I. Death of the gods
Cappadocia. The Roman tribune condemned wanted to curry favor with his boss. To do this, he is going to kill two children – cousins of the current Constantinople emperor Constantius. Constantius is the son of Constantine the Great, who began his reign by killing many of his relatives, including his uncle, Julian’s father and Gall. Condemned together with a detachment of legionnaires breaks into the palace, where the disgraced young men are kept, but their tutor Mardonius shows to the pogromers some edict that frightens off the killers. Those leave. Young people are engaged in the fact that under the guidance of Eutropius they study theology. Julian secretly reads Plato, visits the cave of the god Pan. In the Christian church, the young man feels uncomfortable. After the service, he visits the nearby temple of Aphrodite, where he meets with the priest Olympiador and his two daughters – Amaryllis and Psyche. Rapprochement with Amaryllis
does not work, she is indifferent to his gift – his own model of the trirea. Frustrated, the young man leaves. However, the girl returns, encourages him. Julian spent the night in the temple of Aphrodite, where he vows to eternally love the goddess.
The next scene takes place in Antioch. Two strangers first listen to people’s conversations, then watch the performance of strolling artists. One gymnast so excites the young man that he immediately buys it from the owner and drags him to the empty temple of Priap. There he accidentally kills one of the sacred geese, a stranger leads to court, tearing off a false beard. It turns out that this is Caesar Gull. Six years have passed since the beginning of the narrative, the emperor Constantius, in order to secure himself, made Galla co-ruler.
At this time, Julian wanders through Asia Minor, talking with various philosophers and magicians, including the authoritative Neoplatonist Iamlik, who expounds his ideas about God. The teacher and student observe how Christians smash the pagan churches. Then Julian visits the Magi of Maximus of Ephesus, with the
help of some cunning device evoking a youthful vision in which he renounces Christ in the name of the Great Angel, Evil. Maxim teaches Julian that God and the Devil are one. Julian and Maxim ascend to the high tower, from where the philosopher shows the disciple to the world below and proposes to rise and become Caesar himself.
Then Julian goes to his brother, who understands that Constantius will soon order him to be killed. Indeed, soon Galla is expelled from Constantinople, and the same Scudilo carries him. With the “Tsesarem” poorly treated, finally, they execute him. Julian spends his time in Athens. Here he meets with the exiled poet Publius, who shows him “Artemis” – a beautiful girl with the body of a goddess. A month later, Julian and Publius are at a feast with Senator Hortense. That girl is his ward, her name is Arsinoe. Julian meets her, it turns out that they both hate Christianity. Julian confesses that he must be hypocritical in order to survive. Young people conclude an alliance aimed at reviving Olympic paganism. After spending the night together, Julian leaves for Constantinople. Constantius graciously accepts Julian who hates him. Just at this time, there is a church cathedral, where the Orthodox clash with the Arians. The Emperor supports the latter. The cathedral ends in a scandal. Julian watches with malicious gloating Christians. The Emperor Constantius, meanwhile, makes Julian co-ruler in return for the murdered Gall.
Arsinoe moved to Rome. Together with Sister Mirra and one of her admirers, Centurion Anatoly, the girl visits the Roman catacombs, where the secret church is located. Here, the Orthodox hold their divine services. The Legionnaires of the Arian Emperor break into the caves and disperse the meeting. Young people struggle to escape from their pursuers.
The next scene occurs in the Prineiny forest. Two stragglers from Julian’s army-Aragarius and Strombik-are catching up with their legion. Caesar Julian wins a brilliant victory over an army of Gauls.
Julian sends Arsinoe a letter, in which he reminds her of the once concluded union. The girl at this time dies sister – a gentle Christian Mirra.
The young Caesar is resting from the war in Paris-Lutetia. Here is also the wife of Julian – a fanatical Christian, imposed on him by the emperor Elena. She considers her husband to be the devil, not allowing him to her. Julian, out of hatred of Christianity, tries to take her by force.
The envious Constantius sends to Julian an official authorized to lead the best troops to the south. Soldiers rebel against such a decision; rebels ask Julian to be their emperor. After some hesitation, Julian agrees. His wife, Elena, is dying at this time.
