Short summary - Saul - Vittorio Alfieri

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Saul
Vittorio Alfieri

David comes at night to the camp of the Israelites at Gilboa. He is forced to hide from King Saul, to whom he has filial feelings. Earlier, Saul also loved him, he himself chose David as his wife for his beloved daughter Michal. “But the ransom / Sinister - a hundred enemy heads - / You demanded, and I took a double harvest / I took off for you ...” Today Saul is not himself: he is chasing David. David dreams of taking part in the battle with the Philistines and demonstrating his devotion to Saul. Saul's son Jonathan, hearing David talking to himself, approaches him. Jonathan rejoices at the meeting: he loves David like a brother. He fears for David's life, knowing how much Saul hates him. David is not afraid of anything: "I am here to die: but only in battle, / As a strong one - for the fatherland and for / That ungrateful Saul, / Who prays for my death." Jonathan tells that the evil and envious Abner, a relative of Saul and the head of his army, all the time sets Saul against David. Michal, David's wife, is faithful to her husband and every day, with tears, she begs Saul to return David to her. Jonathan says that without David, the Israelites lost their former courage: "With you gone / Peace, glory and confidence in battle." Jonathan recalls how the prophet Samuel received David before his death and anointed him with oil. He advises David to wait in the mountains for a signal to fight and only then come out of hiding. David laments: "Oh, is it really bold deeds / Hide, like intrigues?" He wants to go to Saul and, despite the fact that he does not know any fault, ask his forgiveness. Samuel once loved Saul like a son, but Saul's ingratitude brought the wrath of the Lord upon himself. The prophet Samuel bequeathed to David love and loyalty to the king, and David will never disobey him. Jonathan swears while he lives to protect David from the wrath of Saul. David wants to see Michal. Usually, Michal comes before dawn to weep for David and, together with Jonathan, prays for his father. David hides while Jonathan carefully prepares his sister to meet her husband. Michal sees David without the purple cape that she wove for him, in a coarse cloak he looks not like a royal son-in-law, but like a simple infantryman. Jonathan and Michal decide to find out what mood Saul is in, and if it seems favorable to them, then gradually prepare their father for a meeting with David. So that no one would recognize David and Abner would not send a murderer, Jonathan asks him to lower his visor and mingle with the crowd of soldiers. But Michal believes that by the look and by the ability to carry the sword of David, it is easy to recognize. She shows him a cave in the woods where he can hide. David leaves.

Saul remembers what a fearless warrior he was. Now he is old and his strength is not the same as before. But he lost not only his youth: “I was with me / Still an irresistible right hand / of the Most High! .. And at least David was with me, my knight.” Abner inspires Saul that David is the main cause of all his troubles. But Saul understands that the matter is in himself: "Impatient, gloomy, / Cruel, vicious - that's what I have become, / Always not nice to myself, not nice to others, / In peace I thirst for wars, in wars - peace." Avenir convinces Saul that the prophet Samuel, who was the first to say that Saul was rejected by God, is a bold, deceitful and cunning old man, he himself wanted to become king, but the people chose Saul, and Samuel out of envy announced that God had rejected Saul. Abner says that David was always closer to Samuel than to Saul, and more disposed to the altar than to the battlefield. Abner of the same blood with Saul: "I am of your kind, and the splendor of the king / There is the glory of Abner, and David / Will not ascend without trampling Saul." Saul often sees in a dream how Samuel tears off the royal crown from his head and wants to put it on the head of David, but David falls on his face and with tears asks the prophet to return the crown to Saul. Abner exclaims: “Let David perish: disappear with him / All fears, and misfortunes, and visions.”

