“What’s Worse Than This Ignorance?” Reading Sophocles’ “Oedipus At Colonus” Online

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 791

“Don’t I know the affairs of Thebes better than you do?”

ἆρ᾿ οὐκ ἄμεινον ἢ σὺ τἀν Θήβαις φρονῶ;

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 5-6

“Although I ask for little and get even less
This is still enough for me…”

σμικρὸν μὲν ἐξαιτοῦντα, τοῦ σμικροῦ δ᾿ ἔτι
μεῖον φέροντα, καὶ τόδ᾿ ἐξαρκοῦν ἐμοί

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 62-63

“Stranger, these are the events, but they are not
Honored in the tales, but plenty by those who live near them”

τοιαῦτά σοι ταῦτ᾿ ἐστίν, ὦ ξέν᾿, οὐ λόγοις
τιμώμεν᾿, ἀλλὰ τῇ ξυνουσίᾳ πλέον.

After over 35 episodes, we return this week to Thebes with Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus. Although this play was written near the end of Sophocles’ life, it takes place between the events of his earlier Antigone and Oedipus Tyrannos. Often people casually assume that these three plays are part of the same trilogy, when in fact they were written in very different periods: Antigone appeared 10 years before the Peloponnesian War (441 BCE) as Pericles became the pre-eminent Athenian politician while Tyrannos was performed after the onset of the war and, likely, at the beginning of the famous plague. Colonus comes nearly a generation later. While scholars debate its exact performance and composition dates, it seems likely that it was one of the final plays Sophocles wrote before his death in 406/5 and that his son produced the play after the fall of Athens (perhaps as late as 401 BCE).

There is a belatedness to this play, an air of revision and reconsideration as we find Oedipus reflecting on his actions and the limits of his agency. It part, like many Athenian plays, this tragedy is about the reception of the mythical past. Its themes, moreover, also respond to contemporary (and modern) concerns from the crisis of immigration and exile to the very notion of what constitutes a community in times of struggle and civil strife. Within this, however, there remains the essential Oedipal question about identity and knowledge. How do we know who we are and understand our place in the world? What is our responsibility to our community? How do we define our community? And, perhaps most important for Oedipus, Athens, and our world today: how do we stay who we are when everything falls apart?

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 258-259

“What use is a good reputation? What good is
Fame flowing off to no end?”

τί δῆτα δόξης, ἢ τί κληδόνος καλῆς
μάτην ῥεούσης ὠφέλημα γίγνεται

Scenes (Robert Fitzgerald’s translation)

1-278 – Oedipus, Antigone, Stranger, Chorus
361-508 – Ismene, Oedipus, Chorus
728-847 – Creon, Oedipus, Antigone, Chorus
1251-1446 – Oedipus, Antigone, Polynices, Chorus
1580-1669 – Messenger, Chorus
 

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 265-271

“….for you do not fear
My name or my actions, since you know
That I suffered the actions instead of doing them,
If you must speak of what my mother and father did—
These are the reasons you fear me. I know this well.
How could I be evil in nature
When I acted after being hurt so that even if
I understood what I was doing, I could not have been bad?
I got to where I did understanding nothing,
But I was ruined by those who understood what was happening.”

…γὰρ δὴ τό γε
σῶμ᾿ οὐδὲ τἄργα τἄμ᾿· ἐπεὶ τά γ᾿ ἔργα με
πεπονθότ᾿ ἴσθι μᾶλλον ἢ δεδρακότα,
εἴ σοι τὰ μητρὸς καὶ πατρὸς χρείη λέγειν,
ὧν οὕνεκ᾿ ἐκφοβῇ με· τοῦτ᾿ ἐγὼ καλῶς
270ἔξοιδα. καίτοι πῶς ἐγὼ κακὸς φύσιν,
ὅστις παθὼν μὲν ἀντέδρων, ὥστ᾿ εἰ φρονῶν
ἔπρασσον, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ὧδ᾿ ἐγιγνόμην κακός;
ῦν δ᾿ οὐδὲν εἰδὼς ἱκόμην ἵν᾿ ἱκόμην,
ὑφ᾿ ὧν δ᾿ ἔπασχον, εἰδότων ἀπωλλύμην.