While Julian is approaching Constantinople in order to take power by force, Constantius dies. Learning of this, Julian goes to the troops and, renouncing Christianity, swears in fidelity to the sun-god Mithra. He is supported by Maxim of Ephesus. The soldiers are perplexed, some call the new emperor the Antichrist.
Becoming emperor, Julian tries to officially restore paganism. Churches are destroyed, the pagan priests are returned to the values they took away from them under Constantine the Great. Julian arranges a bacchic procession, but the people do not support the emperor’s undertakings, faith in Christ is too ingrained. Julian vainly encourages people to worship Dionysus. The Emperor feels that his ideas can not be realized, but decides to fight to the end. In a conversation with Maxim he says: “Here I go, to give people such freedom that they did not dare dream about.” I am the messenger of life, I am the deliverer, I am the Antichrist! “
Outwardly, Christians again become pagans; in fact, at night the monks take out precious stones from the eyes of the statue of Dionysus and insert them back into the icons; Juliana is hated. The emperor is engaged in charity, introduces freedom of religion – all this, to free the people from the influence of the “Galileans”. A church cathedral is being held, on which Christians are again bickering among themselves; Julian is convinced of the futility of their religion. On the accusations of bishops, the emperor does not react, refusing to execute anyone for expressing his opinion. Julian goes to a Christian monastery, where he meets Arsinoeus, who became a nun. She blames him for the fact that his dead gods are not the same Olympians, but the same Christ, but without observance of rites. Julian is too virtuous; people do not need love and compassion, but blood and sacrifice.
Julian, inspecting his charities, is convinced that everything is just as false as before. Maxim the Magician explains to the disciple that his time has not yet come, he predicts death, but he blesses to the struggle.
Officials openly sabotage the decrees of the emperor, considering him insane; people hate him, rumors are spreading about the persecution of Christians. the street preacher Starets Pamva branded Julian the Antichrist. Julian hears all this, comes into dispute, but even force can not disperse the crowd: against it all.
The emperor comes to the half-desolate temple of Apollo, where he meets with the priest Gorgius and his deaf-mute son – almost the last pagans. All attempts by Julian to help the temple, to delay the flock to the old gods end unsuccessfully; in response to the order to take the relics of the Christian saint from the territory of the temple, the “Galileans” respond with arson; The priest and his son are killed.
Julian, in order to somehow restore his charisma, is campaigning against the Persians. The beginning of the campaign is preceded by bad omens, but nothing can stop the emperor. A series of victories is crossed out by one unfortunate decision by Julian to burn the ships in order to make the army as mobile as possible. The emperor finds out that he believed the traitor; he must give the order of retreat. On the way to it is Arsinoe, again convincing Julian that he is not the enemy of Christ, but his only true follower. Julian is annoyed by her words, the conversation again ends in a quarrel.
In the final battle, the emperor was mortally wounded. The new emperor Jovian is an adherent of Christianity; Julian’s former friends again change their faith; people are delighted with the return of bloody spectacles, the final scene – Arsinoe, Anatoly and his friend the historian Ammian, sail on the ship, talking about the late Emperor. Arsinoe sculpts a statue with the body of Dionysus and the face of Christ. They talk about the correctness of Julian, the need to preserve the spark of Hellenism for future generations. In their hearts, the author notes, “there was already a great Renaissance fun”.
II. Resurrected Gods
The novel takes place in Italy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.
Merchant Cipriano Buonakcorzi, collector of antique objects, finds a statue of Venus. As an expert, Leonardo da Vinci is invited. Several young people discuss the behavior of a strange artist. The Christian priest Faustino’s father, who sees the Devil everywhere, bursts into the house and smashes the beautiful statue.
Giovanni goes to Aeonardo in the disciples. He is engaged in the construction of an aircraft, writes “The Last Supper”, builds a huge monument to the Duke of Sforza, teaches the worthy behavior of his students. Giovanni does not understand how his teacher can combine such various projects, get carried away by both divine and purely earthly things at the same time. Astro, another disciple of Leonardo, converses with the “witch” monk Cassandra, tells her about the peach tree, which his teacher, experimenting, poisons poison. Giovanni also often visits the monk Cassandra, she convinces him of the need to believe in the old Olympic gods. A young man, frightened by the radical nature of the proposals of the “White Devil”, leaves her. The girl, rubbing herself with a magic ointment, flies to a witch’s assembly, where she becomes the wife of Lucifer-Dionysus.
