Saturday, October 24, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

47 Tiresias Revenge (VII)

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? Yech! 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 Five (Continued)

(Tiresias crawls forward.)

Tiresias: Do you, King Oedipus,
really believe that a man untested by fate
has an eye for truth and is worthy to be King?
You may pretend,
but unless you offer
yourself in self-sacrifice,
Latvia will lose respect for truth
and live in a world out of touch.
A plague plagues Latvia,
because of you, King Oedipus.
You killed not only our Gods,
but King Laius, your father, to top it.
To cleanse the world of your crime,
you must offer your life in payment.
You have not done so.

King Oedipus: I rescued Latvia’s children from the Sphinx.
All Latvians are grateful to me.
What do you mean, I killed my father?

Tiresias: You were born,
King Oedipus, son to a king
to be his heir if you had accepted
the sacrificial role of a God.
This is how cities are made and people bonded.
We, even I whose eyes you destroyed—
welcomed and welcome still
your rescue of our children.
But you refused further responsibility.
You have not kept your promises
to keep Latvia a country
that serves its people.
You have no authority over us,
but such as you may coerce from us.
You are no living memorial to your forebears.
I am come to call you
unworthy of such great glory.

King Oedipus: Monster theologian!

Tiresias: Had you survived on the mountaintop,
you would have had claim
to become King Laius’ heir.
Instead, your mother feared for you.
When I carried you to the mountain,
she screamed as one who had near lost her mind.

King Oedipus: You took me to be sacrificed?

Tiresias: As tradition required and
as your father asked me to do.
Your mother insisted I let her watch over you.
I agreed—if she sat naked
and offered herself to the Sphinx
if the Sphinx came and found her pleasing.

King Oedipus: What else?

Tiresias: Queen Iocasta agreed.
There was a storm.
While I dozed, your mother caught you up
and ran to hide in the goatherd’s shack.
She let that buck, then ten bucks strong,
dance his cock over her
not to waken me.
Then they left a dead babe,
whether stillborn or not, I do not know,
in your place.

King Oedipus: What fantasy the blind possess!

Tiresias: The goatherd agreed to pass you on
to this man, the messenger from Lithuania.
He took you to your aunt and her husband,
the King and Queen of Lithuania.

King Oedipus: What is Creon paying you
to invent this story?

Tiresias: When you were twenty,
your mother visited you disguised as a witch.
She had a plan that would
regain for you the throne of Latvia.
You were still young and innocent.
You could not imagine killing your father
and taking your mother to bed.
That is why you fled Kaunas.
Your mother, in Riga,
was overjoyed when she heard.
The two sisters-whores would have
your kingdom for among themselves.

King Oedipus: I do not believe any of this.

Tiresias: After you destroyed the Sphinx’s temple,
you were welcomed to Riga as a hero.

King Oedipus: I killed no man.

Tiresias: You met your father at the crossroad
before you met the Sphinx. Remember?

King Oedipus: Was that King Laius?
That was not my father.
That man had come to trade children.
My trusty guards, not I killed him.

Tiresias: How little you know,
King Oedipus. Listen!
Your mother when young was a courtesan
at an inn in Kaunas.
She knew of many babes whose bodies
were buried under the floors of the whorehouse.
When her sister, Merope, a courtesan, too,
had luck and married King Polybus,
she introduced Iocasta to King Laius.
Merope was infertile—the result of her trade.
But Iocasta bore King Laius a son.
When King Laius wanted to honor Oedipus
and open the way for him to become his heir
by exposing him to the will of our Gods,
Iocasta was horrified.
Perhaps she had babes of her own
under the whorehouse floor.

King Oedipus: You mean to tell me
that failing to take the test cursed me
to kill my father
and marry my mother?

Tiresias: You want to know
what became of the golden wire?
Your mother gave it to you
on the day you married her.
She had it reworked into the very necklace
you wear around your neck this moment.

King Oedipus: Oh horror! Dear Gods!

Tiresias: Before I go to sleep,
I often exclaim:
‘Oh Gods, oh Gods, oh Gods.’

(Tiresias dies. Enter Princess Ismene’s nurse, Iananna. We met the latter when she came screaming for help to prevent Polynices and Eteokles from killing each other. She did not succeed.)

Iananna: The Queen is dead.

King Oedipus: No!

Strophe: Polynices and Eteokles are dead, too.
Creon turned them against each other.
Neither of the twins was tested
on Mt. Cytheron.

Antistrophe: After Queen Iocasta died,
Prince Creon, seized the throne,
declared himself King of Latvia
and married Merope, Queen of Lithuania!
Messengers ran through both kingdoms and
announced King Oedipus mad.
King Creon threw Polynices’ body to the dogs.
This very moment, Antigone, his sister,
is burying what remains of him.

Strophe: I fear for Antigone’s life.

Antistrophe: Fear no longer.
Antigone and Haemon, Creon’s son,
both imprisoned as examples of the sacrifice
Creon was capable of
have taken poison.

Strophe: Eridike, Creon’s wife, is dead.
She took her life to hasten the wrath
of the Gods against her long ago lover.

Chorus: King Oedipus has put out his eyes.
But nothing will bring back those
who died because of him.

(Enter Princess Ismene, the youngest daughter of King Oedipus and Queen Iocasta, with her nurse, Iananna. Princess Ismene is still a child at this point.)

Iananna: You are responsible
for the death of twelve.
Start with the babe to replace you on the mountain.
Your stepfather in Kaunas, too.
He agreed to die (or someone poisoned him),
because he understood
that you had no other exit,
no other way to escape from Riga—
unless you went to attend a funeral.
Will you also sacrifice Gans and Ismene
and make it number fourteen?

King Oedipus: Do not be afraid
of such talk, dearest Ismene.
I am not now nor ever was a monster.
You know the path, Ismene dear,
to the peak of Mt. Citheron.
Let us go there.

Princess Ismene: Yes, father.

King Oedipus: I want you to lead me up that mountain.
We will wait out the night under the stars there.
They say you can see
all of All from there.

(Exit everyone but the chorus and Queen Ismene. The latter—hidden behind a pillar—has been standing stage right from the beginning of Scene 1.)

Strophe: Only life comes easy;
death takes much to do.

Antistrophe: So many dead!
How could it happen?
A mother promised her son more. He got less.
No mother wants her children to call her a liar.
What went amiss?

Strophe: Before Queen Iocasta returned from Lithuania
and threw her witch’s mask in the ditch,
she persuaded her sister, Queen Merope of Kaunas,
to let Prince Oedipus visit Latvia.
The sisters hired armed men for Oedipus’ escorts.
The captain of the guard was in both sisters’ hire.
Iocasta did not tell King Laius of her plans,
but arranged for him to meet her son at the crossroads.
Then the queen told the king (as if an aside):
‘King Laius, I forgot to mention,
I bought some whorehouse children
as sacrifices for state occasions.
A caravan of them is due tomorrow.
Be so good, take ten sacks of grain,
and go to the crossroad to receive them.’

Strophe: King Laius was killed
when he asked for the delivery.

Queen Ismene: I remember the King
covering me with a blanket.
It was a cold night on Mt. Citheron.
In the morning, when I saw my father dead,
I ran terrified to nanny Iananna.
She—as true as the Sun’s warm shadow—
hid me until Creon and Merope died.
I have not visited Mt. Citheron since.
But now the story is told,
you must know—lest plagues come again—
I go there this very hour.
Yahn will keep me company,
come there and come back.

–End of Play—
Finis! Amen!
May the Dearest Goddess be with us.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment