A PICTURE WORK CONCEIVED BY THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE 19th NOVEMBER 1948 in relation with the diplomatic work ''Christian Metaphysics nad Neoplatonism'', the lectures in Stockholm, Uppsala and Athens and the essay ''Neither Victims nor Executioners''
L' Etat de Siege is a theatrical play (English title: The State of Siege), in the style of an ancient Greek tragedy, by the French writer Albert Camus where he introduced his most personal belief in the irrational faith in God and his personal powers as an “insensé”. There is a theory -according to the Greek journalist Ch. Papachristopoulos- that this theatrical play is actually based in Aeschylus' lost tragedy, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer - Προμηθεύς Πυρφόρος.
 Summary of L' Etat de Siege by Albert Camus
This theatrical play was written by Albert Camus together with his novel The Plague and the essay The Rebel/Man in Revolt. It is the work which -according to Camus' words- represents him best and is a response-reaction to George Orwell's 1984. The hero, Diego, opposes with a medical mask the totalitarian dictator who bears the name Plague and dies, in order to set a Spanish town free from the Holy Inquisition. The first title of this play by Albert Camus was The Holy Inquisition in Cadix. This theatrical performance of Albert Camus -which has not been adapted for the cinema yet- is famous because of his predictions about the comet that changes the world towards destruction (see, also, H.G.Wells' short stories "In the Days of the Comet" and "The Star") and the great tsunami "wave from the depths of sea" which sets the world free.
 INTRODUCTION: THE MYSTICAL STAGE
This theatrical play of Albert Camus is based on the concept of Deus Ex Machina, which was a key element in the Ancient Greek theater. The "Άρμα Θέσπιδος" or Vehicle of Thespis was a device used in the ancient theatrical festivities and in the mysteries of ancient Athens -especially in the Dionysian theater- in order to provoke the intervention of a god. Camus was a son of Greece -as he wrote in his collection of essays The Nuptials- and he was familiar with the Greek tragedy, on which he talked in 1956 in Athens (The Parnassus Speech) together with Andreas Empeirikos, the Greek surrealist poet. Camus always wrote trilogies and L' Etat de Siege was part of one such trilogy, together with his famous novel The Plague/La Peste and his notorious essay The Rebel, Man in Revolt/L' Homme Revolte, where he makes very interesting remarks about the revolt of Prometheus. In the “State of Siege’’, Camus makes his hero to free men from the “Plague of Death” in a remarkable passage which reminds us of the lost play Prometheus the Fire-Bringer/Προμηθεύς Πυρφόρος of the trilogy “Prometheia” by the ancient Greek tragedian, Aeschylous who reveals there Prometheus' knowledge of a secret that could potentially lead to Zeus' downfall.
The work of Albert Camus L' Etat de Siege reminds especially the ancient theatrical play of Euripides' Bacchae about the conflict in ancient Thebes of Greece between Pentheus who represents the State Goverment (Kratos) and Cadmus, who represents the royal house of Greece which stays loyal to the god Dionysus. There are, also, manifest references in the theatrical play L' Etat de Siege in Eleusinian Mysteries ("Manna") and Neoplatonism (the opinion of Camus is included in his essay Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism - La Metaphysique Chrettienne et Neoplatonisme). It must be noted that when in Paris the State of Siege was performed, the role of Death, the Receiver of Souls (Ψυχοπομπός or god Hermes) was played by the world-famous mime Marcel Marceau. The role of Diego in the first performance of the play in Paris was covered by Louis Jourdan. Camus had also formed a theatrical group to perform his theatrical rites, called Theatre de l'Equipe.
 DIEGO’S HAND OD GOD AGAINST BIG BROTHER
“L’ Etat de Siege’’ is a work against totalitarianism, written in the same epoch when Camus' idol, the English writer George Orwell wrote 1984. Actually, there is an allegorical reference of Camus' in his theatrical play about the end of Orwell's novel (where the hero, Winston Smith, makes a compromise with Big Brother). Camus' hero, who is called Diego and has a mystical charisma called “insensé”, is opposed to "The Plague who makes an invasion in the town of Cadix and he is finally sacrificed, in order to save the simple citizens of this Spanish town. However, the end of the play mentions a plague in Athens, like the text of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura-On the Nature of Things and the existence of a secret which is to be revealed (UN SECRET in the French text).
