will be cut down and thrown… on the fire…
Brr. It’s cold in here. Damp. And it stinks of mould. Like in a tomb. It must be terrible to live in such a cell. To die in such a cell. Jokanaan!!! (After a pause, quickly)
Your body was buried alongside the prophets Elisha and Obadiah, but your head was hidden in the ground somewhere here… somewhere here… Your handsome head… It’s here somewhere. Maybe only a skull now. Why did I come here? What am I doing here? Jokanaan!
(She quotes, as if she were repeating words she has known a long time.) “Rise from the bed of your abominations, from the bed of incestuousness and hear the voice, the voice crying in the wilderness: Repent your sins… their cup is full… the wretched, the confounded, the desolate… When you cry for help, no amount of idols will save you. The wind shall bear them all away… You turn to Moloch, you amass worldly possessions, you draw the curtains back from your beds. Who is it you fear when you tell lies?… Look, you are covered with gold and silver, but you have no soul within… I can take my body in my teeth and my life in the palm of my hand… Man shall fall to pieces like a robe eaten by moths… As waters that disappear from a lake or a river that shrivels and dries up, so will man lie down and not rise again… Who can gain something pure from what is impure?…”
Translated by Heather Trebatická