Thursday, October 22, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

45 Tiresias Revenge (V)

This blog continues a play called “Tiresias Revenge”.

The play runs from blog 40 through 47. I wrote it many years ago using various sources for the text of King Oedipus, all scholarly books as I remember. Who would read this stuff? Nevertheless, I hope you read it. The people of Latvia and their descendants abroad should find it interesting and pertaining to them. For blogs discussing populism, go to blog 40 or before and following 47.

Scene Four

(The stage remains unchanged. Enter messenger from Corinth.)

Messenger: Good day, dear people.
Is this Latvia?
Is this where King Oedipus lives?

Chorus: Welcome to Latvia stranger.
The king is with us.

Messenger: Will someone ask him to receive me?
I have important news concerning his father.

Chorus (obviously surprised): Already! Gods!
We have been waiting for you.
Who are you? Where are you from?

Messenger: I’m from Lithuania.

Chorus: Guards! Call King Oedipus!
There is important news from Lithuania.

(Enter King Oedipus.)

King Oedipus: News from Kaunas is always welcome.
How are its King and Queen?

Messenger: King Oedipus!
May children love you to the end of time.
Humankind will not forget your deeds.
May forget-me-nots bloom in your remembrance.
I beg your forgiveness.
I bring news of sorrow.

King Oedipus: I already have plenty of sorrows.
Do you not have something better?

Messenger: Yes, of course.
When the Sun shines behind the clouds,
it rings its fleece with gold.

King Oedipus: It is a fair sight.
But is it more than speech?

Messenger: Yes, King Oedipus!
The citizens of Lithuania want
you to be their king.
I’ve been sent in the hope
I will return with news you accept.

King Oedipus: What has happened to the king?

Messenger: King Oedipus, this part of the message
will bring you sadness:
The King of Lithuania, your father, is dead.

King Oedipus: Gods! What did he die of?

Messenger: When one is old,
even a small matter may cause death.

Chorus (interrupting): King Oedipus, excuse me!
If the news is painful, it is also good.
Your kingdom is doubled!
Latvia will be twice the size it is presently.
This is the answer to our prayers from the Gods.

King Oedipus: Guards, go call the Queen!
Messenger, your news is good indeed.
No disrespect, I love my father,
but the cloud is indeed gold edged.
You will surely get your share of it.

(Enter Queen Iocasta.)

Queen Iocasta, the King of Lithuania,
my father, has died.

Queen Iocasta: I sorrow for him and you.

King Oedipus: The citizens of Lithuania
want me to be their king.

Queen Iocasta: Did I not say all will be well?

King Oedipus (suddenly crestfallen):
I almost forgot.
How could I forget!
I mean, the other half of the witch’s story.
Messenger! Go back where you came from.
Thank your people for their trust in me,
but I cannot accept their offer.

Queen Iocasta: Oedipus, forget stories told by witches.
The witches are gone with the Sphinx.

King Oedipus: It is well only
if my mother were dead, too.

Chorus: King, think what you say.

Queen Iocasta: I thought you called me to hear good news.

King Oedipus: I had forgotten the curse.

Messenger: King Oedipus,
I do not understand.
Did you mention your mother?
What curse?

King Oedipus: Yes, my mother.
Yes, a curse.

Messenger: What makes you fear your mother?
She always speaks kindly of you.

King Oedipus: I fear an old curse.
Your visit brings it to mind.

Messenger: I beg a thousand forgivenesses.
But if it is not a secret,
what is the curse?

King Oedipus: A long time ago a witch came
with a prophecy
that I would bed my mother
and spill my father’s blood.

Queen Iocasta: The message from Kaunas
proves the curse has no weight.
You are soon king of two kingdoms.
As for sleeping with your mother,
many sons taken from their mother’s breast too soon,
dream bedding with her as grown men.

Messenger: Is that what you fear?

King Oedipus: I did not want to kill my father.
I did not want to bed my mother.
That is why I sought my fortune
elsewhere than Lithuania.

