When all the testimony had been given, Tiberius turned to Pilate and asked, “Well, do you have anything to say?”
Pilate was silent, but Procla spoke up. “It's true, O' majestic Caesar, that my husband has been quite strict in his governorship, but I’m the one to blame for it. I saw him initially as too weak and have been coaxing him all along to be stricter with the people.”
“Well then," came the gruff answer, "you shall share in his punishment.”
“But, Your Excellency, may I ask, why Rome is concerned with people like the Jews and the Samaritans? Rome is the great conqueror and has the right to rule harshly if she chooses, does she not?”
Tiberius coughed. “You're right up to a point. But Rome also has its reputation to consider. We don't want the rest of the world to think that we are barbarians, now do we? To rule strictly is one thing, but your husband has taken it too far, and I cannot allow his outrageous cruelties to continue or to go unpunished, lest other rulers think they can do the same. I sentence you both to exile in Vienna, Gaul.”
“But, Your Majesty,” she protested, “Please give us another chance. If you allow us to go back to Caesarea, I will make sure my husband changes his policies.”
Tiberius laughed. “You say that now, but how do I know I can trust you? No, my verdict stands—banishment to Gaul.”
“I can't believe it. I'm put out to pasture already, and just because of trying to follow your advice and become a stronger ruler.”
“It does seem quite ironic, dear. But anyway, think of it as a well-deserved vacation.”
“I guess I do need the rest anyway.”
“Yes, dear, you've been working too hard lately.”
A few days later:
“I can't stand it! I'm so bored. There's nothing to do here.”
“But Pilate, dear, you should enjoy the rest, after all the work you've been doing. Relax! It's just you and me here. —No more of those stupid cases for you to rule on."
“I know, dear. But at least the work —the cases— helped me to forget.”
“Forget about what, dear?”
“About all the people I treated wrongly. About those Samaritans I had routed for no good reason, about the Jews I disrespected and ill-treated, but most of all, about him!”
“About whom, dear?”
“About Jesus of Nazareth.”
“You're not still thinking about him, are you dear?”
“I can't get him out of my mind.”
“Oh, Pilate, dear, what am I going to do with you? Come here. I’ll make you forget.”
She did, but not for long. That night, Pilate woke up screaming: “Take Jesus, not Barabbas!”
“Pilate! For the Gods' sake—”
“This man is innocent!” he yelled at the top of his lungs.
She slapped him on the face. “Pilate! Snap out of it! It's over and done with! Forget about it.”
And thus it was, that one morning a few days later, his wife, Procla awakened to find that her husband was not beside her in the bed. She went to look for him and found him in the hallway of the soldiers' quarters with a spear in his hand. He was yelling uncontrollably. “He was innocent. Why did they choose Barabbas? He was innocent!”
“Pontius Pilate!” she called. “Stop this and come back to bed this instant!”
“No!” he yelled, at the top of his voice. “I ordered his death, and he was innocent!”
“Pilate! Can't you forget about that? You washed your hands of it, remember?”
He looked at his hands. “Yes, I did, didn't I?” He was silent and calm for a minute, thinking, and she started to walk toward him with her hands out to grab the spear. But then, suddenly, he held the spear tighter and yelled again “But can all the water of all the rivers of the world wash the stain of this guilt?”
“O' Pilate!” she exclaimed. “You're mad!”
“Mad, am I?” he snarled. “I was mad to follow your suggestions of being a stronger ruler. Look what it got me—exiled to this God-forsaken place where I have nothing to do but live with the memories of an ill-spent life!”
“What do you mean ‘an ill-spent life’? I think your life was quite well spent. You did settle a lot of cases and bring justice to a lot of people.”
“I made a lot of rulings. Whether they were just or not is another question. And now it's all over, and I'm left to rot away here on this miserable rock like some sort of criminal with nothing to do but constantly remember my failures. Well, I can’t stand it and won't stand it any longer!” With that he held out the spear and fell upon it, letting out a long piercing yell.
She screamed also. “Oh, no, no, my Pilate, NO!”
In a moment all was silent, as his limp body fell to the floor, and her scream turned into silent sobbing.
Procla sent for the guards, told them what had happened and sent a note to Tiberius asking to be returned to Caesarea. Tiberius replied that he would mercifully end her banishment and return her to
Palestine, but that the only ships available were those bound for Jerusalem. From there she would have to find her own way to Caesarea, if she desired.
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