The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 1 – “Oedipus the King”

Nightmare Fodder

Oedipus the King – Sophocles

[At the Royal Palace with Priest, Oedipus and suppliants with suppliant branches]

Oedipus – What’s with all the branches, incense and sickness? Fill me in, Priest

Priest – There’s a plague. The people are sick. The plants and animals are all dying. Please, do something about this before we all die

Oedipus – This is awful. I was told earlier and sent my brother-in-law, Creon, to Delphi to learn what to do about it. When he comes, we’ll know…

Priest – Here he comes now [Creon enters]

Creon – Well, I’ve just heard from the Oracle. We’ve got to get rid of a defiler who killed your predecessor, Laius. His murder must be avenged. Then the plague will be lifted.

Oedipus – How did he die?

Creon – He was killed on the way back from Delphi. Only one man of his group survived. He said it was robbers. Once Laius was killed, the plague set in. We could never find the killer. The Sphinx forced us to stop and focus on other things

Oedipus – We’ll get to the bottom of this. Apollo will guide us to the killer and release us from the plague

[Creon, Priest, Oedipus enter palace]

Chorus of Elders – Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Artemis, Bacchus… Help! Please heal out sick. Chase out the plague. Let the crops grow back. Stop killing our people. Make the animals and people fertile again

[Oedipus enters]

Oedipus – I heard you pray. We’ve got to find the murderer of Laius, and either kill him or exile him. If you know something, tell me. Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded. If I find you’ve been hiding something, it’s your ass!! These are Apollo’s instructions. It’s the only way to come out of this thing.

Chorus – Perhaps you ought to talk to Teiresias, the blind prophet.

Oedipus – I’ve already sent for him. Here he is [Teiresias enters]. We’ve got a plague. Apollo says we’ve got to find Laius’s murderer, kill him and it’ll be lifted. Can you help?

Teiresias – I really shouldn’t say. You don’t want to hear it.

Oedipus – The gods are asking for your help. Please tell us.

Teiresias – No. Nothing good can come from it

Oedipus – You old fool. We need to know. The plague is killing us. Don’t make me force you or threaten you.

Teiresias – If you insist… This is all your fault. You’re the defiler

Oedipus – Are you mocking me?

Teiresias – No, just telling you the truth. The further down this path of inquiry you go, the worse you’ll find it to be. It’s because of your nearest of kin.

Oedipus – What do you mean?

Teiresias – Every question you ask and every answer you get will get you deeper in the shit. You ought to quit while you’re ahead.

Oedipus – I think you and Creon are in cahoots.

Teiresias – Creon and I are not your problem. You’re your own problem.

Oedipus – It seems you two are jealous of my power. I’m sad that Creon, whom I trusted, would do this with a blind old fool. The riddle needed me and a seer to solve but I think you’re doing it with Creon to get rid of me.

Chorus – Let’s cool down. We’re not getting anywhere like this.

Teiresias – It’s got nothing to do with Creon. I’m with Apollo, not Creon. But as for you… What do you know of your parents? Your mother? Your father? Your parents have cursed you. You’ll see what I mean in due course.

Oedipus – So this was all Creon’s fault. Get out of here, you old fool.

Teiresias – You’re the one who sent for me.

Oedipus – Well, I didn’t know you would talk such shit.

Teiresias – You think I’m a fool but your parents didn’t.

Oedipus – Who were they? You’re speaking in riddles.

Teiresias – And you’re not skilled enough to unravel them. You’ll out soon enough. Fortune will be the one to undo you, not me or Creon.

Oedipus – Get out.

Teiresias – Very well. One thing before I leave. You’ve been hurling threats and accusations about the murderer of Laius. He’s here in this city. Seemingly foreign but really a Theban. He sees now but he’ll soon be blind. He’s rich now but he’ll soon be poor. He’s committed incest and killed his father. Think it over. [Oedipus and Teiresias leave]

Chorus – Who was the murderer? Apollo will punish him in time. Things are doomed but Teiresias’s words are vague. Perhaps Oedipus is to blame but there’s no real evidence [Creon enters]

Creon – Listen up, everyone, I understand that the king has been accusing me of many things. Murder and, what’s worse, treason.

Chorus – I think he’s been under a lot of stress and strain lately. He doesn’t mean it.

Creon – What about all his lies about me and the seer?

Chorus – But here’s your chance to ask him yourself. [Oedipus enters]

Oedipus – Why are you here? To kill me and steal my throne? You little shit. How long has it been since Laius’s murder?

Creon – Many years.

Oedipus – And was Teiresias a seer before the murder?

Creon – Yes and a very reputable one

Oedipus – But he never mentioned me as the murderer?

Creon – Not when I was around

Oedipus – Why didn’t he say something before the murder?

Creon – I have no idea. I can’t even speculate on that

Oedipus – When you two spoke, did he mention me killing Laius? It’s not possible. I’ve never met the man, let alone killed him. Why are you two trying to overthrow me?

Creon – Look, you’re married to my sister. I’ve got a fantastic life in your court. I have all the benefits of high living and none of the responsibilities of being king. I’ve got it made. Why would I want to change things now? If you don’t believe me, go and ask the Oracle yourself.

Chorus – Oedipus, he’s telling the truth.

Oedipus – This is a conspiracy. I intend to have you two killed. [Iocasta enters]

Chorus – Maybe Iocasta can settle things

Iocasta – What’s this all about? This spat isn’t helping our plague

Creon – Oedipus claims that he’ll kill me or exile me.

Oedipus – I’ve caught him conspiring against me

Chorus – He’s denied your claim and you’re accusing your friend of betrayal without any reason to suspect him. Don’t base your decisions on wild rumors.

Oedipus – So, you want our downfall too? The land is plagued. If you all stand up for him, both I and this city are doomed. Is that what you want?

