Iphigenia at Aulis

Iphigenia

Iphigenia at Aulis
By Euripedes
Translated and Adapted into English Verse by Brian Vinero

Volume 8, Issue 1 (Spring 2020)

Greek tragedy is not for the faint of heart. It is a tremendous challenge for actors and audiences and, yes, for the translator. These plays are not a slice-of-life or a character study. They tend to unfold on the worst day of the protagonist’s life. The characters face insurmountable odds, callous cruelty and horrors in a tangled web of misery that only one of the Greek Gods can untangle. We collectively hold our breath for the deus ex machina when a force beyond the power of mere mortals will set things right.

A classic Greek drama was not meant to be subtle. It was akin to a religious ritual performed in a grand, outdoor cathedral where the sky itself was the dome. And the actors wore masks that did not allow for the subtlety that a small-scale contemporary play or a movie camera allows. The imagery and emotions in the dialogue were required to go beyond words and become poetry that could penetrate the ears of well over a thousand observers who would only experience the play once during an annual festival. The plays utilized rhyme which helped the spectators hear, but also helped the actors memorize mammoth speeches some of which are three times the length of a typical Shakespearean soliloquy. A highly-trained chorus used music and movement to take the audience along on a journey unaided by modern stagecraft’s use of lighting and scenery.

While there have been many adaptations of the works of Euripides in English, I believe that placing them in rhymed verse in iambic pentameter is the most effective way to create an approximation of the original Greek verse in our language. This form is familiar to classically trained English-speaking actors who have studied the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. By heightening the language it creates a structure which allows the actor to create the larger-than-life truth that is required in classical acting. The measured rhythm of iambic pentameter is a heartbeat which can help keep the actors on track while performing a very challenging play, particularly during lengthy scenes and speeches.

I have crafted this translation with the intent of having it used for performance. While I have strongly endeavored to remain true to Euripides’ dramatic intent, philosophy and imagery, I have not been slavishly faithful in the dialogue. In particular when he uses a colloquial phrase or makes a reference to a person or event in Greek history or mythology that would be clear to an Athenian audience of his time it could be all but incomprehensible to a contemporary audience. I have traded the pursuit of a literal word-for-word adaptation for a work respectful of the poetry and dramatic intensity of this Greek tragedy. To this end the choral passages are presented as lyrical interludes to the dialogue which is structured within the poetic language of rhymed verse.

To date I have completed seven full translations of the plays of Euripides; from the high tragedy of his masterpiece Medea to the tricky blend of comedy and tragedy in the romantic, yet problematic Alcestis. Iphigenia at Aulis presented specific challenges that I felt needed to be addressed before attempting a translation. It is agreed by most scholars that Euripides died before completing it and the play’s opening scene is missing. The closing scene in the script that has survived antiquity is inconsistent with Euripides’ style and most likely not his work, and is frankly just incredibly weak. Between this problematic beginning and ending is an absolutely brilliant play, among the best of Euripides in my opinion; and it was my hope to craft an improved beginning and ending more worthy of it. So I took my cue from other, similar works of this master playwright to create new opening and ending scenes which I believe are not only more dramatically viable, but also more consistent with his style.

The extant play opens with a scene between Agamemnon and his servant, beginning with a lengthy monologue and continuing into a dialogue. This is inconsistent with most Euripides plays which open with a single actor on stage, frequently playing a supernatural being. I took a cue from Euripides’ Hecuba which opens with the ghost of her son Polydore. As a specter, he has the ability to see beyond the limits of a typical mortal to contextualize the situation for the audience. Using this model, I chose to use the character of Calchas, a seer who is mentioned many times in the body of the play and is vital to the plot, to draw the audience in at the opening. My goal was to use his speech to immerse the audience into the larger dramatic and mythological context of events surrounding the impending destruction of the House of Atreus.

The existing final scene was even more problematic, with an incredibly anticlimactic ending for a play with high tension and stakes. Frequently Euripides will utilize a messenger in the middle of a play to describe something that has occurred offstage. This was not found in the existing script. Instead a messenger arrives in the final few pages to describe what is actually the climax and it makes for very weak drama. Aside from scholarly opinions that this is inconsistent with Euripides’ style, there is also a surviving fragment of the original final scene which was a dialogue between Clytemnestra and the goddess Artemis. This information guided me as I crafted a new final scene. I first used the chorus to suggest the sacrifice of Iphigenia just offstage and then bring in Artemis at the climax as a deus ex machina, which is common in the works of Euripides. In her dialogue with the grieving Clytemnestra, Artemis is clear in intention but purposefully opaque with information, only hinting at the tragedy that will befall the House of Atreus in the coming years.

While I endeavored to make this translation as timeless as Euripides’ masterful play; I cannot ignore the fact that just as the original was shaded by the era in which he lived, I also am influenced by current events. What was true in the Bronze Age still rings via the seer Calchas’ warning:

“The line can blur

When kings take on great airs as if they were

A god themselves. Then watch the Gods react

With rage and anger when men dare to act

As if they’re worthy of Olympus.”

The true mark of a classic is that it reminds us that the struggles of mortals are not new, and will never end. Please enjoy a thousand strokes of pure truth from the pen of Euripides.

 

Euripides was a leading, though controversial, playwright during the Golden Age of Greek Theatre. He was known for his stunning poetry, innovation, and complex psychological and philosophical ideas presented in his dramas. Though little is known of his life, his surviving works paint a portrait of a man dissatisfied with politics, war and dismissive attitudes toward women in Athenian society. While there are records of over ninety plays attributed to him, only nineteen have survived from antiquity. Even this fragment of work is a far greater number of extant plays than the other great tragic playwrights Sophocles and Aeschylus combined, both of whom wrote in a conservative style far more typical of the era. Euripides’ bold characters with great psychological depth stood him ahead of his time. His tendency to challenge his audience’s perceptions of the great historical and mythical characters that populated his play may have cost him many awards in the annual Dionysia. Yet time has proven him to be the greatest of the ancient Greek playwrights. His major works, which continue to inspire playwrights and engage audiences, include Medea, The Bacchae, The Trojan Women and Electra.

Playwright Brian Vinero is an alumnus of the Minnesota Conservatory of Performing Arts, the National Shakespeare Conservatory, the 78th Street Theatre Lab, the BMI/Lehman Engel Workshop and a founding member of the New Musical Theatre Exchange. His plays have been produced and/or developed at the Praxis Theatre Ensemble, the 78th Street Theatre Lab, the Willoughby Theatre, the West Side Dance Project, the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City, Theatre of Note in Los Angeles, the Jewish Ensemble Theatre in Detroit and at the Playwrights Center, the New Musical Theatre Exchange, the Classical Actors Ensemble, Theatre Pro Rata and the Minnesota Fringe in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. His translations of the plays of Euripides include Medea, Hecuba, Alcestis and the four-play cycle Children of Agamemnon consisting of the plays Iphigenia at Aulis, Electra, Orestes and Iphigenia at Tauris. Other theatrical works include multiple translations of the works of Moliere, a modernization of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, and musicals adapted from Rostand’s Chantecler and Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons. Brian has worked directly with two Newberry Award-winning authors adapting their work to the stage, has been published by the international literary journal Aysmptote, and has served on the faculties of William Patterson University and Regional Center for the Arts High School. His rhymed verse adaptations of the plays of Euripides are available for sale on Amazon.com and at the Drama Book Shop in New York City. Member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and the Playwrights’ Center.

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that this adaptation being fully protected under the copyright laws of the Untied States of America, the British Empire, including the Dominion of Canada and all other countries which are signatories to the Universal Copyright Convention and the International Copyright Union is subject to royalty. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, video or sound taping, radio broadcasting, webcasting, and television and all other forms of mechanical and electronic reproduction are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author’s agent in writing. Inquiries on professional and amateur rights should be addressed to The Robert A Freedman Dramatic Agency, 1501 Broadway Suite 2310, New York, NY 10036 (212.840.5760).

 

Iphigenia at Aulis

 Cast of Characters:

Calchas, an augur

Agamemnon, King of Argos

Attendant, an old man

Menelaus, brother to Agamemnon

Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon

Iphigenia, daughter to Clytemnestra and Agamemnon

Achilles, a warrior

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt

Messenger

 

Chorus of Women of Chalcis

Attendants to Clytemnestra

 

The action takes place on the sea coast of Aulis outside the quarters of Agamemnon.

 

(CALCHAS enters from the shadows.)

 

CALCHAS

You may call me an augur or a seer

And call me to decipher when you fear

The mystery of what will lie ahead

I’m Agamemnon’s extra eye. I’ve led

Him through the darkest veil of mystery

As I reveal to him each prophecy

For Great Apollo gave me second sight

And I can see beyond the darkest night

And past the next day’s dawn to see what will

Become of helpless mortals. But they still

May try to stay the steady hand of Fate

Then find the march of time will never wait

As prophecies will always come to be

They call out “Calchas, tell us what you see.

Yes Calchas, watch the birds. How do they fly?

In what formations do they touch the sky?”

Yes birds are most reliable. I find

Their quick-changing formations move the mind

Beyond what mortals comprehend to where

All questions can be answered if you dare

To seek the truth. But when you find it will

You then accept it? You may not until

You can accept the Gods rule everything

No matter what calamity they bring

Upon us we must heed their will and pray

They’ll let us prosper for another day

And on this day I saw a flock of birds

Make sharp formations almost clear as words

They tell me sometimes something will occur

In royal houses causing them to blur

The line that separates all gods from men

And Agamemnon was so foolish when

He boasted he had hunting skills so strong

That he could better Artemis. He’s wrong.

No man can match a god in anything

And if you dare to boast of such a thing

The God’s great anger is but guaranteed

But if you’re royalty you might not heed

A warning. As I said: The line can blur

When kings take on great airs as if they were

A god themselves. Then watch the Gods react

With rage and anger when men dare to act

As if they’re worthy of Olympus. And

Then Agamemnon took his bow in hand

And dared set foot in woods that Artemis

Had consecrated telling men that this

Was where she kept her sacred herd of deer

But Agamemnon went in without fear

And fired off a shot that killed a doe

The favorite of the goddess. She was so

Enraged at Agamemnon that she swore

The next time that he found himself at war

That he’d pay dearly for his crime. Now we

Are here and looking out upon the sea

The air is still too still to be believed

It tells us Artemis is still bereaved

And knows a thousand ships must sail upon

The sea to Troy. But still the wind is gone

Held back in vengeance by a holy hand

That guarantees an army stays on land

But there is a solution. I have seen

It written in the sky up there between

The flapping wings of ravens. But it is

An act no man commits while keeping his

Mere mortal soul intact. The skies have shown

Me darkness that the night has never known

I told him of a sacrifice. But he

Must not be told his final destiny

He cannot know the bloodshed I have seen

For though he may be royalty between

The world of peasants and Olympus he

Is not yet meant to know all that I see

That’s set in motion here today. I’m so

Distraught to face him knowing what I know

I am a seer I can’t help what I see

The gift that Great Apollo gave to me

Brings clarity at times sometimes despair

Because the mighty Gods aren’t always fair

 

(CALCHAS disappears into the shadows as AGAMEMNON enters with his aged ATTENDANT)

 

AGAMEMNON

King Thestius once had a daughter. She

Was Leda. And she then in turn had three

Young daughters of her own: First Phoebe then

Came Clytemnestra who I wed. And when

Great Zeus touched Leda she was blessed and cursed

To carry Helen in her womb. The first-

Born sons of Greece’s greatest families came

To woo and wed the beauty with a name

That made men mad with passion when they heard

It spoken. They’d engage without a word

And draw their blades with thoughts of bloodshed should

They spy another suitor. Then they would

Attack with hatred in their eyes. And when

Tyndareus her father saw these men

He was perplexed. His daughter had a hand

But it was his to give. So then he planned

To bind her suitors in an oath: They would

All swear before a sacrifice that should

The man who wins fair Helen ever see

A day he finds his wife abducted we

Will all become like brothers raising arms

Against the man who put her into harm’s

Way. And we’ll sack his city to the ground

While burning everything until we’ve found

The man who’d dare to steal fair Helen’s hand

Be he from Greece or from a foreign land

There will be no distinction. He will learn

We bonded men will make his city burn

And so they sealed their fate and swore their vow

Tyndareus did smile knowing now

His ruse had worked. No longer would there be

Fresh suitor’s blood upon his floor. Then he

Brought forth fair Helen saying that her hand

Was hers to give to Aphrodite. Stand

Before her blowing winds of love to show

Her where true love would land. And we don’t know

What led her eye to Menelaus. I

Don’t understand what bound their eyes or why

Their union ever came to be. But then

From far-off Troy the most corrupt of men

Prince Paris came to Sparta clad in gold

With robes that shined and glittered with each fold

Such finery could not disguise the stink

Of such a foul barbarian who’d think

That he could judge the Goddesses and there

Would be no consequence. And he who’d dare

To meddle with the Gods might be so bold

To steal a wife and leave a man’s bed cold

And that is what he did: He took the hand

Of Helen and they flew back to his land

And Helen didn’t scream or make a fight

Oh how those two went riding through the night

How Menelaus screamed and rode through all

Of Greece enraged and bellowing a call

To arms for all the men that swore their bond

To one another. He who would abscond

With Helen must be taught a lesson. So

They polished up their spears and grabbed a bow

And made great haste and headed to the sea

And saw these straits that cut so narrowly

They almost dare each ship to try and pass

And lead right to a sea as smooth as glass

And there’s another sea: A sea of tents

With many men within. Great regiments

Just waiting for their leader to give word

That now is time to sail. I see a herd

Of horses waiting to be yoked onto

Their shining chariots. And tell me who

These men should choose to lead them? Sadly me

Well, Menelaus is my family

I guess that Fate has spun this and I’m here

It seems they seek to honor me. Now we’re

All gathered and we’re ready. Yet we wait

It seems the wind will not cooperate

I called upon my augur Calchas. He

Proclaimed to have the darkest prophecy

That we are cursed and will remain until

We give the Gods a sacrifice and kill

My own Iphigenia. Artemis

Who rules this land demands it. Sadly this

Blood sacrifice is what she now demands

Or else we’ll never sail to Trojan lands

But once her blood is spilled our ships will fly

And then turn Troy to dust and ashes. I

Refused of course and told my messenger

That such a sacrifice would not occur

I said, “Dismiss the men. I will not lead

Them. I will never see my daughter bleed

To raise a wind.” Then Menelaus said

That I should reconsider; filled my head

With every argument and every word

And he would not relent until he heard

Me acquiesce and say that I agreed

And said I would commit the foulest deed

I wrote a scroll to Clytemnestra. She

Will send our daughter here. She will agree

Because I made a ruse and told a lie

I said I struck a marriage pact and I

Have promised her to Great Achilles, he

A soldier of such high nobility

The greatest of our warriors. I went

Beyond superlatives so she’d consent

I wrote to her he wouldn’t dare to leave

Without a wife to wait for him and grieve

If he should not return. And she must be

Descended from our royal house or he

Would not concede. I wove this web of lies

And Clytemnestra never will be wise

As to the truthful purpose. She’ll believe

Iphigenia will be wed. Though we’ve

Another plan. And only five now know

The truth of where she’s truly meant to go

Just you and Calchas, Menelaus and

Odysseus and Castor know what’s planned

But plans can change and so can hearts so I

Have changed my mind. I cannot let her die

So I’ve composed another scroll to say

“Don’t bring her here.” Now leave without delay

Through dark of night deliver this, old man

Before they learn of my discarded plan

Make haste to Argos! You have served with great

Command for years. I hope it’s not too late

 

