“Give Us Freedom from our Toils”: Reading Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” Online

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1369

“Conjecture is not knowledge.”

τὸ γὰρ τοπάζειν τοῦ σάφ᾽ εἰδέναι δίχα.

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, Agamemnon 855-860

“Citizens, this elder pride of Argives,
I will feel not shame at revealing
my spousal love to you. In time, human fear
turns to dust. I will tell you of my own
miserable live, not something I learned from others,
all that time when this man was below the city of Troy.”

ἄνδρες πολῖται, πρέσβος Ἀργείων τόδε,
οὐκ αἰσχυνοῦμαι τοὺς φιλάνορας τρόπους
λέξαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς· ἐν χρόνῳ δ᾿ ἀποφθίνει
τὸ τάρβος ἀνθρώποισιν. οὐκ ἄλλων πάρα
μαθοῦσ᾿ ἐμαυτῆς δύσφορον λέξω βίον
τοσόνδ᾿ ὁσόνπερ οὗτος ἦν ὑπ᾿ Ἰλίῳ

This week we turn to the first play of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the Agamemnon. How famous is the story of Orestes and his father? So famous that it is the story Zeus contemplates at the beginning of the Homeric Odyssey as he looks down in frustration on the man who murdered Agamemnon. Atreus’ son, Agamemnon, appears in the middle of the epic (book 11) and at its end, complaining at each point bitterly about his disloyal wife, Klytemnestra, and praising the vengeance meted out by his son Orestes.

The story of the family of Agamemnon, however, extends before the Trojan War and then after until the death of Achilles’ son Neoptolemos. it starts back with Tantalos and Pelops in Asia Minor before it moves to the Peloponnese through sacrilegious meals, infanticide and fraternal war, all themes highlighted in the main cause of Klytemnestra’s rage, the killing of their daughter Iphigenia at Aulis.

If this story sounds familiar, it is because it is! In this series, we have heard variations of this tale from Sophocles and Euripides, contemplating both its beginnings and its ends. Indeed, ancient audiences would have been as familiar with the story as Zeus at the beginning of the Odyssey, shaking their heads and wondering how this version will play out.

This play begins with Agamemnon’s return home, but focuses on Klytemnestra’s anger and her power. It features some of the most challenging and memorable choral odes extant from the ancient world. It has a raving, yet lucid Kassandra. And at the core of the play, a murderous king’s bloody return home.

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 914-917

“Child of Leda, guardian of my home,

“You have spoken aptly to my absence,
Since you have gone on at length. But proper praise
Ought to be a prize won from different sources.”

Λήδας γένεθλον, δωμάτων ἐμῶν φύλαξ,
ἀπουσίᾳ μὲν εἶπας εἰκότως ἐμῇ·
μακρὰν γὰρ ἐξέτεινας· ἀλλ᾿ ἐναισίμως
αἰνεῖν, παρ᾿ ἄλλων χρὴ τόδ᾿ ἔρχεσθαι γέρα

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 902

“It is a pleasing thing to escape from all necessity.”

τερπνὸν δὲ τἀναγκαῖον ἐκφυγεῖν ἅπαν

Scenes (from Oliver Taplin’s Translation)

1-254: Watchman, Chorus
810-1240; 1305-1405: Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Chorus, Cassandra
1515-end: Chorus, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus

Performers

Agamemnon/Aegisthus – Tim Delap
Watchman/Cassandra – Evelyn Miler
Clytemnestra – Eunice Roberts
Chorus – Carlos Bellato and Tamieka Chavis
Special Guests: Fiona Macintosh and Oliver Taplin
Special Director: Toph Marshall

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 684-696

“Whoever pronounced a name
So thoroughly true?
Wasn’t it someone we’d not see
Guiding the tongue with luck
From a foreknowledge of fate?
Who named the spear-bride,
Struggled-over woman
Helen?
For, appropriately,
That ship-killer [hele-nas], man-killer [hel-andros]
City-killer [hele-ptolis], sailed
From her fine-spun, curtains
On the breath of great Zephyr
and many-manned bands
Of shield-bearers followed
The vanished journey struck
By the oars to the banks
Of leafy Simois

For a bloody strife.”
Χο. τίς ποτ’ ὠνόμαξεν ὧδ’
ἐς τὸ πᾶν ἐτητύμως—
μή τις ὅντιν’ οὐχ ὁρῶ-
μεν προνοί-
αισι τοῦ πεπρωμένου
γλῶσσαν ἐν τύχᾳ νέμων; —τὰν
δορίγαμβρον ἀμφινεικῆ
θ’ ῾Ελέναν; ἐπεὶ πρεπόντως
ἑλένας, ἕλανδρος, ἑλέ-
πτολις, ἐκ τῶν ἁβροπήνων
προκαλυμμάτων ἔπλευσε
Ζεφύρου γίγαντος αὔρᾳ,
πολύανδροί
τε φεράσπιδες κυναγοὶ
κατ’ ἴχνος πλατᾶν ἄφαντον
κελσάντων Σιμόεντος
ἀκτὰς ἐπ’ ἀεξιφύλλους
δι’ ἔριν αἱματόεσσαν.

