“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.

“Come, Let Us Build Walls”

Pindar, Fr. 194

“Come, let us build walls now,
A speaking, intricate, construction of words”

εἶα τειχίζωμεν ἤδη ποικίλον
κόσμον αὐδάεντα λόγων

Dio Chrysostom, Diogenes, Or On Tyranny (6.37)

“And still when he was awake, he would pray to be asleep to forget his fears. But when he was asleep, he jumped up as soon as possible because he believed he was being killed by his dreams, that the golden-plane tree, all the mansions of Semiramis, and the walls of Babylon were useless to him”

ἔτι δὲ ἐγρηγορότα μὲν εὔχεσθαι καθυπνῶσαι ὅπως ἐπιλάθηται τῶν φόβων, κοιμώμενον δὲ ἀναστῆναι τὴν ταχίστην, ἅτε ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐνυπνίων ἀπολλύμενον, τῆς δὲ χρυσῆς αὐτῷ πλατάνου καὶ τῶν Σεμιράμιδος οἰκοδομημάτων καὶ τῶν ἐν Βαβυλῶνι τειχῶν μηδὲν ὄφελος γιγνόμενον.

Diogenes Laertius, Antisthenes 13

“[Antisthenes used to say] “rational thought is the mightiest wall. It never falls apart or betrays you. We must build walls in our own unconquerable calculations.”

Τεῖχος ἀσφαλέστατον φρόνησιν· μήτε γὰρ καταρρεῖν μήτε προδίδοσθαι. τείχη κατασκευαστέον ἐν τοῖς αὑτῶν ἀναλώτοις λογισμοῖς.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.7

“Value nothing which compels you to break your promise, to abandon your honor, to hate, suspect or curse anyone, to be a hypocrite, or to lust after anything which needs walls or decorations.”

Μὴ τιμήσῃς ποτὲ ὡς συμφέρον σεαυτοῦ, ὃ ἀναγκάσει σέ ποτε τὴν πίστιν παραβῆναι, τὴν αἰδῶ ἐγκαταλιπεῖν, μισῆσαί τινα, ὑποπτεῦσαι, καταράσασθαι, ὑποκρίνασθαι, ἐπιθυμῆσαί τινος τοίχων καὶ παραπετασμάτων δεομένου.

Aristotle, Politics 1276a

“Imagine that a set of people inhabit the same place, what should make us believe that they inhabit a single state? For, it could not be walls since it would certainly be possible to build a wall around all of the Peloponnese.”

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ12 τῶν τὸν αὐτὸν τόπον κατοικούντων ἀνθρώπων πότε δεῖ νομίζειν μίαν εἶναι τὴν πόλιν; οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῖς τείχεσιν, εἴη γὰρ ἂν Πελοποννήσῳ περιβαλεῖν ἓν τεῖχος·

Dio Chrystostom, The Euboean Discourse 50

“But you will give us a home there, or how will we be able to survive the cold? You have many homes in your walls left empty. One of them is enough for us.”

ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως δώσετε ἡμῖν ἐνθάδε οἰκίαν· ἢ πῶς ὑπενεγκεῖν δυνησόμεθα τοῦ χειμῶνος; ἔστιν ὑμῖν οἰκήματα πολλὰ ἐντὸς τοῦ τείχους, ἐν οἷς οὐδεὶς οἰκεῖ· τούτων ἡμῖν ἓν ἀρκέσει.

Cicero, Republic, 1.19

“Don’t you think that we should know what affects our homes—what is happening and what occurs in a home which is not bounded by our walls but is instead the whole world, the dwelling and homeland the gods gave us to share, since, especially, if we are ignorant of these things, we must be ignorant of many other weighty matters too?”

An tu ad domos nostras non censes pertinere scire, quid agatur et quid fiat domi, quae non ea est, quam parietes nostri cingunt, sed mundus hic totus, quod domicilium quamque patriam di nobis communem secum dederunt, cum praesertim, si haec ignoremus, multa nobis et magna ignoranda sint?

