Short summary - Cain - George Gordon Byron (Noel)

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Short summary - Cain
George Gordon Byron (Noel)

The mystery, the action of which unfolds in the "area near paradise," opens the scene of the offering of prayers to Jehovah. All the few «humanity» participate in the prayer: the Adam and Eve, their sons Cain and Abel, the daughters of Ada and Sella, and the children conceived by the daughters of Adam from his own sons, expelled from paradise in retribution for sin. Against the unreasonable piety of the parents and brother, who dutifully accept the punishing hand of the Lord, Cain instinctively rebels, embodying the relentless questioning, doubt, unquenchable desire to «get to the bottom of everything» in everything. He is quite sincere, confessing: "I could never reconcile / What I saw with what they say to me." He is not satisfied with the evasive answers of his parents, all referring to His all-good commandment: «They have all the questions / One answer:« His holy will, / And he is good ». Almighty, so good? »

Adam, Eve and their children retire to day labors. Meditating Cain is left alone. He feels the approach of a certain higher being, which is "greater than the angels" whom Cain had seen in the vicinity of paradise. This is Lucifer.

In the interpretation of the image of the eternal opponent of the eternal, cast down from heavenly heights and doomed to endless wanderings in space, but unbroken by the spirit, Byron, the artist and thinker, was boldly manifested most clearly. Unlike most writers who have somehow touched on this topic, the author of the mystery does not show the slightest bias; in his vision of Satan there is no shadow of canonical stereotype. It is symptomatic that Lucifer Byron does not so much give direct answers to the questions that Cain and Hell who returned for some reason fall asleep, but inspires them with the thought of the imperative necessity of eternal interrogation, of the salvation of knowledge as the key to the immortality of the spirit. With all his behavior, he refutes the current idea of himself as a low, self-serving adversary. And Cain can’t believe him,


Tormented by cursed questions about the secret of his existence, about the law of death and the finiteness of all things, about the mystery of the unknown, Cain prays the stranger to resolve his doubts. He invites him to travel in time and space, promising Ada that after an hour or two he will return home.

Byron's inexhaustible, inventive romantic fantasy finds expression in the second act of the mystery that unfolds in the "abyss of space." Like Dante and Virgil in The Divine Comedy, only in specific romantic rhythm and imagery, partly inspired by the majesty of Milton Baroque poetics, do they bypass past and future worlds, compared with which the Earth is worth less than a grain of sand, and the treasured Eden is smaller than a pinhead. Cain opens up the boundlessness of space and the infinity of time. Lucifer calmly comments: "There is much that will never happen / Have an end ... / Only time and space are unchanged, / Even though change is only dust / Bring death."

On the innumerable planets flying in front of their eyes, the stunned Cain recognizes, there are their own edems, and even people "or creatures that are higher than them." But his curiosity is unquenchable, and Lucifer shows him the gloomy realm of death. «How great are the shadows that hover / Around me!» Cain exclaims, and Satan reveals to him that before Adam the Earth was inhabited by higher beings, unlike humans, but far exceeding them by the power of reason. Jehovah ended them with «a mixture of the elements that transformed / The face of the earth.» Ghosts of leviathans and the shadows of creatures that have no name swim in front of them. Their spectacle is majestic and mournful, but, according to Lucifer, is incomparable with the troubles and disasters that are yet to come, which are destined to fall to the lot of the Adamic family. Cain is saddened: he loves Hell, loves Abel and is unable to accept the fact that all of them, all that exists, are subject to death. And he again asks Satan to reveal to him the secret of death. He replies that the son of Adam is not yet able to comprehend her; one has only to realize that death is the gate. "Cain. But will death not open them? /Lucifer. Death - / Entrance. /Cain. So, then death leads / To something rational! Now / I'm less afraid of her. "

Cain recognizes that his "guide" through innumerable worlds, lost in time and space, is not inferior in power to the omnipotent Jehovah. But is not Lucifer himself the instrument of God?

And then Satan explodes. No and no again: «He is my victor, but not the lord ... / ... Will not stop / Great merciless struggle / Until Adonai dies / Il his enemy!» And in farewell he gives him advice: «Only good gift / The tree of knowledge has given you - your mind: / So let it not tremble with formidable words / Tyrant, forcing to believe / Contrary to feeling and reason. / Be patient and thoughts - create in yourself / The inner world, so as not to see the outside: / Break the earthly nature within yourself / And join the spiritual principle! »

Only the immortality of the spirit can prevent the omnipotence of the mortal inheritance allotted to people by Jehovah - such is the farewell lesson taught to the hero by Satan.

Returning to loved ones, Cain finds them at work: they prepare the altars for the sacrifice. But the sacrifice is a sign of humility before the inheritance, prepared in advance and unjust; the whole passionate, indomitable nature of Cain rebels against him: «I said, / It is better to die than to live in torment / And bequeath to their children!»

The meek, loving Hell, the mother of his child, recoils from him in horror; gently but persistently forces him to jointly sacrifice Abel.

And here, for the first time, the mystery character who is not present on the stage, but invariably reminiscent of himself, reminds himself of God: God favorably accepts the lamb slain by his younger brother, cattle breeder, and lays far away the fruits of the land - the sacrifice of the farmer Cain. Abel calmly advises his brother to bring new gifts to the Almighty on the altar. "Cain. So his joy - / Chad of altars smoking with blood / Suffering of bleating queens, flour / Their offspring dying under yours / Pious knife! Get out of my way!"

Abel stands his ground, repeating: "God is dearer to me than life." In a fit of uncontrolled anger, Cain strikes him in the temple with a bunt, captured from the altar.


Abel is dying. The moons of Adam, the eldest son of Adam, slowly come to the groans of his deeds. Adam is perplexed; Eve curses him. Ada timidly tries to protect her brother and spouse. Adam commands him to leave these places forever.

With Cain, only Ada remains. But before starting to drag out a myriad of dull countless days, the fratricidal killer will have to go through another test. An angel of the Lord descends from heaven and imposes an indelible seal on his forehead.

They are going in a difficult way. Their place is in a joyless desert, "east of paradise." Cain crushed by his crime does not so much fulfill the will of his father and Jehovah, as he himself measures the punishment for sin. But the spirit of protest, doubt, questioning does not fade in his soul: «Cain. Oh Abel, Abel! / Hell. Peace be upon him! /Cain. What about me? »

These words complete the play of Byron, who transformed the mystery of mortal sin into an exciting mystery of irreconcilable deity.