Thomas Babington Macaulay – Machiavelli

Lord Tommy Sideburns


Nicky, the Prince

Thomas Babington Macaulay – Machiavelli

  • Machiavelli is usually referred to as a
    • tempter
    • presenter of an evil principle
    • pushing ambition, revenge, perjury
      • Only got this reputation after The Prince
      • As if these things didn’t exist before the Prince
      • Gunpowder Plot blamed on him, as well as other plots
  • People are/were horrified by what they read by/about him
    • Scientifically writing how to back stab & overthrow nations
  • B/c he was Republican & his book scared people. he was thrown in jail
    • Maybe the book was intended to motivate de Medicis?
  • Other works quote Livy & don’t get such reactions
  • Many passages in the Prince have a more patriotic & public good tone
    • Strange mixture of cruelty, selfishness, heroism & enigma
    • This felling is only for outsiders – those who knew him weren’t shocked at all
  • Medici Pope Clement VII patronized books later condemned by the Council of Trent
    • Including the Prince
    • Condemned by English Catholics & French Protestants
  • Focus on city-states in Italy, unlike the rest of Europe
    • Cities survived by being undesirable to invaders
    • Later survived by strength but paid for by money earned in trade
    • Rest of Europe was weak
    • Church supported city-states (popes were from there)
      • Guelph & Ghibellines
  • In the rest of Europe, wealthy families stamped on the people in spite of the government
    • Either taken down by the people or dominated them
  • Lombards & Tuscans gov’ts survived by placating people of city w/ entertainment & food
    • Crusaders brought wealth back
    • Italians became merchants, manufacturers & bankers
    • Economy took, arts flourished
    • Classics returned to Italy & new works created too
    • Patrons bid for artists, writers
  • Military campaigns not feasible b/c army was mostly farmers
    • Need to stay home & farm
    • Handicapped rulers in military most of year able to fight in off-season but not in growing season
    • W/ commerce & industry growing, almost no army
  • From Ionian league era – too rich to fight
    • Hired mercenaries
    • Spartans had slaves to plant while the Spartans fought
  • Italian military was very antiquated
    • Knights were OK but the infantry was useless
    • Swiss had no problem with them
  • War needed a soldier class – standing army
    • Needed to encourage patriotism to get volunteers
    • Italian princes hired mercenaries from all over
    • No loyalty after end of contract
    • Mercenaries didn’t fight for home, only money
    • Had more in common with enemy than employer
  • Italy was vulnerable to France, Spain & Switzerland
    • These nations had valor as its highest virtue
    • Italy – peace & civility were the virtues
  • Successful rulers, Sforzas, used techniques praised by Machiavelli – underhanded
    • Francis – made himself but had no real friends – passing alliances
    • Maybe Shakespeare’s role of Iago based on him
  • Greeks & Romans differed in 2nd century BC
    • Roman conquerors – brave, resolute, faithful, religious, ignorant, arbitrary, cruel
    • Mirrored by Non-Italians in The Prince
    • Greek conquered – had art, science, literature, painting, architecture, polished manners, perceptive, tolerant, humane, sincere
  • Mirrored by Italians in the The Prince
    • Italian statesman
      • half demon (w/ ambitious goals in mind)
        • Impetuous, passionate, full of hatred, revenge
        • no outward courage, cowardly, unscrupulous, very perceptive, intelligence
        • dangerous enemy & accomplice
      • half angel (w/o goals in mind)
        • fair-minded, soft humane, graceful, sublime, patronizes freely
  • Machiavelli – far more virtuous than his intended audience
    • Other works very impressive
      • Mandragola – up there w/ Shakespeare & Molière
      • Clizia – based on a Plautus play
      • Belphegor – borrowed by Ben Jonson
  • Correspondence published in 1700s
    • Wrote that he wasn’t pleased w/ Italy’s circumstances
    • States weren’t independence
    • France, Spain interfering w/ Italy politics
  • Served as a diplomat
    • Ran into Cesare Borgia
    • Wrote about him – impressed
    • Hoped he’d lead for a return to Roman times – Patriotism
  • Proposed:
    • placate people – protection, arts, property rights
    • placate rulers – no interference w/ peasants
  • Saw Naples under foreign occupation
    • Florence extorted again & again
    • Hoped for Medici return in Florence
  • Wrote “Art of War”
    • dialogue talking about arms, military strategy, diplomacy
    • emphasizes Romans, infantry
  • “Discourses on Livy”
    • supported any form of gov’t to give Florence independence
    • Talks about this at end of Prince
  • Looked to Greeks
    • Patriotism was principle & not a passion
  • Compared to Montesquieu
    • Spirit of Laws (1748) was startling to hear a Frenchman arguing for gov’t checks
    • General think but very flowery language
    • The Prince was a specific call for help to save Italy – very honest approach
    • Based on enthusiasm, patriotism
  • At end of his life
    • Saw Medicis return but the foreign powers fought them all the way
  • Misrepresented, abused by people who sought to keep Italy down
    • Patriotism overall

David Hume – Of the Study of History

History will show that that hat was not the best idea.