(ATTENDANT exits in haste and AGAMEMNON goes into his tent as a CHORUS OF CHALSIS WOMEN enter)

 

CHORUS

I SAILED DOWN THE RIVER

TRAVELED DOWN THE RIVER

TO AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS

TO THE END OF THE RIVER

THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER

 

WHERE THE RIVER IS DONE

I SAILED DOWN THE RIVER

AND THE SEA HAS BEGUN

TRAVELED DOWN THE RIVER

WHERE THE RIVER CEASES TO BE

TO AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS

AND THE RIVER BECOMES THE SEA

TO THE END OF THE RIVER

THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER

I LEFT MY HOME BEHIND

I LEFT MY CITY BEHIND

I CAME TO THE SEA

TO AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS

I CAME TO WITNESS A GLORIOUS SIGHT

I CAME TO BEHOLD THIS WONDROUS SIGHT

OF AN ARMY ASSEMBLED IN AULIS

(AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS)

AN ARMY OF MIGHTY MEN

THE MEN OF GREECE

I SEE A THOUSAND MEN

AND KNOW THERE ARE THOUSANDS MORE

THOUSANDS OF MEN AND A THOUSAND SHIPS

WAITING AT THE SHORE

WAITING AT THE SHORE

WAITING TO SAIL

READY TONIGHT

AND THEY ALL WILL PICK UP AN OAR

WHEN THE WIND WILL FINALLY ROAR

 

OUR HUSBANDS SAY THESE MEN ARE LED

BY THE NOBLE AGAMEMNON

OUR HUSBANDS SAY THAT THEY ARE LED

AND ALL THE MEN SAY THAT THEY ARE LED

BY THE NOBLE AGAMEMNON

AND HIS BROTHER MENELAUS

POOR MENELAUS

HAD A WIFE RIPPED FROM HIS BED

(HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN)

OH MENELAUS

HAD A WIFE RIPPED FROM HIS HOME

(HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN)

OH APHRODITE

GREAT APHRODITE

GAVE THE TROJAN PRINCE A GIFT

GAVE THE TROJAN PARIS THE SNARE OF LOVE

AS REWARD FOR REWARDING HER

AS REWARD FOR ANNOINTING HER

THE GREATEST BEAUTY OF ALL THE GODDESSES

 

BUT I ARRIVED HERE

(IN AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS)

AS I RAN THROUGH THE WOODS

THE SACRED GROVE OF ARTEMIS

(ARTEMIS ARTEMIS)

THE AIR WAS THICK

LIKE THE SMOKE FROM A STOVE

THE AIR WAS THICK WITH THE SMOKE OF SACRIFICE

AND I BLUSHED AS I RAN

AND I WAS FLUSHED AS I RAN

AS IF I WERE A MAIDEN FIRST LAYING EYES ON A MAN

I BEGAN TO BREATHE THE AIR SO THICK

THE AIR SO THICK WITH THE SMOKE OF SACRIFICE

AS I LOOKED BELOW

AT ALL THE MEN BELOW

THE ARMY WAITING THERE

THE MEN ALL WAITING THERE

 

I SEE THE MEN OF GREECE

THE MIGHTY MEN OF GREECE

THE SONS OF MEN WHOSE NAMES ALL RING

THROUGH THE WALLS OF EVERY CITY

THE WALLS OF EVERY VILLAGE

THEIR NAMES ALL RING

THROUGH THE WOODS AND THE CAVES

AND THE SAND BESIDE THE SEA

 

THEY ARE THE SONS OF THE SONS OF GREECE

THE SONS OF THE SONS OF THE SONS OF GREECE

EACH ROYAL HOUSE

EACH ROYAL LINE

EACH NAME GROWS GREATER

EACH HOUSE GROWS GREATER

FROM THE SONS OF THE SONS OF THE SONS OF GREECE

AND I SEE THEM THERE

AS THEY PREPARE

ALL THE SONS OF THE SONS OF THE SONS OF GREECE

AS THEY PREPARE

TO GO OUT THERE

FAR BEYOND THE LIGHT OF THE SUN

FAR BEYOND WHERE HORIZONS END

FAR BEYOND THE BOUNDS OF GREECE

 

AND THERE AMONG ALL THE SONS

AS MY EYE SEES HUNDREDS

AND THEN SEES THOUSANDS

OF THE SONS OF THE SONS OF THE SONS OF GREECE

THERE IS ONE

(HE’S A SON, HE’S A SON)

THERE IS ONE

(OF GREECE, OF GREECE, OF GREECE)

WHO STANDS SO TALL

THE MIGHTIEST OF ALL

A SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

THE GREAT ACHILLES

MIGHTY ACHILLES

IS HE MORTAL MAN OR GOD

NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN HIM BLEED

NO MORTAL CARRIES HIMSELF

ON LEGS AS STURDY

AS THE MIGHTIEST TREES

NO MORTAL WALKS WITH A GAIT

AS IF HE STRIDES THROUGH THE GREAT HALLS OF OLYMPUS

BUT HE’S A MAN

NOT A GOD

JUST A MAN

NOT A GOD

HE’S A SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

 

AND THERE AMONG THE MEN

I SEE ANOTHER MAN

HE’S A SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

THE MAN IS MERELY MORTAL

THE MAN IS CLEARLY MORTAL

FOR NO GOD WOULD LET ANOTHER MAN STEAL

A TREASURE FROM HIS BED

(HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN)

A TREASURE FROM HIS HOME

(HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN)

IT IS MENELAUS

POOR MENELAUS

WALKING SO QUICKLY

THOUGH THE WIND STANDS STILL

WALKING WITH PURPOSE

THOUGH THE WIND STAYS CALM

WITH HIS EYES SO FULL OF FEAR

WITH HIS EYES SO DEADLY STILL

AS STILL AS THE SEA THAT’S HERE

IN AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS

 

HERE’S MENELAUS

(IN AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS)

ANGRY MENELAUS

(THE SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE)

VENGEFUL MENELAUS

WITH HIS EYES SO DEADLY STILL

WITH A LOOK LIKE HE COULD KILL

FOR A SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

 

(ATTENDENT re-enters with MENELAUS. They are struggling over the scroll.)

 

ATTENDANT

How dare you Menelaus! You have gone

Too far

 

MENELAUS

Stay back from me you worthless pawn

You’re far too loyal to your master

 

ATTENDANT

Your

Reproach brings me great honor

 

MENELAUS

Say no more

Or be assured you will regret it. You

Are not a party to this matter

 

ATTENDANT

Do

You think you can just commandeer what I

Am carrying for Agamemnon? Why

Do you think you can read all that’s within?

Was it addressed to you?

 

MENELAUS

Do not begin

To try and contemplate the things I do

The words within all have the power to

Bring great calamity to all of us

 

ATTENDANT

Well then I think that’s something to discuss

With other people. But the scroll is mine

So give it here

 

MENELAUS

I won’t

 

ATTENDANT

Well that is fine

By me because I’m never letting go

 

MENELAUS

Then be assured that soon your head will know

The full weight of my scepter as I hit

You and your scalp drips blood

 

ATTENDANT

Consider it

My pleasure. It’s an honor if I die

In service to my master

 

MENELAUS

Oh you try

My patience. How you babble for a slave

 

(AGAMEMNON re-enters from his tent)

 

ATTENDANT

Oh Master how I pray you’re here to save

Me. I’ve been violated! And this man

Will not behave with dignity

 

AGAMEMNON

Who can

Inform me why there’s great disruption here

Outside my quarters?

 

MENELAUS

Well it should appear

My words have greater weight than his

 

(ATTENDANT releases his grip on the scroll and exits to AGAMEMNON’S tent)

 

AGAMEMNON

Tell me

Why did you struggle with him violently?

What did he do?

 

MENELAUS

Oh do you want to know?

I’d say the tale is in my eyes. Now go

And take a look if you should dare

 

AGAMEMNON

I dare?

My brother, I know surely you’re aware

I’m of the House of Atreus. No fear

Is in my eyes or anywhere

 

MENELAUS

But here

Within this scroll there is a message. There

Are many words and they are poison

 

AGAMEMNON

Share

The scroll with me and I will see. I trust

You’ll hand it off to me?

 

MENELAUS

No first I must

Go share it with my brave compatriots

 

AGAMEMNON

The seal is broken. That means you know what’s

Within although it wasn’t for your eyes

 

MENELAUS

I’ve seen the wicked plan that you disguise

By shrouding it in secrecy

 

AGAMEMNON

But how

Did you obtain it? Will The Gods allow

A shameless act done by a shameless man?

 

MENELAUS

I simply waited to deploy your plan

While waiting for your daughter to arrive

From Argos

 

AGAMEMNON

Do you really think that I’ve

A need to be observed and supervised?

And by the likes of you?

 

MENELAUS

I realized

That action was required and within

A spark of fire set me off. I’m in

No bounds to you my brother. I am not

Your slave

 

AGAMEMNON

 Oh foulest villain you forgot

Am I not master of my house?

 

MENELAUS

Not when

Your mind is muddled. Making plans and then

You turn around and do the opposite

And then you change your mind again

 

AGAMEMNON

Is it

A pleasure for you speaking such foul things?

They say a tongue that babbles only brings

The darkest hatred evil and despair

 

MENELAUS

A mind that vacillates is most unfair

To he who must possess it. And his friends

Will never know what’s next. So this depends

On how you will respond: I want to know

Will you now turn from truth? Or are you so

Enraged I can’t get through to you? I will

Not trouble you too long or speak until

I overstate my case. Remember when

You said you’d be enthused to lead the men

Of Greece against the Trojans? Even so

At first you hesitated. Though I know

Your heart was beating like a battle drum

You tried to act so humble and succumb

To politicians’ ruses. Grasping hands

And so accessible to all demands

From any man who crossed your path. And so

You gave an audience to all. Although

I know that some preferred that they were spared

That “honor.” Still it seems you were prepared

To purchase popularity and be

Commander to us all. Then suddenly

Your manner took a turn and there you were

No longer quite so cordial. You prefer

To hide yourself behind a door now. So

The men you called your friends can’t find you. Know

That men who have true worth would never try

To change themselves when fortune flies so high

And then forget who true friends truly are

When he can benefit them all. I’m far

From finished. I have just begun but that

Was just the sad first disappointment at

This port of Aulis. Here where all these men

Are waiting for a wind and don’t know when

It might arrive. This curse the Gods have sent

Now keeps you in a state of discontent

And now the men demand that you dismiss

These thousand ships and put an end to this

Impossible endeavor. Oh you look

Distressed from all the leadership you took

How you command a fleet that cannot move

However will you sail to Troy and prove

That we were most correct in choosing you

And you once questioned me, “What should I do?

The Gods have set a trap and I’m ensnared.”

Well I would say that you should be prepared

To lose your rank and honor and your name

Will now be sullied. Those that seek out fame

Might only find their own demise. And when

Your augur Calchas said to free the men

From waiting there must be a tribute to

Great Artemis, a sacrifice. Then you

Would have your wind and have your war. Then how

You seemed so eager, said you would allow

It and there was no argument. You sent

At once a message to your wife content

To let her think that she would greet a groom

Not knowing that you sealed your daughter’s doom

But now you simply changed your mind. I saw

The words within the scroll. So you withdraw

Your duty to your country and your men

And you won’t sacrifice your daughter when

The very air around us heard you say

You would. Well that is fine. As every day

One hears men claim that they will follow through

Resolving they will see their duty to

The end. But then they fail. You might just blame

The foolish citizens who praised their name

And put them into power. But I don’t

I blame the men themselves. As when they won’t

Protect their homeland they deserve their fate

But I myself just pray it’s not too late

For our beloved Grecian brothers. They

Had hoped to show barbarians the way

Our spears feel in their bellies. But it’s fine

Instead we’ll let them laugh at us. The swine

Of Troy will know that they were spared because

Of you and your fine daughter. Yes that was

Their saving grace. I truly hope that I

Will never make a man a leader by

Believing he has honor. Bravery

Is worthless. If you truly want defense

Then pray you choose a man with common sense

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

It’s truly not a thing to celebrate

When brothers battle spewing words of hate

 

AGAMEMNON

Allow me leave to criticize you too

But I’ll be brief and I won’t look at you

With eyes so full of judgment as I know

It is my brother I’m addressing. So

A good man knows to show respect. Tell me

Why do you speak your words so forcefully?

