Wednesday, October 21, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

43 Tiresias Revenge (III)

This blog continues a play called Tiresias Revenge.
It has a few blogs to run Blog 40-47).
I wrote the play 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.
Scene Two

(Scene as before. Enter King Oedipus.
The ‘people’ he addresses are actually the Chorus of Scene 1.)

King Oedipus: I’m losing my patience.
Dear people, do not listen to rumor.
If you don’t know, don’t guess,
and do not credit the opinions of Riga’s kitchen maids.
I am not responsible for the plague of Thebes.
I was not born among you.
I have no loyalties born of childhood in me
that tear me hither and thither.
As your king, I call on everyone
to come forward and tell me what you know
about the death of King Yahn.
Nothing bad will come to you.
I will even reward you.
Of course, those who hide from me
what they know, when I discover it,
I will deny them the right to live in Thebes.
Worse, any Theban worthy of his name
will spit you in the face.
Curse the murderer.
May his life be pain and suffering,
so much so that he seeks death.
A king’s death cannot remain a mystery.
Since I share my bed with Queen Iocasta,
once King Laius’ wife,
if she and King Laius had had descendants,
we would be as one family.
Indeed, I wish to discover King Laius’ murderer
as if Laius were my own father.

Chorus: IWe do not know who killed King Laius.
May the Sun help discover the guilty one.

King Oedipus: I hope the Sun is listening to you.

Chorus: May we add something
to all that has been said?

King Oedipus: Speak!

Chorus: Tiresias, the man who long ago
accompanied children to the Sphinx’s temple
has eyes that pierce the dark.
You should seek him out.
Discover his thoughts.
King Oedipus: I’ve thought of that.
I’ve already sent Prince Creon
to visit the Sun’s temple,
where Tiresias now dwells.

Chorus: One more thing.

King Oedipus: Yes?

Chorus: Perhaps the killers of King Laius bragged.
Violence brags about its deeds.

Else it cannot be justified.
At the same time, killers threaten violence
if their violence is revealed.
You must offer protection to those who tell the truth.

King Oedipus: Yes, of course.

(Enter Tiresias. He is led by a youth and followed by a guard.)

King Oedipus: Tiresias! Great friend of Latvia!
A finch tells me you’ve made good use of my mercies,
and your nether eyes have discovered
new secrets of the night.
People seek out your touch.
They let you touch their bodies for signs of illness.
You’ve grown fat healing their fears.
Be that as it may, I’m happy to see you.
You no doubt have heard the daughters of the Sun sing
that Thebes will not be free of its troubles
until we discover who killed King Yahn.
Do not hold back from us what you know.
Tell us what’s hid in the crevices
and holes where the snakes and bats live.

Tiresias: Gods, if you only knew
how heavy wisdom lies on a man
if it earns him no profit.
King Oedipus, let me go.

King Oedipus: You speak as one who has no respect
for either Riga or its king.
Are you refusing to tell what you know?

Tiresias: Do you wish to condemn me already?

King Oedipus: If you know something, tell it.

Tiresias: Promise me Riga.
Else I say nothing.

King Oedipus: I don’t believe it!
You know something, but refuse to tell?

Tiresias: Promise me Riga.

King Oedipus: Guards! Pick up this fool by his hair.

Tiresias: You’re forcing me to have pity
for neither myself nor you.

King Oedipus: I, not you, lead Latvia!
Speak! Don’t stand dumb.
I’ll show you your piece of gold.

Tiresias: I’m blind, not deaf and dumb.
Even so, I see better than you.
Let me have your necklace instead.

King Oedipus: Outrageous man!
Do you want Riga to once again
sacrifice her children?

Chorus (screams!): No!

Tiresias: King Oedipus, you swing as a door,
but see neither the past nor future.
But matters discover themselves
even if kings hide them.
I don’t wish to own Thebes.
I seek reward only because your
demand for truth is unduly impatient.
The fate of Thebes will be
decided by the Gods whom you, not I, deny.

