Only Tears Remain: Reading Euripides’ “Suppliants Online

Euripides, Suppliant Women 98-99 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“What’s happening, mother? It’s your job to tell me
And my job to listen. I think it’s something bad.”

τί ταῦτα, μῆτερ; σὸν τὸ μηνύειν ἐμοί,
ἡμῶν δ᾿ ἀκούειν· προσδοκῶ τι γὰρ νέον.

Euripides, Suppliant Women 214-218

“When god has given us this kind of support for life
Are we not truculent if it isn’t pleasing to us?
Arrogance seeks to be stronger than god—
Because we have boasts in our thoughts we think
We are wiser than divinities.”

ἆρ᾿ οὐ τρυφῶμεν, θεοῦ κατασκευὴν βίῳ
δόντος τοιαύτην, οἷσιν οὐκ ἀρκεῖ τάδε;
ἀλλ᾿ ἡ φρόνησις τοῦ θεοῦ μεῖζον σθένειν
ζητεῖ, τὸ γαῦρον δ᾿ ἐν φρεσὶν κεκτημένοι
δοκοῦμεν εἶναι δαιμόνων σοφώτεροι.

Euripides, Suppliant Women 238-245

“There are three groups of citizens: the wealthy
Are useless and are always longing for more.
Those who have nothing and struggling for a living
Are frightening because they honor envy too much
And aim their wicked barbs at the well-to-do,
Directed by the words of their cowardly leaders.
Those people in the middle third save cities
By preserving the order that each state creates.”

τρεῖς γὰρ πολιτῶν μερίδες· οἱ μὲν ὄλβιοι
ἀνωφελεῖς τε πλειόνων τ᾿ ἐρῶσ᾿ ἀεί·
οἱ δ᾿ οὐκ ἔχοντες καὶ σπανίζοντες βίου
δεινοί, νέμοντες τῷ φθόνῳ πλέον μέρος,
ἐς τούς <τ᾿> ἔχοντας κέντρ᾿ ἀφιᾶσιν κακά,
γλώσσαις πονηρῶν προστατῶν φηλούμενοι·
τριῶν δὲ μοιρῶν ἡ ᾿ν μέσῳ σῴζει πόλεις,
κόσμον φυλάσσουσ᾿ ὅντιν᾿ ἂν τάξῃ πόλις

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Euripides, Suppliant Women 429-439

“There is nothing more hateful to a state than a tyrant.
There, first, there are no common laws
Because one person rules, holding the law
In his control. This is not equality.
When laws are written both the weak
And the wealthy receive equal judgment.
It is possible then for the weak to accuse
The lucky whenever they are slandered
And the smaller person overcomes the great if his cause is just.
This is freedom: “Who has a good idea
And wants to offer counsel to the state?”

οὐδὲν τυράννου δυσμενέστερον πόλει,
ὅτου τὸ μὲν πρώτιστον οὐκ εἰσὶν νόμοι
κοινοί, κρατεῖ δ᾿ εἷς τὸν νόμον κεκτημένος
αὐτὸς παρ᾿ αὑτῷ· καὶ τόδ᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ ἔστ᾿ ἴσον.
γεγραμμένων δὲ τῶν νόμων ὅ τ᾿ ἀσθενὴς
ὁ πλούσιός τε τὴν δίκην ἴσην ἔχει,
[ἔστιν δ᾿ ἐνισπεῖν τοῖσιν ἀσθενεστέροις
τὸν εὐτυχοῦντα ταὔθ᾿, ὅταν κλύῃ κακῶς,]
νικᾷ δ᾿ ὁ μείων τὸν μέγαν δίκαι᾿ ἔχων.
τοὐλεύθερον δ᾿ ἐκεῖνο· Τίς θέλει πόλει
χρηστόν τι βούλευμ᾿ ἐς μέσον φέρειν ἔχων;

This week keeps us in the city of Thebes and contemplating unburied dead, but with a typical Euripidean twist. Instead of just the body of Polynices being at issue, Euripides’ play centers around the chorus of mothers of the Seven Against Thebes who supplicated Theseus in Athens to force Thebes to allow their bodies to be buried. Beyond the basic expansion of the funerary rites theme to the entire expedition, this play also introduces fascinating questions of Athenian empire and the ability of any one Greek city state to force another to maintain some basic level of civilization.

This play was allegedly performed in 423 BCE and reflects some earlier historical changes in ritual (there were tombs to the seven warriors erected on the borders of Attica in the historical period. But it would not be strange to wonder how this reflects the concerns of the Athenian and people during the Peloponnesian War.

Euripides, Suppliant Women 486-488

“All people certainly understand the better
Of two arguments, the good and the bad,
By how much peace is better than war for mortals.”

καίτοι δυοῖν γε πάντες ἄνθρωποι λόγοιν
τὸν κρείσσον᾿ ἴσμεν, καὶ τὰ χρηστὰ καὶ κακά,
ὅσῳ τε πολέμου κρεῖσσον εἰρήνη βροτοῖς·

Scenes (Cecelia Luschnig’s Translation)

Lines 1-41: Aethra
Lines 87-364: Theseus, Aethra, Adrastus, Chorus
Lines 399-584: Herald, Theseus
Lines 778-910: Chorus, Theseus, Adrastus
Lines 955-1071: Evadne, Iphis, Chorus
Lines 1165-1231: Athena, Adrastus, Theseus, Chorus
 

Euripides, Suppliant Women 724-725

“….He said he did not come to sack the city
But instead to ask for the dead.”

οὐ γὰρ ὡς πέρσων πόλιν
μολεῖν ἔφασκεν ἀλλ᾿ ἀπαιτήσων νεκρούς.

Performers

Aethra/Athena – Sara Valentine
Theseus – Evelyn Miller
Adrastus – David Rubin
Chorus – Hannah Barrie and Paul O’Mahony
Herald/Iphis – Carlos Bellato
Evadne – Noree Victoria
 

Special Guest: Angeliki Tzanetou

Euripides, Suppliant Women 775-777

“I mourn alone. Mortals have only one thing
That cannot be bought back once it is spent:
A mortal life. There are many ways to money.”

ἔρημα κλαίω· τοῦτο γὰρ μόνον βροτοῖς
οὐκ ἔστι τἀνάλωμ᾿ ἀναλωθὲν λαβεῖν,
ψυχὴν βροτείαν· χρημάτων δ᾿ εἰσὶν πόροι

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Upcoming Episodes

Euripides, Phoenician Women, September 30

Performing Epic 1, Homer’s Iliad, October 7th

Euripides, Rhesus, October 14th

 

Euripides, Suppliant Women 1006-1008

“The sweetest death
Is to die together with your loved ones
If some god will allow such things.”

ἥδιστος γάρ τοι θάνατος
συνθνῄσκειν θνῄσκουσι φίλοις,
εἰ δαίμων τάδε κραίνοι.

For earlier performances see the project home page or the full playlist on YouTube.

Euripides, Suppliant Women 971

“Only tears remain for me”

ὑπολελειμμένα μοι δάκρυα

Don’t Go to the Seventh Gate! Reading Aeschylus “Seven Against Thebes” Online

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 968

“The mind goes mad with mourning.”

μαίνεται γόοισι φρήν.

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 704

“Don’t take those paths to the Seventh Gate”

μη ᾿λθῃς ὁδοὺς σὺ τάσδ᾿ ἐφ᾿ Ἑβδόμαις πύλαις.

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 92-95

“Which god or goddess will defend us?
Who will help us?
Should I fall before the paternal altars
Of our gods?