Your face and eyes blood red with anger. Why?

Were you so wronged? What are you missing? I

Am sorry that you couldn’t choose a bride

Possessed of virtue. Though I know you tried

To. Do not look at me to find a new

One who will keep fidelity to you

When you could not control the one you had

I have done nothing wrong here. It is sad

She slipped right through your fingers. But should I

Now suffer for your feelings? So is my

Success your inspiration? I say no.

It’s just your bed is cold and you are so

Dejected longing for your wife that you

Have cast aside all reason and you threw

Your honor to the wind. But who can say

If we can judge your actions by the way

You now conduct yourself. You have no shame

So who can judge you? Tell me if I came

To change my mind when I at first was wrong

Does that mean I am feeble? Yet you long

To capture your lost wife who fled from you?

And what a wicked wife at that. I do

Not claim to know the Gods true will but I

Might think they did a favor for you. Why

Did all those suitors try for Helen’s hand?

Yes that is something I can’t understand

And bounded by an oath? They should have known

But hope defeats all reason and it’s shown

Itself to be as strong as gods and that

Is all that binds these men. They came here at

Behest of hope not loyalty to you

Your strength does not inspire. Take them to

The brink of war. Their foolish hearts all yearn

For victory. But some will not return

Don’t think the Gods don’t know their oaths aren’t true

As they see everything. They know that you

All were just merely bonded with foul lust

That’s why I will not kill my daughter just

So you can go retrieve your worthless wife

Your need for vengeance isn’t worth her life

The blood that spills the tears I shed cannot

Cleanse me of such injustice. You have sought

An answer. Now you have one. Was I clear?

Concise? Well then I’d truly say that we’re

Now done. And if you still can’t comprehend

My staunch position then I recommend

You step out of my way. I take my leave

 

LEADER OF THE CHOURS

It seems your daughter now has a reprieve

These words are different. What was said before

Is lost upon the wind

 

MENELAUS

So there’s no more

Assistance and no options? And no friends?

 

AGAMEMNON

You won’t if you give them untimely ends

 

MENELAUS

I swear we could not share a father

 

AGAMEMNON

I

Will share your wisdom not your madness

 

MENELAUS

Try

To sympathize. All friends and families do

It

 

AGAMEMNON

Ask me for my sympathy when you

Are helping me. Not harming me

 

MENELAUS

So now

The needs of Greece are not your problem?

 

AGAMEMNON

How

Could I relieve this curse the Gods have sent?

 

MENELAUS

Then sit upon your throne and be content

To know that you betrayed your brother. I

Will seek a new solution using my

True friends.

 

(A MESSENGER enters in haste)

 

MESSENGER

Great Agamemnon, Lord and King

Of all the Greeks, I have arrived to bring

Iphigenia to you. With your bride

Her mother Clytemnestra at her side

And Clytemnestra carries your young son

Orestes. With the traveling you’ve done

I hope the sight of family warms your eyes

As they have traveled far you realize

They need a moment for refreshment. How

The road exhausted them. Their mares are now

Set loose to graze as all the ladies go

To set their feet within a fountain. So

I have arrived to herald they are here

So you can be prepared. When they came near

The army quickly stood. From tent to tent

Their murmurings portend a great event

Then all the men just rushed about to see

Your daughter. She’s been blessed so thoroughly

By Fortune that these merely mortal men

All dared to steal a glimpse of her. And then

They dared to ask, “Is this her wedding day?

Or did Great Agamemnon merely say

He yearned to see her so they whisked her here?”

But others whispered that it would appear

She was to be prepared for Artemis

The ruler of this land. And all of this

Was leading to a wedding. “Who will be

Her groom?” They wondered. So we soon will see

The marriage ritual performed you will

Both crown your heads and fill the baskets full

And my lord Menelaus you’ll prepare

The bridal music. Set the flutes right there

And let the music flow from tent to tent

And let the dancing start. As this is meant

To be a day of joyful blessings for

Your daughter

 

AGAMEMNON

I appreciate it more

Then you can ever know. No go within

And wait to see what Fate will bring

 

(MESSENGER exits into AGAMEMNON’S quarters)

 

Again

I’m at a loss for words or hope. How to

Begin to speak or find the words? I do

Not know how I’ve condemned myself or how

Cruel Fortune has reversed itself and now

I’ve been outwitted by myself. I see

The poorest man and envy him for he

Can be advantaged by his lowly state

And be allowed to weep and cry. But great

Men born to greatest houses have no choice

We have no compromises as our voice

Calls out commands to those we rule. Yet we

Are ruled as well by expectations. See

My shame. I’m full of tears that will not fall

Or I will fall as well. But should you call

Me callous if my eye is dry? How can

I face my wife? Tell me what kind of man

Could dare to greet her? I did not invite

Her here but now upon this darkest night

Her presence will destroy me. I can see

Why she would think she should accompany

Our daughter on this day when she believes

A wedding will take place. And who deceives

Her? It’s her base and wicked husband. Why

I ask you must my untouched daughter die?

She’ll be a bride but Hades is her groom

I pity her as I now seal her doom

How she will plead to me, “Oh Father no!

Don’t sacrifice me! Is this what you show

The world? That you would wed me to a blade?”

If only my young son Orestes stayed

Behind. But he is here and even though

He only is an infant he will know

That darkest acts commence here and he’ll cry

He has no words to speak but we’ll know why

He screams in protestations. Oh that fiend

The foul Prince Paris! You have intervened

In my affairs and for the worse so you

Could have your precious Helen

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

But I do

Have pity for you if you will permit

It. I am of another land but it

Shows grace to have some sympathy for he

Who suffers. Even when he’s royalty

 

MENELAUS

Please put your right hand here my brother

 

AGAMEMNON

I

Will give it to the victor knowing my

Defeat is my despair

 

MENELAUS

I fully swear

In name of our grandfather Pelops there

Is no way I’m deceiving you. And by

The name of Atreus I will not lie

I’m speaking simply from my heart. I see

My brother forcing back his tears. I’ll be

Soon holding back my own tears seeing your

Pain. I’m withdrawing all I said before

I will not burden you with death and fear

I see it now from your perspective. We’re

Not sacrificing anyone for me

Or my base interests when yours should be

Predominant. And how could I rejoice

When I had forced you to the foulest choice?

What right have I to say your children die

While mine still feel the sunlight? Tell me why

I wish this for myself? What do I need?

Another marriage? It is guaranteed

That I could find another worthy wife

So why should I destroy my brother’s life?

And all for Helen? Trading treasure for

Disloyal rubbish? Was I foolish or

Just mad with vengeance when I dared to plan

Your daughter’s sacrifice? What kind of man

Could order such an act? I feel for her

More than you can imagine. If I were

To let her bleed so I stay married? No.

My marriage isn’t worth a murder so

I say she won’t be Helen’s victim too

She had nothing to do with it. Now you

Can go disband the army. Set them free

Just like those tears you needed. You’ll make me

Start crying too if you should start. I will

Not heed an oracle that calls to kill

A child that’s not mine. The choice is yours

Alone. And what’s this change that now implores

Me to abandon acts of hatred? I

Remembered that you are my brother. Why

Would I do otherwise? I pity he

Whose hatred blinds him to his family

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

Your ancestors should be most proud to see

Your words displaying generosity

 

AGAMEMNON

You are to be commended brother for

Your change of heart and selfless act. It’s more

Than anything expected. We are bound

As brothers and by blood. And I have found

That those so close within a house can find

Themselves embattled. And that is the kind

Of bitterness that I abhor. And I

Am sad to say your selflessness is my

Undoing. As although we all have failed

To launch these ships it seems this ship has sailed

There is no turning back now and we must

Now sacrifice my daughter

 

MENELAUS

Tell me just

Who might dare to compel you?

 

AGAMEMNON

Look out there

I see an army that’s assembled

 

MENELAUS

Dare

You send her home to Argos?

 

AGAMEMNON

Yes I could

Perhaps and be unnoticed. But there would

Still be another issue

 

MENELAUS

What could be

Preventing you? As surely you don’t see

This group of soldiers as a threat?

 

AGAMEMNON

My seer.

My augur Calchas still is stationed here

And he may tell the men his prophecy

 

MENELAUS

Not if I hold his tongue with death. Then he

Will keep it to himself

 

AGAMEMNON

All augurs are

A curse on men. They look upon a star

And read the future only seeking to

Fulfill their own ambition

 

MENELAUS

And they do

No good at all. And yet they’re always near

 

AGAMEMNON

And you have not considered what I fear

The most

 

MENELAUS

How can I know your thoughts if you

Don’t tell me?

 

AGAMEMNON

There’s another person who

Knows everything

 

MENELAUS

You mean Odysseus?

What do you fear? He’s not a threat to us

 

AGAMEMNON

The wind here does not move but know that he

Can change just like the wind and viciously

Whip men into a mob in moments

 

MENELAUS

He

Has such a need for notoriety

And he’s enslaved by it

 

AGAMEMNON

He will stand there

Can you envision it? And that is where

He’ll raise a rage within the mob of men

Repeating all the words of Calchas. Then

He’ll say I offered Artemis a prize

And then did not deliver it. Their eyes

Will fill with rage and he will tell them to

Give Her the blood She craves from me and you

And kill Iphigenia anyway

But if I should escape to Argos they

Will follow close behind with sword and spear

And raze the city to the ground. I fear

My challenges are insurmountable

I drown in misery and feel the pull

Of all Olympus tearing me to dust

Oh Menelaus, I know I can trust

You with this: Don’t let Clytemnestra know

What Fate has spun today. As I now go

To take my daughter on a journey where

The road will lead to Hades. Maybe there

Will be far fewer tears this way

 

(AGAMEMNON addresses the CHORUS)

 

And you

You women there of Chalcis. You will do

Yourselves a favor keeping this among

Yourselves. I recommend you hold your tongue

 

(AGAMEMNON and MENELAUS exit)

 

CHORUS

OH APHRODITE

GREAT APHRODITE

MAY YOU BLESS US WITH A BREATH OF LOVE

JUST A BRIEF AND FLEETING KISS OF LOVE

NOT A BREATHLESS TIGHT EMBRACE OF LOVE

FROM WHICH NO ONE GETS RELEASED

EMBRACED BY TWO ARMS AND ENCASED IN MADNESS

HELD SO TIGHT THAT EACH BREATH BELONGS

TO THE ONE WHO HOLDS YOUR HEART

HELD SO TIGHT LIKE A READY BOW

LIKE THE BOW OF EROS

READY TO RELEASE

TWO SHARP ARROWS

TWO SHARP ARROWS

ONE THAT WILL STRIKE YOU

LIKE A WARM SUMMER’S DAY

ONE THAT WILL BLESS

THAT WILL BLESS

THAT WILL BLESS

THAT WILL BLESS YOU WITH HAPPINESS

HAPPINESS

BUT THE OTHER WILL STRIKE YOU A DIFFERENT WAY

LIKE A COLD WINTER NIGHT WITH NO MOON IN THE SKY

A LONG LONELY NIGHT THAT NO FIRE CAN WARM

EVEN IF YOUR LOVE IS THERE

IT WILL ONLY BRING DESPAIR

 

OH APHRODITE

GREAT APHRODITE

WE BEG OF YOU

PRAY TO YOU

BE A WARM SUMMER DAY

(LIKE A BRIEF AND FLEETING KISS)

NOT A COLD WINTER’S NIGHT

(EMBRACED IN TWO ARMS AND ENCASED IN MADNESS)

FROM A NIGHTMARE

FROM WHICH WE CAN’T AWAKE

FROM WHICH WE CAN’T AWAKE

 

WE ARE ONLY MORTAL

WE DON’T LIVE AS GODS

AND YET WE CAN HOPE TO ATTAIN

A TOUCH OF GRACE

A HINT OF THE DIVINE

 

TRUE VIRTUE CAN ALWAYS BE SEEN

ALL MEN CAN LEARN

TO BE GOOD

TO BE TRUE

BUT IT’S BETTER TO BE BORN

BEING GOOD

BEING TRUE

AND TO KNOW THAT BRINGS TRUE WISDOM

(ALL MEN CAN LEARN TO BE GOOD)

AND IT IS BEYOND ALL GLORY

(BETTER TO BE BORN BEING GOOD)

AS A WOMAN HOLDS HER LOVE

QUIETLY IN HER HEART

AS A MAN CONTROLS HIS NEEDS

SO THE NEEDS OF HIS CITY AND HIS COUNTRYMEN

GO BEFORE ALL THE NEEDS OF A LOWLY MAN

ALL MEN CAN LEARN

TO BE GOOD

TO BE TRUE

BUT IT’S BETTER TO BE BORN

BEING GOOD

BEING TRUE

 

AND PARIS DIDN’T LEARN

TO BE GOOD

TO BE TRUE

AND WE KNOW HE WASN’T BORN

BEING GOOD

BEING TRUE

AND HE TOOK A WOMAN’S HEART

A HEART THAT WASN’T GOOD

A HEARTS THAT WASN’T TRUE

AND THEY TOOK OFF THROUGH THE NIGHT

ON A COLD WINTER NIGHT WITH NO MOON IN THE SKY

A LONG LONELY NIGHT THAT NO FIRE CAN WARM

EVEN IF YOUR LOVE IS THERE

IT WILL ONLY BRING DESPAIR

 