Creon – You’re wrong and I’ve had enough of this shit [leaves]

Iocasta – What’s this all about?

Oedipus – Creon’s seer said I killed Laius. This is just a plot against me.

Iocasta – Do you have evidence of that? Does he?

Oedipus – His seer said so while he just keeps quiet.

Iocasta – Don’t listen too much to seers. A seer once said to Laius that his own son would end up killing him. So, we had our new born baby killed. Since he was killed by robbers and the baby was dead, the prophecy cannot be true. This murder happened somewhere out on a road where 3 roads met.

Oedipus – Oh shit!

Iocasta – What?

Oedipus – Where were these 3 roads?

Iocasta – Phocis. The road leads to Delphi and Daulia

Oedipus – Oh, fuck! Zeus what have you done? What did he look like? How tall was he?

Iocasta – About your height and build – slightly greying

Oedipus – Oh fuck! How many were in his party?

Iocasta – 5 of them in 1 carriage. There was only 1 survivor, our servant then. I think he’s a shepherd now

Oedipus – I have to tell you… My father was Polybus of Corinth and my mother was a Dorian, Meropé. When I was young, a stranger told me they weren’t my real parents. I asked them about it and they denied it. But it always stuck in the back of my mind. At Delphi, I was told that I would kill my father and marry my mother. I ran away from home to avoid this coming true. I ran into a group of travelers. The servant tried to run me off the road. I hit him and the rest of them came after me. I killed all of them. I know it’s not my fault that they attacked me but what if he was my father? I killed my father and ended up marrying his wife

Chorus – It’s a scary thought but we’re not completely sure of it yet

Oedipus – If this servant’s story doesn’t match yours then, I’ll be fine. But if not, then I’ll know it was my fault

Iocasta – The whole city knows the story. If he contradicts himself, there’s reason to doubt the story and therefore the prophecy was bullshit [They leave]

Chorus – It looks like prophecies are fading in importance and men don’t believe them anymore. Apollo isn’t glorified anymore and worship is dying. We’re suffering the consequences for that

[Iocasta enters with suppliant branch and incense]

Iocasta – Please rid us of this plague, Apollo. Oedipus won’t listen to me and the whole city is panicking because he’s panicking. [Prays]

[Messenger enters and speaks to Chorus]

Messenger – Is this Oedipus’s home? Where can I find him? I’ve got some news from Corinth.

Iocasta – Yes, he’s inside. I’m his wife. What’s the news?

Messenger – Oedipus will be king of Corinth. His father, Polybus is dead from old age.

Iocasta – So, the prophecy was wrong. How wonderful! [Oedipus enters]

Oedipus – What’s going on?

Iocasta – This man from Corinth brings news of your father’s death from old age.

Oedipus – Poor man. I guess the Oracle was wrong after all. But I’m still worried about sleeping with my mother.

Iocasta – Well, don’t do it then. We don’t need to fear prophecies and gods. We have our own lives to live with our own purposes.

Oedipus – My mother’s still alive though.

Messenger – She’s not your real mother. I actually found you in the woods and gave you to them when you were a baby since they were childless. I remember. You had your ankles pinned together.

Oedipus – Where did I come from?

Messenger – That I don’t know. Ask one of Laius’s servants. He’d know because he gave you to me. I’d recognize him

Oedipus – Elders, do you know who this is?

Chorus – No, but Iocasta would

Oedipus – Well?

Iocasta – Well, what? I wasn’t paying attention

Oedipus – Who was the servant?

Iocasta – You’d do well not to carry out this search

Oedipus – Who was the servant?

Iocasta – Please don’t!! [Leaves]

Chorus – Iocasta is crying for what will come of this

Oedipus – Come what may. I have to find out. I have to face my destiny

Chorus – Apollo knows. We’ll know by the end of tomorrow

Oedipus – This old man might know [Herdsman enters]. Messenger, is this the man?

Messenger – Yes.

Oedipus – Herdsman. Did you ever serve Laius?

Herdsman – Yes, mostly herding flocks in Cithaeron and near it

Oedipus – Do you recognize this man, the Corinthian messenger?

Herdsman – No, not really

Messenger – Of course you do. We had our flocks on the same mountain for 3 years. Don’t you remember?

Herdsman – Vaguely. But that was a long time ago.

Messenger – This might ring a bell… You gave me a baby to raise as my own.

Herdsman – I don’t remember that.

Messenger – Of course, you do

Herdsman – No I don’t. Shut up!

Oedipus – Do you remember that?

Herdsman – He doesn’t know what he’s talking about

Messenger – Of course I do

Oedipus – Did you give him a child to raise?

Herdsman – Yes and I regret it

Oedipus – Where did you get the child?

Herdsman – Please don’t ask!!

Oedipus – Where did you get the child?

Herdsman – From the house of Laius

Oedipus – From a servant?

Herdsman – No, from the queen. She gave it to me to kill to avoid the prophecies coming true

Oedipus – Why did you give it to this man?

Herdsman – Because I couldn’t kill a baby. I thought the prophecy wouldn’t come true

Oedipus – It did come true. I killed my father and married my own mother [Leaves]

Chorus – Oedipus’s fate is sad. You thought your life was going so well and now it’s all fallen apart. Your father’s curse has doomed you [2nd Messenger enters]

2nd Messenger – I have to announce that Iocasta has hanged herself out of exasperation of the fulfilment of the prophecy. Oedipus took her brooches and gouged out his own eyes. He’s blind now [Oedipus enters]

Chorus – What a terrible thing to see. I can’t bear to look

Oedipus – What a shitty fate. Why did this have to happen to me. It’s so cruel

Chorus – Why did you blind yourself?