The Duke of Moreau, the ruler of Florence, the feminine and sensualist, spends his days with his wife Beatrice and her mistresses Lucretia and Cecilia Bergamini. Louis Moro is facing a war with Naples, he is trying to enlist the support of the French King Charles VIII. In addition, he sends his rival Duke Gian-Galeazzo “poisoned” peaches, stolen from the garden of Leonardo.
Leonardo proposes to the Duke the construction of cathedrals, canals, but they seem too bold, so it is supposedly impossible to implement them. At the invitation of Gian-Galeazzo, he travels to him, to Pavia. In conversation with him, Leonardo reports that he is innocent of his friend’s illness, peaches were not poisoned at all. Jan-Galeazzo is dying. There are rumors in the people about Leonardo’s involvement in this death, that Leonardo is an atheist and a sorcerer. The master himself, meanwhile, is instructed to raise a nail to the dome of the church from the Cross of the Lord; Leonardo brilliantly copes with the task.
The sixth book of the novel is written in the form of a diary by Giovanni Beltraffio. The student reflects on his teacher, his behavior. Leonardo simultaneously creates both a terrible weapon, and a vile “Dionysian ear”, and writes “Evening,” and builds an aircraft. Leonardo seems to Giovanni something new Saint. Francis, then Antichrist. Under the influence of the hot sermons of the influential Savonarola, Giovanni departs from Leonardo to become a novice at Savonarola.
By the time Savonarola himself comes an offer from the slutty Pope Alexander VI Borgia to become a cardinal in exchange for refusing to criticize the papal court. Savonarola, not being frightened of excommunication, collects the “Holy Host” – in a crusade against the Pope Antichrist of Rome. Giovanni is a member of the Host. Doubts, however, do not leave him: after seeing the “Aphrodite” Botticelli, he again remembers the monk Cassandra.
The army smashes the palaces, burns the books, smashes the statues, breaks into the houses of the “wicked”. A huge fire is being built on which, among other things, Leonardo’s beautiful creation is burned – the picture “Leda and the Swan”. Giovanni, shocked, unable to observe this scene. Leonardo takes him out of the crowd; the student remains with the teacher.
Leonardo is present at a ball hosted simultaneously frivolous and insidious Duke Moro in honor of the new, 1497. The Duke rushes between his wife and his mistresses. Among the guests are Russian ambassadors, who are dissatisfied with the antiquity of the Italians. In a conversation with Leonardo, they argue that the Third Rome will be in Russia.
The pregnant duchess Beatrice, wife of Moreau, with the help of many tweaks obtains evidence of the connection of her husband with the favorites. From excitement she has premature births; cursing her husband, she dies. Shocked by circumstances, the duke, who had just been prophesied the golden age of reign, conducts a devout life for a year, not forgetting, however, his mistresses.
Savonarola, who lost the “fiery duel,” not daring to enter the fire, loses its influence; it is sent to prison, Leonardo also involved in the “fight scientist” at the court of Moro in the course of the conversation Leonardo scientifically explain the origin of the Earth’s listeners. Only the interference of the duke saves the artist from accusation of heresy.
French troops are entering Italy; Duke Moreau flees. His return is short-lived: soon he is taken prisoner. During the military operations, the soldier tries to smash the creations of Leonardo; “The Last Supper” is in a half-flooded room.
Leonardo writes new pictures, reveals the physical law of light reflection, participates in a dispute about the comparative merits of painting and poetry. At the invitation of Cesare Borgia, he comes to his service. On the way to Milan, the artist visits his native places, recalls childhood, years of apprenticeship, family.
In the road pub Leonardo gets acquainted with Niccolo Machiavelli; they talk for a long time about politics and ethics. Machiavelli believes that only such an unprincipled sovereign as Cesare Borgia can become an unifier of Italy. Leonardo doubts: in his opinion, true freedom is achieved not by murders and betrayals, but by knowledge. At the court of Cesare Borgia, Leonardo works a lot – he builds, draws, writes. Giovanni wanders around Rome, examines the fresco “The Coming of the Antichrist”, talks with the German Schweinitz about the reformation of the church.
Pope Alexander VI introduces censorship. After a while he dies. Cesare Borgia’s affairs are getting worse, the sovereigns, offended by him, unite against him and start a war.