David Hume – Of the Study of History

  • Hume advises women of the 1700s to study history
  • Women tended to eschew history & the like for fiction
    • Gives a copy of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives to a girl he likes
      • Tells her that it’s fiction
      • She likes it at first until she figures out that Alexander & Caesar were real people
      • Does this w/ lots of women to tease them about their aversion to history
  • Much get out of reading History
    • It’s fun
    • it improves your understanding of the world
    • it gives examples to improve your virtues & minimize your vices
  • It’s fun to go back in time & look at places that are completely foreign to us
    • look at early art & sciences
    • see how gov’ts worked & how/why they change over time
    • you see how human society & inventions perfect life
    • see how the times informed people’s vices & virtues
  • Improving our knowledge
    • Often called being erudite
      • really just knowing what happened
      • Might be a luxury to have the time to learn about the rest of the world
      • ought to know about your own country & Greece & Rome
    • history is the passing off of knowledge
      • leading to passing off of knowledge in sciences across time & across national borders
      • it is a way of living since the beginning of time
      • & learning for past experiences
  • Poets & Philosophers help improve our virtues
    • Poets by praising them
    • Philosophers by defining them & defending them
    • History shows how people have gone astray from virtue
  • Machiavelli
    • As a political man
      • Gives excuses for murder, assassination, perjury
    • As historian
      • says vice is bad & shows historical evidence on how going on the wrong path leads to bad results
    • Philosophers speak in abstract manners
    • Historians show how people & societies stray from or stick to virtues & the consequences of those actions

Of Youth & Age – Sir Francis Bacon

Of Youth & Age – Francis Bacon

  • Youth is a relative term
    • Your mind is the real key
  • But the youth tend to have a wilder imagination
    • But some people are a bit too crazy & passionate to do anything productive
  • Look at Caesar & Septimius Severus
    • Septimius was known to be a wild child
      • But was considered a very good emperor
  • Some rulers like Augustus, Cosimus of Florence and others
    • were pretty calm in their youths
  • Younger men are better to create than judge
    • Better to do than advise
    • Better for new things than tradition
  • Age gives us experience
  • Youth are usually impatient, passionate & careless
    • Bite off more than they can chew
    • More prone to extremes – makes more problems
      • unlikely to apologize for stepping on people’s feet
  • Old men say “no” to too much
    • delay too much, risk too little, give up too soon
  • Best is to use the both for their own good
    • The balance of both – one helps the other
  • Young men learn better
    • Old men teach and act better
  • The young haven’t had time to develop their intelligence & inner strength
    • They haven’t had time to appreciate the subtleties of life
  • The young have the opportunity to use their enthusiasm for speech & rhetoric
    • It looks silly on old people

Video Summary & Discussion:

Friedrich Hayek – The Use of Knowledge in Society

Friedrich Hayek – The Use of Knowledge in Society. The American Economic Review, Vol. 35, Issue 4 (September 1945), 519-530.


  • Using rational economic order has a problem:
    • We use all relevant info
    • We use a coherent system of preferences
    • We use complete knowledge of relevant means
      • Problem becomes just using logic to solve the mathematics
    • Question becomes what is the best use of available means
      • Answer is implicit in the assumptions
        • Marginal rate of substitution between commodities must be the same for all user
      • Our tools give us no answers b/c our data is never “given” to one single person to work out the implications
      • Knowledge is dispersed in incomplete bits & often contradictory
  • Problem is really – How to secure best use of resources known to any individual
    • USE OF KNOWLEDGE – isn’t given to any 1 individual entirely
    • Problem is obscured by development of Economic Theory & Math
    • Leads to dispute between theory & policy due to misconception of Economics Problem
  • “PLANNING” = complex interrelated decisions about available resources
    • All economic activity is planning & need knowledge to plan but it must be given to the planner
    • Knowledge is dispersed – main stumbling black to designing efficient system
  • Q – Who is planning? A Central authority? Individuals?
    • “Planning” usually means Central Planning according to a unified plan
    • “Competition” usually means decentralized planning by individuals
    • Half-way is planning by organized industries (monopolies or cartels)
  • Q – Which is most efficient?
    • A – The one that can use fuller existing knowledge & have better success
  • The answer will vary based on what kind of knowledge will be available, to whom & relevant importance
    • We tend to think that Scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge – NOT SO
    • A body of experts may be the wisest about a subject
      • But who will choose the body?
  • Economic Problem of Knowledge – Particulars of time & place
    • Individual has an advantage b/c of his unique information which is beneficial to others
      • It’s only useful if his information & decision based on information are made with his cooperation
    • Our individual training in theory & practice is valuable in all walks of life
      • Use of machines, management decisions to be efficient requires use of individual’s unique knowledge
    • Somehow this view isn’t popular – seen as dishonest
      • We’re “supposed to share” all knowledge amongst everyone
      • But it is beneficial to society, often commercially b/c it is most efficient
  • If the economy can be centrally planned, why is it so hard to do?
    • New problems arise in the day-to-day running of a factory/business
    • Central planners are removed from this
    • Are economic decisions only necessary in the long-term planning?
      • Once a factory is built, is planning over?
    • Manager’s job includes constant need to minimize costs
      • An unknowledgeable manager does this inefficiently
  • Economists often forget about small changes b/c they’re preoccupied with aggregated statistic which appear more stable by the law of large numbers
    • Individuals don’t have robust data/orders like that
      • Flow of goods/services maintained by constant, deliberate adjustments
      • If 1 company fails, another will step in to fulfill demand
      • Factories need to be maintained & depreciation occurs randomly or unseen
        • Doesn’t show up in Central Planner’s stats
  • If the problem is how to adjust quickly to changes in particular circumstance of time & place
    • Decisions must be left to those familiar w/ circumstance & can directly meet them
    • Central planning requires 1000s of communications to central planner & him integrating all knowledge & then doing something about it
      • Easily solved by de-centralizing
        • Communication is easier w/ knowledge of circumstances of time & place
  • Q – How much knowledge is needed to fulfill demand?
    • All information & occurrences have some effect on supply & demand
      • But we don’t need to know why they’ve happened
      • Just need to know, time, place, quantity & PRICE
        • Not interested in more than that
  • Economic Calculus
    • Solved by the price system
      • Small adjustments in resource allocation is signaled by prices
      • Allows us to attach a value on scare resources to allow people/managers to adjust budgets, use of factors & resources
  • Prices coordinate separate actions of different people
    • If a new source of raw resources arises or an old one is eliminated
      • (Why is not very important)
      • All that users really need to know is if that resource is more abundant or scarcer
    • When prices rise high enough, new entrants arrive or if they drop low enough, some producers will leave market
    • 1 price for a commodity guides the market to a solution that would have been arrived at by a central planner w/o actually involving him
  • Price system is a mechanism for communicating information
    • System economizes knowledge w/ which is operates
    • Individuals need to know very little to take the efficient/right action
    • Price is a symbol – most essential information is passed on to those concerned
  • Adjustments are never perfect like economists imagine b/c they assume all knowledge is available to everyone
    • Amazing that 1 scarcity w/ only a few people knowing about it can be conveyed to so many & orders adjust w/o any central planning
    • Not out of deliberate design
    • Those who want conscious direction:
      • Think how best to use knowledge beyond capacity to collate, process & issue resource allocation with respect to scarcity as efficiently as possible
  • Major problem is w/ language
    • We are told to think about what we are doing in the big picture
    • But all advances in technology & production happen when we increase the number of activities where we don’t think very much
    • Price system represents a large system w/ use of knowledge w/o fully understanding what we are doing
    • Usually derided as expecting a miracle that the system arises spontaneously
      • Nobody’s been able to do any better
  • Economic critiques of Price system
    • Some believe that production can be efficient w/o price mechanism
      • Prices don’t only apply to end markets
        • Intermediary markets function to allocate resources efficiently between supply & demand
        • Information is never given completely to a single name
      • Practical problems’ solutions come from dispersed knowledge
        • Signs are in the price system!


The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio” – I – Trojan War, Candaules & Gyges and Early Croesus Years [1-45]

Candaules & Gyges checking out the Queen

The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio”

I – Trojan War, Candaules & Gyges and Early Croesus Years [1-45]

A – Kidnappings and War [1-5]

  • Kidnappings of Io, Medea, Europé and Helen – The Phoenicians were originally from near the Indian Ocean but moved to the Mediterranean Sea. They traded with the Greeks, especially with Argos. One day, the Phoenicians kidnapped Argive women, including Io, the daughter of Inachus.
  • A group of Greeks went to Tyre and took the king’s daughter, Europé, in retaliation. The king demanded her back with reparations. Since the Phoenicians never did this with Io, the Greeks refused. They took Medea from Aea.
  • A generation later, Priam’s son, Alexander, took a Greek woman, Helen. The Greeks demanded her return with no response because of the Greek abduction of Europé and Medea. Threats of violence and war followed.
  • Kidnappings aside, the Persians blame the Trojan War on the Greeks since they started fighting first by leading an army to Troy. Asians would have let it go but the Greek burnt the city to the ground. This wars the origin of the European and Asian rift.

B – Candaules the Freak & Gyges the Ripper [6-14]

  • Croesus, son of Alyattes, a Lydia was king of all nations west of the River Halys (Central Turkey and westward). He was the first barbarian (Foreign) king to deal with Greece, conquering Aeolians, Ionians, and Dorians.
  • The throne of Lydia came to Croesus from the Mermnadae. Candaules, grandson of Hercules, was the last of the Mermnadae. The Lydian kings lasted 22 generations from Agron to Candaules (505 years).
  • Candaules was in love with his own wife (Poor fella). He would talk to his bodyguard, Gyges, about how beautiful his wife was. He wanted Gyges to see his wife naked. Gyges didn’t think that was a good idea.
  • Gyges went along with it. Candaules led him to a spot where he could see the queen change. She caught him as he was leaving. She was so pissed off at Candaules that she was determined to get revenge.
  • She had Gyges brought to her and gave him 2 choices: 1 – Kill Candaules, become my husband and King of Lydia. 2 – Die right now because you broke the law and you must die. He asked how he should kill Candaules. She said – On the same spot where you watched me naked.
  • That night he sneaked into their room while the king was sleeping and stabbed him to death. Gyges then became king.
  • The people were upset that their king was murdered but were eventually convinced to accept it once the Oracle of Delphi said it was legit. But she also said 5 generations later, vengeance will come.
  • Once he was crowned, Gyges sent tons of silver and gold gifts to Delphi. In Herodotus’s time, they were in Corinth. It was the first time a Barbarian king sent presents to Delphi. He then made moves on Miletus and Smyrna, as well as the city of Colophon. Not a lot else happened in his 38 years as ruler.

