Wednesday, October 21, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

44 Tiresias Revenge (IV)

This blog continues a play called “Tiresias Revenge”.

The play has a few blogs to run 4-47). I wrote it many years ago using various sources for the text of King Oedipus, all scholarly books as I remember. Who else 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--perhaps.

Scene Three

(Scene as before. Enter Prince Creon.)

Prince Creon: I don’t believe it!
The king threatens my life.
My lovers are leaving me.
What am I guilty of?
Do you, too, believe that I’m betraying Latvia?

Chorus: Our king is overcome by anger.
Tiresias set it off.
He blamed the king over Latvia’s troubles.
We do not know what to make of it.
The blind man’s words were strange.
King Oedipus has done Latvia much good.
He says it was you, Prince Creon, not he,
who suggested going to Tiresias for consultation.

Prince Creon: The king accuses me and Tiresias,
both, of plotting against him.

Chorus: That is what he believes.

Prince Creon: Is he in his right mind?

Chorus: I do not always understand
the court’s reasoning.
But here comes King Oedipus.
He apparently is in control of himself.

(Enter King Oedipus.)

King Oedipus: Well, well, Creon!
The man who will seduce the Queen of Fate herself.
Do not look so surprised to see me.
Yes, I know you are against me.
Do not say it is not so.
It was you who persuaded me to send you
after that murderer of children,
that empty-socketed soothsayer.
It was you who told him
what was to be in his report.

Prince Creon: You are making this up.

King Oedipus: You are sending Tiresias about Riga
to mutter a falsehood. Worse!
Falsehoods against me!

Prince Creon: King Oedipus, let me speak.

King Oedipus: Do not say you are not guilty.

Prince Creon: I am not guilty.

King Oedipus: You are wrong if you think
you will escape punishment
because you are Queen Iocasta’s brother.

Prince Creon: Punishment will be earned
only if you prove my guilt.

King Oedipus: You are the one who brought Tiresias to Latvia.

Prince Creon: So? Everyone is in awe of him.
What is more, you agreed to it.

King Oedipus: You tricked me into it.
I now regret the day I took pity
and removed from him his eyes only.
For how many years has he now spun
his web of deceits?

Prince Creon: It is twenty years since King Laius died.

King Oedipus: You have counted those years, haven’t you?
It is the same number that you plot.

Prince Creon: What makes you say so?

King Oedipus: It is as clear to me as anything is.
You murdered King Laius.
You did it to gain the throne.
Tiresias was to vouch for you
with more child offerings.
But I thwarted your plans.
The truth is, Creon—the Gods do not
stand by either you or Tiresias.
You are finished.

Prince Creon: I cannot speak for Tiresias.
As for me, I deny your accusations.
You do not know what you are talking about.

King Oedipus: You never made an effort
to look for Yahn’s killer.

Prince Creon: I can say the same about you.
You’re the one who became king, not me.
You’re the one who had no curiosity
about your predecessor.
Why pretend to revive him now?

King Oedipus: Tiresias did not divine
where King Yahn lies buried, did he?

Prince Creon: You can see with his eyes.
You know where you buried him.

King Oedipus: Is that how you answer a king?

Prince Creon: You are the one who says
you heard what Tiresias said.
I was not present when you and he,
and the Sphinx met.

King Oedipus: It was no time for talk.
It was a time to get on with life or die.

Prince Creon: I hope your innocence is proved
with the same certainty
as you are the husband of my sister.
But tell me something.
You rule over Latvia and give
like rights to Queen Iocasta, don’t you?

King Oedipus: All the queen desires, she gets.

Prince Creon: Then tell me,
is she not with me
one of the three legs of the cauldron
on which Thebes stands?
I have like rights to yours even if I—
like the queen—
defer to you and let you rule.
If you die, the queen will rule next.
If you die and the queen dies, I rule.
Why should I wish to kill my sister or you?
Why do you try to tip the altar by exiling me
(which is what I presume you want to do)
and unbalance our Latvia?

King Oedipus: So, you want Queen Iocasta and me dead?

Prince Creon: If you believe that,
you will believe anything.
Why should I wish to rule and live in fear
when life is meant for easy sleeping?
I do like to sleep easy.
You have no understanding of life.
I was not born with the desire to become king—
though if need be I will take on the responsibility.
I do not wish to give up my present way of life
for the sake of the throne. I do not deny
that I wish to live like a king.
But why should I be king
if a king’s privileges are mine without effort?
Because of our existential relationship
I have become rich.
I am grateful for your generosity to me
regarding the building of public monuments.
You get your share, and I am satisfied with mine.
Why should I let this slip from my hands?
If you believe I have worked against you
and can prove it, kill me.
However, do not accuse me of being a traitor

before you have proof of it.
Chorus: King Oedipus, step back.
Peace is paramount.

King Oedipus: When an enemy works against me in secret,
I have no time to waste.
If I wait, I lose.

Prince Creon: Do you want me to leave Latvia then?

King Oedipus: I want your head.

Prince Creon: You are not right in the mind.

King Oedipus: What parent of Latvia agrees with you?

Prince Creon: You are being reckless.
You began the accusations.

King Oedipus: It is I who rule.

Prince Creon: Do you wish the cauldron
to stand on two legs?

King Oedipus: How long must I be patient!?

Prince Creon: You have no right to presume
your decision is final if I contest it.
Queen Iocasta, too, must be consulted.

