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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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.

 

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