C – Alyattes [15-22]

  • Gyges’s son, Ardys, fought Miletus. The Cimmerians left Scythia for Asia, capturing Sardis. Ardys ruled for 49 years. His son, Sadyattes ruled for 12 years and his son, Alyattes began his rule.
  • Alyattes went to war with the Medes and ran out the Cimmerians from Asia, took Smyrna, Colophon and invaded Clazomenae (West Coast of Turkey) but lost that one.
  • He continued the fight with Miletus in sending an army into its territory, burning their crops without touching people or buildings, so they have to replant them every year.
  • They did this 11 years straight. Only the Chians offered Miletus any help.
  • In the 12th year, they lit the fields again, this time they accidentally burned a temple to Minerva. Soon after, Alyattes fell ill. A messenger heard from the Oracle who said that the Temple had to be rebuilt.
  • Herodotus got all this Delphians and Milesians. Periander of Corinth got wind of the Oracle’s message and took the ruler of Miletus, Thrasybulus.
  • Alyattes asked for a truce to rebuild the temple. Having heard what the Oracle said, Thrasybulus had all the grains put into the center of the city, and started to party when the Lydia envoy showed up.
  • He hoped the envoy would go home thinking the war didn’t affect them. The tricked worked and Alyattes asked for peace. He rebuilt the temple and built another one. Soon after, he got better and fought the Thracians.

D – Periander and Arion, the Dolphin Boy [23-24]

  • Periander was tyrant of Corinth. Both Corinthians and Lesbians agree on one story: Arion of Methymna, a world famous harp and poet, rode from Italy to Taernarum on the back of a dolphin
  • He was in Corinth in Periander’s court and then went to Italy and Sicily. On his way back to Greece, he hitched a ride with some Corinthians who decided to take his money and make him walk the plank. Before jumping, he played the harp and recited a poem. When he jumped, he rode a dolphin all the way back to Taenarum. He made his way to Corinth and told Periander what had happened, and he didn’t believe it. When the sailors came back, they were summoned and out popped Arion. They were so amazed he was still alive that they gave themselves away to Periander. Arion’s shrine in Taenarum has a bronze statue of him riding a dolphin.

E – Croesus’s Early Years

  • Alyattes died after 57 years of rule. He had sent just as many gifts to Delphi as Gyges did.
  • His son, Croesus became king at 35. He attacked all the Ionian and Aeolian Greek colonies he could
  • He landed over Greek cities in Asia demanding tribute and used the money to build an army and navy to take Greek islands. Bias of Priêné talked to him that the islanders had 10000 horsemen ready for attack. This made Croesus reconsider his plan to attack and ask for peace with them.
  • Croesus solidified power in Asia, west of the River Halys, except Lycia and Cilicia.
  • One of the Sages of Greece, Solon of Athens, was traveling the world mostly to avoid repealing unpopular and annoying laws in Athens. Only Solon could do that.
  • He went to Lydia to visit Croesus, who showed him his treasury and asked him, “Who’s the happiest man ever?” Solon thought about it and said, “Tellus of Athens because his country is flourishing in his own time. His sons grew up and had kids of their own. He lived in comfort and he died gloriously in battle, received the highest honors.
  • Croesus asked, “Who’s no. 2?” Solon answered, “Cleobis and Bito from Argos. They died carrying their mother to a festival and won many prizes. Their mother asked Juno to bless them. They fell asleep and died and were given their own shrine in Delphi.”
  • Croesus asked, “Where do I rank?” Solon answered, “Well, you’re rich and powerful but you aren’t dead yet. Things can change at any time. Only when you’re dead will we know if you lived a truly happy life.”
  • Croesus was looking for praise and Solon couldn’t tell him anything. It’s safe to say that Croesus was knocked down a few pegs. He then had dreams foreshadowing his downfall. His one son was deaf and dumb. The other, Atys, he had a dream about that he would die from an iron weapon; He was ordered to stay away from war and weapons.
  • During the wedding plans for his able son, a man came to Croesus from Sardis seeking redemption from accidentally killing his brother. He was Adrastus, son of Gordias. He was kicked out but welcomed by Croesus.
  • A large boar was ruining the countryside. Locals looked for help. Croesus wouldn’t let his son take part because of his dream. He sent other men.
  • His son, Atys, complained that he was being denied any glory. No bride or anyone could respect him.
  • Croesus told him about the dream he had about Atys dying from an iron weapon.
  • Atys answered that he could be wrong. A boar doesn’t use weapons. It would get me by his tusks. Please let me go.
  • Croesus allowed him to go.
  • Croesus asked Adrastus to keep an eye on his son during the hunt. “I think you’re a strong reliable man.”
  • Adrastus warned him that he was bad luck and was uncomfortable with the task.
  • The group went and split into 2. They surrounded the pig and Adrastus threw a spear, missed the pig and killed Atys.
  • Croesus was upset about his son and asked the gods, “WHY?!?!”
  • Adrastus asked to be sacrificed to make amends. Croesus wouldn’t let him because he knew it was an accident. Adrastus felt so guilty that he killed himself on Atys’s tomb.

Video Summary of Text:


The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 3 – “Antigone”

The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 3 – “Antigone”

The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 3 – “Antigone”

[At the Royal Palace]

Antigone – Ismene, what’s the latest in father’s curse? I haven’t really had much trouble. But there’s been an edict issued.

Ismene – Nothing since our 2 brothers killed each other and the Argive army left.

Antigone – Eteocles is to be buried with full honors while Polyneices is to be left out to rot, not to be mourned or buried. They’ve got guard to watch the body.

Ismene – Well, what should we do?

Antigone – Will you help me bury him?

Ismene – But it’s forbidden.

Antigone – Creon has no right to stop me.