Leonardo has to return to Florence and enter the service of the Gonfalonier Soderini. Before leaving, the artist meets Machiavelli again. Wandering around Rome, friends talk about their similarity, discuss how dangerous the discovery of new truths; looking at ancient ruins, talking about antiquity.
In 1505, Leonardo is occupied with a portrait of the mona Lisa Gioconda, in which he, without knowing, is in love. The portrait is similar to both the model and the author. During the sessions, the artist talks to the girl about Venus, remembering the forgotten ancient myths. Leonardo has rivals – the one who hates him is Michelangelo, the most talented Raphael. Leonardo does not want to compete with them, does not argue, he has his own way.
Last time seeing the mona Lisa, the artist tells her a mysterious tale of the Cave. The artist and the model are warmly forgiven. After a while, Leonardo learns that Gioconda died.
After the unsuccessful implementation of Leonardo’s next project – the construction of the canal – the master moves to Milan, where he meets his old friend – the anatomist Marco Antonio. Leonardo goes to work for Louis XII, wrote a treatise on anatomy.
By 1511 Giovanni Beltraffio again meets with his old familiar monk Cassandra. Outwardly, she observes Christian rites, but in fact she remains a pagan. Cassandra tells Giovanni that the Olympic gods will be resurrected, about the imminent death of Christianity. The girl shows Giovanni an emerald table, promising to explain the mysterious words inscribed on her some other time. But in Milan comes the fierce inquisitor Fra George; the hunt for witches begins; Capture and monk Cassandra. Together with the rest of the “witches” it is burned at the stake. Giovanni feels that the Devil has Hellenic roots, that he and Prometheus are one. In delirium, he sees Cassandra, who appears before him in the form of Aphrodite with the face of the Virgin Mary.
In Italy, all the time there is a civil war, the power is constantly changing. Leonardo, along with Giovanni and the new faithful disciple, Francesco, moves to Rome, to the court of the patron of the patron Leo X. The artist can not settle down here, in fashion Raphael and Michelangelo, who considers Leonardo a traitor and sets up a pope against him.
Once Giovanni Beltraffio is found hanged. After reading the diary of his pupil, Leonardo realizes that he passed away because he realized that Christ and the Antichrist are one.
Leonardo is poor, sick. Some disciples betray him, fleeing to Raphael. The artist himself admires the frescoes of Michelangelo with admiration, feeling, on the one hand, that he surpassed him, and on the other, that in his plans he, Leonardo, was stronger.
To avoid ridicule, inspired by the Pope himself, Leonardo goes to the service of the French Emperor Francis I. Here he is a success. The king gives him a castle in France. Leonardo works a lot, begins to write John the Baptist, similar to Androgin and Bacchus. Francis, visiting the studio of Leonardo, very expensive buys from the artist “Forerunner” and a portrait of Gioconda. Leonardo asks to leave the “Mona Lisa” with him until he dies. The king agrees.
At the celebrations on the occasion of the birth of the son’s son in France, a lot of guests come, including from Russia. The embassy has several icon painters. Many are “corrupted” by Western art, the idea of perspective, by various heresies. The Russians are discussing the “too human” Western painting, contrasting it with a strict Byzantine iconography, arguing whether to write icons on the “Original” or – as portraits. Eutychius, one of the masters, refers to the icon “Every breath let the Lord praise” pagan allegorical images. Leonardo examines icons, “Original”. Not recognizing these paintings for real painting, he feels that by faith they are much stronger than the western icons-portraits.
And not having built his flying machine, Leonardo dies. Eutychius, shocked by the “Forerunner” Leonardo, writes his own, completely different John – with wings that look like Leonardo’s flying machine. The icon-painter reads “The Tale of the Babylonian Kingdom”, foreshadowing the earthly kingdom of the Russian land, and “The Story of the White Hood” – about the future heavenly greatness of Russia. Eutychius reflects on the idea of the Third Rome.