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 431-436

“Would you say that the city agreed properly then
To give me the one gift I wanted?
No, not at all, when on the day itself when
My rage was burning, and it was my sweetest wish
To die by stoning—well,
No one was trying to help me with that desire.”

εἴποις ἂν ὡς θέλοντι τοῦτ᾿ ἐμοὶ τότε
πόλις τὸ δῶρον εἰκότως κατῄνεσεν;
οὐ δῆτ᾿, ἐπεί τοι τὴν μὲν αὐτίχ᾿ ἡμέραν,
ὁπηνίκ᾿ ἔζει θυμός, ἥδιστον δέ μοι
τὸ κατθανεῖν ἦν καὶ τὸ λευσθῆναι πέτροις,
οὐδεὶς ἔρωτ᾿ ἐς τόνδ᾿ ἐφαίνετ᾿ ὠφελῶν·

Performers

Oedipus – Damian Jermaine Thompson
Antigone – Eli Pauley
Ismene – Tamieka Chavis
Theseus/Polynices – Tim Delap
Creon/Messenger – Paul O’Mahony
Stranger – Petra McGregor
Chorus – Petra McGregor, Jesse McLaughlin, Vincent Agnello
 
Special Guests: Laura Slatkin

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 562-568

“I know that I was raised as an exile,
Like you, and as man in exile I toiled
In the face of the greatest risks to my life–
That’s why I would never turn away an exile
like you are now, since I know I am only a man
And I have no greater share of tomorrow than you.”

ὃς οἶδά γ᾿ αὐτὸς ὡς ἐπαιδεύθην ξένος,
ὥσπερ σύ, χὠς εἷς πλεῖστ᾿ ἀνὴρ ἐπὶ ξένης
ἤθλησα κινδυνεύματ᾿ ἐν τὠμῷ κάρᾳ,
ὥστε ξένον γ᾿ ἂν οὐδέν᾿ ὄνθ᾿, ὥσπερ σὺ νῦν,
ὑπεκτραποίμην μὴ οὐ συνεκσῴζειν· ἐπεὶ
ἔξοιδ᾿ ἀνὴρ ὢν χὤτι τῆς εἰς αὔριον
οὐδὲν πλέον μοι σοῦ μέτεστιν ἡμέρας.

Cast 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)

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 1211-1223

“Whoever longs for a greater portion
Of living beyond what is enough
Will seem clearly to me
To be guarding foolishness.
Since the long days set out
Many things closer to pain
And you can’t see where pleasure is,
Whenever someone stumbles into more
Than is needed. But as an ally equal to all,
Hades is a revelation
Without a song, a dance, or a wedding,
That fate of death at the end.

ὅστις τοῦ πλέονος μέρους
χρῄζει τοῦ μετρίου παρεὶς
ζώειν, σκαιοσύναν φυλάσσων
ἐν ἐμοὶ κατάδηλος ἔσται.
ἐπεὶ πολλὰ μὲν αἱ μακραὶ
ἁμέραι κατέθεντο δὴ
λύπας ἐγγυτέρω, τὰ τέρ-
οντα δ᾿ οὐκ ἂν ἴδοις ὅπου,
ὅταν τις ἐς πλέον πέσῃ
τοῦ δέοντος· ὁ δ᾿ ἐπίκουρος ἰσοτέλεστος,
Ἄϊδος ὅτε μοῖρ᾿ ἀνυμέναιος
ἄλυρος ἄχορος ἀναπέφηνε,
θάνατος ἐς τελευτάν.

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

Tuesday, December 8 – Wednesday, December 9 Odyssey ‘round the world – a special 24-hour event featuring performances of every rhapsody of the Odyssey recorded by students, faculty, and actors around the world. View the schedule.

December 9 Performing Epic: The Odyssey
with Suzanne Lye (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Leonard Muellner (Brandeis University), Sheila Murnaghan (University of Pennsylvania), and Greg Nagy (Harvard University); translation by Stanley Lombardo, courtesy of Hackett Publishing Company

December 16 Cyclops, Euripides
with Carl Shaw (New College of Florida)

December 23 Series Finale: Frogs, Aristophanes

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 607-615

“Most dear son of Aegeus, only the gods don’t age
Or ever die, but that wrestler time
Eventually wears everything else out.
The earth’s strength wanes, the body’s strength fades,
Trust dies and distrust waxes stronger,
Breath never lands the same among friends
Nor between cities who were once allied.
Some things that are pleasing now turn bitter
In later time, but then friendship comes again in turn.”

ὦ φίλτατ᾿ Αἰγέως παῖ, μόνοις οὐ γίγνεται
θεοῖσι γῆρας οὐδὲ κατθανεῖν ποτε,
τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα συγχεῖ πάνθ᾿ ὁ παγκρατὴς χρόνος.
φθίνει μὲν ἰσχὺς γῆς, φθίνει δὲ σώματος,
θνῄσκει δὲ πίστις, βλαστάνει δ᾿ ἀπιστία,
καὶ πνεῦμα ταὐτὸν οὔποτ᾿ οὔτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδράσιν
φίλοις βέβηκεν οὔτε πρὸς πόλιν πόλει.
τοῖς μὲν γὰρ ἤδη, τοῖς δ᾿ ἐν ὑστέρῳ χρόνῳ
τὰ τερπνὰ πικρὰ γίγνεται καὖθις φίλα.

Oedipus at ColonusJean-Antoine-Théodore Giroust, 1788, Dallas Museum of Art

Pieces of Everything: Reading Fragments from Greek Tragedy

Sophocles fr. Fr. 593 (Tereus)

“Let any person who lives acquire however much
Pleasure each day offers. Tomorrow always comes upon us
Blind.”

ζώοι τις ἀνθρώπων τὸ κατ’ ἦμαρ ὅπως
ἥδιστα πορσύνων• τὸ δ’ ἐς αὔριον αἰεὶ
τυφλὸν ἕρπει

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iwiM7wj3Ww&authuser=0

Aeschylus fr. 124 from Lykourgos (from Athenaeus 10.447c)

“He used to drink beer from these [heads] once he dried them
And then boast proudly about it in his man-cave.”

κἀκ τῶνδ᾿ ἔπινε βρῦτον ἰσχναίνων χρόνῳ
κἀσεμνοκόμπει τοῦτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδρείᾳ στέγῃ

Sophocles, fr. 583

“I am nothing now, apart. But often
I have examined the nature of women like this,
How we are nothing. As girls we live the sweetest life
of all human beings, I think, in our father’s house.
But ignorance nurses children always with pleasure.
When we come with full wits to adolescence,
We are sent out and made ready for sale,
Away from our paternal gods and our parents,
Some sent to foreign husbands, some sent to barbarians;
Some are sold to unhappy homes, some are wed to horrors.
And then, once a single evening has joined us,
We need to praise it and think that this is living well.”

<ΠΡΟΚΝΗ•> νῦν δ’ οὐδέν εἰμι χωρίς. ἀλλὰ πολλάκις
ἔβλεψα ταύτῃ τὴν γυναικείαν φύσιν,
ὡς οὐδέν ἐσμεν. αἳ νέαι μὲν ἐν πατρὸς
ἥδιστον, οἶμαι, ζῶμεν ἀνθρώπων βίον•
τερπνῶς γὰρ ἀεὶ παῖδας ἁνοία τρέφει.
ὅταν δ’ ἐς ἥβην ἐξικώμεθ’ ἔμφρονες,
ὠθούμεθ’ ἔξω καὶ διεμπολώμεθα
θεῶν πατρῴων τῶν τε φυσάντων ἄπο,
αἱ μὲν ξένους πρὸς ἄνδρας, αἱ δὲ βαρβάρους,
αἱ δ’ εἰς ἀγηθῆ δώμαθ’, αἱ δ’ ἐπίρροθα.
καὶ ταῦτ’, ἐπειδὰν εὐφρόνη ζεύξῃ μία,
χρεὼν ἐπαινεῖν καὶ δοκεῖν καλῶς ἔχειν

As HANNAH ČULÍK-BAIRD explores in a recent essay, what we call ‘fragments’ come from either a process of destruction or from selection and preservation in other ancient texts. We have under 40 ancient tragedies in their entirety, but we have fragments and titles for many more. The numbers of what we don’t have can be startling; what I find fascinating is how what we do have shapes our perception of what might have been.