Oedipus – I know you. I recognize your voices. Apollo brought all of this shit down on my. I can’t bear to look at anything anymore from this world. I didn’t want any of this, it was my destiny. I was doomed before I was even born

Chorus – Perhaps you’d be better off dead

Oedipus – Why didn’t that shepherd kill me? Why did I kill Iocasta? Elders, please kill me. Or at least get me out of Thebes.

Chorus – Creon will rule in your place. [Creon enters]

Oedipus – I can’t be around him. Ah, Creon. Please look after my daughters. My sons are old enough to fend for themselves [Antigone and Ismene enter]. Girls, your father’s cursed and your mother is dead. Creon will look after you when I leave. I’d better get going. I need to leave Thebes so the curse and plague are lifted.

Chorus – People used to look at Oedipus with envy. They don’t do that anymore.

 

Watch the Play:

Version 1:

Version 2:

 

Version 3:

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 2 – “Choephoroe (Libation Bearers)”

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 2 – “Choephoroe (Libation Bearers)”

Choephoroe (The Libation Bearers) by Aeschylus

[At Agamemnon’s Tomb] [Orestes and Pylades enter]

  • Orestes – Hermes, send my father a message [Snips a lock of his own hair]. Take this for Argos [Snips another lock]. This is for my mourning for you [Throws them on the tomb]. I wasn’t able to be here for your burial and mourn. What’s this? Women dressed up carrying libations to appease father’s death? Is that my sister, Electra? What’s going on [Orestes and Pylades withdraw]
  • [Electra and Chorus enter]
  • Chorus – The queen’s sent us here to pour this on the grave. She woke up last night from a nightmare and sent us down here to quench the spirits’ thirst for peace and blood. What will make the blood be unspilled? The blood’s been spilt and the dead will stay dead. The gods are upset that the king has been murdered and a tyrant rules us
  • Electra – Ladies, let’s be frank with each other. How is this helping my father? Mother doesn’t send us here out of love. This is an insult to father. He should be given what he deserves. I know you feel the same way. Let’s discuss it.
  • Chorus – Sure. This is a horrible thing to have to do. We were loyal to Agamemnon and we hate Aegisthus. But remember that Orestes is still out there. Let’s pray he’ll come back.
  • Electra – Is that right to ask of the gods.
  • Chorus – It’s be returning the favor.
  • Electra – Hermes, send him a message. Please help me and Orestes. We must make things right. Orestes is in exile and I’m a slave girl. Sent Orestes home to do this. I can’t do it. The pair are yukking it up. Here’s a drink for Agamemnon
  • Chorus – Let the libations do their work
  • Electra – Let’s hope that does the trick. What’s this?!?! There’s a lock of hair on the tomb. I can’t tell whose, though. No one would do this but me. It looks like mine but I know that it isn’t
  • Chorus – Could it be from Orestes?
  • Electra – It must be. But he wouldn’t dare show his face around here. Who else would this belong to? Not mother. How can I know if it’s from him? This hope is driving me crazy
  • Orestes (Comes out) – Your prayers have been answered.
  • Electra – Who the hell are you?
  • Orestes – It’s been so long you must not know. You prayed for me
  • Electra – How do you know what I’ve prayed for
  • Orestes – I heard you. I’m Orestes, your brother
  • Electra – This must be a trick. Is that really you?
  • Orestes – You don’t recognize my face but you recognize my hair. See, that’s where it was (points to tufts of hair). This shirt you wove for me. This belt you embroidered for me… But I was thinking about what you were saying. Some of our family want us dead.
  • Electra – There’s only you left to fix things. Please, Zeus, let us see this thing through.
  • Orestes – Zeus, we’re orphans. We are weak and need help. We’re outcasts and blocked from our birth rights. Nourish us and build up our strength.
  • Chorus – Hush! Someone might hear you and squash the whole thing. There are spies everywhere
  • Orestes – Apollo is helping. He ordered me to carry on with this blood grudge. I would be punished if I didn’t carry this out… torture, disease, unspeakable pain, etc. I’ve got to listen to the oracle and do as I was told. But even without all that, I’d still do it out of grief for my father… to kill the two women in the palace – the other is no man.
  • Chorus – Zeus must help you. This debt needs repaying.
  • Orestes – Father, help us. We need to make everything right. It would’ve been better if he’d been killed in battle in Troy. It would’ve been an honorable death.
  • Chorus – The dead demand revenge and blood dues. His honor was maligned by his murder and lack of a proper burial
  • Electra – Lesser people killed him – they need to die
  • Chorus – If Apollo is on your side, the sadness will turn to joy. This blood will appease Agamemnon. Let your hatred guide you
  • Electra – Zeus need to help us kill them and return peace and justice
  • Chorus – It’s the law. When blood is split, the killer must be killed.
  • Orestes – With the help of heaven, I’ll them both. If I need to die, then I’ll die
  • Electra – She’s wanted nothing to do with me since. I’ve been shut out of the family with no connection to my brother. I’ll gladly watch her die
  • Chorus – Clytaemnestra’s dream was of her giving birth to a snake, her trying to breastfeed it and it biting her breast. Out came curdled milk. She though the libations would stop these dreams
  • Orestes – I’m the snake. She’ll die by my bite. I’ll show up the palace as a stranger passing on news of the death of Orestes. Chorus, you hang around outside. Sis, you be there, too
  • [Orestes and Pylades leave]
  • Chorus – It’s amazing how cursed they are and how determined they are to fix it. Poor kids… Oh, gods… please help them lift the curse from the House of Atreus
  • [Orestes and Pylades arrive. Orestes knocks many times]
  • Orestes – Anyone going to open? Is Aegistus not open to strangers? Come now
  • Doorkeeper – Who are you? Where are you from?
  • Orestes – Call your masters. I’ve got some news. I thought that travelers would be welcome. Get the mistress or rather, the master. I’d rather speak between men.