Producers and Crew

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)

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 176-183

“[Zeus] puts mortals on
The journey of comprehension.
And made this the powerful law:
We learn by suffering.
Pain-recalling trouble trickles
Through the heart in sleep—
And wisdom comes just so
To the unwilling.
The gods seated on their sacred seats
Bestow a hard grace I think.”

Ζῆνα δέ τις προφρόνως ἐπινίκια κλάζων
τεύξεται φρενῶν τὸ πᾶν,
τὸν φρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώ-
σαντα, τὸν πάθει μάθος
θέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.
στάζει δ’ ἀνθ’ ὕπνου πρὸ καρδίας
μνησιπήμων πόνος· καὶ παρ’ ἄ-
κοντας ἦλθε σωφρονεῖν.
δαιμόνων δέ που χάρις βίαιος
σέλμα σεμνὸν ἡμένων.

Upcoming Episodes (Go to CHS Project Page for more information)

October 28 Libation Bearers, Aeschylus; translation by O. Taplin

November 4 Eumenides, Aeschylus
with Ellen McLaughlin (Barnard College) and Andrew Simpson (Catholic Univeristy of America); translation by O. Taplin

November 11 Medea, Euripides
with Fiona Macintosh (University of Oxford)

Virginia Woolf, On Not Knowing Greek

If then in Sophocles the play is concentrated in the figures themselves, and in Euripides is to be retrieved from flashes of poetry and questions far flung and unanswered, Aeschylus makes these little dramas (the Agamemnon has 1663 lines; Lear about 2600) tremendous by stretching every phrase to the utmost, by sending them floating forth in metaphors, by bidding them rise up and stalk eyeless and majestic through the scene. To understand him it is not so necessary to understand Greek as to understand poetry. It is necessary to take that dangerous leap through the air without the support of words which Shakespeare also asks of us. For words, when opposed to such a blast of meaning, must give out, must be blown astray, and only by collecting in companies convey the meaning which each one separately is too weak to express. Connecting them in a rapid flight of the mind we know instantly and instinctively what they mean, but could not decant that meaning afresh into any other words. There is an ambiguity which is the mark of the highest poetry; we cannot know exactly what it means. Take this from the Agamemnon for instance–

      ὀμμάτων δ’ ἐν ἀχηνίαις

          ἔρρει πᾶσ’ ᾿Αφροδίτα.

The meaning is just on the far side of language. It is the meaning which in moments of astonishing excitement and stress we perceive in our minds without words; it is the meaning that Dostoevsky (hampered as he was by prose and as we are by translation) leads us to by some astonishing run up the scale of emotions and points at but cannot indicate; the meaning that Shakespeare succeeds in snaring.

Aeschylus thus will not give, as Sophocles gives, the very words that people might have spoken, only so arranged that they have in some mysterious way a general force, a symbolic power, nor like Euripides will he combine incongruities and thus enlarge his little space, as a small room is enlarged by mirrors in odd corners. By the bold and running use of metaphor he will amplify and give us, not the thing itself, but the reverberation and reflection which, taken into his mind, the thing has made; close enough to the original to illustrate it, remote enough to heighten, enlarge, and make splendid.

Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 37-39

“This house itself, if it found a voice,
Would be able to speak most clearly. I am talking
Willingly to those who know and forget for those who know nothing.”

…οἶκος δ᾿ αὐτός, εἰ φθογγὴν λάβοι,
σαφέστατ᾿ ἂν λέξειεν· ὡς ἑκὼν ἐγὼ
μαθοῦσιν αὐδῶ κοὐ μαθοῦσι λήθομαι.

“He Said Some Other Nice Things About Women”: Reading Aristophanes’ “Assemblywomen” Online

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 454-456

“He said a lot of other nice things about women too
That they don’t betray people or sue them
That they don’t overthrow democracy, and many other good things too.”

ἕτερά τε πλεῖστα τὰς γυναῖκας ηὐλόγει·
οὐ συκοφαντεῖν, οὐ διώκειν, οὐδὲ τὸν
δῆμον καταλύειν, ἄλλα πολλὰ κἀγαθά.