Messenger: Great King, let me ease your mind.

King Oedipus: Do if you can.
Else I will never come near Kaunas.

Messenger: King, you have been told lies.
Your fears have no basis.

King Oedipus: How can that be?
Dare you contradict me?

Messenger: The King and Queen of Lithuania
were not your real parents.
Though you are their heir,
you are their stepson by a mother unknown.

King Oedipus: I just promised you gold
and you are already betting your neck.

Messenger: I swear this is true.
The King and Queen of Lithuania
had no children of their own.
Then the Gods put you in my arms.
And I put you in theirs.

King Oedipus: What is this?
You put me in their arms?
Who put me in yours?

Messenger: A friend of mine,
a goatherd.
He found you on the mountain ridge
of Mt. Citheron,
between Riga and Shauliai.
I took you and carried you to our city.

King Oedipus: How did I, how did you
happen on the mountain?

Messenger: When I was young, I was a goatherd, too.
You were left in the mountains
as an offering to the Sphinx.
My friend found you and withdrew the loop
that bound your ankles.

King Oedipus: Who did such a thing?

Messenger: Child sacrifice was not uncommon then.
Such offerings were made by many
to summon favor from the Gods.
People in despair did it.
So did kings—to test the favor of their Gods
and so the people would know.

King Oedipus: Is your friend still alive?

Messenger: He was a goatherd working for King Laius.
The people of Riga can better tell where he lives.
There must be people who remember him.

King Oedipus: Iocasta, do you remember?
Did you know of such a goatherd?

Queen Iocasta: Since when, King Oedipus,
do you have messengers tell you what to do?
Leave be.
You know how rumor undermines our city.

King Oedipus: But if the goatherd is alive,
I will learn the truth.
He may still have the loop
that bound my ankles.

Queen Iocasta: Oedipus, be serious.
Leave be.

King Oedipus: I must learn
whether I am the son of a whore or a king.

Queen Iocasta: Oedipus, do not continue this.

King Oedipus: Messenger, was the loop made of gold
or was it a twig of a willow branch?

Messenger: I did not see or think to ask.

Queen Iocasta: King Oedipus,
I wish only the best.
Leave this matter be.

King Oedipus: I have not asked
for your advice on this.

Queen Iocasta: A king in too much of a hurry
may leave the Gods behind
and discover himself beset by doubt.

King Oedipus: You, guards,
go find the goatherd.
If he lives, bring him to me.

Queen Iocasta: Oedipus, why don’t you listen?
Why do you stick your head
in the maw of the Sphinx?

Chorus (aside): Did I not save you from it once already?

King Oedipus (in mock tones recites a childrens’ ditty):
When a goatherd dies,
the billy climbs up,
up into the clouds
to asks the Gods, please
return me my master—
else I, too, must die.
The Gods tell the billy:
Away! Away! Billy,
you have no beard of gold .
You’re but a goat.

(Exit Queen Iocasta in obvious distress.)

Chorus: Something unpleasant will come of this.

King Oedipus: I will learn of my past.
The children of whores were bought for sacrifice.
But perhaps I wore a golden wire.
Perhaps I was of royal blood.

Strophe: Who bore you, child?

Antistrophe: Who was your mother?
Was she a virgin surprised by a goatherd?
Was it the night?
Was the goatherd seduced by a whore?
Was your mother taken by a king?

Chorus: Why did the king not take the queen’s advice?
It was she who made him king.
She was a queen before he was a king.
It was she who agreed to marry him
and make him king.

[Enter Iananna, the nurse of Princess Ismene (see Prologue)].
She runs, screams.]

Iananna: O Gods! O Gods!
How terrible! The horror!
Polynices and Eteokles stalk each other
with spears in hand.
Where is the King?
Oedipus, your sons, your twins!
Where is the Queen?
Iocasta, your twins!
Hurry! Help!

Scene Five next.

These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you have read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.

If you copy this blog for your own files, or to be forwarded, or its content is otherwise mentioned, please credit the author and

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