Archimedes Excerpts

Excerpt from Scene 2

Two guards lead Kleptis into the king’s court.

 Hieron                There is the goldsmith. Or should I say the silversmith. Our court has heard rumours that you have stolen some of the gold you were entrusted with.

Elder 1                Please, sir, if you have done any wrong, speak truthfully to the court here assembled.

Kleptis                 I would not dream of lying to this esteemed gathering. Our noble king, god-like Hieron, who is worthy of the highest praise that one can bestow on a man, commissioned me to design and build Apollo’s crown. This celebrated man, under whose spell the men, and women, of Syracuse have fallen, and who has already done so many favours for our city-state, has honoured me greatly.

Elder 2                A man who is over zealous in paying tribute often has something to hide.

Kleptis                 I would not dream of keeping his gold. I took it, fashioned it with my own hands into an object worthy of praise, and now it is ready.

Hieron                 And what of the rumours?

Kleptis                Am I being detained by the power of idle marketplace gossip and tales whispered quietly on street corners? Have I not been loyal to the king? Have I not worked tirelessly for Syracuse? Who constructed these swords and shields? Who built Archimedes’s magnificent weapons?

Elder 3                Sir, good deeds done in the past do not excuse sins carried out in the present.

Symbolos           No one is denying the work you have done since you came back to Syracuse, but for all these you have been well paid. Tell us plainly, have you kept any of the gold pieces that were given to you?

Kleptis                 I have not, and it distresses me deeply to see the king so upset about this matter.

Hieron                 This man steals from me and now he fills this court with lies.

Elder 1                We must do everything we can to find the truth of the matter.

Kleptis                Wise words from the elders. But it is not wise to allow your anger to consume you and cloud your judgements. Lock me away after you have established my guilt. For now, let me return to my home.

Hieron                 (after a moment) Release him! (Kleptis exits)

Herald                 (coming in from stage left) Sire, Archimedes has arrived.

Hieron                 Bring him in. (Archimedes enters while the king continues…) But I decree right here and now that this man will not be given any more work by the palace. The elders may think it unfair that a man be punished if his guilt has not been established, but we do not have to have this lying thief in our employ any longer.

Gelon                  Welcome, Archimedes. Have you heard the news?

Archimedes       King Hieron, Prince Gelon, esteemed elders, I have heard rumours that some gold has been stolen from the palace. Do we know how the gold went missing?

Gelon                  We are looking into it now.

Hieron                 Kleptis stole the gold! (Archimedes is shocked)

Archimedes       Kleptis! No!

Hieron                 He substituted some of the gold he was given for silver and used the gold-silver mixture to make the crown. (Archimedes looks on shaking his head in disbelief)

Archimedes        I find it hard to believe that Kleptis has stolen any of the gold. He is an honourable man, King Hieron, and we have worked together on many occasions building machines to benefit Syracuse.

Hieron                 He may have been honourable, but no longer, it seems. He must be punished.

Archimedes       He is no thief, King. He is a widower and he has an only, most beautiful, daughter, who would be grieved excessively if any harm came to him, even though he were innocent.

Hieron                 (to himself) Yes, and I recall his wife was most beautiful, too. (back to the court) However, if he has stolen from me he will be hanged. Can you find out if the crown is made of pure gold? Is there any science that can determine the constitution of this crown without melting it down?

Archimedes        I will look into the matter. But do you need to suspend his work commitments to the palace?

Hieron                 No, we should suspend him too; with a rope around his neck! (Archimedes grips his own neck in horror)

Archimedes        I will try, my king, to establish his innocence.

Hieron                 His innocence?

Archimedes       That is, whether he is innocent or not.

Hieron                 (looking at him suspiciously) Good. And when you have devised a method, tell me immediately. You will, in one stroke, prove the impurity of the crown and that of its creator. This man must not be allowed to get away with this crime.

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Excerpt from Scene 6 (Archimedes has just explained the Science of buoyancy)

Archimedes      We just need a block of gold that weighs the same as the crown. Silver is a lighter metal than gold, so if there’s any in the crown, it will have a greater volume than pure gold, a greater water force and the scales will tip up.

Heracleides      So what are we waiting for? Let’s go tell the king.

Archimedes     Yes, let’s go tell the king!

Diakonos         Master, what if Kleptis did steal the gold? (Archimedes pauses for a moment)

Heracleides     What if…? (He looks at the other two who aren’t saying much) Archimedes, what is going on? What do you mean “what if Kleptis did steal the gold?”

Archimedes     All this time I had not even considered the possibility. I pride myself on being logical, but love had blinded me.

Heracleides     Archimedes, are you trying to protect this man? From the king?

Archimedes     I am in love with his daughter.

Heracleides     The king’s daughter?

Archimedes    Artemisia. I was planning to marry her…before this affair arose.

Heracleides     (after a moment he starts to laugh) Archimedes, the great Archimedes, in love with a thief’s daughter; you should be marrying a princess!

Archimedes     I need to find out the composition of the crown in secret. If he is innocent, I can then show the king, but even if the gold proves to be as impure as he is, I can’t betray my own father-in-law.

Heracleides     And yet, you will betray your king.

Archimedes     (pause) I don’t want Kleptis to be executed.

Heracleides    Why not? If he has stolen from the king—from the citizens of Syracuse—he deserves to be punished. And why should our school have to close down because of him? But tell me, Archimedes, is it Kleptis you’re worried about, or losing Artemisia?

Archimedes    We still have two days. Heracleides, I need your help.

Heracleides    Will you dare hide your discovery from the king? He has given you express orders to notify him immediately of any discovery you make.

Archimedes    Sometimes we must be brave and strong, and be prepared to break the laws of our king to do what we think is right by our family. (This is in direct contrast to their conversation in Scene 5)

Heracleides     So all of a sudden you see the benefit of studying classical literature! (with a strong hint of irony, which he relishes) But Archimedes, should our idea of right and wrong be influenced by who our relatives are?  What if the King was your father-in-law? Would you act differently?

Archimedes     (defeated, sighs) Will you help me? (Heracleides sighs and nods okay)

Diakonos         What will we do, Archimedes? You will need the king’s permission to remove the crown from the temple. He may want to come with you to see your test.

Heracleides    No problem! A dance troupe is going to the palace today at the eighth hour to entertain the king. That will be a good distraction. We will arrive shortly before them. He will not want to miss out on his entertainment.

Archimedes     (chuckling) A man’s weaknesses should always be exploited. I will convince the king to let us have the crown, Diakonos, and we will get some pure gold from the treasury. Now, rush over to Kleptis’s house and tell him that I have found a way of testing the crown. We will then go to the palace.