  • Clytaemnestra – [Comes to the door with Electra] What’s going on? I’ll give you whatever you need – bath, food, place to sleep. If there’s news, I’ll grab the men to hear it
  • Orestes – I come from Phocis. I was headed this way and Strophius asked me to relay a message about Orestes. He’s dead. He wants to know what to do about the body
  • Clytaemnestra – This is awful. The blood grudge continues… I tried to keep him out of this. In vain, it seems.
  • Orestes – I’d prefer to give news. I think I’d get better treatment.
  • Clytaemnestra­­–- It’s not your fault. Someone was bound to give us this news. Electra, see that he is taken care of and is welcome
  • (Electra, Orestes and Pylades enter the palace)
  • Clytaemnestra – I’ll have to pass the word on to Aegisthus and discuss… (Enters palace)
  • Chorus – How long will this take? I can’t wait to hear the screams and see the blood!
  • [Nurse comes out]
  • Nurse – Clytaemnestra told me to get Aegisthus to meet some strangers and hear the news. She had a sad face bit her eyes gave her away… It’s sad for the family but not for those 2. This house is nothing but bad news and sadness. I could handle the prior deaths. But Orestes I raised from birth. All those funny moments made him so dear to me. Now he’s dead. Poor guy
  • Chorus – How will Aegisthus come? Alone? Armed? Accompanied?
  • Nurse – Armed with guards. Is there something more to this than I know? [Leaves]
  • Chorus – Zeus, please bring justice to this house. See that Orestes can follow through. Apollo, make sure no snags occur. Bring us joy
  • Aegisthus – [Enters] I here there’s news – Orestes is dead. Can I believe it? Can you fill me in on the details?
  • Chorus – We only just heard. The messengers will know more
  • Aegisthus – Yes. I’ll get more on this. I wonder if this is just a bunch of bullshit. I’ve heard some whoppers in my time [Leaves].
  • Chorus – Well, here goes nothing. Let’s hope that it a goes off without a hitch. All that planning… But the gods are on our side
  • [Screaming from inside the palace]
  • Chorus – There. Who do you think that was? Let’s go see. Nobody will suspect that we’d been involved in the planning
  • [Inside the palace]
  • Doorkeeper – Aegisthus has been killed. We’ve got to rally the guards. Go see about Clytaemnestra. She’s the next one. This is the blood grudge all over gain
  • Clytaemnestra – Oh shit! We’ve been tricked. Get my axe. The shit’s on!!
  • [Orestes and Pylades enter]
  • Orestes – You’re the one I’m after. The other one’s had enough
  • Clytaemnestra – My love! Aww, fuck!
  • Orestes – Oh, so you loved someone after all. You’ve been in the same grave soon. You can’t betray him with your lies there.
  • Clytaemnestra – Oh, my child. Look at your mother who bore you, held you and loved you
  • Orestes – Pylades, what should I do? Should I be nice to her?
  • Pylades – Remember what Apollo said he’d do to you if you didn’t kill her? Do you want to get on his wrong side?
  • Orestes – You’re right. Come here you. I’m going to kill you on top of the man you thought better than my father.
  • Clytaemnestra – I nursed you and I want to grow old by your side
  • Orestes – You killed my father and you want to live with me.
  • Clytaemnestra – It was destiny
  • Orestes – The same destiny that will have me kill you
  • Clytaemnestra – You ought to beware of the curse my murder you’ll get
  • Orestes – You sent me away and sold me off
  • Clytaemnestra – They were friends. I got nothing in return
  • Orestes – Too shame to think of
  • Clytaemnestra – Your father was no saint either
  • Orestes – He was suffering in Troy while you were safe at home
  • Clytaemnestra – We suffered while he was gone
  • Orestes – You had food, safety and comfort
  • Clytaemnestra – Even so, are you going to kill your own mother?
  • Orestes – Your own actions condemned you
  • Clytaemnestra – You’ll be haunted for this
  • Orestes – I’m already haunted by my father’s blood grudge
  • Clytaemnestra – I plea for mercy and my own son is deaf
  • Orestes – Like you were at my father’s death. That’s when you really started to die
  • Clytaemnestra – You were the snake I bore and raised in my dream!
  • Orestes – That dream was just your guilty conscience talking to you
  • [He drags her into the palace. Pylades follows]
  • Chorus – Even though this is just, it’s still sad. Orestes needed to fix this so it didn’t carry on forever. It started in Troy, continued with Agamemnon’s death. Apollo guided Orestes here to kill the 2 of them. This house is finally free. Zeus guided him in the act. The house will rise again and time will bring this about
  • (Orestes and Pylades stand over the bodies of Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus)
  • Orestes – Take a look at your oppressors – tyrants and murderers. Loyal to each other to the end. They killed together and died together. Judge their crimes. Take out that net and put it over them so that father can see them. It still has his blood it. When I stand trial – know that I was right to do this… My mother was the real villainess. The net still has his blood. I’d rather be childless than have a wife like her
  • Chorus – He bled in this but you’re suffering. This will make a man of you.
  • Orestes – This was all her work. The blood, the trap. This is the same grave dirge father needed. But sadness will follow me forever
  • Chorus – No joy or misery will last forever itself. But miser will always be a part of your life.
  • Orestes – Before it gets to me, I want you to know that I was right in this. Apollo told me to do this and leave guiltless. Argos… watch and remember… But I have to go
  • Chorus – You’ve brought our freedom back. No one will fight you over this
  • Orestes – Look… Gorgons… Snakes for hair. This is the curse my mother promised me. Look at how many there are.
  • Chorus – You’re imagining things. Apollo will help you. Go see him and he’ll help you [Orestes leaves]. Let’s hope that the gods help him. There have been 3 winds in this story. 1 – It came when Thyestes ate his children. 2 – Came when Agamemnon was murdered. 3 – Orestes avenged Agamemnon’s death but now gloom has set in… Is it deliverance or doom? When will it stop?