NOW THESE MEN WILL SAIL

THROUGH THE NIGHT

THROUGH THE NIGHT

FOR THE NEEDS OF HIS CITY AND HIS COUNTRYMEN

THE NEEDS OF HIS CITY AND HIS COUNTRYMEN

TO BREAK HER FROM THIS CURSE

FROM APHRODITE’S CURSE

 

WHAT DO I SEE APPROACHING

WHO DO I SEE APPROACHING

IT IS IPHIGENIA

THE DAUGHTER OF THE KING

AND CLYTEMNESTRA

THE WIFE OF THE KING

BEHOLD THEIR GREATNESS

BESTOWED BY THE GODS

BEHOLD GREAT FORTUNE

BEYOND OURSELVES

BEYOND OUR LIVES

BEYOND OUR REACH

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA enters with ORESTES in her arms with IPHIGENIA following. They are accompanied by ATTENDANTS)

 

LET US GREET THE QUEEN

CLYTEMNESTRA

SEE THAT HER PATH IS FREE

FROM DANGER

SEE THAT HER PATH IS FREE

FROM TROUBLE

LET US GREET

IPHIGENIA

SEE THAT HER PATH IS FREE

FROM DANGER

SEE THAT HER PATH IS FREE

FROM TROUBLE

 

WE THE WOMEN OF CHALCIS

GREET THE WORTHY WIFE OF AGAMEMNON

THE DAUGHTER OF AGAMEMNON

WE ARE ONLY MORTAL

WE DON’T LIVE AS GODS

AND YET WE CAN HOPE TO ATTAIN

A TOUCH OF GRACE

A HINT OF THE DIVINE

WE THE WOMEN OF CHALCIS

GREET YOU WORTHY QUEEN

WORTHY QUEEN

WORTHY QUEEN

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I take your welcome as an omen that

Will bring great fortune. All this kindness at

The site of my young daughter’s wedding will

Bring happiness to her. If you could fill

Your arms with all these gifts I bring. They are

Her dowry. Please take them inside. Now our

Young Prince Orestes, Agamemnon’s son,

Should see this sight as well

 

(she speaks to ORESTES)

 

Now little one,

I know you’re very tired from our ride

But wake to see your sister as a bride

Now you must bless her with your presence. You

Are noble like her groom Achilles. Do

You know you’ll now be kinsmen?

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA hands him off to an ATTENDANT, then addresses IPHIGENIA:)

 

Stand by me

Iphigenia my sweet daughter. Be

Beside me so these strangers see my pride

And joy. And now your father comes outside

So welcome him my child

 

(AGAMEMNON has re-entered from his quarters)

 

Oh my king

And lord, Great Agamemnon. And I bring

Our precious daughter as commanded

 

IPHIGENIA

Be

Not angry with me Mother if I see

My father and I run to him from you

 

(she rushes to AGAMEMNON)

 

Oh father it has been too long. I do

Forget myself and run when I first see

Your face and hope you’ll hold me. Do not be

Upset with me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Do not apologize

Do what you will. I surely recognize

Of all my children you most surely are

The most devoted to your father

 

IPHIGENIA

Far

Too long has passed since I have seen you. I

Am most contented

 

AGAMEMNON

As am I. And my

Sweet sentiments are same as yours

 

IPHIGENIA

Hail to

Great Agamemnon! I am thankful you

Have brought me here

 

AGAMEMNON

I don’t know what to say

I’m not sure I am worthy of the way

You praise me

 

IPHIGENIA

Father you should be at ease

And not look so uncomfortable. No please

Look happy that you see me

 

AGAMEMNON

Everything

Brings pressures. And a general and king

Has more than most

 

IPHIGENIA

But maybe for today

You’ll set your worries free. Then you may say

You’re only here for me

 

AGAMEMNON

Yes I am here

And only here for you

 

IPHIGENIA

Then you should clear

Your brow of tension and release your eyes

From pain and sadness

 

AGAMEMNON

How it gratifies

Me when I see you. More than anyone

 

IPHIGENIA

But I still see your sadness isn’t done

There’s tears within your eyes

 

AGAMEMNON

Well yes there are

Because I know I’ll have to travel far

From you

 

IPHIGENIA

How far is Troy?

 

AGAMEMNON

Across the sea

Where I wish there had never come to be

The foul Prince Paris

 

IPHIGENIA

And I cannot take

The voyage with you?

 

AGAMEMNON

Daughter when you make

Such sense it pains me all the more

 

IPHIGENIA

Then I

Will say some foolish things in hopes that my

Dull words will comfort you

 

AGAMEMNON (aside)

This is too much

The words that must be said to her are such

A burden

 

(turns back to IPHIGENIA)

 

Thank you for the offer my

Dear girl

 

IPHIGENIA

Stay here with us my father

 

AGAMEMNON

I

Can only hope for that. But sadly Fate

Has other plans for me

 

IPHIGENIA

I truly hate

The need for war. Let Menelaus go

And fight his inconveniences

 

AGAMEMNON

I know

That if I don’t accept Fate’s fickle touch

I’ll pass it onto others

 

IPHIGENIA

It’s been such

A long time that you all have waited here

In Aulis. And for what?

 

AGAMEMNON

It would appear

That I’ve been hindered in my quest

 

IPHIGENIA

Take me

Along on your long voyage. I will be

A member of your crew

 

AGAMEMNON

Your future has

A voyage you must take. Remember as

You travel that you have a father

 

IPHIGENIA

Do

I make the trip with mother? Or are you

Inferring that I go alone?

 

AGAMEMNON

You’ll be

Alone. Without your mother or with me

 

IPHIGENIA

Then where am I to go? Where do you send

Me?

 

AGAMEMNON

No, enough of this. Let’s not pretend

A maiden needs to know these things

 

IPHIGENIA

But you

Will hurry home from Troy when this is through?

As you return triumphant

 

AGAMEMNON

But before

I take these ships to seek a foreign shore

I must commit a sacrifice

 

IPHIGENIA

What do

The Gods demand for sacrificing?

 

AGAMEMNON

You

Will be a witness to it. And you’ll be

Beside the altar

 

IPHIGENIA

You’re expecting me

To lead a dance around the altar?

 

AGAMEMNON

Oh

I only wish like you I did not know

The truth. Now go within before the men

Should dare to see you. I am troubled when

I see the face that kisses me is strained

And when your hand is holding mine I’m pained

To know our travels take us very far

Away from one another. Oh you are

A beauty through and through with golden hair

How Troy now burdens us beyond compare

And all for Helen. Cursed Helen! I

Must not continue. Or within my eye

I’ll drop another tear from holding you

So go within at once.

 

(IPHIGENIA exits. AGAMEMNON turns to CLYTEMNESTRA)

 

I truly do

Seek out your pardon Leda’s Daughter. I

Revealed my bare emotions knowing my

Dear daughter now will be Achilles’ bride

A father’s love still cannot be denied

I see another path for her and know

It’s natural that one day children go

Away to their new homes. Yet I despair

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Do you think I’m insensitive? Prepare

To see a similar response when I

Lead her into her wedding. I will cry

Along with all the wedding hymns. I will

Not judge you for your feelings. And until

Some time has passed I’m certain we won’t be

Ourselves. But now I ask that you tell me

The details of this man she’ll marry. He

Is of what house and lineage? I know

His name and nothing else

 

AGAMEMNON

Some years ago

There was a girl Aegina daughter to

Asopus

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

You must merely tell me who

She married. Was he mortal or was he

A god?

 

AGAMEMNON

It was great Zeus. And then soon she

Gave birth to Aeacus of Cenone

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Then

Which son inherited his kingdom when

He passed to Hades?

 

AGAMEMNON

Peleus. Then he

Was wedded to Great Thetis.

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Willingly?

With all the Gods approval?

 

AGAMEMNON

Zeus agreed

And as his word is law there was no need

For anyone’s approval or dissent

 

 

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Where did they make the marriage covenant?

Among the ocean’s waves?

 

AGAMEMNON

On sacred land

Where Chiron dwells

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Am I to understand

She wed among the centaurs?

 

AGAMEMNON

It is said

The Gods were there among them

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And who led

The education of Achilles?

 

AGAMEMNON

He

Was mostly raised by Chiron so he’d be

Protected from all mortal vices

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Then

I’d say that’s very wise. There’s virtue when

You choose to let immortals raise a son

 

AGAMEMNON

Well that’s his lineage. And he just won

Our daughter’s hand

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Well I cannot complain

But tell me where his home is?

 

AGAMEMNON

On a plain

Beside the river Apidanus

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

So

He’ll take our untouched daughter there?

 

AGAMEMNON

She’ll go

With him if he commands it. He is now

Her lord

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I pray Olympus will allow

Them every happiness. And what will be

Their wedding day?

 

AGAMEMNON

It’s on the day we see

The moon is round and full to bless the day

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But what about the sacrifice?

 

(AGAMEMNON is momentarily stunned by this)

 

The way

To truly bless the marriage is to make

An offering to our Great Goddess

 

AGAMEMNON

Take

Some comfort in the fact that I’m about

To do that very thing. So have no doubt

It will be done

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And then there has to be

A wedding feast thereafter. Hopefully

You’ll be there

 

AGAMEMNON

I will be there after I

Complete my duties to the Gods

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I’ll try

To make a feast for all the women. Though

I don’t know where to set it

 

AGAMEMNON

It can go

Right here beside our ships

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I will make do

With this location. But I think that you

Are well aware it’s insufficient

 

AGAMEMNON

Do

What I command my lady. Or have you

Forgotten that you must obey me?

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I

Obey you as I always have

 

AGAMEMNON

Then try

To see that with the wedding plans I will

Control the situation

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I’ll stand still

And will not say a thing. For who am I?

I’m just the mother of the bride. Please try

To execute a woman’s duties. Go

Exert yourself

 

AGAMEMNON

You’ll leave your daughter so

She can be married here among the men

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And where am I to do my duties when

This happens?

 

AGAMEMNON

You’ll return to Argos where

You can attend the women

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

If I’m there

Then who will raise the torch and who will be

Attending to our daughter’s needs?

 

AGAMEMNON

I’ll see

That when the ritual begins I will

Be there and hold a torch for her

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But still

That’s not the way that proper things are done

Tradition is important

 

AGAMEMNON

Everyone

Within this camp are men. You should not be

Among these brutish soldiers

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Don’t you see

A mother’s place is here. You’ll give away

Our daughter without me?

 

AGAMEMNON

Well so you say

But I say you belong at home. That’s where

There’s women waiting unattended

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

There

Is no way they will be corrupted. They

Are all within thick walls

 

AGAMEMNON

You will obey

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

No! I will call to Hera! She will hear

My plea. You may rule all from far and near

And all the land you see. But once within

The walls of home a wife can then begin

To have her say as well. And so I say

That I’m defining what’s the proper way

To hold a wedding and who should be there

So stop an angry mother if you dare

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA exits with the ATTENDANTS in tow, one of them carries ORESTES)

 

AGAMEMNON

I am beyond all hope my plans destroyed

I hoped to send her off so she’d avoid

The ritual that comes. I had to lie

Deceiving those I love the most. Now I

Will have no option but to do the deed

Consulting Calchas asking what I need

To do to please the goddess, seeking her

Forgiveness. Though I truly would prefer

That I did not hold all of Greece inside

Myself when I protect our country’s pride

While I destroy my heart. A man can wed

A wife or country. Either way he’ll head

To Hades in the end. When all is done

No man will ever rescue everyone

 

(AGAMEMNON exits)

 

CHORUS

THERE ACROSS THE SEA

LIES THE CITY OF TROY

OUR MEN WILL CROSS THE SEA

TO THE CITY OF TROY

WHERE APOLLO’S LIGHT

SHINES SILVER ON THE WAVES

BY THE CITY OF TROY

THE CITY OF TROY

 

AND CASSANDRA STANDS

IN THE CITY OF TROY

A PROPHETESS

IN THE CITY OF TROY

AS SHE TOSSES HER HAIR

IT FLOWS AND FLOWS

LIKE THE WAVES ON THE SEA

IT FLOWS AND FLOWS

AND THE WIND WHISPERS TO HER

THEN SHE KNOWS

THEN SHE KNOWS

WHAT WILL COME TO BE

IN THE CITY OF TROY

BESIDE THE SEA

BESIDE THE SEA

 

AND CASSANDRA WEARS

A GARLAND OF LAUREL

THAT IS COVERED WITH FLOWERS

AND THE TROJANS WAIT

ON THE TOPS OF THEIR TOWERS

PATIENTLY

BESIDE THE SEA

IN THE CITY OF TROY

IN THE CITY OF TROY

 

SOON THEY WILL SEE

A THOUSAND SHIPS

AND THOUSANDS OF MEN

WHO CAME ACROSS THE SEA

TO RETRIEVE ONE WOMAN

HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN

BY SHIELD AND SPEAR

THEY’LL RETURN HER HERE

TO GREECE GREECE GREECE GREECE

 

AS THE WAVES OF THE SEA

FLOW AND FLOW

A RIVER WILL ALSO FLOW

A RIVER THAT IS BORN ANEW

A RIVER THAT HAS NO NAME

A RIVER OF BLOOD

THAT WILL FLOW AND FLOW

WITH THE BLOOD OF TROJAN MEN

AND ARES WILL SING

AS THE SOLDIERS SHOUT

AS THE TROJAN WALLS

ARE PAINTED RED WITH BLOOD

AS THEIR MEN GET STABBED

AND THEIR CITY IS SACKED

FROM THE GROUND TO THE SKY

AND SO MANY MEN WILL DIE

LEAVING PRIAM’S WIFE TO CRY

QUEEN HECUBA WILL CRY

AND LEFT THERE

ALL ALONE

IS HELEN

HELEN HELEN HELEN

A DAUGHTER OF GREAT ZEUS

WILL CRY AND CRY AND CRY

FOR PARIS THE MAN WHO TOOK HER AWAY

FOR PARIS THE MAN WHO LEFT HER ALONE

AND THEN A THOUSAND SHIPS

WILL TURN TO TAKE HER HOME

ON A THOUSAND SHIPS

TO GREECE GREECE GREECE GREECE

 

