Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oedipus--Act 4

Oedipus Act 4
A play based on Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex”

© Eso A. B., 2014

Act Four
(The stage remains unchanged. Enter messenger from Corinth.)

Good day, dear people.
Is this Thebes?
Is this where the King of the Thebes reigns?

Welcome to Thebes, stranger.
We, the people of Thebes
praise our King our Savior.

Will you ask the King to receive me?
I have urgent news.

What news, stranger?

It concerns the King's father.

Chorus (surprised):
Already! Gods! Stranger,
we have been waiting for you.
You are our Mercury in the Sun.
Where are you from?

I am from Corinth.
I’m your neighbor from across Mt. Citheron.

Guards! Call King Oedipus!
Tell him there is news from Corinth

(Enter King Oedipus.)

King Oedipus:
News from Corinth is always welcome.
How are the King and Queen of Corinth?

King Oedipus!
May children love you to the end of time.
Humankind will not forget your deeds.
May forget-me-nots bloom in your remembrance.

I beg your forgiveness.
I bring sad news.

King Oedipus:
I already have many sorrows.
Our land suffers from draught.
A sand storm has just buried
the last of our wood.
under a dune

I’d like to hear the good news first?

Yes, of course, King Oedipus.
When the Sun shines behind dark clouds,
it rings the black fleece with gold.

King Oedipus:
It’s a fair sight.
But is it more than gloss?

King Oedipus, the people of Corinth
want you as their king.
I’ve been sent in hopes
I’ll return with news that you accept.

King Oedipus:
What’s happened to my father, King Polybus?

King Oedipus, this is the sad part:
The King of Corinth is dead.

King Oedipus:
Gods! What caused his death?

happened unexpectedly.
When one is old,
it takes but a small thing
to cause it.

Chorus (interrupting):
Alas! Cry sorrow!
Death brings an end to life—
but some say it binds people closer.

King Oedipus!
Think of it!
If the news bring sorrow, it also tells
that when you join
Corinth and Thebes into one Kingdom,
the Kingdom of Thebes will double.

King Oedipus:
Guards, call the Queen!
Dear Mercury, n
o disrespect.
I love my father,
but the cloud over his death bed
is edged bright.
You have earned gold

(Enter Queen Iocasta.)

Iocasta, take a deep breath,

the King of Corinth, my father, is dead.

Queen Iocasta:
I’m sorry for him,
even more so for your loss.

King Oedipus:
The people of Corinth
want me to be their king.
The bad news for you:
It means that my mother
Must become my wife.

Queen Iocasta:
That is foreseen by the order of things,
Didn’t I say everything would turn right?
King Oedipus:
But how can I overrule m
y mother?
Mercury, what says Queen Merope?

King Oedipus, she is the one who sends me.
Queen Iocasta:
King Oedipus, I believe you called me
to hear good news.
Yes, I will rule here.
You and Queen Meirope
will rule in Corinth
your country of birth.
You are the right age
for an older woman’s desire.

King Oedipus (shouts):
Shut up! What are you saying?
Why remind me of the curse
I suffer?

King Oedipus, what curse?

King Oedipus:
Yes, a curse
that I would suck the same teats twice.
Your mother, the Queen of Corinth?
She always speaks kindly of you.
Her milk is in her breath,
not breasts..
Queen Iocasta:
Marriages among family
Is to keep the story of history
gathered as one story.
Humans do not divide it among the stars
as the Gods do..
King Oedipus:
King Polybus’ death reminds me
I was cursed to kill him.
Ir did Queen Meirope do it
(ha, ha!)  to lay with me?
Is such the story?

Forgive me. King,
if it’s not a secret,
You mentioned a witch.
Who’s the witch?
What’s the curse?

King Oedipus:
A long time ago,
when I was still in Corinth,
a witch came to me with a prophecy
that I would bed my mother
and kill my father.

Queen Iocasta:
The message from Corinth
proves the curse has no power,
Your mother there sorrows for the King.
You, her son, should be with her and comfort her.
King Polybus died peacefully.
He ruled his Kingdom well.
There was no foul play.
King Oedipus, awaits you.

As for your mother sleeping with you,
it is the fate of humans to grow old,
and when old to desire youth again.
I am the older of you and me.
Am I therefore a worse lover of you?

Is that why you’re afraid, Great King?

King Oedipus:
That’s why I left Corinth.
I didn’t wish to kill my father.
I didn’t wish to bed my mother.

Great King Oedipus, listen!
May the Queen of Thebes forgive me.
From what I hear you tell,
I gather that
I bring you good news more than once.
Great King Oedipus,
KIng of the People of Thebes,
the story you heard the witch tell is untrue.
You have not reason to be afraid.

King Oedipus:
How dare you contradict me?