King Oedipus: You say truth is on its way?
Why not tell it sooner than later.

Tiresias: I hold my tongue.
King Oedipus: Let me see!
I already took your eyes from you.
I will now tell what I think of you.
I think you are among those
who conspired against Yahn.
As a former servant of the Sphinx
murder comes naturally to you.

Tiresias: Let me remind you, King Oedipus,
of the promise you made to
King Yahn’s murderer. You said he
would be allowed to speak to no one.
You said he would be chased from Riga and worse.
I’ll tell you who deserves such a fate.
You, King Oedipus,
because you’re the misfortune of Latvia.

King Oedipus: By what magic
do you hope to escape punishment?

Tiresias: Truth will save me.

King Oedipus: Who taught you the truth?

Tiresias: You forced me to speak against my will.

King Oedipus: You spoke the truth?

Tiresias: Did you hear what I said?

King Oedipus: Your words are like a squid’s ink.
Alright, I’ll hear you once more
if you bear in mind that should you lie,
I’ll throw you down the same cliff
from which the Sphinx threw the children of Riga.

Chorus: Oh Dearest Goddesses!
Laima, Mahra!

Tiresias: You’re looking for yourself.
It’s you who murdered King Yahn.

Chorus: Oh Dearest Goddesses!

King Oedipus: You’ll not speak like that for long.

Tiresias: You live in shame with those you love.
Ask your wife!

King Oedipus: How dare you?!

Tiresias: You provoked me to it.

King Oedipus: Oh, now I understand. Traitor!
You’re doing the work of that fart, Creon.

Tiresias: You are playing into Creon’s hands.

King Oedipus: It’s clear now (oh Gods!)
that Creon is using this blind charlatan
to make himself king.
How very clever, indeed!
Tell me, Tiresias, why,
when the stomach of the Sphinx hungered,
you didn’t save Latvia?
It was I who understood the madness
of child sacrifice, not you,
nor King Laius, nor Prince Creon.
I see now! I see now how you plan
to surrender Riga to Creon.
Neither he nor you will spare Latvia’s children
if child sacrifice is what brings you power.

Chorus: Listen, both!
Your words reach beyond anger.
But we need words that make sense.
Think of us, King Oedipus!

Tiresias: I’m slave to no one, but the truth.
Even if Oedipus kills me,
the truth will come to light.

King Oedipus: The plot against me could not be plainer.

Tiresias: Is that so?
Then listen to what even a shadow sees.
You say your parents live in Kaunas, Lithuania?
It’s not true. You tell everyone
you solved the riddle of the Sphinx.
You say the answer is “three legs—
an old man resting on his cane.”
The answer satisfies but schoolchildren.
The legs are not legs, but three people
holding the cauldron of Latvia’s holy waters.
You, one of the legs, are a clubfoot.
You, not I, tilt the throne in Riga.

King Oedipus: May the people of Thebes
stone you to death.

Tiresias: I wouldn’t have come had you not called.

King Oedipus: I didn’t know I’d be talking to an arse.
(Exit Tiresias, then King Oedipus.)

Antistrophe: King Oedipus, be careful.
Your anger treads on your heels.

Strophe: Your anger is like a snake snatching its tail.

Antistrophe: We think that Tiresias knows the story.
He’s egging it on.
There was a time when the Dearest Goddess was angry.
A lesser spirit—its name now forgotten—
challenged her wisdom.
The universe shook from the Dearest Goddess’ wrath.
The spirit took fright and died.

Strophe: Where then did the Goddess’ wrath go?

Antistrophe: It turned into a dragon, a beast.
Fire, smoke, and sulfur wrapped its skin.
It understood but one word: Revenge!
It seized its tail and devoured itself to its face.
From the forehead of the beast grew two horns,
from tooth to tusk through the brain to the head.
As the horns grew the Dearest Goddess’ wrath
birthed naked twins, but armed with spears.
The twins threw their spears
at each other. The spears hit them and
passed through them to their hearts.
Such is the mercy of our Dearest Goddess.

Scene Three 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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