Friday, October 23, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

46 Tiresias Revenge (VI)

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, then return read from #40 on up.

Scene Five

(The stage as before. Enter guards with goatherd.)

Guard: King Oedipus, here is your man.

King Oedipus: An old bony goat, is he not?
No matter. All I need is pluck his memory.

Strophe: We sacrificed our children,
then built Riga to their memory.
The city was sacred to us.
But sacrifice has ended now.
The Gods are offered a goat instead.
Poor goat! Betrayed Gods!

Antistrophe: Death comes when it will.
We die unknowing into unknowing.
We leave behind yet more unknowing.

King Oedipus: You, messenger from Lithuania!
Is this the man you spoke of?

Messenger: It is.

King Oedipus: Old man, what is your name?
Were you a goatherd working for King Laius?

Goatherd: My name is Gans.
Some call me Yahn. I was.

King Oedipus: Where did you herd the goats?

Gans: It was some distance from here,
near Latvia’s border with Lithuania,
in the dales of Mt. Citheron.

King Oedipus: Yahn, did you ever meet the man
standing next to me?

Yahn: I don’t know.
I don’t remember.

Messenger: King, it happened a long time ago.
The man is old. But he knows the mountains well.
He had two herds of goats. I had one.
We herded in adjacent valleys for three years
from summer until autumn.
When winter came,
he drove his herd to King Laius’ barns.
Was that not so, old friend?

Yahn: Yes, now that you remind me of it.

Messenger: Do you remember the time, Yahn,
when you handed me a child
and asked me to bring it to Kaunas?

Yahn (the other name of John, the herder):
What makes you ask?

Messenger: Old friend, here he is.
Here is the king who was that child.

Yahn: Death take you!
As John is my undertaker,
I do not believe it.

King Oedipus: Do you fault me for being your king?

Yahn: Best of kings, it was but an expression.

King Oedipus: It evaded an answer.

Yahn: King, what do you expect?
My friend knows nothing.
When he was a boy,
I was fifty or more.

King Oedipus: Do you know pain, Yahn?

Yahn: King, don’t do me ill.
I am a faithful citizen of Latvia.
Why else would King Laius have
trusted me with his herds?

King Oedipus: Guards!
Bend the man’s arm.

Yahn: All, help me!

King Oedipus: You handed this man a child,
who was a boy, me, is that not so?

Yahn: Gods! Riga! Would I have died that day.

King Oedipus: I can arrange for it yet.

Yahn: If kings refuse to die,
I refuse to do better.

King Oedipus: This bag of skin is a stubborn Billy.

Yahn: I am a citizen of Latvia
born in my own house.
I gave you my answer:
I was already in years,
when he was but getting to nine.

King Oedipus: Where did you find the child?
Who gave the child to you?
Did a twig or a wire of gold bind my ankles?

Yahn: There was a gold wire.
I sold it double its price.

King Oedipus: Whose child was I?

Yahn: You were not mine.
I only passed you to another.

King Oedipus: Who was it?
Was it someone standing here?

Yahn: The way you ask questions,
upsets me, King.

King Oedipus: If you delay answering,
consider yourself dead.

Yahn: If you kill me,
will your authority over yourself
continue to be as great as now?

King Oedipus: You are suicidal.

Yahn: Once you were a king’s son.
I am not sure who you are now.

King Oedipus: How come you know so much?

Yahn: I know it from her, King Oedipus.

King Oedipus: Her? Who is ‘her’?

(Tiresias appears at the back of the stage. He crawls on all fours, obviously mortally wounded. His face and dress are splotched with blood. The Chorus makes a half turn as if to wait for the goatherd’s answer, but sees Tiresias instead. The Chorus gasps. Even so, the goatherd drowns out the chorus.)

Yahn: Your mother and wife!

King Oedipus: What?! How dare you!

Yahn: I dare you to threaten me more.
In your first years of life,
your mother often visited you.
Perhaps you have not been told,
but the Queen of Lithuania, Merope, is your aunt.
She and your stepfather, King Polybus, were
a man and a woman without children of their own.
They needed a gift from the Gods.
They took you in and raised you as their own.

King Oedipus: How muddled can old age get!
The mind grows hairy. How awful!

Yahn: King Laius put you up for sacrifice to the Gods
as was the custom for princes since King Cadmus.
Had you survived the night,
you would have proven yourself
a worthy heir. But your mother feared
you might die.
She did not believe death was a thing
her son should risk.
There was snow in the mountains.
She begged King Laius to leave
a straw doll in your place.

King Oedipus (pointing at Tiresias, but not reacting to the fact the old priest is bleeding):
Look! There crawls your twin in fate.

Chorus: Dear Gods!

Scene Five continues on next blog.

These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you 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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