[for the the theme of being a citizen of the world, see this post]

wall

Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 4-5

“We do not shut ourselves up in the walls of a single city as proof of our great souls, but instead we enter into exchange with the whole world and claim the world as our homeland so that we are allowed to give our virtue a wider field.”

Ideo magno animo nos non unius urbis moenibus clusimus, sed in totius orbis commercium emisimus patriamque nobis mundum professi sumus, ut liceret latiorem virtuti campum dare.

Wall Hating

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.

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.

What A Piece of Work is Man: Reading Sophocles’ “Antigone” Online

Sophocles, Antigone 559-60

“My soul died long ago
so I could give  help to the dead.”

ἡ δ᾽ ἐμὴ ψυχὴ πάλαι τέθνηκεν,
ὥστε τοῖς θανοῦσιν ὠφελεῖν.

Sophocles, Antigone 332-341

“There are many wonders and none
is more awe-inspiring than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses….”

?Ο. Πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀν-
θρώπου δεινότερον πέλει·
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν
πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ’ οἴδμασιν, θεῶν
τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται,
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος,
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.

RGTO.Antigone.poster

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, Antigone 737

“The state which belongs to one man is no state at all.”

πόλις γὰρ οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ἥτις ἀνδρός ἐσθ᾽ ἑνός.

This week we turn to Sophocles’ Antigone, arguably one of the most famous plays from antiquity. Alongside Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos and Euripides’ Bacchae, Antigone is one of the most re-interpreted and translated plays in the last generation. Its reputation is well-deserved both for some of the most memorable and moving poetic passages to the seemingly harsh simplicity of its plot which forces the title character to choose between obeying the laws of the gods or obeying the laws of the state. This choice to bury her brother against the decree of her uncle Creon seals Antigone’s fate to die, a martyr of sorts in service to the gods

Nevertheless, this simple plot belies the complexity and strangeness of the play as a whole. From the initial bitter debate between the sisters about Antigone’s decision to Creon’s bluster and the surprising death of Haemon, Sophocles’ play is not just about competing systems of loyalty: it is also about how we cast ourselves as ‘players’ in the world between competing systems of identity and affiliation. Antigone is set in Thebes and the myth-verse of that terrible Oedipal family. Her story is about civil war and the story it writes on the bodies of combatants and non-combatants; her story is about how the fight lives on after wars are over; and her story is about how words and the stories we tell can make peace impossible.

But this play is also not only about Antigone: her sister Ismene plays an important role as does her cousin Haemon who has a tragic interest in her love. Even more confusing is what we should think of the ruler Creon, the man who awarded Jocasta (unknowingly) to her own son, oversaw the war between their sons, and is now positioning himself as the only one who can keep Thebes from falling apart.

Sophocles, Antigone 1056

“The race of tyrants loves shameful profit.”

τὸ δ᾽ ἐκ τυράννων αἰσχροκέρδειαν φιλεῖ.

Scenes (Using Paul Woodruff’s translation)

1-99: Antigone and Ismene
332-581: Chorus, Antigone, Creon, Ismene
631-780: Creon, Haemon, Chorus
781-943: Chorus, Antigone, Creon
1193-1243: Messenger
1261-1353: Creon, Messenger, Chorus

Sophocles, Antigone 141-145

“The seven leaders appointed to their seven gates
dedicated their bronze arms
to Zeus who turns the battle
except for only those two born
of a singer mother and father
who faced each other’s spears
each with a share of victory and death.”

ἑπτὰ λοχαγοὶ γὰρ ἐφ᾽ ἑπτὰ πύλαις
ταχθέντες ἴσοι πρὸς ἴσους ἔλιπον
Ζηνὶ τροπαίῳ πάγχαλκα τέλη,
πλὴν τοῖν στυγεροῖν, ὣ πατρὸς ἑνὸς
μητρός τε μιᾶς φύντε καθ᾽ αὑτοῖν
δικρατεῖς λόγχας στήσαντ᾽ ἔχετον
κοινοῦ θανάτου μέρος ἄμφω.

Performers

Antigone – Tabatha Gayle
Ismene – Evvy Miller
Creon – Tim Delap
Chorus – Sara Valentine, Austin Lee, and Gryphon Magnus
Haemon – Carlos Bellato
Messenger – Paul O’Mahony

Sophocles, Antigone 495-496

“I hate it when someone is caught in the midst of their evil deeds and tries to gloss over them.”

μισῶ γε μέντοι χὤταν ἐν κακοῖσί τις / ἁλοὺς ἔπειτα τοῦτο καλλύνειν θέλῃ.

Sophocles, Antigone 506-507

“But tyranny is a happy state in many ways, and the tyrant has the power to act and speak as they wish.”

ἀλλ᾽ ἡ τυραννὶς πολλά τ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ εὐδαιμονεῖ/  κἄξεστιν αὐτῇ δρᾶν λέγειν θ᾽ ἃ βούλεται.

Special Guests, Paul Woodruff and James Collins

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, Antigone 72–77

“It is noble for me to do this and then die.
I will lie with him because I belong to him, with him,
Once I have completed my sacred crimes. There’s more time
When I must please those below than those here,
Since I will lie there forever. You? Go head,
Dishonor what the gods honor if it seems right.”

… καλόν μοι τοῦτο ποιούσῃ θανεῖν.
φίλη μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ κείσομαι, φίλου μέτα,
ὅσια πανουργήσασ᾿· ἐπεὶ πλείων χρόνος
ὃν δεῖ μ᾿ ἀρέσκειν τοῖς κάτω τῶν ἐνθάδε·
ἐκεῖ γὰρ αἰεὶ κείσομαι. σὺ δ᾿ εἰ δοκεῖ
τὰ τῶν θεῶν ἔντιμ᾿ ἀτιμάσασ᾿ ἔχε.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Sophocles, Electra, August 12

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, August 19th

Euripides, Hippolytus, August 23

Sophocles, Antigone 280–288

“Stop speaking before you fill me with rage!
And you’re revealed as a fool as well as an old man.

You speak of unendurable things, claiming that the gods
Have some plan for this corpse.
Did they do it to honor him so greatly for his fine work,
Concealing him, the man who came here
To burn their temples and their statutes,
To ruin their land and their laws?
Do you see the gods honoring evil people?”

παῦσαι, πρὶν ὀργῆς καί με μεστῶσαι λέγων,
μὴ ᾿φευρεθῇς ἄνους τε καὶ γέρων ἅμα.
λέγεις γὰρ οὐκ ἀνεκτὰ δαίμονας λέγων
πρόνοιαν ἴσχειν τοῦδε τοῦ νεκροῦ πέρι.
πότερον ὑπερτιμῶντες ὡς εὐεργέτην
ἔκρυπτον αὐτόν, ὅστις ἀμφικίονας
ναοὺς πυρώσων ἦλθε κἀναθήματα
καὶ γῆν ἐκείνων καὶ νόμους διασκεδῶν;
ἢ τοὺς κακοὺς τιμῶντας εἰσορᾷς θεούς;

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, Antigone 175–190 (Creon speaking)

“It is impossible to really learn a man’s
mind, thought and opinion before he’s been initiated
into the offices and laws of the state.
Indeed—whoever attempts to direct the country
but does not make use of the best advice
as he keeps his tongue frozen out of fear
Seems to me to be the worst kind of person now and long ago.

Anyone who thinks his friend is more important than the country,
I say that they live nowhere.
May Zeus who always sees everything witness this:
I could never be silent when I saw ruin
Overtaking my citizens instead of safety.

And I could never make my country’s enemy a friend
For myself, because I know this crucial thing:
The state is the ship which saves us
And we may make friends only if it remains afloat.”