 CAMUS' GOD AGAINST ROME
The initial title of L' Etat de Siege was THE HOLY INQUISITION IN CADIX. In the French edition of the book, Camus has included a remarkable essay, under the title Why Spain?. In this polemical text, he answers to his Catholic Christian friend Gabriel Marcel who accused him for setting the plot in Spain. Albert Camus expresses here his attitude against the totalitarian regimes of the West and the behaviour of the Vatican and the Pope during World War II. The most important phrase of this essay against Gabriel Marcel is "Why Guernica, Gabriel Marcel?". Another essay of Camus where he talks about the Pope is "The Believer and the Christians", included in the collection "Resistance, Rebellion and Death". Camus' faith (foi, in French) is the faith in the supernatural, irrational element of Greek and Christian thought, as expressed in his essay L'Homme révolté-The Rebel.
The State of Siege begins with a preamble, where a comet makes his appearance over the town of Cadix. The simple citizens consider it as a sign or omen ("οιωνός") and there Nada makes his appearance: he is a drunked and crippled man, who represents Jean-Paul Sartre and his atheistic nihilism. The police intervenes in order to restore Peace, Quiet and Order but Nada -whose name means Nothing- prophetises like Teiresias in Bacchae that a young therapeutes masked doctor, Diego, who heals people will save all of them if they keep their hearts sound and safe against the attack of the flu or plague. It is worth mentioned that something similar happens in the end of Camus' novel La Peste, where docteur Rieu saves the town of Oran by inventing a pharmacon which offers immunity. Camus -through the negative language of Nada/Sartre who wants the Death of all the World- makes a libellus against atheistic Existentialism and gives a warning to the people who watch his theater performance about the God's omen and the end of the world. The Government of the town announces that Nothing has happened and that all should return in their works. The Chorus makes his appearance, although, like in an ancient Greek tragedy with an hymn to Nature, to its forces and to the mysteries of regeneration and rennaissance. Diego meets his love-mate, Victoria (who represents the victory of Camus' Combat movement against Nazism in occupied France): she is the daughter of an autocratic judge. The Governor makes his appearance, then, ordering nothing to move; I am the King of Silence. It is exactly the time for the "flu" to makes her attach in someone in the crowd (hint of Camus againt the phrase of Andre Breton before 1950 about shooting at the mass crowd with a revolver. Camus wrote against the negative side of surrealism in L' Homme Revolte). The man falls down like striken from a thunder and when a doctor examines him, he announces: "Plague"! A priest calls all the people to get into the Church to die and be punished for their sins from the God of Justice while an astrologer makes predictions and plans for his own ascend to Government's authority and the crowd is panicked. The sun begins to tremble and the wind makes all tremble, too. The Goverment decides to suppress, to kill and to bury every man with free voice that goes against the public interest of fighting the flu. At this time, Diego wears a mask -Camus had studied the rites of Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, obsessed by Sergei Eizenstein's remarks about ancestor worship in the Day of the Dead, where Deaath is considered a friend of man)- in order to heel the people who loose hope and faith to God (In our century, power wears the mask of tragedy, wrote Camus in The Rebel). Diego is forced to seperate from Victoria as the Government announces that in order to prevent the danger and the threat of spreading, every public show and demonstration is prohibited. Suddenly, a man and a woman get into the stage: they ask persistently, under the threat of a death penalty, the responsibilities and the authority of the Governor. He resists at first but, then, the woman writes something in a Carnet (her cryptographic crib or pense-bete, her Beast of Thought) and a guard falls down dead, hit by a radiant emission. The woman, also, saves the life of Nada because he does not believe in nothing and he might be useful. So the Governor leaves the town but the army collaborates with the man and the woman.
Mass Media and Bureaucracy
The bureacracy of the new established state begins to announce taxes to the simple, working citizens of Cadix under a strange and complicated language, through the messengers of the Plague with their beautiful faces (Camus was until 1951 a journalist but he resigned in order to write The Rebel and become a Nobel awarded writer and artist). Then, the whole citizens cry out loud: "The Plague has become a State Government and Nada answers: "Plague or Government, it is always the State... The New Law is announced by the Mass Media of the Plague under the slogan: "We are all brothers". According to the messengers of the Plague, every product becomes part of the civic community and of the New Society. The gates of the town begin to close while the chorus of young men and women continues in a lyrical mood to invoke the forces of Nature, the Universe, the sea, the wind, the orange, the integral of fruits and the harvest. However, the priest leaves the town without helping the unprotected people! Christians of Spain, you have been abandoned cries a poor man. The woman, who is the Secretaire of the man who asks for the total power announces that, in order to avoid the spreading of the germs of the flu by spreading through communication waves, every citizen is orderded to wear a condom inside his mouth! And, finally, the sixth gate closes... As a result, the man whose name as a person is Plague takes the place of the king in his palace in the stage in order -as he says- to exercise a liturgy and announces that he will begin to kill everyone else in the name of Logic and Reason, according to a certain administrative program. The victims will be burned after (or, even, before) their death and the living will be marked to their bodies. Everybody is suspect he says.
