The Story of the Judge

  1. The Story of the Judge

The singer tells the story of Azdak the city judge and many of his unusual rulings. The Grand Duke pretends to be a beggar and seeks refuge in Azdak’s house. Azdak notices that the ‘beggar’ eats and licks cheese like a Grand Duke. He also notices that the fugitive’s hands are white and he accuses him of being a swindler. The fugitive offers to pay him a hundred thousand piasters not to be exposed but Azdak turns it down.

When a local policeman, Shauwa, comes to look for the Prince’s rabbit, Azdak tells him to arrest him for catching a man. He, however, does not expose the fugitive at this point. Later, though, he discovers that the man he has been hiding, and has allowed to escape, is the Grand Duke. He feels guilty and considers himself a traitor. He orders Shauwa to take him to the Capital – Nuka – for trial.

In Nuka, the city judge has been hanged. Azdak narrates to the ironshirts the story of ‘Too Long a War’ and sings the ‘Song of Injustice in Persia’. The story and the song reflect the consequences of war in Persia and the injustice in Nuka and Grusinia. The ironshirts unchain Azdak and they all start drinking.

The Fat Prince arrives with his nephew, Bizergan Kazbeki, whom he wants appointed as City Judge. Azdak proposes that the nephew be first tested on his knowledge of the law. In a play within a play, Azdak plays the part of the Grand Duke who is brought in front of the nephew for judgment. The ironshirts are so impressed by Azdak that they choose him as Judge instead of the Fat Prince’s nephew.

The era of Azdak as judge is considered the ‘age of justice’. He makes controversial judgments mostly in favour of the poor. He never refers to the book of law and because of this he becomes popular among the poor but hated by the rich.

Later, it is revealed that the Grand Duke is back in power and the Fat Prince has been arrested and beheaded. Azdak is fearful that the rich, who he has denied justice, will want to get their revenge. Natella arrives with the adjutant to seek justice for her child who has been stolen by a servant. Azdak promises to have the servant beheaded but Natella does not believe him.

Discussion points

  • Do you agree with Azdak’s judgment in this case? Why or why not?
  • What is the importance of having a lawyer in a court of law?

5. The chalk circle

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