ἀμήχανον δὲ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἐκμαθεῖν
ψυχήν τε καὶ φρόνημα καὶ γνώμην, πρὶν ἂν
ἀρχαῖς τε καὶ νόμοισιν ἐντριβὴς φανῇ.
ἐμοὶ γὰρ ὅστις πᾶσαν εὐθύνων πόλιν
μὴ τῶν ἀρίστων ἅπτεται βουλευμάτων,
ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ φόβου του γλῶσσαν ἐγκλῄσας ἔχει,
κάκιστος εἶναι νῦν τε καὶ πάλαι δοκεῖ·

καὶ μείζον᾿ ὅστις ἀντὶ τῆς αὑτοῦ πάτρας
φίλον νομίζει, τοῦτον οὐδαμοῦ λέγω.
ἐγὼ γάρ, ἴστω Ζεὺς ὁ πάνθ᾿ ὁρῶν ἀεί,
οὔτ᾿ ἂν σιωπήσαιμι τὴν ἄτην ὁρῶν
στείχουσαν ἀστοῖς ἀντὶ τῆς σωτηρίας,
οὔτ᾿ ἂν φίλον ποτ᾿ ἄνδρα δυσμενῆ χθονὸς
θείμην ἐμαυτῷ, τοῦτο γιγνώσκων ὅτι
ἥδ᾿ ἐστὶν ἡ σῴζουσα καὶ ταύτης ἔπι
πλέοντες ὀρθῆς τοὺς φίλους ποιούμεθα.

Sophocles, Antigone 1165-1167

“But when people lose their pleasures, I do not consider this life – rather, it is just a corpse with a soul.”

τὰς γὰρ ἡδονὰς ὅταν προδῶσιν ἄνδρες,
οὐ τίθημ᾽ ἐγὼ ζῆν τοῦτον,
ἀλλ᾽ ἔμψυχον ἡγοῦμαι νεκρόν.

Humanity’s Many Wonders: Reading Tragic Choruses Online

Sophocles, Antigone 332-341

“There are many wonders and none
is more awe-inspiring than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses….”

?Ο. Πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀν-
θρώπου δεινότερον πέλει·
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν
πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ’ οἴδμασιν, θεῶν
τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται,
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος,
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.

RGTO Chorus

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.

This week is dedicated entirely to the chorus, that most challenging of features of ancient Greek tragedy for modern stages. The chorus was not restricted to the dramatic stage in Ancient Greece. Ritual singing and dancing in groups seems to have been widespread: we find choral activity in Homer (Odyssey 8.264) and the Homeric hymns as well as Hesiod where the Muses are said to perform as Apollo plays the lyre. Indeed, several genres of Greek poetry where choral in structure and performance (including Epinician poetry like Pindar’s or the fragmentary poetry of Alcman).

The traditional story is that Greek tragedy developed out of Choral performances in honor of Dionysus. Over time, the performances grew more elaborate and as they told the stories of gods and heroes parts were individuated. While this traditional account is not certain, it is certain that the chorus was one of the most important parts of the performance of tragedy in Athens. It was the responsibility of an archon each year in Athens to choose the choregoi to select, finance, and have the chorus trained. The chorus was the central spectacle of tragedy in the beginning, with 12-15 performers singing and dancing in the orchestra in front of the stage and rarely leaving the scene.

In modern performances, the music and dance of the chorus often take a back seat to the poetry. The choral odes are where we find much of the most memorable poetry from ancient tragedy. But we often forget that these were songs too. So today we are going to take a look at the chorus and some different ways of conceiving it on the small screen.

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 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.