τίς ἄρα ῥύσεται, τίς ἄρ᾿ ἐπαρκέσει
θεῶν ἢ θεᾶν;
95πότερα δῆτ᾿ ἐγὼ <πάτρια> ποτιπέσω
βρέτη δαιμόνων;

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 208-210

“What’s this? Can a sailor find some clever safety
By escaping from the stern to the prow
When his ship is overcame by swelling seas?”

τί οὖν; ὁ ναύτης ἆρα μὴ ᾿ς πρῷραν φυγὼν
πρύμνηθεν ηὗρε μηχανὴν σωτηρίας
νεὼς καμούσης ποντίῳ πρὸς κύματι;

This week brings us back to Thebes, one of the central locations for Ancient Greek myth, and likely the second most famous tale of a besieged city from the ancient world. The tale of Seven Against Thebes is part of the Oedipus story, following on from his departure from the city and his cursing of his sons. We have records of a famous epic which told this tale, the lost Thebais, but Aeschylus’ version is our earliest full text dedicated to the struggle between Eteocles and Polyneices. Sophocles and Euripides will provide their own versions of this story, focusing in part on different aspects.

Aeschylus’ account takes us from the anticipation before the battle right up through the conflict over burying the brothers (more well-known from Sophocles’ Antigone). This play was produced in 467 BCE as part of a trilogy dedicated to the family of Oedipus, apparently with a play dedicated to each generation: LaiosOedipus, and the warring sons. The bulk of this play is the run up to the action, the description of where each of the famous seven fights, and the aftermath. 

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 287-295

“I care about this, but my heart cannot sleep in fear.
Anxiety lives next door
To my heart, growing fear
About the enemies around my wall
Just as a dove shakes all over
Afraid of the snakes with evil plans
For the children sleeping in their beds.”

μέλει, φόβῳ δ᾿ οὐχ ὑπνώσσει κέαρ·
γείτονες δὲ καρδίας
μέριμναι ζωπυροῦσι τάρβος
τὸν ἀμφιτειχῆ λεών,
δράκοντας ὥς τις τέκνων
ὑπερδέδοικεν λεχαίων δυσευνάτορας
πάντρομος πελειάς.

Scenes (Ian Johnston’s Translation)

1-35: Eteocles 
78-287: Eteocles, Chorus 
375-791: Messenger, Eteocles, Chorus 
845-1010: Chorus, Antigone, Ismene 
 

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 4

“If we should do well, it’s thanks to the gods.”

εἰ μὲν γὰρ εὖ πράξαιμεν, αἰτία θεοῦ·

Performers

Eteocles – Tim Delap
Chorus – Hannah Barrie and Paul O’Mahony
Messenger – Sara Valentine
Antigone – Tabatha Gayle
Ismene – Evelyn Miller

Special Guest: Naomi Weiss

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 563-567

“The story hunts through my chest
Each strand of my hair stands straight up
As I leason to the boasts of these boastful
Unholy men. If the gods are gods,
I pray they destroy them in our land.”

ἱκνεῖται λόγος διὰ στηθέων,
τριχὸς δ᾿ ὀρθίας πλόκαμος ἵσταται
μεγάλα μεγαληγόρων κλυούσᾳ
ἀνοσίων ἀνδρῶν· εἰ θεοὶ θεοί,
τούσδ᾿ ὀλέσειαν ἐν γᾷ.

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

 

Upcoming Episodes

Euripides, Suppliants September 23rd

Euripides, Phoenician Women, September 30

Performing Epic 1, Homer’s Iliad, October 7th

Euripides, Rhesus, October 14th

 

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 1168-1171

“The adage holds that Obedience is the mother

Of Success and the wife of Salvation.”

Πειθαρχία γάρ ἐστι τῆς Εὐπραξίας

μήτηρ, γυνὴ Σωτῆρος· ὧδ᾿ ἔχει λόγος.

For earlier performances see the project home page or the full playlist on YouTube.

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 783-787

“It is just as if the sea is driving on
Waves of troubles. One recedes but another rises
Three times as strong. And it crashes around
The city’s prow.
In between all we have
Is this thin breadth of a wall.”

κακῶν δ᾿ ὥσπερ θάλασσα κῦμ᾿ ἄγει
τὸ μὲν πίτνον, ἄλλο δ᾿ ἀείρει
τρίχαλον, ὃ καὶ περὶ πρύμ-
ναν πόλεως καχλάζει·
μεταξὺ δ᾿ ἄλκαρ ὅδ᾿ ὀλίγῳ
τείνει πύργος ἐν εὔρει.

“Should We Kill Our Mother?”: Reading Euripides’ “Electra” Online

Euripides, Electra 966

“What should we do? Should we kill our mother?”

τί δῆτα δρῶμεν; μητέρ᾿ ἦ φονεύσομεν;’

Euripides, Electra 904

“Our state is hard to please and loves complaints”

δυσάρεστος ἡμῶν καὶ φιλόψογος πόλις.

Euripides, Elektra 112-119

“Quicken the move of your foot with song
Walk on, walk on in tears.
Ah, my life.
I am a child of Agamemnon,
And Klytemnestra also bore me,
That horrible daughter of Tydnareus.
The citizens around call me
Unlucky Elektra.”

σύντειν᾿ ᾠδᾷ ποδὸς ὁρμάν· ὤ,
ἔμβα ἔμβα κατακλαίουσα.
ἰώ μοί μοι.
ἐγενόμαν Ἀγαμέμνονος
καί μ᾿ ἔτικτε Κλυταιμήστρα
στυγνὰ Τυνδάρεω κόρα,
κικλήσκουσι δέ μ᾿ ἀθλίαν
Ἠλέκτραν πολιῆται.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Euripides, Elektra 265

“Stranger, women love their husbands not their children.”

γυναῖκες ἀνδρῶν, ὦ ξέν᾿, οὐ παίδων φίλαι

If this week’s story sounds familiar, well, it should. Euripides’ Electra revisits some of the same basic myths as his Orestes and the same story as Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers and Sophocles’ Electra. Of course, since this is Euripides, the tale is far from the same as either playwright or his own treatment. In this version, Electra really is front and center and she has a husband–who doesn’t touch her, don’t worry–and a kind of agency over the action she does not enjoy elsewhere.

This play, then, is famous for its engagement with Aeschylus and Homer (watch for a fabulous scar) while also offering potential parallels for Sophocles’ own version which may have been written later. This play likely proceeds Euripides’ Orestes with its murderous ends and responds in different ways to the Orestes who appears in foreign lands in Iphigenia at Tauris. But it is still Euripides: tune in for the lock of hair and footprints, stay for the Dioscuri taking it all home.

Euripides, Elektra 585-595

“You have come, You have come! O long-coming day,
You are shining bright and you have shown
A clear sign to the city, a torch which went
On an ancient flight from paternal halls
Wandering miserably abroad.
A god, some god, brings us victory,
Friend.
Raise up your hands! Raise up the tale!
Let loose prayers to the gods that with luck,
With luck your brother enters our city now.”

ἔμολες ἔμολες, ὤ, χρόνιος ἁμέρα,
κατέλαμψας, ἔδειξας ἐμφανῆ
πόλει πυρσόν, ὃς παλαιᾷ φυγᾷ
πατρίων ἀπὸ δωμάτων τάλας
ἀλαίνων ἔβα.
θεὸς αὖ θεὸς ἁμετέραν τις ἄγει
νίκαν, ὦ φίλα.
ἄνεχε χέρας, ἄνεχε λόγον, ἵει
λιτὰς ἐς θεούς, τύχᾳ σοι τύχᾳ
κασίγνητον ἐμβατεῦσαι πόλιν.