Seven plays for Aeschylus; Seven for Sophocles; three times and more that number for Euripides. These selections are not the product of accidental survival but instead creations of choice and taste. In the same way, the fragments we have of their plays and other lost authors exists because they were useful as proof in a rhetorical exercise, as demonstration of culture and erudition, as illustration of some story or style that was lost.

In truth, even our whole text our fragments, as we have explored in this series, because they are transcripts of performances, mere written records of songs and dances communicating through audience and performers messages about their history, their futures, and the worlds they experienced together. In a way, then, exploring the conditions and characters of other fragments is a metonym for what we do with ancient texts all the time: we reconstruct, reconstrue, and try to make sense of their place among changing worlds.

Today we bring together some longer fragments of Greek plays with some later texts, to see what happens and what doesn’t and what we need to provide to make them whole.

Euripides, Stheneboia Fr. 661-662

“There is no man who is lucky in all things.
Either a man born noble has no livelihood
Or the baseborn ploughs fertile fields.
And many who boast of their wealth or birth
Are shamed by a foolish woman in their homes.”

Οὐκ ἔστιν ὅστις πάντ’ ἀνὴρ εὐδαιμονεῖ•
ἢ γὰρ πεφυκὼς ἐσθλὸς οὐκ ἔχει βίον,
ἢ δυσγενὴς ὢν πλουσίαν ἀροῖ πλάκα.
πολλοὺς δὲ πλούτῳ καὶ γένει γαυρουμένους
γυνὴ κατῄσχυν’ ἐν δόμοισι νηπία.

Scenes (George Theodorids’ translation)

69-287: Iolaus, Kopreas, Chorus, Demophon
473-595: Makaria, Iolaos, Demophon
708-799: Chorus, Alcmene, Iolaos, Servant
960-end: Chorus, Alcmene, Eurystheus

Euripides, fr.286.1-7 (Bellerophon)

“Is there anyone who thinks there are gods in heaven?
There are not. There are not, for any man who wishes
Not to be a fool and trust some ancient story.
Look at it yourselves, don’t make up your mind
Because of my words. I think that tyranny
Kills so many men and steals their possessions
And that men break their oaths by sacking cities.
But the men who do such things are more fortunate
Than those who live each die piously, at peace.
I know that small cities honor the gods,
Cities that obey stronger more impious men
Because they are overpowered by the strength of their arms.”

φησίν τις εἶναι δῆτ’ ἐν οὐρανῷ θεούς;
οὐκ εἰσίν, οὐκ εἴσ’, εἴ τις ἀνθρώπων θέλει
μὴ τῷ παλαιῷ μῶρος ὢν χρῆσθαι λόγῳ.
σκέψασθε δ’ αὐτοί, μὴ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐμοῖς λόγοις
γνώμην ἔχοντες. φήμ’ ἐγὼ τυραννίδα
κτείνειν τε πλείστους κτημάτων τ’ ἀποστερεῖν
ὅρκους τε παραβαίνοντας ἐκπορθεῖν πόλεις•
καὶ ταῦτα δρῶντες μᾶλλόν εἰσ’ εὐδαίμονες
τῶν εὐσεβούντων ἡσυχῇ καθ’ ἡμέραν.
πόλεις τε μικρὰς οἶδα τιμώσας θεούς,
αἳ μειζόνων κλύουσι δυσσεβεστέρων
λόγχης ἀριθμῷ πλείονος κρατούμεναι.

Euripides, fr. 292.6 (Bellerophon)

“If the gods do a shameful thing, they are not gods.”

εἰ θεοί τι δρῶσιν αἰσχρόν, οὐκ εἰσὶν θεοί.

Scenes

From Sophocles’ Tereus, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, and Euripides’ Hypsipyle.

Performers

Narrator 1 / Father-in-Law / Shepard / Amphiaraus / Chiron – Paul Hurley
Narrator 2 / Tereus / Itys / Demetrius / Thoas / Euneos – Nick Nudler
Narrator 3 / Procne / Hypsipyle – Sara Valentine
Narrator 4 / Philomela / Chorus / Eurydice – Lily Ling
Special Guests: Melissa Funke, Charlotte Parkyn
Guest Director: Tabatha Gayle

Euripides, Heracleidae, Medea 863-866 (Full texts on the Scaife Viewer)

“…with his current fortune
He announces for all mortals a clear thing to learn,
Do not envy someone who seems to be lucky
Before you see them die. For each day is its own fortune.”

…τῇ δὲ νῦν τύχῃ
βροτοῖς ἅπασι λαμπρὰ κηρύσσει μαθεῖν,
τὸν εὐτυχεῖν δοκοῦντα μὴ ζηλοῦν πρὶν ἂν
θανόντ᾿ ἴδῃ τις· ὡς ἐφήμεροι τύχαι.

Cast 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)

Euripides, Fr. 462

“I both know and have experienced the hard way
that all people are the friends of men who have.
No one slinks about where there is no food,
But they go where there is wealth and a gathering.
To be ‘well-born’ is also the property of the rich;
But the poor man does well if he dies.”

᾿Επίσταμαι δὲ καὶ πεπείραμαι λίαν,
ὡς τῶν ἐχόντων πάντες ἄνθρωποι φίλοι.
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἕρπει πρὸς τὸ μὴ τροφὴν ἔχον,
ἀλλ᾿ εἰς τὸ πλοῦτον καὶ συνουσίαν ἔχον.
καὶ τῶν ἐχόντων ηὑγένεια κρίνεται.
ἀνὴρ δ᾿ ἀχρήμων εἰ θάνοι πράσσει καλῶς.

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

December 2 Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles – 3:30pm EST
with Laura Slatkin (New York University)

Tuesday, December 8 – Wednesday, December 9 Odyssey ‘round the world – a special 24-hour event featuring performances of every rhapsody of the Odyssey recorded by students, faculty, and actors around the world. View the schedule.

December 9 Performing Epic: The Odyssey
with Suzanne Lye (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Leonard Mullener (Brandeis University), Sheila Murnaghan (University of Pennsylvania), and Greg Nagy (Harvard University); translation by Stanley Lombardo, coutesy of Hackett Publishing Company

December 16 Cyclops, Euripides
with Carl Shaw (New College of Florida)

December 23 Series Finale: Frogs, Aristophanes

Euripides, fr. 580

“Agamemnon, human beings have every kind
Of luck—but it comes together in this one thing.
Everyone—both those who love art and those
Who live without it toil over money
And whoever has the most is the wisest.”

Ἀγάμεμνον, ἀνθρώποισι πᾶσαν αἱ τύχαι
μορφὴν ἔχουσι, συντρέχει δ᾿ εἰς ἓν τόδε·
†τούτου† δὲ πάντες, οἵ τε μουσικῆς φίλοι
ὅσοι τε χωρὶς ζῶσι, χρημάτων ὕπερ
μοχθοῦσιν, ὃς δ᾿ ἂν πλεῖστ᾿ ἔχῃ σοφώτατος.

“Where Bad People Flee”: Reading Euripides’ “Heracleidae” Online

Euripides, Heracleidae 179-180 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“Who could judge or recognize a speech as just,
Before clearly understanding the issue from both sides?”

τίς ἂν δίκην κρίνειεν ἢ γνοίη λόγον,
πρὶν ἂν παρ᾿ ἀμφοῖν μῦθον ἐκμάθῃ σαφῶς;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSG78-fp5Mo&feature=youtu.be

Euripides, Heracleidae 26-27

“I share my exile with these children who are in exile,
And I share in their sufferings as they suffer too.”