MAY I NEVER KNOW A TIME

MAY I NEVER KNOW THE PAIN

WHEN MY HOMELAND IS ATTACKED

WHEN MY CITY IS BURNED AND SACKED

MAY MY CHILDREN NEVER KNOW A TIME

MAY MY CHILDREN NEVER KNOW THE PAIN

WHEN THEIR CITY IS BURNED TO ASHES

WHEN THEIR CITY IS ONLY EMBERS

WHEN THE CONQUERING SOLDIERS SAUNTER IN

WHEN THE CONQUERING SOLDIERS GRAB THE HAIR

OF THE WOMEN LEFT BEHIND

AND MAKE THEM A CONCUBINE

MAY THAT FATE NOT BE MINE

 

WHEN THE TROJAN MEN ALL DIE

AND THE TROJAN WOMEN CRY

AS THEIR CITY BURNS TO ASHES

AS THEIR CITY IS ONLY EMBERS

IT ALL WILL BE

IT WILL ONLY BE

THE FAULT OF HELEN

HELEN HELEN HELEN

THE DAUGHTER OF ZEUS

HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN

 

WE CAN HEAR GREAT TALES

OF MORTALS AND GODS

A HUNDRED WAYS

A THOUSAND WAYS

WE CAN HEAR OF DEATH AND WAR AND STRIFE

A HUNDRED TIMES

A THOUSAND TIMES

BUT WHAT WILL WE LEARN

WHAT WILL WE EVER LEARN

 

AND THE WAVES OF THE SEA

WILL FLOW AND FLOW

AND THE WAVES OF THE SEA

WILL FLOW AND FLOW

AND THE WAVES OF THE SEA

WILL FLOW AND FLOW

 

(ACHILLES enters)

 

ACHILLES

Please tell me where among these tents I’ll find

The leader of the Greeks? Who might be kind

Enough to tell him that Achilles is

Awaiting him? Or maybe one of his

Manservants might be bothered? I am just

The son of Peleus that’s all. I must

Inform him our delay here truly is

An inconvenience. Tell him some of his

Men are unmarried so they’ve left their land

And homes unguarded. But then understand

The married men are mad as well for they

Have left behind their wives and children. Day

By day we loiter here and all for what?

We have some passion for adventure. But

All Greece is clamoring as well. And I

Believe the Gods all have a hand in. My

Opinions should be heard as so should all

Who might have one as well. I heard the call

To arms and I responded leaving my

Most sacred home and land behind. Now I

Just wait here for a wind and all the men

I brought with me just constantly ask when

We might depart. “Oh Great Achilles how

Are we still stationed here? Let’s travel now

To Troy and start our war!” We need to see

Some action or a resolution. Be

Pragmatic or productive. Or you may

Discover that these men have gone away

If you won’t lead them. Come out! Let’s discuss

What will commence you Sons of Atreus

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA enters)

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Son of the Goddess, salutations. I

Just heard your words within the tent. That’s why

I came out here to greet you

 

ACHILLES

Modesty

Cannot prepare me for the sight I see

This vision that’s before me. Beautiful

Beyond compare

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I see you’re dutiful

To modesty. I’m pleased. As we’ve not met

It’s not surprise that you don’t know me

 

ACHILLES

Yet

I’m wondering who might this woman be

Among these Greeks that I can barely see

As they are standing with their shields in hand

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I’m Leda’s daughter Clytemnestra. And

I am the wife of Agamemnon

 

ACHILLES

Well

That clears all questions. Though I should not dwell

Here. I cannot be seen engaging you

In conversation. You’re a woman

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Do

Remain. You should not leave just take my hand

To bless the marriage

 

ACHILLES

I don’t understand

I cannot take your hand in mine. What would

Your husband Agamemnon say? I should

Not take what’s his as mine

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But you can take

It rightfully as yours as you will make

A marriage with my daughter

 

ACHILLES

Did you say

A marriage? What is this? There is no way

That could be true. Have you gone mad? Did you

Invent this in your mind just now?

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I do

Declare all men are similar. So shy

When faced with a commitment. Then they try

To run when they’re reminded

 

ACHILLES

Hear each word

I say great lady: I have never heard

Of anything regarding marriage and

I have not wooed her. Do you understand?

None of the Sons of Atreus have said

A word of this to me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Was I misled?

I do not understand. The words you say

Are mysteries to me in the same way

My words do not make sense to you

 

ACHILLES

I’ll try

To guess and say we’re both correct. But my

Belief is that we’re both deceived

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I’m so

Humiliated. Like a fool I go

Off on a marriage tangent unaware

The marriage I believe in isn’t there

I’m so ashamed

 

ACHILLES

Someone has played a game

With both of us. But you should not feel shame

I say we both forget it

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I must go

I cannot face you knowing that you know

That I was made a fool of

 

ACHILLES

And I will

Bid you farewell as well. But yet I still

Seek out your husband

 

(ATTENDANT calls out from within Agamemnon’s quarters)

 

ATTENDANT

Greetings stranger you

Descendant of Aeacus. You must do

Us honor by remaining here. You are

Descended from a goddess. Don’t go far

And you my mistress Leda’s daughter. Hail!

 

ACHILLES

Who is this creature you’ve engaged to wail

Through open doors? His voice betrays his fear

 

ATTENDANT

I think I’m better off if I stay here

I merely am a slave and nothing more

I can’t ascend past yelling through a door

So why should I take risks or hope to be

A better man? I don’t need dignity

 

ACHILLES

Then who do you belong to? You’re not mine

I don’t share you with Agamemnon. Whine

To him through doors but stay away from me

 

ATTENDANT

That lady standing there before you? She

Received me from her father

 

ACHILLES

Why am I

Still waiting here? Why is it that you try

Delaying me?

 

ATTENDANT

Are you alone with her?

Outside the door?

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Yes and we would prefer

That you address us face to face. So you

Will now extract yourself

 

(ATTENDANT slowly enters from Agamemnon’s quarters)

 

ATTENDANT

May Fortune do

Its best and so may I. So we can see

The one I wish to save be saved

 

ACHILLES

Well we

May see that speech do well another day

The words have weight but nothing that you say

Has meaning

 

(ATTENDANT kneels before CLYTEMNESTRA and takes her hand)

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

You may take my hand but still

You mustn’t fear in telling me. I will

Protect you

 

ATTENDANT

Mistress you must know by now

The kind of character I have. And how

I am devoted to you thoroughly

And also to your children

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I agree

For many years you’ve served me well

 

ATTENDANT

I was

Included in your dowry. And because

Of that King Agamemnon owns me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Yes

You came along with me

 

ATTENDANT

Still you might guess

That I am loyal to you and I’m bound

In duty to you. But I have not found

Myself as loyal to your husband

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Tell

Me now what words you’re holding

 

ATTENDANT

Very well

You soon will hear your daughter has been slain

And by your husband’s hand

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Are you insane?

What is this madness? You are getting old

And so confused. The lie that you just told

Cannot be true

 

ATTENDANT

He’ll slice the virgin skin

Upon her throat upon his blade

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I’m in

A world gone mad. I will not hear this. Has

My husband lost his mind?

 

ATTENDANT

He’s lucid as

Can be. Except for this. He’s lost his mind

Forgetting he’s a father and he’s blind

To reason

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But I do not understand

Who has convinced him? Tell me what fiend planned

This foul atrocity?

 

ATTENDANT

There came to be

An oracle that Calchas claimed would see

Our fleet trapped here until the deed was done

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

To send the army off? Can anyone

Know how this kills me knowing he will kill

Our daughter so they catch a wind?

 

ATTENDANT

Until

They reach the halls of Troy they will not rest

As they help Menelaus on his quest

Retrieving Helen

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

So for her I’ll see

My daughter slaughtered as a guarantee

A prophecy will come to pass?

 

ATTENDANT

That is

The full extent of what I know: That his

Intention is to sacrifice her to

Great Artemis

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But why did he go through

This masquerade of marriage? Bringing me

From Argos

 

ATTENDANT

He was certain you would be

More likely to arrive if you believed

Your daughter would be wed

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But he deceived

Us both. And I’ve delivered her to be

Destroyed as I will be as well

 

ATTENDANT

Yes he

Is so conniving plotting to devise

A deadly trap for both of you

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

My eyes

Cannot hold back the tears. I’ll break apart

From this assault of pain

 

ATTENDANT

Relieve your heart

Of bitter grief. It’s natural to mourn

If you should lose a child and she’s torn

From you

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But how old man did you first know

Of this dark plot?

 

ATTENDANT

He ordered me to go

To you with a retraction to the scroll

He sent at first

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

So what then was his goal?

To stay at home or bring our daughter here

For her destruction?

 

ATTENDANT

No he made it clear

That you were to remain at home. He was

Within his senses at that point

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

How does

It happen that you were delivering

A letter but you never came to bring

It to me?

 

ATTENDANT

Menelaus took it right

From my two hands. That man is full of spite

And he has caused this misery

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Do you

Hear this oh Son of Peleus?

 

ACHILLES

I do

I hear this misery and feel the fool

To think your husband used me as a tool

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But can’t you see they’ll slay my daughter? And

They used you as the bait as if they planned

To marry her to you

 

ACHILLES

Your husband is

To blame for this and I’m disgusted. His

Foul acts are not unnoticed

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I will not

Be limited by shame. I know I ought

To show respect before you as you are

Descended from The Gods and I am far

Beneath you as a mortal. But I will

Now set aside all shame and beg until

I can secure my daughter’s life.

 

(she throws herself on her knees before him)

 

Oh please

I’m here before you begging on my knees

Descendant of Olympus, aid me now

She never truly was your bride but how

Can you ignore her now? She’s there within

Prepared to be your bride and covered in

Fine wreaths and garlands. And expecting you

Instead she’ll find that I’ve prepared her to

Be sacrificed instead of wed. You know

That you will seem responsible. Although

You never truly were her groom they’ll say

You still were party to this in a way

Because she only came here thinking you

Would marry her. Who cares if it were true?

 

(she reaches for his beard)

 

I’ll supplicate before you. My right hand

Now holds your beard. I beg you understand

My pleas and in your mother’s name I call

Upon you in your name. That’s how this all

Began. Your name was used and so I fell

Into this trap. So can you really tell

Me you will not assist now? You are bound

By honor aren’t you? This unholy ground

I kneel upon is all I have. I’m not

Near any friends or family. You have got

To help me in my time of need. You know

What Agamemnon did to us. It’s so

Beyond contempt and truly cruel. And I

Am here alone a woman. Should I try

Convincing all these soldiers on my own?

These wild men and sailors who have shown

They lust for blood by coming here? But they

May listen to a man like you. Just say

You will protect us. Please! Stretch out your arm

And then we’ll know that we won’t come to harm

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

Just hear a mother’s cries, it’s like a spell

Their love is most unbounded. You can’t tell

What limits they will pass when seeking to

Protect their young. There’s nothing they won’t do

 

ACHILLES

As I was born with tendency to be

High minded I can moderate and see

Both fortune and misfortune. Mortal men

Have highest highs and lowest lows and then

They’ll prosper letting wisdom lead the way

Or they may turn their back on it. I say

That either way is valid. I was raised

In Chiron’s holy halls and now I’m praised

For my straightforward manner. Still I will

Obey the Sons of Atreus until

Their orders go against my judgment. So

I use my spear on my own terms although

I always seek to honor Ares. Be

It here in Aulis or in Troy I’m free

To follow my own righteous path. But you

Dear lady, how I see you suffer through

This nightmare that your husband made to be

I truly feel for you and I will see

That this will all be rectified. I may

Be young but I will surely find a way

To save this girl they called my bride. My name

Was used in vain but I won’t live in shame

From knowing that a sacrifice commenced

One where a father held the blade against

Her throat. For I am not your husband’s toy

He will not use my name and then destroy

Your daughter. Nor am I a weapon. Your

Own husband is the villain here. All for

The promise of a marriage we are all

Anointed with a bloody mark and fall

Before our fellow man impure and bound

To guilt. And should she bleed upon the ground

A virgin and an innocent? How can

We let her die? Tell me what kind of man

Is worse? Could it be me were I not born

The son of Peleus? But we adorn

The likes of Menelaus with respect?

Though am I just as base if I accept

Your husband’s machinations? So I swear

In name of all the Gods whose blood I bear

King Agamemnon will not do this deed

He won’t so much as touch her robes. He’ll heed

My warnings if he’s wise or he will know

The glory of my ancestors. I’ll show

That charlatan foul Calchas prophecies

And ones he won’t see coming. A disease

On men these augurs need to go away

As they perform their rituals they say

The things they claim will come to be and then

Their dark predictions are forgotten when

The future comes to pass and they are wrong

But as for marriage? Well there is a long

Long line of maidens clamoring for me

But I don’t help you just so I can be

Presented as an honest suitor. No

Your husband has insulted me. It’s so

Outrageous that he stole my name and used

It as enticement. I would have refused

If I were asked. And you so eagerly

Believed it all. Though it can never be

My name is only mine but I would lend

It to the Greeks should victory depend

On it. And if it raised a wind to Troy

There is no action I would not employ

If it would help my Grecian brothers. But

It seems our leaders truly don’t know what

They seek from me. Am I their friend or foe?