Watch the Play!

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

Vengeance is a dish served bloody as fuck… and with pickles.

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

 

  • Watchman – I’ve been watching for a beacon for the last 12 months. Some sign of goings-on in the war. Victory or defeat or the arrival of Agamemnon. I see a signal of victory over Troy. Agamemnon will be happy to come home but things aren’t so rosy.
  • Chorus – The Achaens have been gone for 10 years. The war had been dragging on. Agamemnon’s wife, Clytaemnestra, is still upset about the sacrifice of their faughter for smooth sailing to Troy. The wind stopped them from leaving the city. The sacrifice of a virgin was the only way – his own daughter – Iphigenia. Calchas predicted it all.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I hope this good news will make all the sadness go away. Greece defeated Troy last night. Hephaestus sent flames from city beacon to city beacon to tell the news (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – It seems that Zeus is wrapping up this whole mess. Let’s recount the reasons for the war. Paris chose Venus as the prettiest goddess. Minerva got pissed off about this. Venus couldn’t have Paris so she gave him the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen. The Argives didn’t like this, so they got up and went to fight the Trojans.
  • Herald (ENTERS) – I’m so excited to be home. They managed to survive and win, although the gods tried their best to fight it.
  • Chorus – Welcome home. We’ve been so gloomy without you. We’d better not say why.
  • Herald – You gloomy? Our voyage there and back was bad. We’ve been fighting for 10 years. It rained all the time. It was hot, cold, wet, roasting. I’m covered in lice. It was so horrible. But it’s all over. We won. Why bother doing a balance sheet between the good and bad. We won and that’s what matters.
  • Chorus – Well, then. I guess we old men can learn new things from young pups such as yourself. Maybe the rest of Argos should know about this.
  • Clytamnestra (ENTERS) – I’ve heard the news but I can still hardly believe it. They said I was silly to get excited about a beacon. I’ve been making non-stop sacrifices. But I’ll hear the whole story from the man himself. We’ll pick up exactly where we left off (LEAVES).
  • Chorus – We now… Is Menelaus coming home too?
  • Herald – He’s missing at the moment. There was a storm. I don’t know anything more… I was supposed to be the bearer of good news and now I see that it’s not the best of times. The curse of the House of Atreus isn’t over yet. Zeus is up to something. (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – Zeus had planned this before Helen was even born. It was always going to be this way. Argos has suffered as a result. Troy suffered for Paris’s lust. All of this shit for lust, hubris, justice and lack of justice.
  • Agamemnon (ENTERS)
  • Chorus – Conqueror of Troy. Son of Atreus. How should we call you? We had doubts about the war but now that you’re here, you must be praised. We’ve been faithful to you but not everybody else has been.
  • Agamemnon – Thanks to the gods and Argos. They’ve helped me travel safely and conquer Troy. There’s nothing left of the place for their kidnapping of Helen. Many people aren’t born without envy and disloyalty. Only Odysseus, if he’s still alive… We must call a council and the healers. Now, I’ll enter the palace to thank the gods.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I wish to announce my love for the king. It was horrible to hear the rumors. I sent Orestes, our son to stay with Strophius because the rumors spoke of a coup. I’m so glad the torture of your absence is over. I’m free now.
  • (SERVANTS ROLLED OUT A TAPESTRY BETWEEN HIM AND THE HOUSE)
  • Agamemnon – Your words are kind but I can’t walk on that. It’s for the gods and them only. I’ve tempted fate enough. Please let’s tone it down.
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! You’re nearly a god. It’s only fitting. What would Priam have done?
  • Agamemnon – He would’ve walked on it. I don’t expect you to understand. But you really shouldn’t insist. It’s not right!
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! For me! For the people!
  • Agamemnon – Oh, all right (TAKES OFF BOOTS AND WALKS ON THE ROBES). Please, gods. Don’t think too badly of me for this. Servants, take care of Cassandra and my treasure
  • Clytaemnestra – The purple dye came from the sea. I’ve got enough of it to pay 1000x a king’s ransom. It’s only fitting for a warrior and king like you. I’ll fulfill the will of Zeus.
  • (BOTH ENTER PALACE)
  • Chorus – Oh, no! This can’t be good. It’s not sure what’ll happen but I can’t feel a song of doom playing
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – You, too, Cassandra. Zeus was generous allowing you to live and be a servant to such a king. Come inside…
  • Chorus – Go on. Your mistress is ordering you.
  • Clytaemnestra – You fool. Let’s go… Hmm… Maybe I can persuade her another way… (NICELY) Cassandra, let’s go inside… Nothing… (LOUDLY) Come on!! I haven’t got all day. I’ve got sacrifices to tend to. Make a noise at least!
  • Chorus – It’s no use. She doesn’t know our language…
  • Clytaemnestra – She must have gone insane watching her people and city burn. Whatever… (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – I pity her. She was a princess and now she’s a slave in a foreign land. But them’s the breaks.
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Quiet. He’s not going to help you
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Again? He’s not going to like that
  • Cassandra – Apollo, god of all but only death to me. Why have you brought me here to this place?
