Wednesday, October 21, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

42 Tiresias Revenge (II)

This blog continues a play called Tiresias Revenge.

The play commences with blog 40 and has a few blogs (through 47) to run. I wrote the play some years ago using various sources for the text of King Oedipus, all scholarly books as I remember. Who would read this stuff except a student of literature? Yech! Nevertheless, I hope you read it. It actually is one of the best stories ever.

Chorus (as it turns the palms of its hands up in a gesture of receiving):


We want to be healed.
Every year at the summer solstice we gather
to hear you tell why the sun sets
and why tomorrow it may rise again.
As we wait for the sun,
hearing the story may bring us hope.

Queen Ismene: The story speaks.
It speaks again and again. It tells itself.
It tells us what we must do to be Latvians.
It’s not an easy story to hear.
Indeed, as it comes to mind,
tears come to my eyes—for us all,
myself and you also.

Chorus: On the landscape of time,
Latvia unfolded like a fern in spring.
It moved us all to sing in jubilation.
Then the scroll stopped unfurling
as if the sap was cut.
Queen Ismene, tell us what happened.
You were there.

Queen Ismene (points to a young man among the listeners):
I will tell the story.
But we must not look to the past only.
Look, here is Prince Yahn.
Tomorrow my son begins his turn
as guardian of the story and Thebes.
After tomorrow it is he
whose blood will turn into the balm
that heals our city.

Chorus: Prince Yahn, we are most grateful.
May you tell the story
as your mother now does
when your turn comes.

Queen Ismene: Let the story begin.
It begins with my mother’s
love for her son, my father, Oedipus.
Let us witness our forebears’ bitter learning
and the wisdom that this moment
brought them.
I was too young to understand the story
when it caught me up.
I was not born when it began.
But my nanny, Iananna, witnessed it.
Through your parents, you know it, too.
It is in our bones.
The story tells us what we must do
to become and ever be Thebans.

Scene One

King Oedipus enters center stage through the castle gate. He approaches the altar, the priest, his daughter Ismene, and those gathered around her.

King Oedipus: Children, my sons and daughters,
citizens of Thebes, why have you come
to listen to a priest mumble words
that only darken and bring dissention?
What’s depressing you?
I come to hear what’s wrong.

(The king turns to the priest.)

You—I don’t know your name—
You’ve aired air long enough.
Speak to me, your king.
Speak for those not used to addressing a king.
What do they fear? What do they need?

Priest: King of Thebes, King Oedipus!
You see us all, young and old,
all proud Thebans, bent around this altar,
looking at our bread, cheese, and fruit offerings,
waiting for one or all Gods to come,
waiting to see them reach for butter, for honey.
But neither God nor Gods come,
and we cannot wait longer.
There are murmurings, King Oedipus,
that God wants blood, perhaps
from one of our children—as of old.
Thus, we are immobilized and sit and wait.
Incense rises, but curls not
as when a spirit is present in it.
Despair is getting the better of us.
King Oedipus, do not belittle our prayers.
Our prayers reflect the reality of Thebes
overcome by a mysterious plague.
King Oedipus, king Yahnis, call the Gods,
call on our ancestor Cadmus,
raise your hands to the Sun who makes the day.
Long ago you came promising Latvia better days.
You freed us from the Sphinx and its temple
where we took our babes and prayed
for the Gods to accept them as our offerings.
Our children no longer swing their arms
and wing across the abyss
to acknowledge the Sphinx’s promise.
The vultures no longer pick their bones below.
King Yahn, though you saved our children,
we have not recovered our will.
This is why we pray for you to speak
and use the powers that saved us once before.
Do not hold back your healing power.
Do not allow anyone to say
you promised us light,
but we continue to be under a shadow.

King Oedipus (Yahn): Children, I delight in your hope.
No one feels as badly as I over all this.
I know every one of you is suffering,
but surely I suffer more.
I suffer my own misfortunes
and the misfortunes of all Thebes and Thebans.
Even so, I’ve given the matter thought.
And I’ve discovered a place
where the answer may be found.
I’ve sent Prince Creon, the brother of Queen Iocasta,
to visit the holy sites of Thebes and consult with
the daughters of the Sun, the priestesses there.
Let them throw acorns struck from the tree by lightning
and read what we must do to save Latvia.