Ismene – Father suffered and we suffer as a result of our family curse. Mother died and our 2 brothers died in a civil war. We’re all that’s left of the family. We’re women and don’t have any power, especially with Creon in power. I wish to ask the gods forgiveness for not performing the duty.

Antigone – I won’t force you to but I’m going to do it anyway. This is the only way to honor him. We owe more to the dead than to the living.

Ismene – I’m not dishonoring him I just can’t break the law.

Antigone – I’ll do it alone then.

Ismene – Do it silently. I won’t tell anyone either.

Antigone – Silence is worse. Heaven’s laws are greater than earth’s

Ismene – I can’t do it. I haven’t got the nerve.

Antigone – Well, I hate that you feel this way but stay out of my way. [Both leave]

[Chorus of Elders enter]

Chorus – The battle between the two armies went at it hammers and tongs. Eteocles was chosen by the people to rule and Polyneices was exiled but tried to win the city back by attacking it.

Creon [enters] – After all the horrors that have been inflicted on Thebes, there’s finally a peace. Eteocles is to be buried and Polyneices is to be left out to rot – unburied in shame.

Chorus – We understand and obey.

Creon – See that everybody else does the same. [Guard enters]

Guard – Sir, I regret to inform you… I don’t want to but… It wasn’t me… But it did happen…

Creon – Out with it!!

Guard – When we turned our heads from the body, someone tried to bury the body.

Chorus – Maybe the gods did it.

Creon – Quiet! The gods would never bury a traitor. You guards were bribed. If you don’t find who did it, I’ll hold you personally responsible for this. [Guard leaves]

Chorus – Some men rise up to dominate others but he’ll always be dominated by death. [Guard enters with Antigone] What’s this? Antigone, a prisoner? [Creon enters]

Creon – What’s all this?

Guard – Sir, the guards and I dug up the body and a dust storm blinded us. Once it ended, we saw this one here burying the body. She gave us a full confession.

Creon – Do you agree with this version of events?

Antigone – Yes.

Creon – [to guard] You’re clear of the charge. You may leave. [to Antigone] Did you know about my edict?

Antigone – I couldn’t help it. Everyone knew. It was everywhere.

Creon – Why did you break it?

Antigone – That wasn’t Zeus’s edict. Your edict was earthly, not heavenly. I’m not willing to cross the gods. You’ve got no right to override heavenly mandates to bury the dead. I’m not afraid of you.

Chorus – She’s a passionate one and doesn’t know how to bend. Just like her father.

Creon – I should have known that you’d do it. There’s no room for pride with you. If I let this stand, I’m no longer the leader. Go get Ismene to verify this story.

Antigone – What can you do apart from convicting and killing me?

Creon – That’s all I plan to do.

Antigone – What are you waiting for? I’ve agreed to everything that I’ve been accused of. Nothing is holier than to bury my brother. Everyone agrees with me but is too afraid to say so.

Creon – The chorus agree with me.

Antigone – They agree with me but you scare them.

Creon – Aren’t you ashamed?

Antigone – There’s nothing to be ashamed of it. It was a righteous act.

Creon – He was a traitor!

Antigone – Traitor or not, he was my brother and I have an obligation to him and to the gods to bury him. That’s more important than your edict.

Creon – The wicked aren’t worthy of honor. He killed this city’s champion, his brother, and he deserves this.

Antigone – Nevertheless, he deserves a proper burial

Creon – Clearly, Hades knows the difference between good and evil. You’ll find out soon yourself.

[Ismene enters accompanied by guards]

Creon – You! You’re even worse – a snake in the grass. I had 2 backstabbers under my roof. Care to confess anything?

Ismene – Yes, I share the guilt.

Antigone – No way, you tried to talk me out of it.

Ismene – I won’t leave you high and dry.

Antigone – The dead and Hades know that’s not true.

Ismene – Please, let me stand by you in this shitty time.

Antigone – No way, this is all my thing.

Ismene – Why are you being this way? Let me help you.

Antigone – Save yourself. You chose to live. I chose to die. Be happy. My life is spent serving the dead.

Creon – Both of you two are awful.

Ismene – Will you kill the betrothed to your son?

Creon – He’ll find other field to plough.

Ismene – He’ll never love another.

Creon – I don’t want my son to marry an evil woman.

Antigone – Haemon doesn’t deserve such a father. [Antigone and Ismene are led away]

Chorus – Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never known evil. We’ve been swimming in it for generations with no end in sight. [Haemon enters]

Creon – I guess you’re angry with me for condemning Antigone…

Haemon – I follow your example for guidance.

Creon – Your heart should follow the law. Men hope for obedient children to help them to fight their enemies. Please… this is my way. Any woman guilty of treason isn’t a good choice for a wife. This disobedience is the ruin of cities and ours is already on a rocky path.

Chorus – That’s a good point.

Haemon – The gods have given us reason and we ought to use it. I don’t wish to condemn to death anyone who offends you. You’re putting her to death for following the gods’ will. I’m not berating you but I think you’re wrong. Don’t be so rigid and slacken once in a while and be willing to change.

Chorus – He seems to have good words for a youth.

Creon – I won’t be lectured by a whippersnapper.

Haemon – My age can’t be overcome by wise words, it seems

Creon – Is it right to honor the unruly?

Haemon – I don’t want to respect evil-doers.

Creon – But that’s what she’s done.

Haemon – Nobody agrees with you.

Creon – Are they telling me how to rule? It’s mine to rule. You seem to be more on her side than mine.