  • Chorus – This is the house of Atreus. Don’t you know?
  • Cassandra – This is the house of those who kill their own kin. Blood has been split here and will be again. I smell a child’s flesh. Now another crime is afoot for someone who should be dear
  • Chorus – I get the past part. But the future part?
  • Cassandra – A bathing husband will be murdered soon. She’ll kill her lord but helped by another
  • Chorus – Oh shit. This is bad. I feel doom coming.
  • Cassandra – The monarch of the herd will be killed by his mate. He’ll be impaled by her horns. And I’ll be getting a dose of it too. Why didn’t you bring me here, Agamemnon? To die by your side? Damn you, Paris. Your lust has doomed all Trojans and Troy was doomed to be destroyed. I’ll be dead soon. My father, my city, my family all burnt. I feel it too (WAKES UP).
  • Chorus – What’s that all about?
  • Cassandra –A long time ago there was a human sacrifice here in this house. The family is haunted by this. But nobody will ever listen to me. I’m called a prophetess of lies even though I speak the truth.
  • Chorus – The first part is true. How do you know all this?
  • Cassandra – Apollo gave me prophetic powers. He was in love with me and I promised to marry him but I broke that promise. Because I was false to him he made me false to everyone. I predicted the fall of Troy but nobody believed me.
  • Chorus – Well, we believe you…
  • Cassandra (IN A TRANCE) – A cowardly lion will have his lioness kill his prey for him in her master’s room. As Troy was doomed, this house is doomed. I will be too. Only then will I be believed.
  • Chorus – She must mean something about Thyestes. I’m not sure though.
  • Cassandra – No! Agamemnon!
  • Chorus – Easy there, girl. We’ll appeal to the gods. No man would dare kill him.
  • Cassandra – Not a man! Why aren’t you listening to me?!?!
  • Chorus – If you can foresee this why aren’t you running away?
  • Cassandra – It’d only be delaying the inevitable. You’ll be witnesses to our death. Just one favor, please. When the time comes for punishing these murderers, let it be done quickly and thoroughly (LEAVES).
  • (CRIES FROM THE PALACE)
  • Chorus – What was that? … That was the king being murdered… We ought to do something… Let’s break in and save him… This will lead to tyranny… Our way of living will die… All this talking won’t break him back from the dead… Will we sit around and let ourselves be ruled by murderers? … Was it really murder? … We need proof…
  • (SCENE OPENS WITH CLYTAEMNESTRA STANDING OVER THE BODIES OF AGAMEMNON AND CASSANDRA)
  • Clytaemnestra – I’ve been dreaming of this moment. I faked my love for him and struck him twice while he was in his robe. He cried twice. The third time, he died spraying blood everywhere. The sweetest shower. So, then, old men… This is fitting for a man who put so much blood and bitterness in our lives.
  • Chorus – How dare you revel in the murder of our king?
  • Clytaemnestra –Whatever you think, he’s dead and I killed him
  • Chorus – You’re possessed. You’ve cursed your people for this. You must leave, you evil woman
  • Clytaemnestra – You never condemned the sacrifice of our daughter just for smooth sailing. You did nothing to punish him. Now you judge me? Don’t even try.
  • Chorus – Strange that you’d be proud of a murder. Fate will doom you to be honorless, defenseless and friendless at death.
  • Clytaemnestra – This is all out of vengeance. I’m not afraid. But I’m not defenseless or friendless. Aegisthus will be there for me. Don’t lecture me about loyalty. Agamemnon was banging everything that moved in Troy… Chryseis, Cassandra… And now they’re dead.
  • Chorus – Poor Agamemnon. You had a huge burden on you. You had to avenge the kidnapping of Helen. Argos won and you survived. Troy was destroyed. Only to be murdered by your wife.
  • Clytaemnestra – I’m guiltless. I only wanted to avenge my daughter. Blame Helen. She was the cause of it all.
  • Chorus – Guiltless? It was a power play. You saw the chance to take advantage of the situation and you murdered your husband and your king. Oh, this web of treachery she’s woven around you, Agamemnon. What a terrible death!
  • Clytaemnestra – It’s no worse than the one he inflicted. He wasn’t an honorable man. I’m no longer his wife. I’m an avenger of my daughter, Iphigenia. This was just.
  • Chorus – How dare you. Who will bury him? Sing at his grave? Eulogize him? You? His murderess?
  • Clytaemnestra – This is none of your business. His burial rites are mine. No one here will mourn for him. He’ll only see Iphigenia in Hades.
  • Chorus – Sin follows sin. Sorrow follows sorrow. When will it end? Zeus won’t let this sit. The law for mortals is that killers get killed. Now this is in your family’s blood
  • Clytaemnestra – You’re wrong. This act has stopped the cycle of death and curse has been lifted on us and Argos
  • Aegisthus (ENTERS) – This is a great day for the end of our blood grudge. My father, Thyestes tried to overthrow his brother, Atreus and was exiled. Begging for forgiveness, he was fed his children as a punishment. Now he is dead and I’ve been living in exile ever since.
  • Chorus – So, this was your idea? The people will never accept you as their king. And to think that you got a woman to do your dirty work
  • Aegisthus – She had to do it because I was suspected of something like that. But now we’re in control of the city.
  • Chorus – Orestes won’t allow you to rule
  • Aegisthus – You want a piece of me? Let’s go! Get out your swords and we’ll see what’s what
  • Clytaemnestra – That’s enough death for today. We don’t need any more trouble with the gods and the people
  • Chorus – Orestes will do something about this. Be sure of that.
  • Clytaemnestra – Well, we’ll leave it at that…