Scenes (Ian Johnston’s Translation)

1-82: Peasant, Electra
82-400: Orestes, Electra, Chorus, Pylades 
487-613: Old Man, Electra, Orestes, Chorus, Pylades 
774-843: Messenger 
961-1355: Orestes, Electra, Chorus, Clytaemnestra, Dioscuri (Castor and Polydeuces), Pylades  

Euripides, Elektra 430-431

“…whether rich or poor / Everyone is equal when their belly is full.”

πᾶς γὰρ ἐμπλησθεὶς ἀνὴρ / ὁ πλούσιός τε χὠ πένης ἴσον φέρει.

Performers

Peasant – Carlos Bellato
Electra – Evelyn Miller
Orestes – Tim Delap
Pylades/Messenger – Paul O’Mahony
Chorus – Bettina Joy de Guzman and Lanah Koelle
Old Man – David Rubin
Clytaemnestra – Eunice Roberts
Castor and Polydeuces – Carlos Bellato

Special Guest: Robert Groves

Euripides, Elektra 387-388

“Flesh lacking brains / is just decoration for the marketplace”

…αἱ δὲ σάρκες αἱ κεναὶ φρενῶν / ἀγάλματ᾿ ἀγορᾶς εἰσιν…

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Euripides, Electra 938-945

“What deceived you the most, what you misunderstood,
Is that someone can be strong because of money.
Money can only stay with us for a brief time.
Character is strength, not money.
Character always stands at our sides and bears our troubles.
Wealth shacks up with fools unjustly and then disappears
Leaving their houses once it bloomed for a little while.”

ὃ δ᾿ ἠπάτα σε πλεῖστον οὐκ ἐγνωκότα,
ηὔχεις τις εἶναι τοῖσι χρήμασι σθένων·
τὰ δ᾿ οὐδὲν εἰ μὴ βραχὺν ὁμιλῆσαι χρόνον.
ἡ γὰρ φύσις βέβαιος, οὐ τὰ χρήματα.
ἡ μὲν γὰρ αἰεὶ παραμένουσ᾿ αἴρει κακά·
ὁ δ᾿ ὄλβος ἀδίκως καὶ μετὰ σκαιῶν ξυνὼν
ἐξέπτατ᾿ οἴκων, σμικρὸν ἀνθήσας χρόνον.

Future Readings

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th

Euripides, Suppliants September 23rd

Euripides, Phoenician Women, September 30

Performing Epic 1, Homer’s Iliad

Euripides, Elektra 1168-1171

“I join in pity for this woman, undone by her children.
God certainly gives out justice at some point or another.
You suffered terribly things, but, wretched woman
You did unholy things to your husband.”

ᾤμωξα κἀγὼ πρὸς τέκνων χειρουμένης.
νέμει τοι δίκαν θεός, ὅταν τύχῃ·
σχέτλια μὲν ἔπαθες, ἀνόσια δ᾿ εἰργάσω,
τάλαιν᾿, εὐνέταν.

For earlier performances see the project home page or the full playlist on YouTube.

Euripides, Elektra 605

“Child, no one is your friend when you’re unlucky”

ὦ τέκνον, οὐδεὶς δυστυχοῦντί σοι φίλος.

On Kindness and Need: Please Support the SCS-WCC COVID-19 Relief Fund

Cicero, De Legibus 1.18

“What about generosity? Is it for free or with a view towards some benefit? If someone is kind without payment, then it is freely done. If it is for payment, it is contractual. There is no doubt that a person who is called generous or kind responds to duty not to benefit. Therefore, equity seeks no reward or purchase price but it is pursued for its own worth. This is the same cause and claim for every virtue.”

quid? liberalitas gratuitane est an mercennaria? si sine praemio benignus est, gratuita, si cum mercede, conducta; nec est dubium, quin is, qui liberalis benignusve dicitur, officium, non fructum sequatur; ergo item iustitia nihil expetit praemii, nihil pretii; per se igitur expetitur. eademque omnium virtutum causa atque sententia est.

The Women’s Classical Caucus and the Society for Classical Studies have been working together since April on the COVID-19 Relief Fund. During that time, they have given out over $70,000 to classicists, mainly graduate students and contingent faculty, who are facing precarity because of our pandemic.  (See the SCS Announcement here.)

Like the Sportula (an organization you can support in the US and Europe), this initiative brings microgrants to people who really need it at a time when it can make the greatest difference. As two leading organizations in our field, the WCC and SCS are setting a new standard for stewardship and care.

Dicta Catonis 15

“Remember to tell the tale of another’s kindness many times
But whatever kind deed you do for others, keep quiet.”

Officium alterius multis narrare memento;
at quaecumque aliis benefeceris ipse, sileto.

Today, is the first day of an auction to support this important fund. There are signed books, professional support, masks, arts, crafts, and more. You can also enter a raffle for memberships to either organization. There are also many pledges to match bids and money raised, so we can do something pretty special here.

Even if you can’t spare anything to bid on these offers, please take a minute to check them out and to let your friends on social media know about it.

Demosthenes, On the Crown 268-9

“This was my behavior in my actions for the city. In private matters, if any of you do not know that I have been generous and kind and solicitous of those in need, I am silent and I say nothing and present no witness of these things, not the war prisoners I have ransomed, nor the money I have provided for daughters, nor anything like that at all.

This is a rule I live by. I believe that the person who receives a favor should remember it for the rest of time but that the person who does it should forget it immediately for the former to act rightly and the latter not to play the part of a cheap-minded person. To remind someone of a favor you have provided in private and to speak so cheaply is just like reproaching them. I will not do anything like this but however I am considered about these things will be enough for me.”

Ἐν μὲν τοίνυν τοῖς πρὸς τὴν πόλιν τοιοῦτος· ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἰδίοις εἰ μὴ πάντες ἴσθ᾿ ὅτι κοινὸς καὶ φιλάνθρωπος καὶ τοῖς δεομένοις ἐπαρκῶν, σιωπῶ καὶ οὐδὲν ἂν εἴποιμ᾿ οὐδὲ παρασχοίμην περὶ τούτων οὐδεμίαν μαρτυρίαν, οὔτ᾿ εἴ τινας ἐκ τῶν πολεμίων ἐλυσάμην, οὔτ᾿ εἴ τισιν θυγατέρας συνεξέδωκα, οὔτε τῶν τοιούτων οὐδέν. καὶ γὰρ οὕτω πως ὑπείληφα ἐγὼ νομίζω τὸν μὲν εὖ παθόντα δεῖν μεμνῆσθαι πάντα τὸν χρόνον, τὸν δὲ ποιήσαντ᾿ εὐθὺς ἐπιλελῆσθαι, εἰ δεῖ τὸν μὲν χρηστοῦ, τὸν δὲ μὴ μικροψύχου ποιεῖν ἔργον ἀνθρώπου. τὸ δὲ τὰς ἰδίας εὐεργεσίας ὑπομιμνῄσκειν καὶ λέγειν μικροῦ δεῖν ὅμοιόν ἐστιν τῷ ὀνειδίζειν. οὐ δὴ ποιήσω τοιοῦτον οὐδέν, οὐδὲ προαχθήσομαι, ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως ποθ᾿ ὑπείλημμαι περὶ τούτων, ἀρκεῖ μοι.

Immigrants and the State: Reading Aeschylus’ “Suppliants” Online

Aeschylus, Suppliants 698-703

“May the people whose will rules the state,
The forethought for common good,
Guard well our citizens’ rights
And grant just agreements to foreigners
Without pain before considering
Arming for war.”