Scenes

  1. Parodos from Antigone, 101-163
  2. Parodos from Agamemnon, 40-263
  3. “Ode to Man” from Sophocles, Antigone 377-416
  4. 5th Stasimon from Euripides’ Medea 1251-1292
  5. 5th Stasimon from Sophocles’ Antigone 1115-1154
  6.  Binding Song from Aeschylus, Eumenides 307-396

Sophocles, Antigone 141-145

“The seven leaders appointed to their seven gates
dedicated their bronze arms
to Zeus who turns the battle
except for only those two born
of a singer mother and father
who faced each other’s spears
each with a share of victory and death.”

ἑπτὰ λοχαγοὶ γὰρ ἐφ᾽ ἑπτὰ πύλαις
ταχθέντες ἴσοι πρὸς ἴσους ἔλιπον
Ζηνὶ τροπαίῳ πάγχαλκα τέλη,
πλὴν τοῖν στυγεροῖν, ὣ πατρὸς ἑνὸς
μητρός τε μιᾶς φύντε καθ᾽ αὑτοῖν
δικρατεῖς λόγχας στήσαντ᾽ ἔχετον
κοινοῦ θανάτου μέρος ἄμφω.

Performers

Hannah Barrie

Bettina Joy de Guzman

Tim Delap

T. Lynn Mikeska

Evelyn Miller

Paul O’Mahony

Sara Valentine

Special Guest: Anna Uhlig

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Euripides, Medea 1261-1270

“Pointless was the labor for your children
pointless when you raised dear offspring,
woman who escaped the Symplegades’ clash
of their dark cliffs in those straits
most unwelcoming to strangers.
Wretch of a woman, why does irrational rage
overcome you and one cruel murder answer another?
Mortals find the pollution from family’s blood overwhelming–
Grief from the gods stalks murderers equal to their deeds,
falling upon their houses.”

μάταν μόχθος ἔρρει τέκνων,
μάταν ἄρα γένος φίλιον ἔτεκες, ὦ
κυανεᾶν λιποῦσα Συμπληγάδων
πετρᾶν ἀξενωτάταν ἐσβολάν.
δειλαία, τί σοι φρενοβαρὴς
χόλος προσπίτνει καὶ ζαμενὴς <φόνου>
φόνος ἀμείβεται;
χαλεπὰ γὰρ βροτοῖς ὁμογενῆ μιά-
σματ᾽, ἕπεται δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ αὐτοφόνταις ξυνῳ-
δὰ θεόθεν πίτνοντ᾽ ἐπὶ δόμοις ἄχη.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

The Chorus, July 29th [Special 10 AM time]

Sophocles, Antigone August 5

Sophocles, Electra, August 12

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, August 19th

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, AlcestisJuly 22nd

The Debt All Mortals Owe: Reading Euripides’ “Alcestis” Online

Euripides, Alcestis 745

“I am dead to you”

τέθνηκα γὰρ δὴ τοὐπὶ σ᾿.

Euripides, Alcestis  196-198

“These are what Admetos’ sufferings are like.
If he died, he would leave; but since he’s alive
He lives with the kind of grief he will never forget.”

τοιαῦτ᾿ ἐν οἴκοις ἐστὶν Ἀδμήτου κακά.
καὶ κατθανών τἂν ᾤχετ᾿, ἐκφυγὼν δ᾿ ἔχει
τοσοῦτον ἄλγος, οὔποθ᾿ οὗ λελήσεται.

RGTO Alcestis

Euripides, Alcestis, 141

“You could say that she’s dead and alive.”

καὶ ζῶσαν εἰπεῖν καὶ θανοῦσαν ἔστι σοι.

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, Alcestis 71

“You can’t gain anything more by saying much.”

πόλλ᾿ ἂν σὺ λέξας οὐδὲν ἂν πλέον λάβοις·

This play is dated as one of Euripides’ earliest extant dramas, coming from around 438. It tells the story of a king in Thessaly who impressed Apollo with his reverence and whose death Apollo is trying to prevent by having his wife Alcestis take his place. The tone and content of this mythical Romance of sorts has challenged readers for some time. As a scholion introducing the play complains:

“This drama is rather like a satyr play because it mixes in joy and pleasure and and those things rejected as ill-fit to tragic poetry, which is the same thing in the Orestes and the Alkestis, they begin from misfortune and end in good fortune and ending in joy, which is more proper of comedy. [Many of this kinds of things are in tragedy]”

τὸ δὲ δρᾶμά ἐστι σατυρικώτερον ὅτι εἰς χαρὰν καὶ ἡδονὴν κατστρέφει [παρὰ τοῖς τραγικοῖς] <καὶ> ἐκβάλλεται ὡς ἀνοίκεια τῆς τραγικῆς ποιήσεως ὅ τε ᾿Ορέστης καὶ ἡ ῎Αλκηστις, ὡς ἐκ συμφορᾶς μὲν ἀρχόμενα, εἰς εὐδαιμονίαν <δὲ> καὶ χαρὰν λήξαντα, <ἅ> ἐστι μᾶλλον κωμῳδίας ἐχόμενα. <πολλὰ δὲ τοιαῦτα παρὰ τοῖς τραγικοῖς>:

Of course, this play comes before Aristotle codified what a tragedy and comedy should be! It could not have been too strange, because Euripides won second place with this play, bested again by Sophocles. In the Alkestis, again, we find Euripides challenging modern assumptions about what a tragedy should provide. But what if we ignore Aristotle for a bit, and ask what a play should do instead?

Scenes (Using this translation)

1-76: Apollo and Thanatos
77-135: Chorus
238-392: Chorus, Alcestis, Admetus
509-568: Admetus, Heracles, Chorus
747-860: Servant and Heracles
1008-1158: Heracles, Admetus, Alcestis (silent)

Euripides, Alcestis  252-7

“I see the double-oared skiff
In the lake, the ferryman of the corpses
Kharon keeps his hand on the rudder
And calls to me, “Why do you put this off?
Press on, you are holding me back.”
He hurries me on, fast with these words.”

ὁρῶ δίκωπον ὁρῶ σκάφος ἐν
λίμνᾳ· νεκύων δὲ πορθμεὺς
ἔχων χέρ᾿ ἐπὶ κοντῷ Χάρων
μ᾿ ἤδη καλεῖ· Τί μέλλεις;
ἐπείγου· σὺ κατείργεις. τάδε τοί
με σπερχόμενος ταχύνει.

Actors

Thanatos – Noelia Antweiler
Alcestis – Tabatha Gayle
Admetus – Martin Lewis
Chorus – Toph Marshall
Apollo/Servant – Paul O’Mahony
Heracles – René Thornton Jr

Special Guest: Maria Xanthou

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Direction: Beth Burns with production assistance by Paul O’Mahony

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Euripides, Alcestis 780-784

“Do you understand the nature of mortal affairs?
I don’t think so. How would you? Listen to me.
Dying is the debt that all mortals owe
And no one who is mortal will know
Whether they will be alive on the coming day.”

τὰ θνητὰ πράγμαθ᾿ ἥντιν᾿ οἶσθ᾿ ἔχει φύσιν;
οἶμαι μὲν οὔ· πόθεν γάρ; ἀλλ᾿ ἄκουέ μου.
βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

The Chorus, July 29th [Special 10 AM time]

Sophocles, Antigone August 5

Sophocles, Electra, August 12

Euripides, Alcestis 349-355

“A statue of you shaped by the wise hand
Of craftsmen will be laid out in our bed.
I will cast myself into her arms while embracing
Call our your name, believing that I have
My dear wife in my arms, even though I don’t.
I believe this is a cold pleasure, but still
It will balance the weight in my soul…”

σοφῇ δὲ χειρὶ τεκτόνων δέμας τὸ σὸν
εἰκασθὲν ἐν λέκτροισιν ἐκταθήσεται,
ᾧ προσπεσοῦμαι καὶ περιπτύσσων χέρας
ὄνομα καλῶν σὸν τὴν φίλην ἐν ἀγκάλαις
δόξω γυναῖκα καίπερ οὐκ ἔχων ἔχειν·
ψυχρὰν μέν, οἶμαι, τέρψιν, ἀλλ᾿ ὅμως βάρος
ψυχῆς ἀπαντλοίην ἄν.

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  689-774

“How have I wronged you? What have I taken from you?
Don’t die for this man and I won’t for you.
You delight seeing the light. Don’t you imagine your father does too?
Really, I reckon that the time below stretches out
And that living is short but still sweet.

But you have shamefully fought not to die
And you live, passing the fate allotted to you
By killing her…”

“τί δῆτά σ᾿ ἠδίκηκα; τοῦ σ᾿ ἀποστερῶ;
μὴ θνῇσχ᾿ ὑπὲρ τοῦδ᾿ ἀνδρός, οὐδ᾿ ἐγὼ πρὸ σοῦ.
χαίρεις ὁρῶν φῶς· πατέρα δ᾿ οὐ χαίρειν δοκεῖς;
ἦ μὴν πολύν γε τόν κάτω λογίζομαι
χρόνον, τὸ δὲ ζῆν σμικρὸν ἀλλ᾿ ὅμως γλυκύ.
σὺ γοῦν ἀναιδῶς διεμάχου τὸ μὴ θανεῖν
καὶ ζῇς παρελθὼν τὴν πεπρωμένην τύχην,
ταύτην κατακτάς…

Turn Your Life Around! Reading Aristophanes’ “Clouds” Online

Aristophanes, Clouds 745

“My little sweetie, Sokratido!”

ὦ Σωκρατίδιον φίλτατον.

Aristophanes, Clouds 785

“Forget everything you’ve learned immediately.”

ἀλλ᾿ εὐθὺς ἐπιλήθει σύ γ᾿ ἅττ᾿ ἂν καὶ μάθῃς.

RGTO Clouds

Aristophanes, Clouds 2-3

“Sweet Zeus! How long a night this is!
It is endless. Will it ever be day?

ὦ Ζεῦ βασιλεῦ, τὸ χρῆμα τῶν νυκτῶν ὅσον.
ἀπέραντον. οὐδέποθ᾿ ἡμέρα γενήσεται;

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.

Aristophanes, Clouds 88-89

“Turn your life around ASAP
Go and learn what I am suggesting.”

ἔκτρεψον ὡς τάχιστα τοὺς σαυτοῦ τρόπους
καὶ μάνθαν᾿ ἐλθὼν ἃν ἐγὼ παραινέσω.

This week we are taking a break from tragedy and turning to Aristophanes for some much needed comic relief. His Clouds, however, is not just funny: it is serious intellectual history in the way his other plays are serious political commentary and literary theory. Ok, that might be a step too far, but Aristophanes provides a cutting and fun critique of sophists like Socrates who attracted followers for their dynamic style of argumentation, their investigation into natural sciences, and their willingness to question religious and ritual convention. And this critique seems to have made some impact, since Plato has Socrates bring it up 20 years later.

Plato, Apology of Socrates 19c5

“You have witness these things yourself in the comedy of Aristophanes where some Socrates is carried around saying “I walk on the are” and spouting much other nonsense I don’t know anything serious or small about.”

ταῦτα γὰρ ἑωρᾶτε καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν τῇ ᾿Αριστοφάνους κωμῳδίᾳ, Σωκράτη τινὰ ἐκεῖ περιφερόμενον, φάσκοντά τε ἀεροβατεῖν καὶ ἄλλην πολλὴν φλυαρίαν φλυαροῦντα, ὧν ἐγὼ οὐδὲν οὔτε μέγα οὔτε μικρὸν πέρι ἐπαΐω.

This week we are trying something different and will be performing the whole play (a bit a abridged) from beginning to end using this translation by Ian Johnston.

Aristophanes, Clouds 94-99

“That is the thinkery of wise minds.
Inside there are men who are very convincing
when they argue that the sky is a grill cover
and that it covers over us because we are coals.
These people teach anyone who gives them money
how to kill in debates, whether they’re just or not.”

ψυχῶν σοφῶν τοῦτ᾿ ἐστὶ φροντιστήριον.
ἐνταῦθ᾿ ἐνοικοῦσ᾿ ἄνδρες οἳ τὸν οὐρανὸν
λέγοντες ἀναπείθουσιν ὡς ἔστιν πνιγεύς,
κἄστιν περὶ ἡμᾶς οὗτος, ἡμεῖς δ᾿ ἅνθρακες.
οὗτοι διδάσκουσ᾿, ἀργύριον ἤν τις διδῷ,
λέγοντα νικᾶν καὶ δίκαια κἄδικα.

Actors

Socrates – Tony Jayawardena
Strepsaides –  René Thornton Jr.
Pheidippides – Patrick Walshe McBride
Main Chorus – T. Lynn Mikeska, Valoneecia Tolbert
Main Student. -James Callás Ball
Good Argument – Judd Farris
Worse Argument – Richard Neale

Special Guest: Joel Alden Schlosser

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Direction: Beth Burns with production assistance by Paul O’Mahony

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Aristophanes, Clouds 101-103

“Gross, those bums! I know them. They’re con-men,
those lilywhite, shoeless scoundrels you’re talking about–
that haunted Socrates and his Khairophon.

αἰβοῖ, πονηροί γ᾿, οἶδα. τοὺς ἀλαζόνας,
τοὺς ὠχριῶντας, τοὺς ἀνυποδήτους λέγεις,
ὧν ὁ κακοδαίμων Σωκράτης καὶ Χαιρεφῶν.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Euripides, Alcestis, July 22

The Chorus, July 29th [Special 10 AM time]

Sophocles, Antigone August 5

 

Aristophanes, Clouds 181-182

“Open the door, hurry and open up the Thinkery,
show me this Socrates as fast as you can!”

ἄνοιγ᾿ ἄνοιγ᾿ ἁνύσας τὸ φροντιστήριον
καὶ δεῖξον ὡς τάχιστά μοι τὸν Σωκράτη.

Aristophanes, Clouds 225

“I walk on the air and examine the sun!”

ἀεροβατῶ καὶ περιφρονῶ τὸν ἥλιον.

Aristophanes, Clouds 295

“don’t make jokes and act like those wastrel playwrights!”

οὐ μὴ σκώψει μηδὲ ποιήσεις ἅπερ οἱ τρυγοδαίμονες οὗτοι,

Aristophanes, Clouds 365

“These are the only real deities: the rest of them are nonsense”

αὗται γάρ τοι μόναι εἰσὶ θεαί, τἄλλα δὲ πάντ᾿ ἐστὶ φλύαρος.

Aristophanes, Clouds 392-3

“Think about the farts you achieve with this little tummy.
How wouldn’t the limitless sky also thunder powerfully?”

σκέψαι τοίνυν ἀπὸ γαστριδίου τυννουτουὶ οἷα πέπορδας·
τὸν δ᾿ ἀέρα τόνδ᾿ ὄντ᾿ ἀπέραντον πῶς οὐκ εἰκὸς μέγα βροντᾶν;

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 700-706

“Think a bit and bear down heard,
turn yourself in every direction,
cogitating, contemplating. Quick! if you get lost,
leap to some other part of your mind.
Keep sweet-tempered sleep far from your eyes!”

φρόντιζε δὴ καὶ διάθρει
πάντα τρόπον τε σαυτὸν
στρόβει πυκνώσας. ταχὺς δ᾿, ὅταν εἰς ἄπορον
πέσῃς, ἐπ᾿ ἄλλο πήδα
νόημα φρενός· ὕπνος δ᾿ ἀπέ-
στω γλυκύθυμος ὀμμάτων.