 

Watch the Play!

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare (1599)

“Hamlet” by Shakespeare

Can't you see the resemblance?

Can’t you see the resemblance?

Act 1 Scene 1

Guards are changing shifts at night along the castle walls. A ghost has been appearing walking around at night. Hamlet’s friend, Horatio, wants to see it for himself but doesn’t quite believe it.

He shows up but he won’t to them and then disappears. Horatio recognizes it as the recently deceased king. Horatio explains the king had been involved in a political battle close to war with the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras.

The ghost comes back but then disappears as morning breaks. They promise to tell Hamlet and maybe the ghost will talk.

Act 1 Scene 2

King Claudius eulogizes his brother, King Hamlet (Jr’s father) and explains why he has married Hamlet’s widow, Gertrude. It was important to appear strong and united in a dangerous time with Norway tempted to take over. He sends two ambassadors to find out what’s going on.

Claudius asks why Hamlet he’s down Gertrude encourages him to cheer up and move on from his father’s death. Hamlet thinks this has happened all too fast.

Claudius thinks it’s sweet that he mourns his father but he reminds him all fathers die. To go on like this is morbid and immature. “Snap out of it – that’s life. I’m your father no. Don’t go back to Wittenberg, stay here.”

Hamlet is upset that it’s only been two months and she’s already shacked up with her dead husband’s brother. Horatio and his guards tell him about the ghost. They set a date to see it later that night.

Act 1 Scene 3

Laertes and Ophelia have a chat before he runs off to France. He warns her that Hamlet is up to no good and just trying to get in her pants.

Polonius comes in and gives Laertes a bunch of advice: don’t talk too much, stick by your friends, don’t spend too much, don’t borrow or lend money, don’t be fake and just be yourself. He leaves.

Ophelia and Polonius discuss Hamlet. He says he’s stupid and she’s too young and naive to know what’s really going on. Nothing’s happened yet but still, Polonius doesn’t like it because it’s a trap. She will obey her father.

Act 1 Scene 4

Hamlet, Horatio and the guards wait for the ghost to arrive. It’s cold and they listen to Claudius whooping it up downstairs. Hamlet complains these constant parties make Danes look foolish and weak abroad.

The ghost arrives. Hamlet is shaking but asks the ghost to speak and explain himself. The ghost motions Hamlet to follow him to speak alone. The guards don’t like it but he goes anyway.

Act 1 Scene 5

The ghost speaks and tells Hamlet that he is indeed his father. Hamlet must avenge his murder done by Claudius. The ghost says nasty things about Gertrude who sunk low to marry his brother.

Claudius poured poison into his ear as he was sleeping. Although he is dead, he’s upset about the betrayal of Gertrude and Claudius, the usurpation of his power and leaving Denmark weak. Hamlet and his friends swear never to speak of this meeting.

 

Act 2 Scene 1

Polonius sends his servant to check up on Laertes in France and make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble.

Ophelia goes to Polonius scared about Hamlet. She saw him with messed clothes and acting as if he’d seen a ghost. He’s been behaving erratically but nothing sexual or violent. Polonius is afraid that his advice to Ophelia has made Hamlet crazy. They will speak with the king about this.

Act 2 Scene 2

Claudius speaks to Hamlet’s friends. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He asks them to find out what’s been going on. They leave.

Polonius shows up and talks about Hamlet but must find out from the ambassadors sent out earlier to find out what’s been going on in Norway. The elderly king of Norway suspects his son is up to no good and so sends him off to Poland to keep him out of Denmark. They leave.

Polonius thinks Hamlet’s crazy and reads Claudius and Gertrude a letter Hamlet had written to Ophelia. They try to read into it but it’s really just a love letter. Polonius doesn’t want a mental involved with his daughter. They decide to use Ophelia as bait to get something out of him while they hide and listen.

Polonius and Hamlet speak. Hamlet jokes but Polonius mistakes these jokes for meaningless gibberish. They continue and he’s more convinced that he’s mad.

Guildenstern and Rosencrantz speak to him. He tries to hide his depression but fails. They confess that they have been sent by the king and queen. Hamlet asks them not to let on that he’s been so down.

A travelling troupe of actors arrive at the cast and Hamlet talks theater shop with them as he’s really into it. They exchange soliloquys from various plays. He asks them to put on a murder play that closely resembles the conditions of his father’s death in order to provoke a confession or reaction from Claudius.

 

Act III Scene I

Claudius and Gertrude check in with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet’s been feeling bad but isn’t specific about why. He districts them whenever they try to speak about it but he picked up when the actors came around.

Claudius and Polonius decide to spy on Hamlet and Ophelia when they speak.

Hamlet contemplates life and death (To be or not to be…). Death is merely the ending of pain and grief but most people fear it because they fear what is beyond it.

He approaches and she tries to return the things that he had given her before. He tells her that he doesn’t want them because he never really loved her. He also tells her that men are by their nature untrustworthy. If she is pure, she should join the nuns. He calls her names and says mean things and then leaves.

She thinks he’s lost the plot and starts sobbing. Claudius and Polonius come in to speak to her. Claudius doesn’t think that Hamlet’s completely crazy but does think that he should be sent to England before things get hairy.

Polonius agrees but thinks it’s still about him and Ophelia. He wants Gertrude to be the real judge of his situation.

Act III Scene II

Hamlet instructs the actors on how to deliver the speech that will get to Claudius. Polonius, Claudius and Gertrude among others come in to watch the play.

The play starts. Hamlet gives a lot of side commentaries. The play pokes at both characters of Gertrude and Claudius. The real ones seem very uncomfortable at the play’s accusations. The play reenacts the very scene of Hamlet’s father’s death. This gets Claudius to jump up and storm out of the room with all his entourage following him.

Horatio and Hamlet muse about Claudius’s reaction. Guildenstern and Rosencrantz come in and inform Hamlet that his mother wishes to see him. He lets them have it about their spying on him.

Before going to see Gertrude, Hamlet tells himself that he ought to be rough with her verbally but not physically.

Act III Scene III

Claudius is fuming about the play and orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. They leave and Polonius comes in and tells him that he’s going to spy on Hamlet and Gertrude.

Thinking he’s alone, Claudius confesses (to God?) how guilty he feels and how he’ll have to live with the guilt of the murder for the rest of his life. Hamlet is watching but doesn’t want to kill him in mid-confession. He wants him dead with a dirty soul, not a clean one.

Act III Scene IV

Polonius warns Gertrude he’ll be hiding behind a curtain to spy on her conversation with Hamlet.