 PLAGUE AND THE STATE TERROR
In the second act, the carrier of the dead bodies (played originally by Marcel Marceau) sents all of them in a cemetery whose entrance is like a school entrance! The state, civil cervants are administrated by the army and the police and the general Secretary of the Plague begins to give to the citizens their Existence Diplomas, to meliorate the logistics of butchering and to ask of them their C.V.'s. However, the honest and good people are considered as suspects because whoever is interested for his neighbour is against the authority of the State and should be under surveillance. The State asks for their political beliefs and -if they are ambiguous- then, the honest man has no reasons to live (No Raisons d'Etre) and his existence is programmed to be "delivered" bureaucratically, in an administrative manner. Then, through the dead bodies of the cemetery, Nada/Sartre makes again his appearance, crying: I am not dead, I told you!" and he begins his collaboration with the New Order. He wants everything to be supressed, stoped, forbidden and then -he believes- "Voila Paradise". He has a philosophy, a philosophy against Love, Eros, Friendship, Children. He denies God because God denies the world. The Secretary begins to give to all people a sign, an emblem of the Plague, but whoever denies it is obliged to take a second mark, signing that he is against the Plague. If the citizens do not take the Existence Diploma they are not considered as sound but as insense and -in order to become sound- they will be helped by the government with a special treatment. The Secretary says that she believes that all citizens are guilty for having a Government -and they know it! "You will not understand that you are guilty as long as you continue working until you ll be dead from the fatigue". Indeed, the Plague orders the Great Public Shows to begin, with the construction of stiff buildings, roads and bridges and announces that a lot of people who are unimportant will be lost and seperated from their families. They will be transported to concentration camps: "What matters is not to understand but to execute... and even to take part in their own execution! They execute, they are executed, they are occupied, concentrated.. Execution, Occupation, Concentration"! Nada, then, reveals that the whole subject is about language and grammar... how nobody will understand nothing, even if they will all speak the same language! He also mentions some ancient prophecies about the end of the world. He warns for a world seeming like a private and puritan Paradise and in the middle police squads with wings which will bear latin, mediaeval letters: "Men will be happy, fed up with papers and formulas and they will kneel down to God as the Destroyer of Everything and they will worship him because he will be totally devoted to watch and indulge in the ancient delirium of a world of pleasure". And Nada adds: "Nobody laughs, nobody understands, the moment has come, it is the perfect chance"... All the people -except Diego- go to enlist in the Plague and to build the castles and the status symbols of the State autority. The Plague calls Diego -in the same way that [[the "Benefactor]] Stalin called Gevgenyi Zamyatin in his novel "We"- but Diego invokes his own innocence. He wonders by the compromise of the mass with the dictatorship which governs under the cloak of democracy and he admits that he is afraid. The “Plague’’ asserts that he does not know what innocence is and orders his guardians to arrest Diego. The hero, however, runs and hides to the judge’s house. The Plague reveals that whoever is afraid and runs, belongs to him and he orders again his Guardians and Gatekeepers to learn all the people the same, basic words so that they will always repeat the same thing and become "good citizens’’. Diego is expelled by the judge but he says to him that now the Law has been identified with Crime and Virtue has been victimized. The judge, however, haw also become now a victim of the Plague and his house has been "condemned’’ as well. In the meantime, Nada is in the cemetery-school gates and he prepares the Plague’s elections, which will be conducted "under the principles of rationalism": that is, the votes against the Governmental State of the Plague will be counted as negative because they will not be ‘’free’’ but irrational and ‘’sentimental’’. Only the votes FOR the government will be rational and free. And that happens –according to Nada- because ‘’people has no idea of freedom”. The “Secretary’’ of the Plague stops Diego from making love with Victoria and renounces the word “Love”. Now, she marks him for a second time. As long as he was afraid, he was suspect, as long as he has feelings he is polluted. But, Diego continues to struggle in order to help the simple, ill and poor citizens.
 “PROMETHEUS UNBOUND” AND CAMUS
In this point of the story, a boatman who can be identified with the god Prometheus makes his appearance , by the sea of Cadix in the Atlantic. He brings supplies (“προμήθειες” in Greek) to the free citizens: milk and bread from boats in the open sea who were not in the town when the New Order of Law was pronounced by the messengers of the Plague. Some families have escaped from the gangraena and the boatman makes a “metaphor” to the “letters”, playing the role of Providence. Diego asks him to carry him to the sea but the boatman is afraid that he will influence the remaining families with the “germs” of the Plague. Before that, however, the “Secretary” appears and with her Carnet and her “ephemerides” she kills the boatman. In this point, Camus inserts maybe the best part of the play, where Diego with his mask is opposed to the “Secretary’’. This scene is extraordinary and the dialogues written in a language which moves the reader or the spectator and has high aesthetic value. Diego announces to the “Secretary” the defeat of the Plague by just one “insensé” man. He slaps her in the face and then his second mark in his skin disappears because he has lost fear. She reveals him “UN SECRET”, that there is a hidden “Machine” which has become almost perfect but has a “malfunction”: if someone does not feel fear, the “Secretary” has to grant him life -he cannot be killed, he is immortal, like Prometheus. The wind starts suddenly to blow and the first man –a fisherman- starts to speak free as he is saved by Diego.
From this point, Diego begins to work intensively with his men –in a parallelism which reflects his own “Combat” movement in France, against Fascism- and his efforts make the symbols of the Plague to diminish. His comrades erase the marks of the “flu” from the houses of the town. Diego hymns the “Holy Rebellion”, the living honour of the simple people, and calls them to destroy their “existence diplomas’’, to break the mirrors of their working offices, to cry for freedom. However, the Plague together with the “Secretary” and Nada prepare a new “coup d’ etat” . They cannot longer confront Diego’s men because they do not have the authority to kill them, since they are not afraid anymore. So, they make a compromise with the leaders of the mass for a “constitutional reform” and they decide to construct a commission which will keep in her authority the criminal Carnet. However, this cryptographic device which kills gets stolen by the oppressed who now decide to kill the rich: this is the triumph of the Plague who begins again to build impressive, symbolic buildings of her authoritative status while the simple people return by their own will to their slavery.
 FINAL PANTOMIME REFLUX
Only Diego continues under his mask to help as a doctor the illness. When he and his men struggle against the Plague, on the stage a pantomime of agony evolves and the status-symbols of the evil cramble. The Plague seems to be leaving at first, keeping hostages of the combat and the Chorus sings a hymn to the ancient mysteries. However, Victoria –who represents in the play Diego’s and Camus’ true homeland- is dying at the same time and so, the hero proposes to the Plague an “exchange”, provoking Death to get naked, renounce its uniform and its hieratical robe-clothing. The Plague traps him by asking him not to help the uneducated mass and offers both Diego’s and Victoria’s life if they leave the town to his authoritative state. “I must be dominus of all or else I am dominus of nothing” says Plague, because “according to an ancient law, if one man escapes, then the whole town escapes” This is the final dialogue or “stichomythia” between Diego and the Plague. Diego negates and he opposes to the State, like Antigone opposed Kreon, saying “I was not born in order to be happy by doing evil to the other people”. Diego’s weapon is his laughter against the Plague and he announces in the stage “the epoch of free men” who –contrary to the followers of the Plague- will have the right to Divine Grace. The Plague tells him that he overcame the last test, since if he had accepted its offer, the town, all the people, Diego and Victoria as well would all be condemned. The “Secretary”, however, has on its face now a mask of death and, unwilling to kill Diego, wants to take the body of the dying woman and feel the sense of true life. The Plague reveals, then, its true name which is “the Power of Terror” and speaks the following words: «I have filled Athens with purification fires through my own official butchers and grave diggers and I have covered the Greek sea with human ashes in order to make her obtain black colour. Even the Gods felt horror”. She also adds: «For us, a dead man does not cost so much as a slave. Our ideal is to have a majority of slaves through a minority of rightly elected men who will die. Today our technology is capable of it”. The Plague believes in the stupidity of the mass whom honours as his only power and hope. Before Victoria’s renaissance and Diego’s death, there is a phrase of the hero who manifests his devotion to the “irrational religious faith”. Next, trumpets are heard and the rich who were exploiting the poor make their come-back. The rites of hatred continue to be exercised, the decors are moved again, political speeches and rhetorics are heard while Nada –before commiting suicide by been drowning in the sea- makes a prophecy: «Now we have the power to begin anew… from point zero, of course”!. The “State of Siege” ends with the words of the first free man, the fisherman (symbol of Christ): «O Holy See, Holy Sea, the great depth of your depths will set your terrorized cities free, this is your people who will never recede, this is the Homeland of the Revolutionaries”.