But soon I’ll draw my sword and they will know

I might just draw some blood before we leave

For Troy. And should they think they can achieve

Abduction of your daughter while I stand

Protecting her then soon and by my hand

They’ll find that it’s their blood that soon will spill

Yet vigilance is needed. Be so still

And leave this task to me. Although I’m so

Just like a god to your eyes you must know

In truth I’m still a mortal. But I’ll try

To prove I’m worthy of the Gods on High

Olympus

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

Son of Peleus you are

Most worthy of your lineage and far

Beyond all mortal men. Your words ring true

Your sacred mother should be proud of you

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

If only I could find the words that would

Give you the praise you so deserve. Though should

I praise you much too far or far too less

I hope to stay within your favor. Yes

It is quite possible the praised get strained

If those who praise them leave their tongues unchained

And prattle on with gratitude. Still I

Am so ashamed to burden you with my

Ordeal. My troubles don’t belong to you

But when a man of means says he will do

An honorable act to help someone

Whose honor does not match his own he’s done

A truly worthy deed indeed. And here

I am so unconnected to you. Fear

Is gripping me completely. Still I plea

For pity from you. I so foolishly

Believed we would be bound as kinsmen. Though

If she had died from this then you must know

It could be like the darkest omen to

Destroy all future marriage plans for you

But how your words were powerful from first

To last. And now my daughter isn’t cursed

To die as it seems you are willing to

Protect her. But what should she do for you?

Should she fall down and supplicate and take

Your knees within her hands? I should not make

Her do it as she is untouched. But still

I will demand it should that be your will

I will deliver her to you and she

Will stand before you as nobility

Yet modestly present herself to you

But if that isn’t necessary to

Secure your help then I would hope that we

Could keep her there within. And then she’ll be

Inside beyond all eyes remaining true

To modesty and chastity if you

Permit it. You must tell me what you are

Expecting. Then we’ll only go that far

 

ACHILLES

You need not bring your daughter out to me

My lady. Let’s not let the rabble see

Such actions. When you gather all these men

And have an army but no action then

Their idle hands give way to idle lips

And we’ll have gossip here among the ships

With foulest thoughts and words beyond compare

But should she kneel? That’s neither here nor there

For I am now committed to engage

The forces that oppose you so enrage

Me. I will see this through or I will die

While trying. Yes I have not told a lie

Nor do I make a mockery of you

And all your troubles. I will see this through

Or let me die if I dare fail you

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

May

You be exalted for the selfless way

You rescue the distressed

 

ACHILLES

But first you need

To hear what we must do so we’ll succeed

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

What do you say? I’m listening to each

Word that you say

 

ACHILLES

I think we first should reach

Out to your husband hoping to persuade

Him to a wiser way

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

That man is made

Of dust and sand a total coward. He

Is too afraid of all the soldiers

 

ACHILLES

Be

Persuasive and you’ll turn his mind

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

A cold

Chance that I’ll turn him. But I will uphold

The call of your directions

 

ACHILLES

You must plea

With him to stop the slaughter. But if he

Opposes you and won’t be swayed then you

Must come to me. I’ll do what I must do

But only if we have no other way

And this assures your safety. And it may

Behoove us to approach with words instead

Of force. Then Agamemnon won’t be led

To anger with me and the army will

Not blame me for our situation. Still

The sword and work with words, I say, then you

Will have your greatest chance. You might get through

These challenges and save your family

Without an intervention made by me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Your words are wise and make such sense. But now

I have to act upon these words. But how

Should I then seek you out if I should fail

Convincing him? Then how can I avail

My wretched self of your protection?

 

ACHILLES

I

Will watch you. If occasion calls for my

Intrusion I will be there. Until then

Be certain you aren’t seen among the men

You are born of a royal house and you

Cannot be seen distraught and running through

This horde of men. You are the daughter of

Tyndareus you should not push and shove

Your way to foul your reputation. Your

Great father is a noble man

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And for

Your words my way is clear. I will obey

Your sound instructions, every word you say

In name of all the Gods I hope that you

Are well rewarded for the things you do

But if they don’t then should we righteously

Devoutly follow them? We soon shall see

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA and ACHILLES exit)

 

CHORUS

WHEN THE GODS ALL GATHERED

FOR THE GREAT WEDDING FEAST

OF PELEUS AND THETIS

PELEUS AND THETIS

HOW THE MUSIC FLOWED THROUGH THE FLUTE

AND THE STRINGS OF THE LYRE

AS BREATH PASSED THROUGH THE REEDS

AND THE GUESTS ALL DANCED

TO THE SONG OF THE FLUTE AND THE LYRE AND THE REEDS

AND THE GUESTS ALL DANCED WEARING SANDALS OF GOLD

 

AND CHIRON WAS THERE

AMONG THE GUESTS

AND CHIRON WAS THERE

AMONG THE CENTAURS

AS THE WINE OF BACCHUS

AS THE GUESTS ALL DANCED

AMONG THE GARLANDS AND WREATHS

AND THE GUESTS ALL DANCED

WEARING SANDALS OF GOLD

 

THEN THE MUSIC STOPPED FOR CHIRON

THE DANCING STOPPED FOR CHIRON

AS CHIRON HAS SECOND SIGHT

HE COULD SEE THE DAYS

THAT FOLLOW THE NIGHT

EVERYONE STOPPED FOR CHIRON

EVERYTHING STOPPED FOR CHIRON

 

HE CALLED TO THETIS ON HER WEDDING DAY

AND TOLD HER A SON WOULD BE BORN

ACHILLES ACHILLES ACHILLES ACHILLES

A SON LIKE SHE

DESCENDED FROM THE GODS

ACHILLES ACHILLES ACHILLES ACHILLES

AND HE WOULD BE

A LIGHT AMONG MEN

AND HE WOULD BE

A WARRIOR AND THEN

HE WOULD TRAVEL ONE DAY TO TROY

HE WOULD TRAVEL AWAY TO TROY

 

AND TROY WOULD FALL

AND BY HIS HAND

AND TROY WOULD FALL

BUT HE WOULD SURELY STAND

ALL COVERED WITH ARMOR

FORGED BY THE GODS

ALL COVERED IN ARMOR OF GOLD

GIVEN BY HIS MOTHER

ARMOR OF GOLD FORGED BY THE GODS

A GIFT FROM HIS MOTHER

ARMOR OF GOLD

 

WE ARE ALL GATHERED

FOR A GREAT WEDDING FEAST

FOR THE CHILD OF AGAMEMNON

FOR THE CHILD OF AGAMEMNON

LET THE MUSIC FLOW THROUGH THE FLUTE

AND THE STRINGS OF THE LYRE

LET BREATH PASS THROUGH THE REEDS

LET THE GUESTS ALL DANCE

TO THE SONG OF THE FLUTE AND THE LYRE AND THE REEDS

LET THE GUESTS ALL DANCE WEARING SANDALS OF GOLD

 

BUT IPHIGENIA

YOU ARE BEDECKED AND PREPARED

IPHIGENIA

BEDECKED AS A BRIDE

BUT ARE YOU PREPARED

FOR WHAT YOU ARE PREPARED FOR

HAVE YOU PREPARED

FOR WHAT YOU ARE PREPARED FOR

PREPARED AS A BRIDE

TO BE SLAUGHTERED LIKE A BEAST

THE FLUTE AND THE LYRE AND THE REEDS WILL PLAY

BUT IT WON’T BE A WEDDING SONG THEY PLAY

YOUR MOTHER PREPARED YOU YOU AREN’T PREPARED

PRIMPED YOU ADORNED YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE ARE PREPARED FOR

TO BE CUT ACROSS THE THROAT HAVE YOU PREPARED

TO BE SLAUGHTERED LIKE A GOAT

 

BUT WHO WILL BE

A LIGHT AMONG MEN

WILL WE SEE

A LIGHT AMONG MEN

 

VIRTUE IS LIKE A WARRIOR

IN ARMOR OF GOLD

ARMOR OF GOLD

VIRTUE GETS LED TO BATTLE

IN ARMOR OF GOLD FORGED BY THE GODS

AND THE BATTLE MAY BE BEGUN

BUT THE BATTLE WILL NEVER BE WON

AS MORTALS SEE THE GOLD

NOT THE WARRIOR WITHIN

BUT THEY ONLY SEE THE GOLD

NOT THE VIRTUE THAT’S WITHIN

 

LAWLESSNESS OVERPOWERS LAW

CALLOUSNESS OVERPOWERS LOVE

AND ALL MORTALS LOSE THEMSELVES

TO JEALOUSY AND APATHY

AND BECOME LIKE THE GODS ABOVE

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA re-enters)

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I’m once again outdoors and seeking out

My husband. Though it seems he’ll go about

His business while avoiding us. If he

Could only hear his daughter wail as she

Is now aware what fate awaits her. And

She knows the horrors that her father planned

Her cries are low then high as she now pleas

In agony. I spoke of him now he’s

Approaching. Let him be held in contempt

This evil father who would dare attempt

This crime against his child

 

(AGAMEMNON re-enters)

 

AGAMEMNON

I see you

Are waiting, Leda’s daughter. And I do

Believe that Fate has set you here so I

Can speak with you alone as some of my

Words are unsuitable for brides to be

One final night of innocence should see

Her off

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

What is so urgent that you must

Discuss it here and now?

 

AGAMEMNON

As we discussed

It’s time to send her forth with me. They made

Great preparations for her. They have laid

Out lustral waters and the barley cakes

Are ready for the fire. Someone rakes

The coals in preparation for the fat

Young heifers we are sacrificing at

The sacred shrine of Artemis all for

The marriage to be consecrated. Or

Without the spilling of dark blood we will

Not honor her

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

You speak sweet words until

Your actions speak so foul. I cannot say

A word of praise for them

 

(calls to AGAMEMNON’S quarters)

 

And now you may

Come out my daughter. As you are aware

Of all your father planned for you. Let’s share

This moment with your baby brother. Bring

Orestes out with you. Just make swaddling

From your fine robes to hold him

 

(IPHIGENIA re-enters carrying ORESTES)

 

She stands still

And ready to obey you. But I will

Now speak for both of us

 

AGAMEMNON

My daughter why

Do you weep bitterly? Look up at my

Face once again. Upon the ground you stare

And mask your face behind your robes

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Now where

Should I begin to tell you all of my

Predicaments and sorrows? Should I try

To start at the beginning? Or I could

Begin where this is ending. Nothing would

Make sense of senselessness

 

AGAMEMNON

What do you say?

You both are in hysterics. And the way

You are confronting me disturbs me. You

Are both alarmed and it alarms me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Do

You promise to be candid should I dare

To ask of you some pointed questions?

 

AGAMEMNON

There

Is no necessity to ask that. You

Can ask me anything and freely

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Do

You plan to to sacrifice our daughter?

 

AGAMEMNON

What?

The words you speak are so disgusting. But

I’m sad to say they just reflect on you

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Just try and calm yourself and simply do

What you have promised. Answer me

 

AGAMEMNON

If I

Am given decent questions then I’ll try

To give a decent answer

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But I do

Not have another question. And so you

Need not provide another answer

 

AGAMEMNON

Oh

How Fate and destiny now plagues me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

So

It is with me and with our daughter. We

Are tied and bound to sad misfortune. Three

Unfortunates most certain

 

AGAMEMNON

How have I

Wronged you?

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

You dare to ask me that? Please try

To think before you speak. Your mind is in

Your sword and shield. Yet nothing works within

Your flailing mouth

 

AGAMEMNON

So I have been betrayed

And you know of my plans

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I know you made

The darkest foulest pact. I know it all

The silence that I’m hearing now? I’ll call

It your complete confession. Moan and weep

Away but spare me your sad words. Just keep

It to yourself and please do not expend

An effort just for me

 

AGAMEMNON

I won’t offend

You with excuses falsehoods or a plea

In hopes that I won’t act so shamelessly

And add to my misfortunes

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Listen to

The words I say and words I mean so you

Will not be mystified by riddles or

Have any doubt of my position. For

My first point: Please remember you coerced

Me into marriage when you killed the first

Man I had married. And then how you killed

My first born son as well. How you fulfilled

Your bloody destiny as you just threw

My baby to the ground right after you

Had torn him suckling from my breast. But who

Arrived? Two sons of Zeus, my brothers to

Avenge me riding high on horseback. They

The Dioscuri came to make you pay

While raging war against you. Oh but then

My aged father gave you refuge when

You supplicated at his feet. Then he

Rewarded you for all your crimes with me

Well I was reconciled to my fate

And as you know I did not hesitate

To do my wifely duties. You have no

Legitimate complaint as I’ve been so

Devoted to you though with modesty

I honored both your name and house and see

That when returning home you felt at ease

And when you left you felt refreshed. And these

Are markers of a perfect wife. They are

Quite rare but you don’t have to travel far

To find a worthless wife they’re everywhere

And I have given you a son. And there

Are daughters in your house as well but you

Will now dispose of one of them and through

Cruel actions you’re depriving me of her

And how might you respond if someone were

To wonder why you killed your daughter? Would

You have an answer? Possibly I could

Respond for you and say, “It had to be

To help his brother Menelaus. He

Must go recover Helen.” That seems right

To bargain with your child so he might

Retrieve a foul immoral woman. Pay

With what is dear to us just so he may

Retrieve what we all know is foul. You’ll go

To Troy and leave us all behind. Although

What will you truly leave? A home that has

An emptiness that can’t be sated as

I look upon her empty bed and chair

And sit alone and weep in deep despair

While wailing through the empty halls “Oh my

Dear child you were sadly murdered by

Your father’s hand. And now he has destroyed

You and himself with one deep cut employed

In service to a worthy cause. And he

Just held the blade himself so you must see

He holds the guilt alone as well.” And I

Suppose I’ll wait at home just biding my

Time patiently so dutiful to you

And wonder if your little war is through

Then one day when you’ve seen your duty done

Imagine what delights wait for the one

Who swore that he would see his duty through

And kill his loving daughter. If you do

These crimes against me by the Gods I swear

I will commit some crimes against you. Fair

Is fair. But go and sacrifice her. Then

Go pray for all the Gods to bless you when

You have your daughter’s blood upon you. May

Your words be fine and pious as you pray

While stabbing her to death. Pray you’ll return

To find a house that’s not disgraced. You spurn

Your family and all decency so why

Should you expect it’s waiting for you? I

Am wondering should I be praying too

While waiting for a safe return for you?