Chorus: Is this dispute a family matter?
King Oedipus, your accusations are without proof.
Prince Creon, you claim to be a leg of the holy tripod,
but your words pretend to authority greater than the king’s.
Do you know something we do not?
Look! Here comes Queen Iocasta.
May she establish peace.

(Enter Queen Iocasta.)

Queen Iocasta: King Oedipus, Prince Creon, I’m aghast.
Your pettiness should embarrass you both,
especially now when Latvia suffers from uncertain times.
Oedipus, it is time for you to go back into the castle.
Creon, do not air your disagreements before the public.

Prince Creon: I will go, but not before you know that
King Oedipus, your husband, believes
only he has a say in Latvia.
He believes he only has to say his wish
and he has my head.
Did he sleep on the Holy Mountain, Mt. Citheron,
the day after he was born? Damned well, no!

King Oedipus: You do all you can, don’t you, Creon,
to make the plague worse?

Prince Creon: May the Gods curse me!
May I die if your accusation is true.

King Oedipus: Liar! You sent Tiresias
to spread rumors that I am to blame
for Latvia’s troubles.

Queen Iocasta: Is that true, Creon?

Prince Creon: No.

King Oedipus: Don’t believe him.

Prince Creon: I swear.

Queen Iocasta: Oedipus, accept Creon’s oath.
Do it for the sake of Latvia.

Chorus: Be peace loving, King Oedipus.
Prince Creon’s oath is believable.
To kill him will spread into a contagion of plagues.
Spare him.

King Oedipus: Do you know what you are asking?

Chorus: May the Sun forgive me.
May I die without her blessings and without friends
if what I wish for is not for the best.
You yourself, King Oedipus, said
that without our support Creon has no chance.

Queen Iocasta: King Oedipus, we stand witness to
and respect your authority.

King Oedipus: Though you request mercy for him,
Creon himself has not asked for it.

Prince Creon: That’s because your mercy is reluctant.

King Oedipus: What magic protects you?
None, but your sister. So, go your way.

Prince Creon: I’m going, but note:
the citizens of Latvia do not say I am guilty.

(Exit Creon.)

Chorus: Let there be silence for a space.

King Oedipus (suddenly clutching his head):
Shame is me! What a fool!
Why did I give in? I should have
taken the head of Tiresias and Creon, both,
with a nod to the guards.

(The Chorus turns its back to the audience as if to absent itself.)

Queen Iocasta: Oedipus, don’t take this so seriously.
Creon is not destined to be king.

(The Chorus appears to have second thoughts and turns toward the audience again.)

Chorus: King Oedipus, we are with you.
You freed us from the Sphinx.
You brought happiness to children and parents, all.

(The Chorus turns away again.)

Queen Iocasta: What angered you so?

King Oedipus: It was Creon’s lies.
Because of him there are those who now don’t know
whether to support me or him.

Queen Iocasta: What are the lies?

King Oedipus: Creon got Tiresias to say
that I murdered King Laius.
His own tongue, though, remains innocent.
He only delicately hints.

Queen Iocasta: I understand.
Nevertheless, leave the matter be.
I will take care of Tiresias.
Creon will fall in line.

King Oedipus: I am not sure that he will.
I fear he has laid a curse on me.

Queen Iocasta: What? What curse?

King Oedipus: I have not told you the story.

Queen Iocasta: What story?
What have you not told me?
What bullshit are you giving me?

King Oedipus: Well, you know of course that
my parents are the King and Queen of Lithuania.
I have a throne to inherit
in Lithuania someday.

Queen Iocasta: Yes. It is the King and
the Queen of Lithuania
who remember you often with kind gifts.

King Oedipus: So why do I live here, not there?
Listen. This is true. This is what I know.
Fifteen years ago when I came of age
and Lithuania was to make me its citizen,
I was visited by a witch, a fortune teller.
She said she came from Riga to tell my fate.
We sat under an old oak,
its branches heavy with acorns.
She laid upon the grass a linen sheet
and waited for a finch to alight on a branch.
Then she hit that branch with her stick so hard,
the acorns fell from their cups.
She looked at the lay of the seeds and foretold
that I would soon kill my father
and lie in bed with my mother.
I was horrified, but the witch
assured me that all would be well if I left Lithuania,
killed the child-eating Sphinx at Šauliai,
leveled the Sphinx’ temple, blinded its priest,
and took up residence in Riga.

(Enter Eteokles, a son of King Oedipus and Queen Iocasta.)

Eteokles: Father, uncle Creon says
you killed my grandfather.

King Oedipus: The viper speaks!

Queen Iocasta: How did uncle Creon say he knows all this?

Eteokles: He says Tiresias told him.
He says Tiresias is to be believed more than father.
He says he will support Polynices
as king of Latvia. He says that
I will die if I do not leave.

Queen Iocasta: Listen, son, your father is right.
It happens. Uncle Creon, a man who loves tulips,
has been bit by a viper.

(Exit Queen Iocasta, King Oedipus, and Prince Eteokles. The Chorus turns to face the audience, perhaps one of Latvians.)

Chorus: I defer to fate
ruled by laws that mortals have not yet
understood and may never.

Antistrophe: Our king a murderer?
But because of him
thousands of children live today.

Strophe: People twist what they hear
and as the story changes so does truth.

Antistrophe: My thoughts are like the wind,
here, there, everywhere.
What will become of Riga?
Is ruin our future?
Is the sacred cauldron to spill
its sacred content for the dogs?

Chorus: May Gods allow the serpent
of wrath to catch its tail.
Let good prevail.

Scene Four 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.

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