Forgive me, do not anger Great King.
The King and Queen of Corinth
are not your parents.
Though you’re their heir,

you’re their stepson, a gift
from a mother who remains unknown.
The King and Queen of Corinth
found you as an orphan
and accepted you as a gift of the Gods,

King Oedipus:
I just promised you gold.
I did not ask for you
to risk your neck?

I swear it’s true.
Great King Oedipus,
the King and Queen of Corinth
had no children of their own.
The Gods (awesome are their ways),

put you in their arms,
as fate put you in mine.

King Oedipus:
Who, dusty merc,
 put me in your arms?

A herder of reindeer, a friend of mine,
found you on a ridge of holy Mt. Citheron,
between Thebes and Corinth.
I took you from him,
and protected by the will of our Gods,
carried you to Corinth.

King Oedipus:
What were you doing on Mt. Citheron?

When I was young,
I herded reindeer, too.
You were left in the mountains
as an offering to the Sphinx.
My friend found you
and freed you from the loop
that bound your ankles.

King Oedipus:
Who shackled me?

Child sacrifice was not uncommon in those days.
Many women in despair of life,

and in tattered clothes,
and no reindeer of their own,
sacrificed their children
to gain a bonus from the Gods.
Thus, grew a custom.
Kings, too, exposed their sons to the wilderness.
If the babes survived,
it was proof to all
that the Gods favored them to grow up
to become Kings or Queens.

King Oedipus:
Is your friend still alive?

He was a herder working for King Laius.
Thebans can tell you whether he still lives.
Someone must remember him.
King Oedipus:
Iocasta, do you remember?
Did you know such a reindeer herder?

Queen Iocasta:
Since when do messengers tell Kings what to do?
Leave this matter be, King Oedipus.

Raise the flag of mourning over Thebes.
Have reindeer yoked to the willow shute.
Alert the guards to prepare you a seat
to be drawn to  Corinth.

King Oedipus:
Let the guards wait!
If the herder is alive, I’ll soon learn the truth.
He may even have the loop that bound my ankles.

Queen Iocasta:
King Oedipus
, stop this, please.

King Oedipus:
I have to know whether I’m the son of a whore
or the son of a king.

Queen Iocasta:
Oedipus, I’m begging you, stop this.

King Oedipus:
You, messenger from Corinth,
was the loop that bound my feet made of gold
or was it a willow twig?

I didn’t see it and didn’t think to ask.
When I carried you,
you were free of it.

Queen Iocasta:
Oedipus, don’t go this path.
Think of our family,
think of our years.

King Oedipus:
I didn’t ask your advice.

There’s an old saying:
A king in too much of a hurry
may leave the Gods behind
and soon discover he’s lost confidence.
King Oedipus:
Guards, go find me that reindeer herder.
If he’s alive, bring him to me.

Queen Iocasta:
Oedipus, listen.
You’re sticking your head

in the maw of the Sphinx.
Blood in the sand looks as much a dumpling
as does one’s last drop of saliva.

Chorus (aside, as if continuing the Queen’s thoughts):
Didn’t I, King Oedipus,
already save you once
from the wood and the Sphinx?

King Oedipus:
(in mock tones, as if reciting a ditty):
When a herder dies,
his reindeer climb to the heavens

and plead with the Gods,
“Please return our herder to us—
or we, too, will die.
The Gods answered:
Pranzer and Blitzen, away!
You have no beard of gold.
You’re but reindeer.

(Exit Queen Iocasta in great distress.)

We fear, we fear!
We fear, we fear!
Something terrible will come of this.

King Oedipus:
I’ll learn the truth about my birth.
I’m not a frog sprung
on a lotus leaf in Egypt.
The children of whores
were once bought
by temples for sacrifice.
But I am sure my ankles were tied
by a golden wire.
I’m of a king's story.

Who bore you, child?

Who was your mother?
Was she a moonstruck virgin?
Was the herder she net.
seeking the plant of immortality,
but found a sacred
in the temple of the wood instead?
O King, did your mother find favour
in the bed of a king?

Why did the King refuse the Queen’s advice?
It was the Queen
who made Oedipus King.
Mothers are Queens before sons are Kings.
It was she who bound herself to him,
in holy marriage, hieros gamoes.
She could have left him
for a wild sow to suckle,
and share his acorns with wild pigs.

[Iananna, the nurse of Princess Ismene (see Prologue).

runs on to the stage.
She screams:

O Gods! Something terrible!
Princes Eteokles and Polynices
are at each other with knives.
Creon’s son Haemon is stalking Polynices.

Where’s King Oedipus?
King Oedipus, your sons, your nephew!
Where’s the Queen?
Iocasta, your son and your nephew,
Polynices and Haemon!
They’re hacking each other with knives.
Help! All Thebes scream!

Has the world gone mad?

Polynices punched Antigone in the stomach!
Haemon caught and knifed Polynices,
now stuffs dirt into his mouth.