Haemon – I want justice. You seem to be against it.

Creon – These are my prerogatives as a ruler.

Haemon – But you’re trampling on the gods’ wishes.

Creon – You’ll never marry that girl.

Haemon – If she dies, another will die.

Creon – Are you threatening me? You’ll regret it. I’ll bring her in here and kill her right in front of you.

Haemon – You’ll never see me again. Do what you will. [Leaves]

Chorus – That was intense. He went off in a huff.

Creon – Whatever he does, it won’t save those 2 girls.

Chorus – Are you going to kill both?

Creon – Well, not Ismene.

Chorus – But Antigone?

Creon – We’ll put her in a cave with a little food and wall her up. That way we don’t be responsible. The gods can step in if they want [leaves]

Chorus – Love seems to be at work, fighting for eternal laws. Creon is fighting the will of Aphrodite to have Haemon and Antigone marry. [Antigone enters]

Antigone – Citizens, this is my last day. I had so many plans in life. I won’t be married. I won’t have children. I’m going off to Hades instead.

Chorus – Sickness doesn’t take you, nor does violence… It’s your own fate that kills you.

Antigone – I’ve heard of those walking off to their doom but I don’t fear doom.

Chorus – She was in a much more exalted position than you. We are mortals, not gods.

Antigone – Can’t you wait until I’m dead to mock me?

Chorus – You went against the throne. You’ve fallen into the same fate as your father.

Antigone – We of the Labdacus family are doomed… my father, mother, brothers and now me.

Chorus – We praise you for your honor of your brother but you’ve committed a capital crime and that’s your ruin.

Antigone – I don’t regret it and no one feels sorry for me.

Creon [enters] – You… Get her out of here. I’m completely clean in all this. You’ve committed the crime and you must pay.

Antigone – I’ll see my father, mother and brothers. So much, I’ll never get to do in life… and for what? Because your law was made up on a whim and nobody supports you. Nothing is better than to defy an awful tyrant.

Chorus – This girl’s soul is burning with a great passion.

Creon – She knew the rules and did it anyway.

Antigone – Here I go off to die because I honor my doomed family and stood up to arbitrary, evil laws [leaves].

Chorus – Danae was also walled up, her behind a brass wall. But Antigone will not give birth to a great man, Theseus. [Teiresias enters]

Teiresias – Creon, I’ve come here to talk to you. The gods aren’t happy with what you’ve done. I’ve tried to assuage them… No use.

Creon – What are you saying, exactly?

Teiresias – Good counsel is the most valuable thing – you’re ill-tempered.

Creon – Careful now, you’re speaking to your king, you know.

Teiresias – You won’t like what I’ve got to say.

Creon – Out with it!

Teiresias – You’re not long for this world. Your actions will lead from one corpse to another. You’ve pissed off the gods and you’ll cause more death in your house. [leaves]

Chorus – You know, he’s never been wrong…

Creon – I know but I can’t change due to my pride. I’ll be seen as weak.

Chorus – You ought to listen. Go free her before it’s too late.

Creon – Give in? Well, only because the gods want it. [leaves]

Chorus – Bacchus, this is a cause for celebration. Thebes finally has something to celebrate! Finally, happy news.

Messenger – I bring some sad news. Although Creon’s been a good king…

Chorus – Tell us!

Messenger – Haemon has killed himself.

Chorus – The prophet was right.

[Eurydice, Creon’s wife enters]

Eurydice – What’s the news?

Messenger – The dogs ate Polyneices’s body. Creon panicked and went to Antigone’s cave. She was found hanged. Haemon saw this and killed himself. [Eurydice leaves]

Chorus – She’s freaked out about this…

Messenger – I can’t say that I blame her. She wants to be alone, I guess.

Chorus – But she left so quietly. That’s never good.

Messenger – You’re right. I’ll check up on her.

[Creon enters with Haemon on a bier]

Chorus – Here he comes. No need to say it but it’s his fault.

Creon – Fucking hell!! My own words and actions did this. This is awful.

Chorus – We warned you. Haemon warned you. Teiresias warned you.

Creon – I know and I have to live with this.

Messenger – Sir, I’ve got more bad news. The queen is dead.

Creon – Fucking hell! Is there no end to this misery? My son? My wife? There’s nothing left.

Messenger – She stabbed herself in the heart. After Haemon and your other son Megaleus dying in the civil war, it was all too much for her.

Creon – Fuck!! This is all my fault. I hope for death because nothing can ever be good to me again. Please, take me away.

Chorus – Wisdom is the biggest part of the happiest, as well as reverence toward the gods. Proud words come back to bite you in the ass and teach these who receive it to be wise.


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The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 2 – “Oedipus at Colonus”

The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 2 – “Oedipus at Colonus”

[At Colonus ~ 1 mile NW of Athens in a grove sacred to the Furies. Enter Oedipus and daughter, Antigone]

Oedipus – Where are we? Can you see if there’s somewhere to rest? Maybe someone can tell us where we are?

Antigone – Any life seems far away. It appears to be sacred. Have a seat. We’re in Athens but I don’t know where. But here comes someone [Stranger enters]

Oedipus – Stranger, tell me something…

Stranger – Before you say anything, you can’t sit there. It’s illegal. It’s the ground of the Eumenides, daughters of the Earth and darkness

Oedipus – Good, let them receive a suppliant. Please, I’m a traveler in need of gods’ help. Where are we?