ἐγὼ δὲ σὺν φεύγουσι συμφεύγω τέκνοις
καὶ σὺν κακῶς πράσσουσι συμπράσσω κακῶς,

Euripides, Heracleidae 418-419

“…If I do these things,
A civil war will break out.”

εἰ δὲ δὴ δράσω τόδε,
οἰκεῖος ἤδη πόλεμος ἐξαρτύεται.

Euripides’ Heracleidae, the “Children of Herakles”, was performed around 430 BCE, just as the Athenians were beginning their 3 decade war against the Spartans. It may not be Euripides’ most famous play, but it has just about everything you’d ask for in a tragedy: theme of Xenia, suppliancy, noble bloodlines, battle, human sacrifice, gender, a war scene described in a messenger speech, revenge.

Like any good tragedy, it focuses on the choices human beings make outside of their fate and divine meddling. But its end is troubling, perhaps reflecting the world outside of the play, where violence is far from distant and death for many is certain. For while this is the year that Athens repels a Spartan invasion and attacks the Peloponnese, it is also the first year of the famous plague. This play, so focused on the descendants of Herakles and the end of feuds, seems so precariously set at the beginnings of things.

Euripides, Heracleidae 427-430

 “Children, we are like sailors who have fled
A savage storm’s blows to touch the land
With their hand only to be pounded back
From the shore to the sea by the winds again.”

ὦ τέκν᾿, ἔοιγμεν ναυτίλοισιν οἵτινες
χειμῶνος ἐκφυγόντες ἄγριον μένος
ἐς χεῖρα γῇ συνῆψαν, εἶτα χερσόθεν
πνοαῖσιν ἠλάθησαν ἐς πόντον πάλιν.

Scenes (George Theodorids’ translation)

69-287: Iolaus, Kopreas, Chorus, Demophon
473-595: Makaria, Iolaos, Demophon
708-799: Chorus, Alcmene, Iolaos, Servant
960-end: Chorus, Alcmene, Eurystheus

Performers

Kopreus/Servant – Aldo Bringas
Makaria – Evelyn Miller
Alcmene – Maria Goycoolea
Chorus – Paul O’Mahony
Demophon/Eurystheus – Rhys Rusbatch
Iolaus – Tim Delap
Special Guest: Helene Foley

Euripides, Heracleidae, Medea 863-866

“…with his current fortune
He announces for all mortals a clear thing to learn,
Do not envy someone who seems to be lucky
Before you see them die. For each day is its own fortune.”

…τῇ δὲ νῦν τύχῃ
βροτοῖς ἅπασι λαμπρὰ κηρύσσει μαθεῖν,
τὸν εὐτυχεῖν δοκοῦντα μὴ ζηλοῦν πρὶν ἂν
θανόντ᾿ ἴδῃ τις· ὡς ἐφήμεροι τύχαι.

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, Heracleidae 1016-1017

“Although I don’t long for death,
I wouldn’t be annoyed at leaving life behind.”

….θανεῖν μὲν οὐ
χρῄζω, λιπὼν δ᾿ ἂν οὐδὲν ἀχθοίμην βίον.

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

November 25 Special Edition: Tragic Fragments
with Melissa Funke (University of Winnipeg) and Charlotte Parkyn (University of Notre Dame)

December 2 Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles – 3:30pm EST
with Laura Slatkin (New York University)

Euripides, Heracleidae 1-6

“For a long time now this has been my belief
One man is born just those near him
While another’s heart lusts after profit
And he is useless to the city, a heavy burden to bear,
The ‘best’ to himself…”

Πάλαι ποτ᾿ ἐστὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἐμοὶ δεδογμένον·
ὁ μὲν δίκαιος τοῖς πέλας πέφυκ᾿ ἀνήρ,
ὁ δ᾿ ἐς τὸ κέρδος λῆμ᾿ ἔχων ἀνειμένον
πόλει τ᾿ ἄχρηστος· καὶ συναλλάσσειν βαρύς,
αὑτῷ δ᾿ ἄριστος·…

“The Sweet Surprise of Children”: Reading Euripides’ “Medea” Online

Euripides, Medea 974-975

“Go as quickly as possible: may you do well and bring
Back to your mother the good news she yearns for.”