In St. Petersburg in 1715, Tsarevich Alexey listens to the sermon of the old man Larion Dokukin, foreshadowing the phenomenon of the Antichrist and cursing Peter. Alexei promises him that with him everything will be different. He himself on this day must attend the festivities in the Summer Garden – on the occasion of the installation there of the statue of Venus. Wandering through the park, he encounters first with his father, then – he listens to the official Avramov, who claims that Christian faith is forgotten and that they are now worshiping the pagan gods. Tsar Peter himself unpacks the statue. This is the same Venus that the future emperor Julian used to pray and to which the disciple of Leonardo watched. All present must bow to Venus. A magnificent firework begins. On the barrels sail Petrine drinking companions – members of the All-Compassionate Council, vyryazhenny Bacchus. Ceremonial speeches are delivered. In the general conversation comes Avramov, who claims that the pagan gods are not just allegories, but living beings, namely demons. The conversation is about false miracles; Peter orders that they bring a supposedly miraculous icon, the secret of which he revealed; the king shows everyone the mechanism that allows the icon to “cry.” An experiment is being conducted. Thunder rumbles, a thunderstorm begins. People panic in panic; Alexei watches in horror as an abandoned icon is lying on the ground, nobody wants. Someone steps on it, it splits. People panic in panic; Alexei watches in horror as an abandoned icon is lying on the ground, nobody wants. Someone steps on it, it splits. People panic in panic; Alexei watches in horror as an abandoned icon is lying on the ground, nobody wants. Someone steps on it, it splits.
At the same time on the other bank of the Neva near the fire a company is sitting, consisting of klikush, runaway sailors, schismatics and other marginalized people. The conversation is about Peter, who is considered the Antichrist; interpreted Apocalypse. All hopes are placed on the meek heir – Tsarevich Alexei.
The talkers go home. Elder Cornelius calls his pupil Tikhon Zapolsky to flee Petersburg. Tikhon remembers conversations with his German teacher Gluck, his conversations with General Bruce about Newton’s comments on the Apocalypse. Gluck calls Tikhon to Stockholm – continue to follow the path of Peter. Tikhon chooses the East and leaves with the elder to seek the city of Kitezh.
Alexei visits the half-mad queen Marfa Matveevna, the widow of Fyodor Alekseevich. Here he receives letters from a mother who was forcibly tonsured into a nun. The prince is persuaded not to give up, to wait for his father’s death.
The third book is written in the form of a diary of the lady Arnheim – the maid of honor of the wife of Prince Charlotte. She is an enlightened German, familiar with Leibniz. In her diary she tries to understand how the savage barbarism can combine in the Russian tsar with the desire for Europeanization. Arnheim tells of the strange temper of Peter, about how Petersburg was built; writes about the relationship of the prince with his unloved wife. The diary includes a description of the death and funeral of Marfa Matveevna, the last Russian queen. New Russia is burying the old, Petersburg – Moscow.
There is also a diary of Alexei himself, in which he laments about the substitution of Lutheranism for Orthodoxy, comments on Peter’s decrees, writes about the situation of the church under Peter the Antichrist.
Despite the warning about the flood, Petr arranges an assembly in the Apraksin’s house. In the midst of conversations with Archimandrite Theodosius, calling to close the monasteries and destroy icon-worship with various heresiarchs and other haters of Orthodoxy, water rushes into the house. Peter participates in the salvation of people. After spending a lot of time in cold water, the king is very cold. There are rumors that he is dying. To the prince, heir, now and then are different officials with assurances of their loyalty. O. Yakov Ignatiev insists that Alexei does not back down.
The king is recovering; he knows everything about the son’s behavior during illness. At confession, Aleksey’s confessor Fr. Yakov releases the sin of the desire of death for the father to the Tsarevich, but Alexei himself feels that the church depends on politics; his conscience is unclean. Peter is angry with his son, threatens with the loss of inheritance. Alexei asks him to send him to the monastery, but Peter realizes that this will not solve the problem: he offers his son either to “correct” or threatens to “cut off like an ud gangrene.”
Peter is abroad; Alexei goes to Moscow, wanders around the abandoned Kremlin, recalls his childhood, the history of his relationship with his father, his feelings for him – from love to hatred and horror. In a dream, he sees himself walking with Christ, and a whole horde of Antichrist with his father at the head. Alexei understands that he sees the Worship of the world to the Beast, the Whore, and Ham to the Coming One.
