The Testament of Avt'handil to King Rostevan When He Stole Away
786
HE sat down to write the will, thus piteously inditing:
"0 king! I have stolen away in quest of him I must seek.
I cannot remain sundered from him, the kindler of my fires.
Forgive me and be merciful to me like as God.
787
"I KNOW that in the end thou wilt not blame this my
resolve. A wise man cannot abandon his beloved friend.
I venture to remind thee of the teaching of a certain
discourse made by Plato: 'Falsehood and two-facedness
injure the body and the soul.'
788
"SINCE lying is the source of all misfortunes, why should
I abandon my friend, a brother by a stronger tie than born
brotherhood ? I will not do it! What avails me the
knowledge of the philosophizing of the philosophers!
Therefore are we taught that we may be united with the
choir of the heavenly hosts.
789
"THOU hast read how the apostles write of love, how
they speak of it, how they praise it; know thou it and
harmonize thy knowledge: 'love exalteth us,' this is as it
were the tinkling burden of their song; if thou conceive not
this how can I convince ignorant men ?
790
"HE who created me, even He gave me power to overcome
foes; He who is the invisible Might, the Aid of every
earthly being, who fixes the bounds of the finite, sits
immortal God as God, He can in one moment change a
hundred into one and one into a hundred.
791
"WHAT God wills not will not become fact. The violet
fades, the rose withers, if they cannot gaze on the sunbeams;
every lovely thing is desirable for the eye to gaze on. How
can I endure the lack of him, or how can life please me!
792
"HOWEVER angry thou art, forgive me that I have not
kept your command; enthralled, I had no power to fulfil it.
No! To go was the remedy for the flaming of my furnaces.
Wherever I may be, what matters it to me if I have but my
freewill ?
793
"SADNESS avails thee not, nor useless flow of tears. The
deed which is inevitably decreed above cannot be avoided.
It is a law with men that they should struggle and suffer
woes, and no creature of flesh hath power to thwart
Providence.
794
"WHATEVER God has predestined to come to pass upon
me let it be fulfilled, and when I return my heart will no
longer remain ashes. May I see you also joyful in majesty
and manifold wealth. What I can do for him is my glory,
and this is sufficient booty for me.
795
"0 KING, this is my decision. Slay me! if anyone can
disapprove! 0 king, can it be that my going grieves thee!
I cannot be false, I cannot do a cowardly deed; he would
shame me when we meet face to face in that eternity
whereto we both shall come.
796
"MINDFULNESS of a friend ne'er doeth us harm.
I despise the man who is shameless, false and treacherous.
I cannot be false; I cannot do it for a mighty king. What is
worse than a hesitant, tardy-going man!
797
"WHAT is worse than a man in the fight with a frowning
face, shirking, affrighted and thinking of death! In what is
a cowardly man better than a woman weaving a web! It is
better to get glory than all goods!
798
"A NARROW road cannot keep back Death, nor a rocky
one; by him all are levelled, weak and strong-hearted; in
the end the earth unites in one place youth and greybeard.
Better a glorious death than shameful life!
799
"AND now I fear, 0 king, to make this request to you:
mistaken, mistaken is he who expects not death
momentarily; it which unites us all comes alike by day and
by night. If I see thee not living, life will be fleeting for me.
800
"IF the passing world, the destroyer of all, destroy me,
an orphan I shall die travelling, unmourned by parent, nor
will those who brought me up, nor the friend whom I trust,
enshroud me; then indeed will your merciful, tender heart
have pity on me.
801
"I HAVE countless possessions weighed by none: Give the
treasure to the poor, free the slaves; enrich every orphan
without means; they will be grateful to me, remember me,
bless me; I shall be thought of.
802
. "WHATEVER is not worthy of being kept in your
treasury, give part to build orphan homes, part to build
bridges; be not sparing in the spending of mine estate for
me; T have none save thee to quench the hot fires.
803
"HENCEFORTH thou shalt learn no more news from me,
herewith I commit my soul to thee; this letter tells thee so,
without flattering thee; the devil's deeds shall not seduce
my soul, it will prevail; forgive me and pray for me; what
can be exacted from me dead ?
804
"I ENTREAT thee, 0 king, for Shermadin my chosen
servant. This year he hath an added day1 of grief. Comfort
him with the favour I was wont to favour him withal; make
not the tears to flow from his eyes welling with blood.
1 In Georgian naki, the extra day in leap year.
805
"MY testament is ended, written by mine own hand.
Behold, mine upbringer, I have parted from thee; I am gone
away with maddened heart. Let not the sovereigns be
grieved for my sake, be ye not clad in gloom, but be ye in
your sovereignty feared by foes."
806
WHEN he had made an end of writing he gave the will to
Shermadin. He said: "Convey this wisely to the king; none
can excel thee in any service." He embraced him and wept
over him bloody-hued tears.