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.

This weekend in the spirit of everything horrifying and electoral, we bring you a break from the normal routine: tragedy on Wednesdays, but comedy tonight! Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen (Ekklesiazusai) was performed in 391 BCE in critique of the Athenian government. It has everything a good Old Comedy should: surprisingly ribald sex jokes and a run of flatulence and defecation humor any grown-up toddler could love.

Despite the less-than-elevated content of the play, this comedy is not for the young or the light-hearted. The basic premise–that women take over the state to run it better than the men–weaponizes misogyny to criticize the running of the state. So, Aristophanes uses the worst ridicule of women to highlight the absurdity and danger of Athenian politics. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but Aristophanes is going to crush them.

This performance will bring the majority of the play to the virtual stage with tricks, gags, and a slight softening of the play’s more hateful tendencies. Come for the fart-jokes but stay for the political resonance as we all hope desperately for something to change

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 320

“Oh, where could a man manage to shit in private?”

ἀλλ᾿ ἐν καθαρῷ ποῦ ποῦ τις ἂν χέσας τύχοι;

Scenes (George Theodoridis’ translation.)

Just wait and see!

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 210-212

“I say that we give the rule of our state
Over to the women. For we already trust them
As guards and managers in our homes.”

ταῖς γὰρ γυναιξὶ φημὶ χρῆναι τὴν πόλιν
ἡμᾶς παραδοῦναι. καὶ γὰρ ἐν ταῖς οἰκίαις
ταύταις ἐπιτρόποις καὶ ταμίαισι χρώμεθα.

Performers

Praxagora – Vivien Carter
First Women/Mrs Lush – Jessica Toltzis
Second Women/ Mrs Generous – Tamieka Chavis
Third Women/ Mrs Happy – Ursula Early
Belpyrus – Paul Westwood
Neighbour – Kyle Stockburger
Chremes – Paul O’Mahony
Maid – Noree Victoria
Chorus – Lanah Koelle
 
Special Guest, Francisco Barrenechea

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 173-179

“My share of this country is equal to yours.
I am worn down and annoyed
By how this state’s affairs are going.
I watch as we always choose scoundrels
As leaders. Even if one turns out good for a day
Then he’s downright corrupt for another ten.
Then we trust another? He makes our suffering worse.

ἐμοὶ δ᾿ ἴσον μὲν τῆσδε τῆς χώρας μέτα
ὅσονπερ ὑμῖν· ἄχθομαι δὲ καὶ φέρω
τὰ τῆς πόλεως ἅπαντα βαρέως πράγματα.
ὁρῶ γὰρ αὐτὴν προστάταισι χρωμένην
ἀεὶ πονηροῖς. κἄν τις ἡμέραν μίαν
χρηστὸς γένηται, δέκα πονηρὸς γίγνεται.
ἐπέτρεψας ἑτέρῳ· πλείον᾿ ἔτι δράσει κακά.

Producers and Crew

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)

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 473-475

“There’s some ancient saying of our founding fathers:
However many foolish and stupid things we plan,
Everything will turn out better to our advantage anyway.”

λόγος γέ τοί τις ἔστι τῶν γεραιτέρων,
ὅσ᾿ ἂν ἀνόητ᾿ ἢ μῶρα βουλευσώμεθα,
ἅπαντ᾿ ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον ἡμῖν ξυμφέρειν.

Upcoming Episodes (Go to CHS Project Page for more information)

October 21 Agamemnon, Aeschylus
with Fiona Macintosh (University of Oxford); translation by O. Taplin

October 28 Libation Bearers, Aeschylus; translation by O. Taplin

November 4 Eumenides, Aeschylus
with Ellen McLaughlin (Barnard College) and Andrew Simpson (Catholic Univeristy of America); translation by O. Taplin

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen 590-592

“I suggest that everyone should share everything in common
And to live equally: this man won’t be rich, that one won’t be poor,
No more one man farming a massive field while another has too little for a grave”

κοινωνεῖν γὰρ πάντας φήσω χρῆναι πάντων μετέχοντας
κἀκ ταὐτοῦ ζῆν, καὶ μὴ τὸν μὲν πλουτεῖν, τὸν δ᾿ ἄθλιον εἶναι,
μηδὲ γεωργεῖν τὸν μὲν πολλήν, τῷ δ᾿ εἶναι μηδὲ ταφῆναι

May Our Lives Be Luckier Than These! Reading Euripides’ “Phoenician Women” Online

Euripides, Phoenician Women 1582-1583 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“Today has begun many troubles for Oedipus’ house.
May our lives be luckier!”