Priest: We thank you, King Oedipus, for your words.
Yes, look! Look there! The guard tower is signaling
that Creon has returned.

King Oedipus: May the Sun send us good news.

Priest: The news is good. Else Creon
would not carry a green wreath in hia hand.

King Oedipus: We will soon know. Here he is.
Greetings, Prince Creon!

(Enter Prince Creon.)

Prince Creon: Hail, King Oedipus.
I am back and have a message.
Let us go into the castle.
(It is not for everyone’s ears.)

King Oedipus: What do you mean?
Why speak out of the public’s ear?
Is there something in the news we should fear?

Prince Creon: The Sun asks for deeds not words.
The revelation may move some
to rash conclusions and rash deeds.

King Oedipus: What revelations, what deeds?

Prince Creon: Do you want me to tell before all?

King Oedipus: Tell what you know to all.
All of Latvia suffers the same pain.

Prince Creon: Very well. Remember though
that what you hear is not of my making,
but told by the daughters of the Sun
on behalf of the Sun.
With their ears cleaned by tongues of holy snakes,
the maids speak what they are told.
So, this is what the Sun said. It said:
Go weed the weed before it sinks its root
to depths beyond undigging.

King Oedipus: What weeds are you talking about?
Harvest time is almost upon us.
The time to weed is past.

Prince Creon: The weed, King Yahn, is a man.
We must find and remove from our midst a man.
The Sun declined to reveal his name.
The name is for us to discover.
The man must be discovered and removed,
else Thebes will be in debt to a murderer.

King Oedipus: A murderer? Of whom?

Prince Creon: King Oedipus, before you
picked up the reins of Thebes,
we were under the reign of King Laius.
He was son of King Cadmus, Thebes’ founder.

King Oedipus: I never met King Laius.
Prince Creon: The Sun’s daughters say that
Laius’ murderer must be found.

King Oedipus: Where are we to look for him?
Where are his footprints?

Prince Creon: We must look in our own land.
We must look behind mere words, at deeds.

King Oedipus: Did King Laius die in the castle?
I remember hearing that he died
abroad while traveling.

Prince Creon: The king had an appointment with certain men
bringing him secrets from a neighboring kingdom.
The king never returned.
All his bodyguards but one were killed.

King Oedipus: Secret meetings carry risks.
But what said the survivor?
Did he say who did it?

Creon Prince: The man gave us no clear answer.
He did say he buried our king
and could lead us to his grave.
Unfortunately, the guard was poisoned
before he could lead us there.

King Oedipus: Surely that means
the murderers have a friend among us.
Did the poisoned man have a wife?
We need some clue.

Prince Creon: The man had no wife.
He left no descendants.
He worked as a hand at the king’s stable.

King Oedipus: What else do we know?

Prince Creon: We followed the murderers’ tracks,
but not for long.
The horses’ hooves were sheathed in rags.

King Oedipus: I am grateful to the Sun for the advice.
I am thankful to you, too, Creon, for the news.
My children, take your garlands and
go call a meeting of the council of elders.
Tell them I want to meet with them.
The men who killed King Laius are a threat to us all.
I will do everything I can to discover them.

Priest: Rise, Thebans.
Our prayers have been heard.
King Oedipus has interceded.

(Exit King Oedipus et al. Only the chorus remains.)

Strophe: Goddess of Hope!
Tell us the golden words,
the magic that will guard Latvia.
Help us our disbelief!
Healer, our hearts are uneasy.
It is well we no longer have to sacrifice children.
(We did not know how to rid ourselves of that curse.)
King Oedipus did us a great service.
Perhaps he will do so again.

Antistrophe: It was said that when the Sphinx died
men and women would have to sacrifice
themselves in place of their children.
Remember what King Cadmus said?

Strophe: “I cannot do alone what we must together.
To bring Thebes about, I give you my life.
Perhaps you will think upon my sacrifice
and temper your differences because of it.
Let us have a history worth blessing.”

Antistrophe: Ha! Spare us!
Our children run to foreign lands.
They delight in losing themselves in crowds.
They have no responsibilities,
and act with boldness that asks
no accounting of itself.
They have no need of a past or future.

Strophe: Burnt feathers are our incense.
We summon we know not who or what.
Our teeth chatter like the beaks of storks.
We fear the other side of the moon
is crisscrossed by rivers of blood.

Scene Two next blog.

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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