φυλάσσοι τ᾿ εὖ τὰ τίμι᾿ ἀστοῖς
τὸ δάμιον, τὸ πτόλιν κρατύνει,
προμαθὶς εὐκοινόμητις ἀρχά·
ξένοισι δ᾿ εὐξυμβόλους,
πρὶν ἐξοπλίζειν Ἄρη,
δίκας ἄτερ πημάτων διδοῖεν.

Aeschylus, Suppliants 454

“I would rather be ignorant than know about these problems”
θέλω δ᾿ ἄιδρις μᾶλλον ἢ σοφὸς κακῶν / εἶναι·

Aeschylus, Suppliants  698-703

“May plague never
Drain this city of its men
Nor may civil war dye with blood
The fields of this land with its native sons.”

μήποτε λοιμὸς ἀνδρῶν
τάνδε πόλιν κενώσαι,
μηδ᾿ ἐπιχωρίοις <–>
πτώμασιν αἱματίσαι πέδον γᾶς·

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ since the beginning of the US lockdown in March. As our director Paul O’Mahony has put it, since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Aeschylus, Suppliants 406-411

“We need deep thinking as a savior,
Like that of a diver reaching to the deep
Looking with an eye not overcome with wine,
How these things may turnout unharmful to the city, first,
And then can have a good end for me too….”

δεῖ τοι βαθείας φροντίδος σωτηρίου,
δίκην κολυμβητῆρος εἰς βύθον μολεῖν
δεδορκὸς ὄμμα μηδ᾿ ἄγαν ᾠνωμένον,
ὅπως ἄνατα ταῦτα πρῶτα μὲν πόλει,
αὐτοῖσί θ᾿ ἡμῖν ἐκτελευτήσει καλῶς

This week we turn to Aeschylus’ Suppliants. This play, produced soon after the Persian Wars, tells of the flight of the Danaids from Egypt to Greece to escape forced marriage to their cousins. It is in part a record of the complex foundational narratives of Greece, stories which made the Greeks kin to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Persians and more yet still tried to position the leading families as homegrown, indigenous to the most famous cities of the time. Its themes reflect modern concerns about immigration and migration, sexual violence, and what values we assume as part of cultural and political authority. Along with this, though, we find xenophobia, misogyny, early reflections on ethnicity and culture, and a great deal of suffering due to all of these themes

At the foundation of this story is a myth of the Danaids, a tale of global fraternal strife, of how the daughters of Danaus fled marriage with their cousins, the sons of Aegyptus, yet still ended up having to marry them in Greece. On their wedding night, as the traditional story goes, all but one of them used the knives their father had given them to kill their husbands. For this, they were to be punished eternally in the underworld, carrying water to fill a leaking cistern

Aeschylus’ play is set in the run-up to the marriage. The scene is Argos. Danaus has led his daughters there from Egypt. They meet Pelasgus. They ask for his protection. Then their ‘bridegrooms’ arrive.

Aeschylus, Suppliants 397-401

“This case is not easy to adjudicate: do not make me its judge.
I have said before that I would not do this
Without the people even though I am in charge,
In case the people say when things go badly,
“You destroyed the state by honoring immigrants.”

οὐκ εὔκριτον τὸ κρῖμα· μὴ ᾿μ᾿ αἱροῦ κριτήν.
εἶπον δὲ καὶ πρίν, οὐκ ἄνευ δήμου τόδε
πράξαιμ᾿ ἄν, οὐδέ περ κρατῶν, μὴ καί ποτε
εἴποι λεώς, εἴ πού τι μὴ λῷον τύχοι,
“ἐπήλυδας τιμῶν ἀπώλεσας πόλιν.”

Scenes (H. W. Smyth’s translation)

1-233: Chorus, Danaus   
234-503: King (Pelasgus), Chorus, Danaus 
600-824: Danaus, Chorus
843-1073: Chorus, Herald, Danaus, King (Pelasgus), Chorus of Handmaidens

Aeschylus, Suppliants  277-286

“You utter things incredible for me to hear,
That you are of our Argive race!
You look more like the women of Libya
Than the women who are born in this country.
Ah, the Nile might bear a crop like this;
And there’s a similar imprint on the Cyprian clan
Formed there by the male artisans.
I hear also of nomad women in India
Who ride across the land on camels like horses
Neighbors to the Ethiopians!”

ἄπιστα μυθεῖσθ᾿, ὦ ξέναι, κλυεῖν ἐμοί,
ὅπως τόδ᾿ ὑμῖν ἐστιν Ἀργεῖον γένος.
Λιβυστικοῖς γὰρ μᾶλλον ἐμφερέστεραι
γυναιξίν ἐστε κοὐδαμῶς ἐγχωρίοις·
καὶ Νεῖλος ἂν θρέψειε τοιοῦτον φυτόν·
εἰκὼς χαρακτήρ τ᾿ ἐν γυναικείοις τύποις
Κυπρίοις πέπληκται τεκτόνων πρὸς ἀρσένων·
Ἰνδάς τ᾿ ἀκούω νομάδας ἱπποβάμοσιν
εἶναι καμήλοις ἀστραβιζούσας χθόνα

Performers

Chorus: Tamieka Chavis and Tabatha Gayle
Danaus: David Rubin
King (Pelasgus): Damian Jermaine Thompson
Herald: Argyris Xafis

Special Guest: Rebecca Futo Kennedy

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Aeschylus Suppliants  143-150

“The oar’s flat blade and the linen-stitched
Wooden home walls out the sea
And sends me here without a storm
On fair winds. I do not complain.
May the all-seeing father in time
Bring about favorable ends for us.”

πλάτα μὲν οὖν λινορραφής
τε δόμος ἅλα στέγων δορὸς
ἀχείματόν μ᾿ ἔπεμπε σὺν
πνοαῖς, οὐδὲ μέμφομαι·
τελευτὰς δ᾿ ἐν χρόνῳ
πατὴρ ὁ παντόπτας
πρευμενεῖς κτίσειεν·

Future Readings

Euripides, Electra September 9th

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th

Euripides, Suppliants September 23rd

Aeschylus, Suppliants  1-4

“May Zeus, god of exiles, take a kind look
At our group which took to ship
From the soft sands of the Nile’s mouth…”

Ζεὺς μὲν ἀφίκτωρ ἐπίδοι προφρόνως
στόλον ἡμέτερον νάιον ἀρθέντ᾿
ἀπὸ προστομίων λεπτοψαμάθων
Νείλου·…

For earlier performances see the project home page or the full playlist on YouTube.

Everyone’s In Love! Reading Euripides’ “Hippolytus” Online

Euripides, Hippolytus 469-472

“…you have fallen into so much misfortune
How could you imagine you’d break free of it?
But if in the end you have more good than ill
You’d certainly be lucky enough as a human being.”

ἐς δὲ τὴν τύχην
πεσοῦσ᾿ ὅσην σύ, πῶς ἂν ἐκνεῦσαι δοκεῖς;
ἀλλ᾿ εἰ τὰ πλείω χρηστὰ τῶν κακῶν ἔχεις,
ἄνθρωπος οὖσα κάρτα γ᾿ εὖ πράξειας ἄν.

Euripides, Hippolytus  361-368

“Did you hear it? Did you hear
The queen speak aloud sufferings
One must neever speak?
May I die, my friend, before
I think your thoughts. My gods,
How pitiful you are from these pains.
Oh, all the toils that nourish mortals.
You are ruined—you have introduced evils to the light.
What can await you in this nearly endless day?”