πολλῶν κακῶν κατῆρξεν Οἰδίπου δόμοις
τόδ᾿ ἦμαρ· εἴη δ᾿ εὐτυχέστερος βίος.

Euripides, Phoenician Women 504

“Would you rather be a tyrant or save your country?”

πότερα τυραννεῖν ἢ πόλιν σῶσαι θέλεις,

 

Euripides, Phoenician Women 357-360

“Mother, I have come with good intentions among enemy men
Even though it is a bad plan. Still, everyone loves their country
By necessity. Anyone who claims otherwise is just playing with words—
Keeping their true thought deep inside.”

μῆτερ, φρονῶν εὖ κοὐ φρονῶν ἀφικόμην
ἐχθροὺς ἐς ἄνδρας· ἀλλ᾿ ἀναγκαίως ἔχει
πατρίδος ἐρᾶν ἅπαντας· ὃς δ᾿ ἄλλως λέγει,
λόγοισι χαίρει, τὸν δὲ νοῦν ἐκεῖσ᾿ ἔχει.

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, Phoenician Women 429-439

“What is it like to lose your country? Is it a great evil?”
τί τὸ στέρεσθαι πατρίδος; ἦ κακὸν μέγα;

Euripides, Phoenician Women 439-440

“People value money most of all:
It has the greatest power of everything humans possess.”

τὰ χρήματ᾿ ἀνθρώποισι τιμιώτατα
δύναμίν τε πλείστην τῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἔχει.

Scenes (Cecelia Luschnig’s Translation)

216-637:  Polynices, Eteocles, Jocasta, Chorus
833-1018: Creon, Tiresias, Menoeceus, Chorus
1356-1477: Messenger
1584-1724: Creon, Oedipus, Antigone
 

Euripides, Phoenician Women 460-464

“I want to offer some bit of wisdom to you:
Whenever a friend is angry with a friend
And comes together to look them in the eyes,
One must examine on those things they are discussing
And make no reminder of troubles they had before.”

παραινέσαι δὲ σφῷν τι βούλομαι σοφόν·
ὅταν φίλος τις ἀνδρὶ θυμωθεὶς φίλῳ
ἐς ἓν συνελθὼν ὄμματ᾿ ὄμμασιν διδῷ,
ἐφ᾿ οἷσιν ἥκει, ταῦτα χρὴ μόνον σκοπεῖν,
κακῶν δὲ τῶν πρὶν μηδενὸς μνείαν ἔχειν.

Actors
 
Tamieka Chavis – Jocasta/Tiresias
Tabatha Gayle – Antigone/Eteocles
Richard Klautsch – Creon
Sara Valentine – Menoeceus/Messenger
Noree Victoria – Chorus
Argyris Xafis – Polynices/Oedipus
 

Special Guest: Anna Lamari

Euripides, Phoenician Women 469-472

“The story of truth is simple.
It does not require sophisticated interpretations.
Its very character is the occasion! But unjust speech
Is sick and needs clever medicines to work.”

ἁπλοῦς ὁ μῦθος τῆς ἀληθείας ἔφυ,
κοὐ ποικίλων δεῖ τἄνδιχ᾿ ἑρμηνευμάτων·
ἔχει γὰρ αὐτὰ καιρόν· ὁ δ᾿ ἄδικος λόγος
νοσῶν ἐν αὑτῷ φαρμάκων δεῖται σοφῶν.

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

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

Euripides, Rhesus, October 14th

Aeschylus, Agamemnon, October 21

Euripides, Phoenician Women 889-890

“Since the wicked part is stronger than the good,
There is one other strategy for salvation.”

ἐπεὶ δὲ κρεῖσσον τὸ κακόν ἐστι τἀγαθοῦ,
μί᾿ ἔστιν ἄλλη μηχανὴ σωτηρίας.

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

Euripides, Phoenician Women 1013-1014/b>

“I am leaving. By giving the unshameful gift of my death
To the state, I will free this land of disease.”

στείχω δέ, θανάτου δῶρον οὐκ αἰσχρὸν πόλει
δώσων, νόσου δὲ τήνδ᾿ ἀπαλλάξω χθόνα.

Four Years of Presidential Memories: Thunderous-Mouth-Milling and Petty-Bragging, Some Words for a Thursday

The Suda has the following anecdote which seems to be taken and altered from Diogenes Laertius or something similar.

“thunderous-mouth-milling”: Eubulides says this “the eristic, asking his horn questions and discombobulating the orators with his falsely-intellectual arguments, taking with him the “thunderous-mouth-milling” of Demosthenes.