We cannot fool the Gods. Would they believe

I’m praying for the killer as I grieve

My daughter’s death? And if you should survive

And then return to Argos you’ll arrive

To find your children fleeing your embrace

How will you look your children in the face

When you know they know that you stole the breath

Of one of them to free the wind? Yes death

Exchanged for wind is quite a bargain. Now

Have you considered all of this? Just how

Important is the honor carrying

A scepter while you lead an army? Bring

This argument to all your soldiers. Say

“We need a wind to sail to Troy. The way

To do this is to make a lottery

And enter all our daughter’s names. Then we

Will choose one for a sacrifice.” That’s fair

Instead you’ll set your flesh and blood up there

Upon a board for all to see. And why

Do you not make your brother pay? Just try

Demanding Menelaus has to set

His daughter there for sacrifice. Yes let

His offspring go be punished for the sake

Of her foul mother’s crime. I should not make

A sacrifice myself when I am true

To you while she goes gallivanting. Do

You think it’s fair if Helen should return

To Sparta she should live in peace? And earn

The right to see her daughter grow? If I

Am wrong I beg of you please tell me why

But if my words are righteous do not slay

Our daughter. You must find a wiser way

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

Are you persuaded, Agamemnon? Please

Now join with her and save your child. These

Decisions can be justified. Who might

Dare question a decision that is right?

 

IPHIGENIA

Had I the tongue of Orpheus I would

Use words to charm and move you. Like I could

Move boulders with my words as well. I’d say

Enchanting things to move men to my way

Of thinking. But it seems I need to try

My tears as an enchantment. And so I

Kneel down before you as I supplicate

I have no branch but I can consecrate

The ritual by my own body bore

By my own mother. And I’ll beg you for

My life. Do not destroy me I am still

So young. Please let me see the light until

My time has truly come. Do not send me

To Hades where forever I will be

Surrounded by the darkest night of all

I was first born to you the first to call

You “father” as I sat upon your knee

And you called me your daughter lovingly

And with affection. And the way you’d say

“My precious daughter there will come a day

You’ll leave my house then how you’ll prosper in

Your husband’s house. While living there within

His walls in such a way that’s worthy of

The House of Atreus.” And then with love

I’d talk to you while pulling on your beard

Just as I’m doing now. “Oh my revered

Dear father, how I hope to see you there

In my new home when you are old. It’s where

I hope I can repay all that you did

To raise me with such loving care.” We did

Say all of that, remember? Or have you

Forgotten it as now you lead me to

My death? As I drip tears upon each knee

In name of all your forefathers and she

Who bore me standing over there. Look how

She’s suffering so greatly. This is now

More painful than the day that she gave birth

To me. I beg you tell me I’m not worth

As much as Helen and her broken vow

As she has wandered off with Paris now

Did he arrive for my destruction? So

Please look directly at me father. Know

That if you kiss me it will be the last

You set upon my tear-stained cheek. Now fast

Before I’m gone leave me a memory

Of you in case you truly do not see

Your way to sparing me

 

(she presents ORESTES)

 

Orestes you

Are just a helpless baby but you do

Have tears that you can use protesting my

Destruction. You can say I should not die

By binding all your tears and cries to mine

As even babies know there is a line

Where good is gone and evil reigns. You see

My father he now doesn’t move and he

Is speechless not a sound from him. How his

Cold silence is like supplication. Is

He saying you should show some mercy to

His sister who is pleading unto you?

His sister who has many years to live?

And by your beard I beg of you to give

Us both your full attention as we make

Our case. We both have purest hearts to break

As we both plea you’ll reconsider. Here

You see a baby and a maiden. We’re

Both hoping to prevail and hope that you

Will understand. You know I’m begging to

Live in the light of day the greatest thing

The Gods have made for mortals. How we cling

To it and fear the dark. Please tell me who

Would choose death over life? A madman? To

Live life with great dishonor is preferred

To dying with dishonor

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

I have heard

The name of Helen and I wonder why

This wretched woman leads a girl to die

The House of Atreus has children who

Are suffering and all because of you

 

AGAMEMNON

A man may love his children but can still

Have understanding love can stretch until

It breaks when sad reality steps in

If you can’t see distinction you begin

Descending into madness. It’s a curse

For me to do this but it’s even worse

If I do not. I know that you can see

A line of ships that stretch out endlessly

And all the soldiers clad in bronze who wait

To make their mark in Troy but hesitate

Because there is no wind. Hear how they yearn

To raze the city’s towers makes them burn

Just like the fire smoldering within

Them all. The only way we can begin

Our quest is heeding Calchas. Prophecies

Must be obeyed. And I have heard the pleas

Of all these soldiers. How they lust for war

It seizes them like madness yearning for

Revenge and honor screaming we should sail

And soon. They want their weapons to impale

Barbarians of Troy and teach them how

We punish countries that would dare allow

Their prince to pilfer Grecian wives. I know

These men will kill us all in Argos. So

Outrageous is their bloodlust they’ll react

With homicidal rage due to the fact

It was a Goddess who commanded me

Do not blame Menelaus, Daughter. He

Did not enslave my soul nor did he force

My hand. I’m simply following the course

Of leadership to all my countrymen

And sacrifices must be given when

Your country calls. Necessity is not

A welcome guest at times. And it has brought

Me to this place. Remember we all are

In servitude to Greece and that is far

Beyond the price of just one life. And you

Alone can lead our fight for honor through

This deed. So all the scum of Troy can see

That we will not abide this robbery

 

(AGAMEMNON exits)

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

YOU WOMEN ARE STRANGERS

UNKNOWN TO ME

AND YOU SEE

MISERY

MY MISERY

MY DAUGHTER YOU

HAVE SEEN HIM LEAVE

LEAVING YOU ALONE

LEAVING US ALONE

LEAVING US TO GRIEVE

IN MISERY

 

IPHIGENIA

MISERY

 

CLYTEMNESTRA AND IPHIGENIA

IN MISERY

 

IPHIGENIA

MOTHER WE ARE LOCKED

IN MISERY TOGETHER

OUR FATES ENTWINED

OUR MISERY COMBINED

AND MY LIFE WILL SOON BE DONE

AS I SAY GOODBYE TO THE SUN

THE SUN WON’T SHINE ON ME

BUT IT WILL SHINE ENDLESSLY

IN FAR OFF TROY

WHERE ONCE THERE WAS A BOY

A SON BORN TO PRIAM

A ROYAL SON OF PRIAM

A SON THEY FEARED WOULD DESTROY TROY

SO THEY TORE HIM FROM HIS MOTHER’S ARMS

SO THEY SENT HIM TO AN EARLY DOOM

BUT HERDSMEN SAVED HIM

HERDSMEN RAISED HIM

AND SAVED HIM FROM HIS DOOM

FOR HIM TO BECOME MY DOOM

 

AND THEN HE GREW

LIKE THE FLOWERS AND TREES

THAT HE GREW AMONG

HYACINTH AND ROSES

BEAUTIFUL AND FULL

BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH

TO CATCH THE EYE OF A GODDESS

TO CATCH THE EYES OF THREE GODDESSES

HERA

APHRODITE

AND ATHENA

AND THEY ASKED HIM TO OBSERVE

AND THEY ASKED OF HIM TO JUDGE

WHICH ONE OF THE GODDESSES

WAS THE GREATEST BEAUTY

WHICH ONE OF THEM

CAPTURED HIS EYE

THEY ASKED THE PRINCE

PARIS THE PRINCE

PARIS THE PRINCE THAT WAS LEFT TO DIE

LEFT TO DIE

 

AND NOW I AM LEFT TO DIE

I AM LEFT TO PAY

THE PRICE FOR PARIS

FOUL PRINCE PARIS

I AM TO PAY

FOR THE GAMES OF THE GODDESSES

HERA

APHRODITE

AND ATHENA

 

BUT IT IS ARTEMIS

WHO DEMANDS I PAY

ARTEMIS

WHO DEMANDS MY BLOOD

TO RELEASE THE WIND

THAT WILL FILL THE SAILS

THAT WILL CARRY OFF THE GREEKS

AND BRING GLORY TO THE GREEKS

 

OH MOTHER

MY MOTHER

MY FATHER HAS LEFT ME ALONE

IN MISERY

FOUL MISERY

I AM ABANDONED

I AM DESERTED

IN MISERY

FOUL MISERY

 

I CURSE THE DAY

I FIRST SET EYES

ON HELEN

 

CHORUS

HELEN HELEN HELEN

 

IPHIGENIA

AND NOW MY FATHER

MY OWN FATHER

IS THE WORST PERSON TO

IS THE WORST PERSON WHO

COULD DO THIS DEED TO ME

THIS DARKEST DEED TO ME

HE WILL MAKE ME BLEED

TO FULFILL HIS NEED

 

OH AULIS AULIS AULIS AULIS

IF YOU HAD NOT RECEIVED

IF YOU HAD NEVER RECEIVED

THESE SHIPS OF WAR

BEDECKED IN BRONZE

THESE SHIPS OF WAR

THAT POINT TO TROY

IF ZEUS WOULD ONLY SEND A WIND

IF ZEUS WOULD JUST RELEASE THE WIND

BUT WE NEVER KNOW

HOW THE WINDS WILL BLOW

ONE DAY YOU SAIL

ONE DAY YOU FAIL

A MORTAL CAN NEVER KNOW

A MORTAL CAN NEVER KNOW

 

MISERY

OH MISERY

HELEN YOU BRING NOTHING BUT MISERY

YOU BRING ME NOTHING BUT MISERY

 

CHORUS

HELEN HELEN HELEN HELEN

 

IPHIGENIA

YOU BRING ALL OF GREECE

MISERY

MISERY

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

I pity you as you’ve been forced to face

A fate so foul. It is a true disgrace

 

IPHIGENIA

Oh Mother my dear mother, now I see

A group of men approaching

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

It is he

The son of Thetis that you were brought here

To wed

 

IPHIGENIA

Open the doors. I’ll disappear

Within so he can’t see me.

 

(calls towards AGAMEMNON’S quarters)

 

You inside

Swing out the door for me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Why do you hide

 

IPHIGENIA

I am ashamed to face Achilles

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Why?

 

IPHIGENIA

The Fates have cruelly toyed with us. Now I

Am so ashamed

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

There is no time to feel

Unnecessary modesty. Or we’ll

Soon find our circumstances come to bear

We can’t control a world that isn’t fair

So keep your feet right here so you won’t be

Devoid of breath but full of dignity

 

(ACHILLES re-enters followed by ATTENDANTS carrying his armor and weapons)

 

ACHILLES

Oh Leda’s daughter, you are suffering

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Your words are sadly true

 

ACHILLES

And yet I bring

You word of darkest cries among the men

That shouts from ear to ear

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Well tell me then

What is it?

 

ACHILLES

It concerns your daughter

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

You

Now come to me with words like omens

 

ACHILLES

To

Them all it is inevitable. She

Is set for sacrifice

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Can there not be

A man among them who would argue?

 

ACHILLES

I

Did try myself and was endangered

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Why?

What danger could befall you?

 

ACHILLES

They prepared

To stone me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Stone you? Just because you dared

To speak up for my daughter?

 

ACHILLES

That was all

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

What kind of man would even have the gall

To lay a finger on your armor? Who

Would dare?

 

ACHILLES

Just all the men of Greece

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And you

Were not protected by your soldiers?

 

ACHILLES

They

Were first to turn against me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Then I say

We are undone, my daughter

 

ACHILLES

They said I

Was just enslaved to marriage that is why

I foolishly defended her

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And when

You answered them?

 

ACHILLES

I told the mob of men

That she was my intended and they should

Not murder her

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I would agree

 

ACHILLES

And would

They dare destroy the maiden meant for me?

One promised by her father?

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Knowing she

Was brought to you from Argos

 

ACHILLES

But I was

Then overcome by calls for blood

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Because

A mob is more foul mischief than one man

Can gather for himself

 

ACHILLES

But I began

This quest to help you and I’ll still assist

You if I can

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But how can you resist

An army? You are just one man

 

ACHILLES

Do you

See these attendants bearing arms?

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I do

I truly bless you for your actions

 

ACHILLES

I

Am blessed already

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

So you say that my

Dear child won’t be slaughtered?

 

ACHILLES

She will not

Without consent from me

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But they have got

Intentions to destroy her ruthlessly

 

ACHILLES

With well more than a thousand men. You’ll see

Odysseus is leading them

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

The son

Of Sisyphus?

 

ACHILLES

Yes he’s the very one

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Does he come of his own accord? Or is

He following an order?

 

ACHILLES

It is his

Decision.

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

He must have an evil mind

To want to stain his hands with blood

 

ACHILLES

He’ll find

Me waiting to restrain him

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Will he try

To seize her dragging her away?

 

ACHILLES

Yes by

The hair I have no doubt

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

What can I do

If it should come to that?

 

ACHILLES

Just hold her to

Yourself and don’t let go

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Then you can know

She will be safe if I can help her

 

ACHILLES

So

Prepare yourself as it will come to be

 

IPHIGENIA

My mother you must listen now to me

You have great anger at your husband though

Your feelings have no purpose. There is no

Escaping our predicament. We must

Commend this kindly stranger. But he’s just

Delaying the inevitable tide

Let’s not destroy him in the name of pride

Or honor. There’s an army heading here

And you can’t let him intervene. I fear

This will destroy his reputation. Then

I still will be a sacrifice and when

I’m gone he still will suffer needlessly

While we gain nothing. Are you hearing me?