ἄιες ὤ, ἔκλυες ὤ,
ἀνήκουστα τᾶς
τυράννου πάθεα μέλεα θρεομένας;
ὀλοίμαν ἔγωγε πρὶν σᾶν, φίλα,
κατανύσαι φρενῶν. ἰώ μοι, φεῦ φεῦ·
ὦ τάλαινα τῶνδ᾿ ἀλγέων·
ὦ πόνοι τρέφοντες βροτούς.
ὄλωλας, ἐξέφηνας ἐς φάος κακά.
τίς σε παναμέριος ὅδε χρόνος μένει;

Euripides, Hippolytus 161-169

“Women have an ill-fit harmony in their lives:
Their suffering lives alongside
The miserable helplessnesss of labor pains
And senselessness.
This breath escaped out of my womb
So I cried out to the heavenly aid
The queen of arrows
My much envied visitor among the gods:
Artemis.”

φιλεῖ δὲ τᾷ δυστρόπῳ γυναικῶν
ἁρμονίᾳ κακὰ
δύστανος ἀμηχανία συνοικεῖν
ὠδίνων τε καὶ ἀφροσύνας.
δι᾿ ἐμᾶς ᾖξέν ποτε νηδύος ἅδ᾿
αὔρα· τὰν δ᾿ εὔλοχον οὐρανίαν
τόξων μεδέουσαν ἀύτευν
Ἄρτεμιν, καί μοι πολυζήλωτος αἰεὶ
σὺν θεοῖσι φοιτᾷ.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Euripides, Hippolytus 293-296

“If you suffer a sickness that is one of those we can’t mention,
These are women who can help take care of the disease.
If your suffering is open to discussion with men,
Tell us so we can share this deed with some doctors.”

κεἰ μὲν νοσεῖς τι τῶν ἀπορρήτων κακῶν,
γυναῖκες αἵδε συγκαθιστάναι νόσον·
εἰ δ᾿ ἔκφορός σοι συμφορὰ πρὸς ἄρσενας,
λέγ᾿, ὡς ἰατροῖς πρᾶγμα μηνυθῇ τόδε.

Euripides’Hippolytus takes us away from the stories of Agamemnon’s family and the Trojan War and takes us to some of the local tales of Attica. He tells the story of Theseus and his son Hippolytus, a product of Theseus’ rape of Hippolyta. The action of the play is in Troezen where Thesus is in exile for murder. Hippolytus has declared himself celebate and to punish him, Aphrodite has made his stepmother Phaedra fall in love with him.

This play was performed as part of a trilogy in 428 and won first prize. It is also not the only time Euripides turned to this topic. An ancient scholar writes that “this is the second Hippolytus, also called “the wreathed”. It appears it was written later. For it corrects what was improper and worthy of accusation in the earlier play” (τερος ᾿Ιοφῶν, τρίτος ῎Ιων. ἔστι δὲ οὗτος ῾Ιππόλυτος δεύτερος <ὁ> καὶ στεφανίας προσαγορευόμενος. ἐμφαίνεται δὲ ὕστερος γεγραμμένος· τὸ  γὰρ ἀπρεπὲς καὶ κατηγορίας ἄξιον ἐν τούτῳ διώρθωται τῷ δράματι. τὸ ).

According to scholarly traditions, Hippolytus was famed for his wisdom as well has his beauty and this play sets forces of prudence and self-discipline against desire and pleasure. Of course, since this is Euripides, it is not as simple as that: each character struggles with their impulses and their incomplete knowledge, struggling to be better and punished for trying to be something they are not.

Euripides, Hippolytus 653-655

“I am going to clean out everything I just heard
From my ears with running water. How could I be bad when
I feel dirty just hearing these kinds of things?”

ἁγὼ ῥυτοῖς νασμοῖσιν ἐξομόρξομαι
ἐς ὦτα κλύζων. πῶς ἂν οὖν εἴην κακός,
ὃς οὐδ᾿ ἀκούσας τοιάδ᾿ ἁγνεύειν δοκῶ;

Scenes (using Ian Johnston’s translation)

Lines 1-87: Aphrodite, Hippolytus, Chorus/Attendants
Lines 198-518: Phaedra, Nurse, Chorus
Lines 601-667: Nurse, Hippolytus, Phaedra (present but unseen)
Lines 885-1101: Theseus, Hippolytus, Chorus
Lines 1153-1466: Messenger, Theseus, Hippolytus, Artemis, Chorus

Euripides, Hippolytus 916-920

“O humanity, why do you fuck up pointlessly so often?
Why do you teach countless skills
And contrive and invent every kind of thing,
But fail to understand or even pursue at all
How to teach people to think when they are mindless?!”

ὦ πόλλ᾿ ἁμαρτάνοντες ἄνθρωποι μάτην,
τί δὴ τέχνας μὲν μυρίας διδάσκετε
καὶ πάντα μηχανᾶσθε κἀξευρίσκετε,
ἓν δ᾿ οὐκ ἐπίστασθ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἐθηράσασθέ πω,
φρονεῖν διδάσκειν οἷσιν οὐκ ἔνεστι νοῦς;

Performers

Artemis and Aphrodite – Noree Victoria
Hippolytus – Rhys Rusbatch
Phaedra – Mariah Gale
Nurse – Marietta Hedges
Theseus – David Rubin
Messenger – Toph Marshall
Chorus – Noelia Antweiler

Special Guest, Eirene Visvardi

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 821-824

“…I look over a sea of suffering, poor one,
So large that it is impossible to swim free again
Or to cross over the wave of this sorrow.”

κακῶν δ᾿, ὦ τάλας, πέλαγος εἰσορῶ
τοσοῦτον ὥστε μήποτ᾿ ἐκνεῦσαι πάλιν
μηδ᾿ ἐκπερᾶσαι κῦμα τῆσδε συμφορᾶς

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Aeschylus, Suppliants  September 2nd

Euripides, Electra September 9th

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th

Euripides, Hippolytus 486-489

“This is the very thing that lays low the well-lived cities
And homes of mortals: excessively attractive words!
You must not utter things to entice the ears at all
But rather whatever plan will bring us good fame!”

τοῦτ᾿ ἔσθ᾿ ὃ θνητῶν εὖ πόλεις οἰκουμένας
δόμους τ᾿ ἀπόλλυσ᾿, οἱ καλοὶ λίαν λόγοι.
οὐ γάρ τι τοῖσιν ὠσὶ τερπνὰ χρὴ λέγειν
ἀλλ᾿ ἐξ ὅτου τις εὐκλεὴς γενήσεται.

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Hippolytus July 22nd

Euripides, Hippolytus 176-198
“Oh, for mortal kind suffering and hateful diseases!
What will I do? What won’t I do?
This is your light, your bright sky-
Already outside lies
Your sick bed.
Coming here was your every word,
Quickly you will rush to go back again,
And quickly you will slip and delight in nothing.
Nothing present pleases you, what is absent
You hold more dear.
It is better to suffer sickness than tend to it.
The first is simple but the other unites
Anguish of thoughts with labor’s hands.
Human life is only pain
And there is no respite from labors.
Anything at all dearer to us than life
Darkness embraces and hides in shadows.
Then we show ourselves to be unlucky lovers
Of whatever shines clear for a bit on the earth
Because of our ignorance of any other life at all.
There’s no revelation of the afterlife.
We are carried along by nothing but stories.”

ὦ κακὰ θνητῶν στυγεραί τε νόσοι·
τί σ᾿ ἐγὼ δράσω; τί δὲ μὴ δράσω;
τόδε σοι φέγγος, λαμπρὸς ὅδ᾿ αἰθήρ,
ἔξω δὲ δόμων ἤδη νοσερᾶς
δέμνια κοίτης.
δεῦρο γὰρ ἐλθεῖν πᾶν ἔπος ἦν σοι,
τάχα δ᾿ ἐς θαλάμους σπεύσεις τὸ πάλιν.
ταχὺ γὰρ σφάλλῃ κοὐδενὶ χαίρεις,
οὐδέ σ᾿ ἀρέσκει τὸ παρόν, τὸ δ᾿ ἀπὸν
φίλτερον ἡγῇ.
κρεῖσσον δὲ νοσεῖν ἢ θεραπεύειν·
τὸ μέν ἐστιν ἁπλοῦν, τῷ δὲ συνάπτει
λύπη τε φρενῶν χερσίν τε πόνος.
πᾶς δ᾿ ὀδυνηρὸς βίος ἀνθρώπων
κοὐκ ἔστι πόνων ἀνάπαυσις.
ἀλλ᾿ ὅ τι τοῦ ζῆν φίλτερον ἄλλο
σκότος ἀμπίσχων κρύπτει νεφέλαις.
δυσέρωτες δὴ φαινόμεθ᾿ ὄντες
τοῦδ᾿ ὅ τι τοῦτο στίλβει κατὰ γῆν
δι᾿ ἀπειροσύνην ἄλλου βιότου
κοὐκ ἀπόδειξιν τῶν ὑπὸ γαίας,
μύθοις δ᾿ ἄλλως φερόμεσθα.

Faulting the Tricks of the Goddess: Reading “Iphigenia in Tauris” Online

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 42-46

“Night has come with strange new fantasies
I will tell them to the sky, if that provides any relief.
I imagined in sleep that I was freed from this land
and was sleeping in my girlhood’s home in Argos….”

ἃ καινὰ δ᾿ ἥκει νὺξ φέρουσα φάσματα
λέξω πρὸς αἰθέρ᾿, εἴ τι δὴ τόδ᾿ ἔστ᾿ ἄκος.
ἔδοξ᾿ ἐν ὕπνῳ τῆσδ᾿ ἀπαλλαχθεῖσα γῆς
οἰκεῖν ἐν Ἄργει, παρθενῶσι δ᾿ ἐν μέσοις
εὕδειν…

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 137-143

“I have come. What’s going on? What are your worries?
Why did you bring me to this temple,
child of the man who approached Trojan towers
with a famous fleet of one thousand ships
of ten thousand arms
that leader of an army
the oldest of the famous Atreids?”

ἔμολον· τί νέον; τίνα φροντίδ᾿ ἔχεις;
τί με πρὸς ναοὺς ἄγαγες ἄγαγες,
ὦ παῖ τοῦ τᾶς Τροίας πύργους
ἐλθόντος κλεινᾷ σὺν κώπᾳ
χιλιοναύτᾳ μυριοτευχοῦς
<στρατιᾶς ταγοῦ τοῦ πρεσβυγενοῦς τῶν> Ἀτρειδᾶν τῶν κλεινῶν;

RGTO Iphigenia

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 219-221

“Now I live as a foreigner
on the borders of a sea hostile to strangers
unmarried, childless, without city, without friend.”

νῦν δ᾿ ἀξείνου πόντου ξείνα
συγχόρτους οἴκους ναίω,
220ἄγαμος ἄτεκνος ἄπολις ἄφιλος.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 376-379

“…I put off many embraces
to a later time,
because I thought I would go back to Argos again.
Wretched brother, Orestes, if you have died you have
such great fortune as you leave our father’s envied stores.”

πολλὰ δ᾿ ἀπεθέμην ἀσπάσματα
ἐς αὖθις, ὡς ἥξουσ᾿ ἐς Ἄργος αὖ πάλιν.
ὦ τλῆμον, εἰ τέθνηκας, ἐξ οἵων καλῶν
ἔρρεις, Ὀρέστα, καὶ πατρὸς ζηλωμάτων.

This week we return to Euripides and the fate of Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia in the surprising and challenging Iphigenia at Aulis. This play joins other Euripidean tragedies–like the Helen or his Orestes–in presenting alternative accounts of myth and challenging well-known narratives. In this one, the very daughter who was sacrificed to Artemis was whisked away to Tauris where she became a human sacrificing priestess of the goddess. Somehow, Orestes and Pylades end up in her hands after their trial at Athens. And, well, it goes on from there.

What do we make of such a fantasy, of the willful rewriting of the past? This play was performed during some of the most troubling of the years off the Peloponnesian War and its genre bending may have appealed to audiences eager for some escape or some hope that all was not fated. Like Helen it flouts mythical tradition, but unlike Helen it seems to create a largely new ending for its characters.

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 479-481

“Where have you come from, unlucky strangers?
You have sailed long to get to this land
and you will live below far from your homes for long indeed.”

πόθεν ποθ᾿ ἥκετ᾿, ὦ ταλαίπωροι ξένοι;
ὡς διὰ μακροῦ μὲν τήνδ᾿ ἐπλεύσατε χθόνα,
μακρὸν δ᾿ ἀπ᾿ οἴκων χρόνον ἔσεσθε δὴ κάτω.

Scenes (Using Cecelia Luschnig’s translation)

1-65: Iphigenia, Orestes, Pylades
466-1088: Iphigenia, Orestes, Pylades, Chorus
1153-1233: Iphigenia, Thoas, Chorus
1422-1489: Thoas, Athena

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 570-575

“The gods who are called wise
are bigger liars than winged dreams.
The great confusion among the gods exists
among mortals too. Only one reason for lament
remains to one who’snot a fool and has not trusted the words of the prophets:
he dies as those who know he died believe.”

οὐδ᾿ οἱ σοφοί γε δαίμονες κεκλημένοι
πτηνῶν ὀνείρων εἰσὶν ἀψευδέστεροι.
[πολὺς ταραγμὸς ἔν τε τοῖς θείοις ἔνι
κἀν τοῖς βροτείοις· ἓν δὲ λυπεῖται μόνον,
ὃς οὐκ ἄφρων ὢν μάντεων πεισθεὶς λόγοις
ὄλωλεν ὡς ὄλωλε τοῖσιν εἰδόσιν

Performers

Iphigenia – Alice Haig
Orestes – Brian Nelson Jr
Pylades – Paul O’Mahony
Thoas – Tim Delap
Athena – Noree Victoria
Chorus, Marietta Hedges

Special Guests, Niall Slater

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 874-885

“What end can there be for the fate that stalks me?
What will fortune bring me?
What path can be found
to send you from this man-killing city
back to our Argive home
before the sword tastes your blood.
Well, this is something you need to discover,
my dark soul.
Is the path by land, not with a ship
but with a dance of the feet?”

ἁ δ᾿ ἐποῦσ᾿ αὖ τίς τελευτά;
τίς τύχα μοι συγκυρήσει;
τίνα σοι <τίνα σοι> πόρον εὑρομένα
πάλιν ἀπὸ πόλεως ἀνδροφόνου πέμψω
πατρίδ᾿ ἐς Ἀργείαν,
πρὶν ἐπὶ ξίφος αἵματι σῷ πελάσαι;
τόδ᾿ <ἤδη> τόδε σόν, ὦ μελέα ψυχά,
χρέος ἀνευρίσκειν.
πότερον κατὰ χέρσον, οὐχὶ
ναΐᾳ ἀλλὰ ποδῶν ῥιπᾷ;.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Euripides, Hippolytus, August 26rd

Aeschylus, Suppliants  September 2nd

Euripides, Electra September 9th

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 414-421

“Hope is a dear friend to mortal suffering,
people have no fill of it when they wander
for a weight of wealth over the sea’s swell
testing themselves against cities and foreigners
for this common belief.
But some find expectation for wealth
untimely even though it comes in moderation for others.”