Ῥομβοστωμυλήθρα: Εὐβουλίδης φησίν: οὑριστικὸς κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων ἀπῆλθ’, ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥομβοστωμυλήθραν.

ῥομβοστωμυλήθρη (lit. “thunderous-mouth-milling” (?) seems to be a misunderstanding or humorous take on ῥωποπερπερήθρη, usually translated as “braggadocio” but is more like “cheap/petty bragging”

From Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 2.10

“The eristic Euboulides, asking questions about horns
And discombobulating the speakers with his falsely-intellectual arguments
Has gone off, taking the petty self regard of Demosthenes with him

For it seems that Demosthenes was a student of Eubulides and was able to stop his problems with the letter ‘r’ because of it. Eubulides was also in conflict with Aristotle and undermined him a lot.

οὑριστικὸς δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν
καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων
ἀπῆλθ᾿ ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥωποπερπερήθραν.

ἐῴκει γὰρ αὐτοῦ καὶ Δημοσθένης ἀκηκοέναι καὶ ῥωβικώτερος ὢν παύσασθαι. ὁ δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης καὶ πρὸς Ἀριστοτέλην διεφέρετο, καὶ πολλὰ αὐτὸν διαβέβληκε.

Eubulides is now known for some interesting paradoxes.

Image result for ancient greek eubulides
Demosthenes, no longer thunderous-mouth-milling.

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.

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.

Don’t Be Half-Assed This Weekend: Three Donkey Proverbs from Photius

While perusing some comic fragments and testimonia I came upon one which attributed a strange proverb to Cratinus.  I had to investigate the source, the work of the lexicographer Photius.  What I found was exhilarating: a group of donkey proverbs.

Here is a short excerpt (yes, there’s more):

“A Donkey’s death”: A saying for those who tell stories about strange things

“A Tipping Donkey”: When a donkey leans in suddenly, hens are frightened and bust out of their pen. The owner of the birds brings a suit against the owner of the donkey. This is where the proverb comes from.

“Donkey Shearings”: A saying applied by Attic writers to endless and impossible things. These following sayings are similar: “washing a brick”; “plucking a wineskin”; “decorating a pot” and “fumigating an outhouse”. Aristarchus says that this saying developed because Cratinus imagined a man braiding a rope in Hades and a donkey eating it as he did so.”

῎Ονου θάνατος: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλλόκοτα διηγουμένων

῎Ονου παρακύψεως: ὄνου παρακύψαντος, ὄρνιθες πτοηθεῖσαι ἱστὸν ἀνέρρηξαν· ὁ δὲ δεσπότης τοῦ ἱστοῦ τοῦ ὄνου δεσπότηι ἐνεκάλεσεν· ὅθεν ἡ παροιμία.

῎Ονου πόκαι: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀνηνύτων καὶ τῶν μὴ ὄντων λέγεται ἡ παροιμία ὑπὸ τῶν ᾿Αττικῶν· ὥσπερ αἱ τοιαῦται· πλίνθον πλύνειν· ἀσκὸν τίλλειν· χύτραν ποικίλλειν· εἰς κοπρῶνα θυμιᾶν· ᾿Αρίσταρχος δὲ διὰ τὸ Κρατῖνον ὑποθέσθαι ἐν Αἵδου σχοινίον πλέκοντα· ὄνον δὲ τὸ πλεκόμενον ἀπεσθίοντα·

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If Only Everyone Were Like Me

Menander, Dyskolos 742-746

“I would like to tell you a few things about me and my character.
If everyone were like me, there wouldn’t be any courts at all,
They wouldn’t take each other to prison.
There would be no war and everyone would be happy because they had enough.
Ah, maybe the way things are is more pleasing. Act as you will.
This old cranky grump will be out of your way.”

πὲρ ἐ]μοῦ γὰρ βούλομ᾿ εἰπεῖν ὀλίγα σοι καὶ τοῦ τρόπου.
εἰ τοιοῦτ]οι πάντες ἦσαν, οὔτε τὰ δικαστήρια
ἦν ἄν, ο]ὔθ᾿ αὑτοὺς ἀπῆγον εἰς τὰ δεσμωτήρια,
οὔτε π]όλεμος ἦν, ἔχων δ᾿ ἂν μέτρι᾿ ἕκαστος ἠγάπα.
ἀ[λ]λ᾿ ἴσως ταῦτ᾿ ἔστ᾿ ἀρεστὰ μᾶλλον· οὕτω πράττετε.
ἐκποδὼν ὑμῖν ὁ χαλεπὸς δύσκολός τ᾿ ἔσται γέρων.

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“The Fool and His Double”, José Frappa