Peter summons his son to his home in Copenhagen; he goes, but on the road decides to flee and turns to Italy, where, together with his mistress, Euphrosyneus lives under the auspices of the Austrian Caesar, hiding from his father. In Naples, Alexei wrote senators to St. Petersburg anonymous letters against Peter. In his mistress Alexei suddenly recognizes the ancient Venus – White Devil. Frightened, he nevertheless decides to bow to her.
Peter sends to Italy the “Russian Machiavellus” Peter Tolstoy and Count Rumyantsev. Those threats and promises achieve that Alexei will return home. In his father’s letter he is completely forgiven.
Peter at the zenith of glory. His dream is to implement Leibniz’s idea: to make Russia a connecting link between Europe and China. The diary reminds him of his boldness of the diary of Leonardo da Vinci.
Learning that the son is returning, the tsar hesitates for a long time, what to do with him: to execute Alexei means to ruin oneself, to forgive – to destroy Russia. Peter chooses Russia.
Peter deprives the son of the right of succession to the throne. He reminds Alexei of his connections with his disgraced mother, about preparing a riot. Alexey sees his father as a manifest Antichrist. Peter grabs all those involved in the case of Alexei, he forces him to confess to torture; followed by mass executions. The new bishop Theophanes Prokopovich preaches “On the power and honor of the tsar.” Alexei bitterly listens to the voice of the church completely suppressed by the state of Peter the Great. Larion Dokukin again opposes Peter, this time openly. Peter tiredly objects to him, then orders him to be arrested.
Book ninth, “Red Death”, tells of the life of the young Tikhon in the schismatic skete. Skitnica Sophia calls Tikhon to self-immolation; Through the face of Sophia the Wisdom of God, the seductive face of the earth can also be seen. In one of the conversations a certain elder says that the Antichrist is not Peter – the real one will take God’s throne with love and affection and then it will be terrible.
Tikhon is present at the schismatic “fraternal gathering”. Fathers are cursing because of rituals “in the same way as in the days of Julian the Apostate at the church councils at the court of the Byzantine emperors.” Spoiling pacifies only the news that the village is a “team” – to smash the dissenters. Skeet is going to arrange a mass self-immolation. Tikhon tries to get away from him, but Sophia, giving himself up to the young man, persuades him to accept the Red Death. In the fire, the old man Cornelius leaves the flame through the underground passage, taking with him and Tikhon. The one, disappointed by the old man’s hypocrisy, runs blue.
Alexei Tsarevich anticipates a speedy death, drinks a lot, is afraid of his father and at the same time hopes for forgiveness. At the next interrogation it turns out that Euphrosinya, Aleksey’s lover, betrayed him. Enraged by this betrayal and the fact that their newborn child, apparently, was killed by order of Peter, Alex admits that he was plotting a rebellion against his father. Peter severely beats his son. The Church does not hinder the future execution of Alexei; the king understands that all responsibility is on him.
At the trial, Alexei calls his father a perjurer, the Antichrist, and curses him. Then, under torture, signs all the charges against himself. He is tortured further, especially Peter himself is cruel. Even before the official execution, Alexei dies of torture.
Peter sails through the stormy sea, it seems to him that the waves are blood-red. Nevertheless, he remains firm: “Do not be afraid,” he says to the helmsman, “our new ship is strong – it will withstand the storm, God is with us!”
Tikhon Zapolsky, having left the old man, becomes a member of the heretical sect, whose teaching is similar to paganism, and the rituals to Dionysian. But the young man can not stand, when on one of the rites an innocent baby should be killed. Tikhon revolts, and only the intervention of soldiers rescues him from reprisals. Sectarians are mercilessly executed; Tikhon is granted forgiveness; he lives at Feofan Prokopovich – a librarian. Listening to the conversations of the educated guests of Theophanes, the young man understands that this way – of enlightened faith – leads, more likely, to atheism. Tikhon leaves and from here and along with sectarians-runners gets on Valaam. At some point, he feels that the pious monks he met here can not explain everything to him. Tikhon leaves. In the forest, however, he meets an old man Ivanushka, at the same time the apostle John. He proclaims the Third Testament – the Kingdom of the Spirit. Tikhon, who has become faithful, becomes the first son of the new church of John, the Thunder of the Flying, and goes to bring people the light that has appeared to him. The last words in the novel are Tikhon’s exclamation: “Hosanna, the Christ will overcome the Antichrist.”