My thoughts and words are worthy. I have seen

The end and I resolve to die. I mean

To do it with my head held high without

A whimper or a struggle. Do not doubt

My last decision, Mother. See my way

Of thinking. Know that I mean what I say

Now all of Greece is watching me and my

Small sacrifice will let our army fly

On mighty winds across the sea to Troy

Now it’s within my power to deploy

A thousand ships to sack the city, burn

It to the ground. The Trojans won’t return

Again to Greece abducting women. They

Are but barbarians. There is no way

They’ll come here to commit that crime once more

They will think twice of Helen how the score

Was settled with complete destruction. And

How foul Prince Paris was the firebrand

That set it all in motion. As for me

By death I am redeemed and I will be

Remembered for my final gift to Greece

For just the cost of my small struggle peace

Will come and I will be remembered. So

I have no right to cling to life. I know

You didn’t bear me just so I could be

A blessing to myself. I say that we

Should all be blessings to our countrymen

All for the good of Greece. And, Mother when

I see a host of soldiers bravely stand

There with their shields and ready at command

And thousands more all at the oar to go

Head bravely into battle. As they show

Their loyalty to Greece then how can I

Prevent their right to valor? So I die

It’s just one life in face of thousands. There

Cannot be justice if I would but dare

To utter one sad word in protest. And

Let me be clear that I cannot demand

One man go battle all these soldiers where

They might be killed or they may kill him. There

Is no way we can justify it. May

One man of valor see the light of day

Before ten thousand others who would let

Him sacrifice himself, survive. A debt

To Artemis has been decided. I

Am just a mortal should I dare to try

Opposing her? A Goddess? There’s no way

And so I give myself to Greece. And may

My body be the spark that makes Troy burn

This is my legacy. I will not learn

The trials of a marriage. I won’t know

The pain and joy of motherhood. I go

Off to the darkness. This will give me fame

And glory they will holler out my name

As soon we’ll see the sack of Troy has shown

Barbarians they will be overthrown

They’ll be enslaved while we will prosper free

As Greece fulfills its holy destiny

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

Your words and deeds will bring great glory. Though

The Fates and Gods can be so fickle. So

We’ll never know the secrets of their ways

 

ACHILLES

Oh Agamemnon’s daughter, I would praise

The Gods if I were blessed to have you be

My wife. But you cannot belong to me

As you belong to Greece and Greece to you

You are the daughter of our homeland through

And through. You are intelligent to know

You cannot fight Olympus so you show

Great sensibility while weighing all

Your options. But I still wish I could call

You my intended. What I see in you

Is great nobility a heart so true

A heart I want to have. If only I

Could rescue you. I swear to you in my

Most holy mother’s name I’d bring you to

My home and halls. But still I cannot do

It. I cannot face all the Greeks to spare

Your fate. I know of nothing more unfair

Or fearsome as the darkness known as death

 

IPHIGENIA

I’ll say with what may be my final breath

And without hesitation: Helen has

Caused war and bloodshed with her beauty as

It drives most men to madness. Oh but you

Must not be slain on my behalf. And who

Might lose their life while you’re defending me?

If I am able you must let me be

The savior of Greece

 

ACHILLES

What can I say?

You have a noble spirit. There’s no way

My words can challenge your resolve. So why

Would I dare to deny you? But still I

Am here if you should dare to change your mind

I will be there beside you and you’ll find

My sword and shield in service to you. I

Will hide them both beside the altar. By

My words you know you can be saved if you

Discover as the blade comes into view

You’re not as brave as you believed. Just know

I will be there and quite well armed. I go

Now to the altar and I wait for you

Just signal me if you cannot go through

With it

 

(ACHILLES and ATTENDANTS exit)

 

IPHIGENIA

Now mother tell me why are you

So silent? And with tears within your eyes

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

I say I have no reason to disguise

The misery within

 

IPHIGENIA

You must not make

Me back away just like a coward. Take

My words and my decisions as they are

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Then speak my child. I won’t stop you. Far

Be it for me to cause you injury

 

IPHIGENIA

I will not have you mourning. You won’t be

Enrobed in black or chopping off your hair

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Why would you say that to me daughter? There

Are mourning rituals and I’ll have lost

You

 

IPHIGENIA

No not lost but found. I’ll pay the cost

For you to reap the praise and glory

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

How

Can that be right? You say you won’t allow

My mourning you?

 

IPHIGENIA

You can’t. I will not be

Interred within a tomb

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Now suddenly

A tomb is not required for the dead?

 

IPHIGENIA

I will have a memorial instead

Of just a tomb. As Artemis will see

Me die upon her altar. That will be

My final resting place

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

There’s nothing I

Can say that’s wiser. So I will not try

To argue further

 

IPHIGENIA

But I still will live

In glory as the gift that I will give

To Greece will be remembered

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

What should I

Say to your sisters?

 

IPHIGENIA

That they should not cry

For me or mourn. I will not have them there

Enrobed in black

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And tell me what to share

With all the girls in Argos?

 

IPHIGENIA

Tell them I

Bid them farewell. And I expect they’ll try

Their best as young Orestes grows to be

A man of honor

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Hold him. You must see

Him one last time

 

IPHIGENIA

My dearest brother you

Did try your best with all that you could do

For one so young

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And what is left for me

To do for you in Argos?

 

IPHIGENIA

You must be

Forgiving of my father. He is still

Your husband

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

He has trials to fulfill

That will be truly terrible

 

IPHIGENIA

But he

Has not seen me forsaken willingly

He just submitted for his countrymen

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But he still proved himself unworthy when

Conspiring like a criminal. He’s now

Unworthy of his ancestors

 

IPHIGENIA

But how

Should I now be delivered? Who will take

Me to the altar? Or I fear they’ll make

Me go by dragging me there by my hair

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

It must be me

 

IPHIGENIA

No mother don’t you dare

That’s not the answer

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Let me do it. I

At least can hold your robes

 

IPHIGENIA

You must comply

With all I said my mother. You must know

That this is for the best. You cannot go

Let one of Father’s servants take me to

The Goddess’ most holy grove and do

My duty and be sacrificed

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Then that

Is all my child? You are leaving?

 

IPHIGENIA

At

Once. And I will not be returning

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

And

You leave your mother?

 

IPHIGENIA

Try to understand

Not everything that happens is correct

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Just stop! You cannot go

 

IPHIGENIA

You disrespect

Me with your tears. And I forbid them

 

(CLYTEMNESTRA collapses on the ground. ATTENDANT to AGAMEMNON enters as IPHIGENIA addresses CHORUS:)

 

So

To all you women raise your voices. Show

Devotion now to Artemis. Yes sing!

Oh daughter of Great Zeus we now will bring

You what has been demanded. Let the men

Now hear our song. Collect some baskets then

Go light the fire pit and grind the meal

To make the sacred cakes. Oh Father kneel

Before the altar as I soon will be

Arriving to assure a victory

 

(she sings)

 

THERE IS NO SOUND OF THE WIND

AND THE ARMY SEEMS SO STILL

BUT WHAT DO I HEAR

DRAWING ME NEAR

AS I HEAD UP TO THE HILL

 

I HEAR A DRUM

THE BEAT OF A DRUM

TELLING ME

CALLING ME

TO COME

 

CHORUS

THE BEAT OF A DRUM

THE BEAT OF A DRUM

 

IPHIGENIA

CALLING OUT TO ME

THE BRINGER OF VICTORY

KNOWING I WILL BE

THE DESTROYER OF TROY

THE BANE OF TROY

THE PAIN OF TROY ACROSS THE SEA

WILL BELONG TO ME

 

CHORUS

TELLING YOU TO COME

CALLING YOU TO COME

BY THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

 

IPHIGENIA

EMBELLISH ME WITH CROWNS

HONOR ME WITH WREATHS

DANCE AROUND

LEAP UPON THE GROUND

TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

BY THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

 

CHORUS

CALLING YOU TO COME

CALLING YOU TO COME

 

IPHIGENIA

DANCE A BLESSING

SING A BLESSING

TO ARTEMIS

GREAT ARTEMIS

 

IPHIGENIA

CHORUS

I BRING MYSELF TO YOUR ALTAR

THERE IS NO SOUND

UP TO YOUR SACRED ALTAR

OF THE WIND

AND THE ARMY

SEEMS SO STILL

I BRING MYSELF TO YOUR ALTAR

UP TO YOUR SACRED ALTAR

BUT WHAT DOES SHE HEAR

DRAWING HER NEAR

AS SHE HEADS

UP TO THE HILL

 

I HEAR THE DRUM

SHE HEARS THE DRUM

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

TELLING ME

TELLING HER

CALLING ME

CALLING HER

TO COME

TO COME

 

IPHIGENIA

OH ARTEMIS

GREAT ARTEMIS

I WILL NOT SHOW YOU FEAR

I WILL NOT SHED A TEAR

I WILL NOT SPOIL YOUR SACRED SHRINE

WITH ONE TEAR OF MINE

WITH ONE TEAR OF MINE

THEY ARE UNWORTHY OF YOU

UNWORTHY OF THE DIVINE

 

(IPHIGENIA begins to exit with ATTENDANT TO AGAMEMNON during the following:)

 

HEAR THE DRUM

IT’S GROWING LOUD

AND LOUDER STILL

IS IT COMING CLOSER

OR DOES IT KNOW I AM CLOSER

YOU MUST SING MY SISTERS

AND LOUDER LIKE THE DRUM

YOU MUST LET THEM KNOW

AND LET YOUR VOICES RISE TO SHOW

THAT I SOON WILL COME

BY THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

 

(She has exited. CHORUS sings as the drumming intensifies:)

 

CHORUS

THE WIND HAS BEEN SO STILL

SO SILENT LIKE IT’S DEAD

AND NOW THE WORLD IS STILL

AND SHE WILL SOON BE DEAD

 

LEADER OF THE CHORUS                               

CHORUS

OH

SHE HEARS THE DRUM

IPHIGENIA

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

TELLING HER

OH

CALLING HER

IPHIGENIA

TO COME

 

DANCE A BLESSING

OH

SING A BLESSING

IPHIGENIA

TO ARTEMIS

GREAT ARTEMIS

OH

IPHIGENIA

 

CHORUS

HEAR THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

 

(Drumming intensifies as the CHORUS goes silent. The drumming crescendos and then stops. CHORUS chants the following with no music:)

 

LIKE THE BEATING OF A HEART

A DRUM GOES ON AND ON

UNTIL THE BEATING OF A HEART

IS GONE

IS GONE

IS GONE

IS GONE

 

(The goddess ARTEMIS enters from aloft)

 

ARTEMIS

Behold the power of Olympus. I

Am Artemis the Huntress. Feel the sky

Now start to breathe again the wind is free

A sacrifice fulfilled her destiny

And all is right. Or all is right for now

Did Agamemnon think I would allow

One daughter in exchange for killing my

Most sacred deer? To think he could defy

A Goddess’ most sacred law and then

Exchange one body for a body? When

A royal mortal dares to cross the line

That separates them all from the divine

They soon find that their curse is just begun

With consequences that are never done

But rise now Clytemnestra. Let me see

That face that carries heavy destiny

And let me see that boy you carry. His

New destiny begins as well. He is

A son who will inherit so much sin

As now you’ll both entangle him within

A web of evil lies and vengeance so

Destructive that the Fates could never know

The tragedy approaching. But I do

A Goddess can see everything that you

Cannot know now. And so you’ll carry on

This world is strange to you a daughter gone

A marriage that is shattered. Oh how you

Awakened just this morning going through

Your daily preparations blissfully

Not knowing what was coming. But you’ll be

Reborn tomorrow when you wake. At first

You won’t remember but your bliss will burst

Apart before your eyes can open. Then

Remembering your heart will break again

As it will every morning now as you

Awaken to a broken world so new

To you and yet so tiresome. But there

Is purpose in your future. So prepare

To be of use to me as I will see

Your husband’s full destruction. Destiny

Cannot be stopped but it can be foreseen

It might pick out a peasant or a queen

So let your husband go to war as you

Now take some time to plan and think things through

The Fates are watching you more than you know

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

But how can I go on when I am so

Destroyed? My daughter laying there upon

Your altar dead

 

ARTEMIS

Or maybe she is gone

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Can there be a distinction?

 

ARTEMIS

Yes there may

And maybe when they raised the blade to slay

Her I replaced her with the sacred doe

Your husband killed. But we may never know

You show a man a maiden or a deer

But they won’t see a difference as they cheer

Themselves while proudly going off to war

Among the calls for blood they might ignore

The body that is there before them. You

Could never see beyond your wailing, too

Emotional to see what’s truly there

While still believing Fate is sometimes fair

But know that she is truly gone. And you

Will not lay eyes on her again. But through

Some healing over time the loss will wane

And you’ll discover purpose through your pain

 

CLYTEMNESTRA

Now I have nothing

 

ARTEMIS

Silence mortal! You

Still live the life of royalty. And two

More daughters still await you. And you’ll find

Your youngest girl Electra has the kind

Of name that rings for eons through the sky

She’ll be remembered. Do not ask me why

And there within your arms a son will rise

And like his sister one day through the skies

His name will ring forever famously

Or infamously we can never be

Too certain how the story will be told

Or who will tell it. But for now just hold

Him in your arms and all you women come

And sing to him and dance and beat a drum

His father soon will sail across the sea

And it will fall to women now that he

Is raised to manhood. Sing now as I take

My leave. Remember every move you make

Is noted by the Gods so do not dare

Forget: The Gods are always everywhere

 

(ARTEMIS exits. CHORUS surrounds CLYTEMNESTRA and ORESTES)

 

CHORUS

HE’S A BOY AND NOT A MAN

AND HE’LL BE A MAN NOT A GOD

HE’S THE SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

HE’S THE SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

HE’S THE SON OF A SON OF A SON OF GREECE

 

The End

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