φίλα γὰρ ἐλπὶς †γένετ᾿ ἐπὶ πήμασι βροτῶν†
ἄπληστος ἀνθρώποις, ὄλβου βάρος οἳ φέρονται
πλάνητες ἐπ᾿ οἶδμα πόλεις τε βαρβάρους περῶντες,
κοινᾷ δόξᾳ·
γνώμα δ᾿ οἷς μὲν ἄκαιρος ὄλ-
βου, τοῖς δ᾿ ἐς μέσον ἥκει.

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Alcestis July 22nd

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 380-384

“I fault the tricks of this goddess.
Any mortal who even touches blood
or dips a finger in childbirth or death,
she bars from her alters because she thinks them unclean
when she herself delights in human sacrifice!”

ὰ τῆς θεοῦ δὲ μέμφομαι σοφίσματα,
ἥτις βροτῶν μὲν ἤν τις ἅψηται φόνου,
ἢ καὶ λοχείας ἢ νεκροῦ θίγῃ χεροῖν,
βωμῶν ἀπείργει, μυσαρὸν ὡς ἡγουμένη,
αὐτὴ δὲ θυσίαις ἥδεται βροτοκτόνοις.

Miraculous Things and Gullible People

Palaephatus, Peri Apistôn 1

“I have composed this work about unbelievable things because rather gullible people believe everything that is said because they are unfamiliar with wisdom or knowledge—but those who are naturally sharper and concerned with many things disbelieve that anything like these things happened at all.

It seems to be that everything which has been narrated happened—for names do not develop on their own when no story exists about them, instead the fact is there first and then a story develops later—but however many shapes and notions are described and existed in the past but do not exist now, these sorts of things never existed at all. For if anything existed at some point in the past, then it also exists now and will again in the future.

And I am always praising the authors Melissos and Lamiskos of Samos who say “What there was in the beginning exists now and will be. But the poets and the storytellers twisted what happened to more unbelievable and amazing things for the sake of surprising people. But I know that if these things couldn’t have happened at all they would not be stories.”

Τάδε περὶ τῶν ἀπίστων συγγέγραφα. ἀνθρώπων γὰρ οἱ μὲν εὐπειθέστεροι πείθονται πᾶσι τοῖς λεγομένοις, ὡς ἀνομίλητοι σοφίας καὶ ἐπιστήμης, οἱ δὲ πυκνότεροι τὴν φύσιν καὶ πολυπράγματοι ἀπιστοῦσι τὸ παράπαν μηδὲ γενέσθαι τι τούτων. ἐμοὶ δὲ δοκεῖ γενέσθαι πάντα τὰ λεγόμενα (οὐ γὰρ ὀνόματα μόνον ἐγένοντο, λόγος δὲ περὶ αὐτῶν οὐδεὶς ὑπῆρξεν· ἀλλὰ πρότερον ἐγένετο τὸ ἔργον, εἶθ’ οὕτως ὁ λόγος ὁ περὶ αὐτῶν)· ὅσα δὲ εἴδη καὶ μορφαί εἰσι λεγόμεναι καὶ γενόμεναι τότε, αἳ νῦν οὐκ εἰσί, τὰ τοιαῦτα οὐκ ἐγένοντο. εἰ γάρ <τί> ποτε καὶ ἄλλοτε ἐγένετο, καὶ νῦν  τε γίνεται καὶ αὖθις ἔσται. ἀεὶ δὲ ἔγωγε ἐπαινῶ τοὺς συγγραφέας Μέλισσον καὶ Λαμίσκον τὸν Σάμιον „ἐν ἀρχῇ” λέγοντας „ἔστιν ἃ ἐγένετο, καὶ νῦν ἔσται”. γενομένων δέ τινα οἱ ποιηταὶ καὶ λογογράφοι παρέτρεψαν εἰς τὸ ἀπιστότερον καὶ θαυμασιώτερον, τοῦ θαυμάζειν ἕνεκα τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. ἐγὼ δὲ γινώσκω ὅτι οὐ δύναται τὰ τοιαῦτα εἶναι οἷα καὶ λέγεται·

A bonnacon uses feces for weapons. 

Ignoring the Cause, Assailing the Symptoms

Euripides, Andromache 26-31

“Before, even though I was buried in sorrows
Hope always led me to this child who, if saved
Might provide some kind of defense or aid.

But once my husband married that Spartan Hermione
He has spurned my slave’s bed and I
Have been battered down by her evil tortures.”

καὶ πρὶν μὲν ἐν κακοῖσι κειμένην ὅμως
ἐλπίς μ᾿ ἀεὶ προσῆγε σωθέντος τέκνου
ἀλκήν τιν᾿ εὑρεῖν κἀπικούρησιν κακῶν·
ἐπεὶ δὲ τὴν Λάκαιναν Ἑρμιόνην γαμεῖ
τοὐμὸν παρώσας δεσπότης δοῦλον λέχος,
κακοῖς πρὸς αὐτῆς σχετλίοις ἐλαύνομαι.

387-393

“You do huge things for minor reasons—
Listen to me! Why are you hurting me? What’s the reason
What city did I betray? Which child of yours did I kill?
What home did I burn down? I was forced to bed
With my master. You’ll kill me and not him
When he is the cause of these things? You’ll ignore
The cause and just keep pounding on the symptom?”

ὦ μεγάλα πράσσων αἰτίας σμικρᾶς πέρι,
πιθοῦ· τί καίνεις μ᾿; ἀντὶ τοῦ; ποίαν πόλιν
προύδωκα; τίνα σῶν ἔκτανον παίδων ἐγώ;
ποῖον δ᾿ ἔπρησα δῶμ᾿; ἐκοιμήθην βίᾳ
σὺν δεσπόταισι· κᾆτ᾿ ἔμ᾿, οὐ κεῖνον κτενεῖς,
τὸν αἴτιον τῶνδ᾿, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀφεὶς
πρὸς τὴν τελευτὴν ὑστέραν οὖσαν φέρῃ;

Colin Morison (1732-1810) – Andromache Offering Sacrifice to Hector’s Shade

413-420

“Child, I who bore you go to Hades now
So you may not die. If you outrun this fate,
Remember your mother, all I suffered and how I died.
Go to your father and through kisses
Tell him what I died while shedding tears
And throwing your arms around him.
Children are the soul of all humankind—
Whoever has no children mocks them and
While they may feel less pain, feel sadder happiness too”

ὦ τέκνον, ἡ τεκοῦσά σ᾿, ὡς σὺ μὴ θάνῃς,
στείχω πρὸς Ἅιδην· ἢν δ᾿ ὑπεκδράμῃς μόρον,
μέμνησο μητρός, οἷα τλᾶσ᾿ ἀπωλόμην,
καὶ πατρὶ τῷ σῷ διὰ φιλημάτων ἰὼν
δάκρυά τε λείβων καὶ περιπτύσσων χέρας
λέγ᾿ οἷ᾿ ἔπραξα. πᾶσι δ᾿ ἀνθρώποις ἄρ᾿ ἦν
ψυχὴ τέκν᾿· ὅστις δ᾿ αὔτ᾿ ἄπειρος ὢν ψέγει,
ἧσσον μὲν ἀλγεῖ, δυστυχῶν δ᾿ εὐδαιμονεῖ.

Check out Tamieka Chavis’ fabulous reading as Andromache

 

A Moment of Hesitation: Reading Sophocles’ “Electra” Online

Sophocles, Elektra 20-22

“Before any man tries to leave this house
you need to plan: this is no longer the right time
for hesitation: now is the final of deeds”

πρὶν οὖν τιν᾿ ἀνδρῶν ἐξοδοιπορεῖν στέγης,
ξυνάπτετον λόγοισιν· ὡς ἐνταῦθ᾿ †ἐμὲν
ἵν᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ ὀκνεῖν καιρός, ἀλλ᾿ ἔργων ἀκμή.