Hamlet won’t be lectured by his mother who invokes his father’s name. She screams and Polonius cries out. Hamlet stabs at the curtain killing Polonius, only upset about it because it wasn’t Claudius.

Gertrude doesn’t understand Hamlet’s hatred for Claudius. Hamlet hates her for marrying the murderer of his father less than two months after his death. Why should Hamlet keep quiet?

She won’t hear any more and admits how horrible she’s been but he carries on.

The ghost comes into the room in the middle of all of this. Hamlet speaks to it and Gertrude, not being able to see it, thinks Hamlet’s gone crazy. He doesn’t accept that and tells her to beg forgiveness from him, the ghost and to heaven. She is to leave Claudius because he is evil. He feels a little bad about Polonius but is willing to live with the consequences.

Then he thinks better of it…. He wants to use Gertrude to get to Claudius. She accepts this and feels broken by the whole experience. He has to go to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and will plan his revenge there for some day.

 

Act IV Scene I

Claudius comes in and asks what happened. She explains that Hamlet’s lost his mind and has killed Polonius. Claudius has to get Hamlet out of the county because he’s dangerous and seems to know something.

Act IV Scene II

Hamlet’s hidden the body and Rosencrantz demand the he tell them where it is but Hamlet considers them betrayers and won’t say.

Act IV Scene III

Claudius wants to deal with Hamlet before shit gets out of hand. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern drop him in. Hamlet stalls but eventually reveals where he’s hidden the body. Claudius orders Hamlet to be sent to England and reveals that he’s asked the English king to kill him.

Act IV Scene IV

Fortinbras marches across Denmark on the way to Poland. Hamlet, along with Guildenstern and Rosencrantz run into Fortinbras’s Captain who tells them they are on a fool’s errand and they will likely die for nothing. Hamlet resolves to fight for something in avenging his father’s murder.

Act IV Scene V

Gertrude speaks with Ophelia, who’s gone mad since Polonius’s death. It’s clear that she’s crazy but also incredibly sad. She sings childish songs and speaks a lot of gibberish.

Laertes returns from France, demanding explanations. A crowd forms around him in his support. Claudius won’t say much other than it wasn’t his fault.

Ophelia comes back into the room, talking her non-sense. This breaks Laertes’s heart and makes him press Claudius for answers.

Act IV Scene VI

Horatio receives a letter from Hamlet saying that he’d been taken prisoner away from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They agreed to take him home. The messenger is one of these pirate sailors, who will go see the king about a reward and Horatio is to meet Hamlet outside the castle walls.

Act IV Scene VII

Claudius tries to calm down Laertes by telling him that Hamlet was Polonius’s murderer. He also says that he couldn’t do anything because Gertrude’s so attached to him and it would cause a riot due to Hamlet’s popularity.

A messenger delivers a letter from Hamlet to Claudius asking to meet alone.

Claudius has a trick to get back at Hamlet without raising suspicion or a ruckus. He’ll get Hamlet to engage in a duel with Laertes. Laertes’s sword will be sharp enough to cut Hamlet and they’ll put some poison at the end. There will also be some poison drinks lying around. You know… just in case.

Gertrude busts in informing them that Ophelia has drowned in her madness. This dumbfounds Laertes and this gets him convinced that the duel is the right thing to do.

 

Act V Scene I

2 gravediggers prepare a grave for a recently deceased woman. They debate if she should be having a Christian burial. If she killed herself, she shouldn’t as suicide is a sin. She’s lucky she’s so rich to get them to fudge the coroner’s report.

Horatio and the Hamlet entering. They look at all the graves wondering what these people’s lives where like and what’s going on with them now.

Hamlet and one of the diggers chat about the dead lady to be buried and about dead bodies in general. He looks at a skull of a friend of his, Yorick the court jester. Hamlet wonders were all his jokes and gregariousness are now, merely dust. Everything alive, great and small is now dust.

The king, queen, Laertes all come in. Hamlet and Horatio hang back to watch in secret. They are burying Ophelia. Hamlet is shocked and in an effort to prove that he loved Ophelia more than Laertes, they wrestle on her grave. The king separates them and tells them to handle this back at the castle.

Act V Scene II

Hamlet tells Horatio how he escaped from the ship. He was taken away from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Once aboard the pirates’ ship, he forged a letter from the king, asking that whoever finds him to dispatch with his 2 “captors”. He doesn’t regret asking them to be killed. Fuck them. They betrayed him. He does feel bad about Polonius for Laertes’s sake. He wants to make it up to him.

A messenger comes in and tells Hamlet that Claudius has placed a bet on Hamlet in a duel with Laertes. Hamlet gets a feeling things will go badly but doesn’t want to avoid whatever fate has got in store for him.

Everyone goes into the big room. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes. He seems to accept it but still wants to duel Hamlet for pride. Claudius presents a cup. If Hamlet gets a hit in the first two chances, then he will put a pearl in the cup for Hamlet to have and take a drink from. Hamlet gets strikes in the first two chances, but doesn’t want to drink.

Gertrude drinks for him and starts gagging. Claudius knows that’s her ass. He then tells Laertes not to cut him just yet, but does he listen? Nope. They get into a tussle and somehow their swords are exchanged. Hamlet cuts Laertes. Gertrude dies.

Laertes confesses the plan that he and Claudius came up with. Hamlet runs after Claudius and forces him to finish the cup that killed Gertrude. Claudius dies. Hamlet and Laertes realize time is running out. They apologize to each other. Hamlet instructs Horatio to tell the story as it really happened. Hamlet and Laertes die.

Fortinbras shows up to see a room full of dead people and asked Horatio what happened. He showed up to tell Claudius that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead as the letter has instructed. But now he sees this is his chance to claim the throne of Denmark. Hamlet is given a soldier’s burial a multi-gun salute.