Saul no longer wants to delay the battle with the Philistines. Jonathan has no doubts about victory. Michal hopes that after the battle, Saul will find rest and peace and return her beloved husband. Saul believes that the Israelites are doomed to defeat. Michal recalls how David pleased Saul with his singing and distracted from gloomy thoughts. Jonathan reminds Saul of David's military prowess. David appears: “My king! I have long wanted / You are my head. So - take it, / Seki her. Saul greets him kindly: “God speaks in you; the Lord has brought you / To me ... ”David asks Saul to let him fight in the ranks of the Israelites or stand at the head of the army - as he pleases - and then he is ready to accept the execution. Saul accuses David of pride, of wanting to outshine the king. David knows that he is not guilty of anything, these are all the slanders of Abner, who envies him. Abner claims that David hid in Philistia, among the enemies, sowed confusion among the people of Israel and more than once made an attempt on the life of Saul. In justification, David shows a piece of Saul's royal robe. One day, Saul, who was looking for David to kill, fell asleep in the cave where David was hiding. David could kill him and run away, for Abner, who was supposed to guard Saul, was far away. But David did not take advantage of the fact that the king was in his power for revenge and only cut off a flap from Saul's mantle with a sword. After hearing David's speech, Saul restores his position to him and appoints him as a commander.

David calls Abner to him for an important conversation. He says that Abner should not serve him, David, but both of them should serve the sovereign, the people and God. Abner proposes a battle plan, which David fully approves. He appoints Abner as the head of the main forces. David wants to attack at four o'clock in the afternoon: the sun, wind and thick dust will help them in the battle. Michal tells David that Abner had already managed to whisper something to Saul, and the king's mood had changed. Saul again accuses David of pride. David replies: "On the battlefield - a warrior, at court - / Your son-in-law, and before God I am nothing." Saul notices David's sword. This sacred sword was given to David by the priest Ahimelech. Hearing that Ahimelech gave the sacred sword that hung over the altar in Nob to David, Saul becomes furious. He accuses the children that they are only waiting for his death in order to take possession of the royal crown. Jonathan asks David to sing, hoping to dispel his father's anger. David sings about Saul's military exploits, about peace after the battle, but when he hears the word "sword", Saul again becomes furious. Jonathan and Michal hold Saul ready to stab David so he can leave. Saul sends Michal for David. Jonathan, meanwhile, is trying to pacify his father's anger, begging him not to become hardened against the truth and God, whose chosen one is David. Abner is also looking for David: less than an hour is left before the battle. Ahimelech appears in the camp of the Israelites. He reproaches Saul for leaving the path of the Lord, while Saul calls Ahimelech a traitor who gave the exile David not only shelter and food, but also a sacred weapon. Saul has no doubt that Ahimelech came to betray him, but the priest came to pray for Saul to win. Saul scolds all the priests, he recalls how Samuel himself killed the king of the Amalekites, captured by Saul and spared for military prowess. Ahimelech urges Saul to return to God: “The king of the earth, but before God / Who is the king? Saul, watch out! You are no more / Than a crowned speck of dust. Ahimelech threatens Saul with the wrath of the Lord and denounces the evil and treacherous Abner. Saul orders Avenir to kill Ahimelech, cancel David's order and postpone the offensive until tomorrow, seeing in David's desire to start the battle before sunset a hint of his weakening senile hand. Saul orders Abner to bring David in to cut his own wrists. Ahimelech predicts before his death that Saul and Abner will die a miserable death from the sword, but not from the enemy and not in battle. Jonathan tries to appeal to his father's mind, but to no avail. Saul drives the children away: he sends Jonathan to the army, and sends Michal to look for David. “Alone I am left with myself, / And only I am afraid of myself.”

Michal persuades David to flee under the cover of night, but David does not want to leave the Israelites on the eve of the battle. Michal talks about the execution of Ahimelech and that Saul ordered Abner to kill David if he met him during the battle. David hears a prophetic voice, he predicts that the coming day will be terrible for the king and for all the people. But the pure blood of a servant of the Lord has been shed here, and David cannot fight on a land that is defiled. Reluctantly, he agrees to run away, but, worrying about Michal, he does not want to take her with him: “stay / With your father until the Lord / returns you to your husband.” David is hiding. Michal hears screams from his father's tent and sees Saul fleeing from the shadow that pursues him. Michal tries in vain to convince his father that no one is chasing him. Saul sees a fiery punishing sword raised above him and asks the Lord to turn his sword away from his children, he himself is to blame, but the children are not guilty of anything. He imagines the voice of the prophet Samuel interceding for David. He wants to send for David...