Stranger – It’s called Colonus, a land holy to many gods

Oedipus – Who’s the king around here? I’d like to speak with him

Stranger – Theseus, son of Argus. Why do you wish to speak with him?

Oedipus – I think I can help him

Stranger – A blind man’s going to help him?

Oedipus – It’s advice from when I wasn’t blind

Stranger – I’ll see what I can do. Stay here and I’ll try to get someone to come here [leaves]

Oedipus – Is he gone?

Antigone – Yes, we’re alone again

Oedipus – Oh, Furies… Apollo told me I’d come here to die in your holy spot. There’ll also be either earthquakes or lightning. Please have pity on me in Athens.

Antigone – Shh! Some old men are coming to have a look at you

Oedipus – OK. Let’s hide over there and hear what they say [Both hide in the corner]

[Chorus of Elders enter, searching around]

Chorus – Who was that? Where’d he go? Look for him. He must be from out of town. No local would hang around here. The awful women are here. I heard a rumor that someone would come. But I don’t know [Oedipus comes out]

Oedipus – I’m the guy. Don’t look at me. I’m a criminal. But I’ve received an even worse punishment. I’m blind and completely harmless, and dependent on others.

Chorus – Were you born blind? Anyway, as wretched as you are, you really ought not to be here. If you like to speak with us, let’s go somewhere else. [They move to another spot]

Oedipus – Sorry, I was tired and wanted a rest.

Chorus – This is better. You must understand what is holy and unholy here in Athens [Oedipus sits down]. Who are you? Where are you from?

Oedipus – I’m in exile and probably should not say more.

Chorus – Who are your family?

Oedipus – Oh, all right. I’m the son of Laius, of the family of Labdicidae… My name is Oedipus

Chorus – Oedipus? You’re him? [Screams and Wails]

Oedipus – Yes… Antigone, what’s going on?

Chorus – We don’t want you here. You must be a wicked man to have all that shit happen to you. Nothing but misery will result from your visit. Please leave.

Antigone – I see. You’ve had a rough time with your father being Oedipus but we really ought not to talk to you.

Oedipus – Athens is meant to be virtuous and that includes pity and help. Is my name enough to stop that? But my acts are nothing but suffering. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was ruined by others. You claim to honor the gods and that means charity. Gods please guide them to help me.

Chorus – I see your point but our rules must decide this.

Oedipus – Where is your lord?

Chorus – In the city. He’ll come once he’s heard it’s you.

Oedipus – I hope he won’t mind me

Antigone – I see a woman coming on a horse… I think I recognize her. It IS her! Ismene! [Ismene enters]

Ismene – I can’t believe you’re here! How wonderful!

Oedipus – Where are your brothers?

Ismene – It’s a sad story…

Oedipus – I was afraid that this would happen. I left the kingdom to them to take care of it and it’s my daughters who are doing all the heavy lifting.

Ismene – Creon is running the show while Polyneices and Eteocles are fighting over who’ll be ruler. Polyneices is in exile in Argos and is planning to fight back. The curse continues

Oedipus – I had hoped that the misery would end.

Ismene – The Oracle says you’re wanted both dead and alive – They want you dead to finish the curse. They want you alive to use you to win power. Creon wants to bury you on the edge of town – not in town – to avoid further curses and nearby to use your popularity and legitimacy

Oedipus – Bury? But I’m not dead. I want to be buried in my town. Fuck those boys. Fuck Creon too. I might be cursed but I never behaved like an animals. They didn’t even wait for me to die to start fighting. Poor girls. At least I have you. Sorry that this has happened to you.

Chorus – We can help with your situation. You’ll have to pray and sacrifice to cleanse yourself of this mess.

Oedipus – Sounds complicated. Can’t the girls do this? I’m old, weak and blind

Ismene – I’ll do it. Antigone, watch Dad [leaves]

Chorus – That’s some shitty life for you and your family [Theseus enters]

Theseus – All right. I’ve come to meet you, Oedipus. Just to make sure it’s you and it’s you. What do you want in Athens?

Oedipus – I’ve come to offer my services to you. Well, I wish to offer my support for you by giving you my burial site in Athens that will help Athens if it ever fights Thebes. Please let me stay here until I die

Theseus – This is a kind offer. You may stay as long as you like. You’ll be protected and fed [leaves]

Chorus – Oedipus, you’re going to love Athens

Antigone – Sounds great but here comes Creon

Oedipus – Elders, am I really safe with you?

Chorus – Of course

Creon – [enters] I see that you look worried Oedipus, don’t be. I’m not here to fight you. I’m too old for that shit. We want you to come home. It’s sad to see a king as a beggar. Please come home where you belong.

Oedipus – I wanted this. After all that shit in Thebes, I’ve been invited to stay here and now you want me back in Athens. It’s wrong to force an old man to go somewhere he doesn’t want to go. You don’t want me to go for my own sake. You want to use me against Thebes. I won’t do it.

Creon – Don’t be silly… Maybe I’ll take your daughters with me

Oedipus – Yo, chorus! Are you going to stop this?

Chorus – Creon, knock it off. This is fucked up!

Creon – [to guard] Grab them and take them away?

Chorus – What are you doing?

Creon – Don’t worry, I won’t touch Oedipus

Chorus – We have to rescue them [guards leave with Antigone]

Creon – You’ve got no one now. You deserve this, you rotten old man

Chorus – Back off!