Sophocles, Elektra 1070-1074

“Tell them that their home is already plagued,
and that the strife among their children
is no longer balanced out
by the fact that they all love life.”

ὅτι σφὶν ἤδη τὰ μὲν ἐκ δόμων νοσεῖται,
τὰ δὲ πρὸς τέκνων διπλῆ φύ-
λοπις οὐκέτ᾿ ἐξισοῦται
φιλοτασίῳ διαίτᾳ.
πρόδοτος δὲ μόνα σαλεύει

RGTO.Electra.poster-01

Sophocles, Elektra 71-76

“Do not send me from this land in dishonor,
but as a master of my wealth and the captain of my house.
I have said enough now. Old man, it is your task
to go and safeguard this need.
And the two of us will go: for it is the perfect moment
and the perfect moment is man’s greatest guide in every deed.”

καὶ μή μ᾿ ἄτιμον τῆσδ᾿ ἀποστείλητε γῆς,
ἀλλ᾿ ἀρχέπλουτον καὶ καταστάτην δόμων.
εἴρηκα μέν νυν ταῦτα· σοὶ δ᾿ ἤδη, γέρον,
τὸ σὸν μελέσθω βάντι φρουρῆσαι χρέος.
75νὼ δ᾿ ἔξιμεν· καιρὸς γάρ, ὅσπερ ἀνδράσιν
μέγιστος ἔργου παντός ἐστ᾿ ἐπιστάτης.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Sophocles, Elektra 91-95

“This hateful bed in our painful house
shares the pains of all my nights
how much I mourn for my wretched father…”

τὰ δὲ παννυχίδων κήδη στυγεραὶ
ξυνίσασ᾿ εὐναὶ μογερῶν οἴκων,
ὅσα τὸν δύστηνον ἐμὸν θρηνῶ
πατέρ᾿

This week we turn to the first of many plays set around the House of Atreus, Sophokles’ Elektra. This story follows Orestes’ return home to murder his mother (and her lover Aegisthus) for the killing of his father Agamemnon. For fans of tragedy, the tale is famous from our only full trilogy from ancient Athens, Aeschylus’ Oresteia. But it was legendary—and perhaps even paradigmatic—Homer’s Odyssey as well, where Orestes is held up repeatedly as a model of youthful initiative to Telemachus and Clytemnestra’s betrayal of her husband appears as a constant threat to Odysseus’ homecoming.

The story of Orestes is, like the end of the Odyssey, about the cycle of vengeance and the dangerous narrative pull of the call to revenge. In Aeschylus’ Eumenides, Orestes ends up in Athens where he is judged by a jury for his mother’s murder: his story pits the orders of one god (Apollo) against he claims of others (the Furies) and the loyalty of a son to mother or father. The story of the Elektra is a prolonged rumination on the choices made before that crises. This version of the tale is often dated to the end of Sophocles’ life, during the middle of the Peloponnesian War. It features Orestes returning with Pylades in disguise to announce his death. The title character, Electra, has been mourning her father’s murder and longing for her brother’s return. Once she finds out about Orestes’ true identity, the play turns to the murder, but prior to that ever delayed moment of recognition, the audiences witnesses Orestes’ hesitation and Electra’s sorrow.

Sophocles, Electra 1047

“Nothing is more hateful than a bad plan.”

βουλῆς γὰρ οὐδέν ἐστιν ἔχθιον κακῆς.

Scenes (Using Paul Woodruff’s translation)

86-230, Electra, Chorus
328-471, Electra, Chrysothemis, Chorus
516-659, Electra, Clytemnestra, Chorus
871-1055, Electra, Chrysothemis
1098-1264, Electra, Orestes, Chorus
1385-1510: Electra, Chorus, Aegisthus, Orestes, Clytemnestra

Sophocles, Elektra 1082-1089

“No noble person wants
to ruin their good reputation by living badly
namelessly, my child.
So you have accepted for yourself
a life of fame and constant sorrow,
making a weapon from a noble cure–
with one strike you win two prizes
to be called a child excellent and wise.”

οὐδεὶς τῶν ἀγαθῶν
ζῶν κακῶς εὔκειαν αἰσχῦναι θέλοι
νώνυμος, ὦ παῖ παῖ·
ὡς καὶ σὺ πάγκλαυτον αἰ-
ῶνα κλεινὸν εἵλου,
ἄκος καλὸν καθοπλίσα-
σα δύο φέρειν ἑνὶ λόγῳ,
σοφά τ᾿ ἀρίστα τε παῖς κεκλῆσθαι.

Performers

Electra – Evelyn Miller
Chrysothemis – Tabatha Gayle
Chorus – Sara Valentine
Orestes – Tim Delap
Clytemnestra – Eunice Roberts
Aegisthus – René Thornton Jr.

Special Guests, Amy. R. Cohen

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Sophocles, Elektra 1282-1287

“My love–I am hearing a voice
I never hoped to hear,
but still I kept my eagerness quiet.
I heard with no cry in response.
But now, I have you. You are clear as day,
holding the dearest vision before me,
something I never could forget in any troubles.”

ὦ φίλ᾿, ἔκλυον
ἃν ἐγὼ οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἤλπισ᾿ αὐδάν.
έσχον ὀργὰν ἄναυδον
οὐδὲ σὺν βοᾷ κλύουσ᾿ ἁ τάλαινα.
νῦν δ᾿ ἔχω σε· προὐφάνης δὲ
φιλτάταν ἔχων πρόσοψιν,
ἇς ἐγὼ οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἐν κακοῖς λαθοίμαν.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, August 19th

Euripides, Hippolytus, August 23rd

Aeschylus, Suppliants  September 2nd

Euripides, Electra September 9th

 

Sophocles, Elektra 1325-1330

“What the greatest mob of fools and senseless wastes!
Don’t you care at all about your life
Or are you incapable of any thought at all,
When you cannot recognize that you aren’t just close,
but You’re in the middle of the worst shit there is?”

ὦ πλεῖστα μῶροι καὶ φρενῶν τητώμενοι,
πότερα παρ᾿ οὐδὲν τοῦ βίου κήδεσθ᾿ ἔτι,
ἢ νοῦς ἔνεστιν οὔτις ὑμὶν ἐγγενής,
ὅτ᾿ οὐ παρ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἀλλ᾿ ἐν αὐτοῖσιν κακοῖς
τοῖσιν μεγίστοις ὄντες οὐ γιγνώσκετε;

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Alcestis July 22nd

Sophocles, Elektra 1390-1394

“The clever defender of the dead goes
into the home, to to his father’s long-wealthy foundation,
he carries a weapon just now sharpened for blood.”

παράγεται γὰρ ἐνέρων
δολιόπους ἀρωγὸς εἴσω στέγας,
ἀρχαιόπλουτα πατρὸς εἰς ἑδώλια,
νεακόνητον αἷμα χειροῖν ἔχων·

Sophocles, Elektra 119-120

“I can’t hold out any longer
bearing the weight of my grief alone.”

μούνη γὰρ ἄγειν οὐκέτι σωκῶ
λύπης ἀντίρροπον ἄχθος.

Sophocles, Elektra 1038

“When you’re in your right mind, then you can lead us.”

ὅταν γὰρ εὖ φρονῇς, τόθ᾿ ἡγήσῃ σὺ νῷν.