Creon – You won’t do shit. I’m just going to take Oedipus and there’s nothing you can do

Chorus – This isn’t right

Creon – Fuck “right”, you weak punks [Theseus enters]

Theseus – What the fuck just happened?

Oedipus – Creon’s kidnapped my two girls

Theseus – [to attendants] Go make a sacrifice. [to Creon] Look, you little fucker. You bring them back and get the fuck out of here. You’re a disgrace. You’ve got no right to bring your war here and harass our citizens. Bring the girls back here.

Creon – I didn’t think you would care about Thebans. To think of a city harboring a criminal and a cursed man. It’s only because you outnumber us that I’ll considered it.

Oedipus – Creon, what are you doing? Taking advantage of an old man and his daughters for your purposes? What oracle wouldn’t doom your ass forever for this? I don’t deserve this. I’ve had a lot of shit go down in my life – none of it was my fault. You, on the other hand, take advantage of this situation. Theseus and Athens protect me because they are a better place and better people

Chorus – This is a good man, worth of our protection

Theseus – Well, first, let’s get the girls back. If we find your countrymen to be reluctant, it’ll be bad news

Creon – You only say this because you outnumber us

Theseus – Fuck off, then! Oedipus, please stay here. I’ll do everything I can to bring your children back

Oedipus – Thank you!! [Everyone but Oedipus and Chorus leave]

Chorus – Looks like Theseus and Athens are finally going to have it out with Creon and Thebes. It’ll be a tremendous triumph!!

Oedipus – Where? How? What? [Antigone, Ismene and Theseus enter]

Antigone – Oh, father! He saved us, Theseus and his men.

Oedipus – Is that you? Come here. Thank you, Theseus, for rescuing my daughters!! How wonderful!!

Theseus – You’re welcome. I prefer to let my actions do all the talking. I don’t like to boast. I have to talk to you. There’s a man from Argos praying in the altar of Poseidon who wants to talk to you. Do you have any family in Argos?

Oedipus – I know who it is. One of my sons… I don’t want to see him

Antigone – Please let him come. There’s no danger. He may change his mind if you speak to him.

Oedipus – Oh, all right. I can’t say “no” to you

Theseus – Don’t worry. I’ll be here just in case [leaves]

Chorus – Being born sucks. It’s better not to be born and have no pain. Shorter life is preferable to a long one, which has so much more pain. Only death brings peace.

Polyneices [enters] – What am I to do? Cry for my parents? My sisters? Myself? Look at father, dressed like a foreigner. What a fucked up life. Now he’s reduced to begging. I’m even worse because I brought it on myself… Father, won’t you even talk to me? Sisters? Can’t you help?

Antigone – Ask him yourself. What do you want?

Polyneices – I want to say why I’m here. I’m in exile from Thebes. When you left, I claimed my right to the throne but Eteocles ran me out with the support of the city. They say the curse on our family is to blame. I went to Argos and married the king’s daughter, Adrastus. I’ve been trying to round up an army to take Thebes back. I’ve come to ask for your support and blessing. I can’t win without it. The Oracle says the one you support will win.

Oedipus – Theseus wanted me to listen to you and respond. You were on the throne before your brother and you sent me into exile. I had to wander until I got here. You made me suffer and beg. Only with your sisters’ help have I survived. I disown you. Fate is watching you. You won’t take the city. You and your brother will kill each other and it’s a good thing, too. Get out of my life and never come back!!

Chorus – With that, I think you ought to go

Polyneices – I’ve wasted my time. Sisters please make sure I’m buried properly if the Oracle was right

Antigone – Take your armies, go back to Argos and stop fighting. What is there to gain by destroying Thebes?

Polyneices – It’s shameful to live in exile, especially by one’s family. I understand father’s wishes but I have to continue

Antigone – Will you tell your armies that your cause is doomed?

Polyneices – No, nobody would fight for me that way. Just see I’m buried right [leaves]

Chorus – This is awful but it’s fate – what heave wants [Thunder]

Oedipus – Someone go get Theseus. Please!

Antigone – What for?

Oedipus – Zeus is calling for me.

Chorus – This is some scary shit. Zeus is pissed off.

Oedipus – Girls, this is the end. Theseus? Are you there? [Thunder]

Chorus – More thunder

Oedipus – I hope he show up in time

Theseus – [enter] I came as quickly as I could. Is that all from Zeus? This must be serious.

Oedipus – My time is up and I’ll lead you to where I’ll die. Only you may know where I’ll be buried – tell your heirs and no one else! Daughters, Theseus, let’s go! [They leave]

Chorus – I hope he has a peaceful death and decent burial

Messenger – I have to announce Oedipus is gone

Chorus – What do you mean “gone”?

Messenger – Dead. Not murdered. He led his daughters and Theseus down a dark path into the earth. He bathed and put on special clothes. He said goodbye. There was another roll of thunder. The girls cried. Oedipus asked him to look after his daughters. The girls left and Theseus watched him disappear

[Antigone and Ismene enter]

Antigone – It’s so sad. I wish I were dead too. So sad and unfair

Chorus – Don’t worry. All that pain and suffering of his now over

Antigone – I want to go back to where he disappeared.

Ismene – We shouldn’t. We ought to go back to Thebes.

Antigone – There’ll be hell to pay there. [Theseus enters]

Theseus – Well, it’s all over now. What a crazy sight

Antigone – We want to go to his tomb

Theseus – You can’t. I promised to keep it a secret. If you really want, I can take you back to Thebes.


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