ἴθ᾿ ὡς τάχιστα· μητρὶ δ᾿ ὧν ἐρᾷ τυχεῖν
εὐάγγελοι γένοισθε πράξαντες καλῶς.

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, Medea 475-476

“I will begin to speak from where it all started:
I saved you. All the Greeks know that.”

ἐκ τῶν δὲ πρώτων πρῶτον ἄρξομαι λέγειν·
ἔσωσά σ᾿, ὡς ἴσασιν Ἑλλήνων ὅσοι

Euripides, Medea 790-792

“Now I am going to leave this speech behind.
I have mourned the kind of thing that I need to do
After this: For I will kill my children.
There is no one who will save them.”

νταῦθα μέντοι τόνδ᾿ ἀπαλλάσσω λόγον.
ᾤμωξα δ᾿ οἷον ἔργον ἔστ᾿ ἐργαστέον
τοὐντεῦθεν ἡμῖν· τέκνα γὰρ κατακτενῶ
τἄμ᾿· οὔτις ἔστιν ὅστις ἐξαιρήσεται·

I have not done a scientific survey on this, but I am pretty sure that Medea is one of the most famous women from Greek myth. And I also know that what most people think they know about her comes from (or around) this week’s play, Euripides’ Medea. In this play, w find a wronged wife, a foreign sorceress, a sorrowful mother–and they are all the same, powerful person. But the message people carry with them is that Medea killed her children.

This is certainly (part of) the story Euripides tells. But it is not the whole tale. Different accounts of the story lay the blame on the people of Corinth while a scholion to Euripides’ play insists that Jason should have cared for his children. Outside of the tale of the argonauts, Medea is ranked as desirable woman who competes in a beauty contest against Thetis. (Her magical powers certainly rank her with a semi-divine figure like her aunt Circe.) And in other tales she goes on to have another child with the king of Athens.

Euripides is never a simple poet. Medea is easy to remember as a villain, but less so to see or hare as one who is simply so. read again; listen to the performances; see Medea for the first time

Euripides, Medea 535-541

“You profited more than you sacrificed for saving me.
I’ll explain: first, you now live in Greece
Instead of a barbarian land and you know justice
And how to follow laws instead of serving strength.
Second, all the Greeks have learned that you are clever
And you’ve earned fame. If you lived beyond the borders
Of the civilized world, no one would know who you are.”

μείζω γε μέντοι τῆς ἐμῆς σωτηρίας
εἴληφας ἢ δέδωκας, ὡς ἐγὼ φράσω.
πρῶτον μὲν Ἑλλάδ᾿ ἀντὶ βαρβάρου χθονὸς
γαῖαν κατοικεῖς καὶ δίκην ἐπίστασαι
νόμοις τε χρῆσθαι μὴ πρὸς ἰσχύος χάριν·
πάντες δέ σ᾿ ᾔσθοντ᾿ οὖσαν Ἕλληνες σοφὴν
καὶ δόξαν ἔσχες· εἰ δὲ γῆς ἐπ᾿ ἐσχάτοις
ὅροισιν ᾤκεις, οὐκ ἂν ἦν λόγος σέθεν

Scenes (from Oliver Taplin’s Translation)

Just wait and see!

Performers

Medea – Evelyn Miller
Jason – David Rubin
Nurse – Eunice Roberts
Tutor/Messenger – Zack Dictakis 
Kreon – RJ Foster
Chorus – Lily Ling
 
Special Guest: Fiona Macintosh
Guest Director: Tabatha Gayle
Music: Sarah Valentine
 

Euripides, Medea 598-599

“May a fortunate life bring me no pain!
And may I never have the kind of happiness that tortures thoughts.”

μή μοι γένοιτο λυπρὸς εὐδαίμων βίος
μηδ᾿ ὄλβος ὅστις τὴν ἐμὴν κνίζοι φρένα.

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)

Euripides, Medea 235-240

“The greatest contest in our life is this: getting a good husband
Or a bad one. For divorces do not bring women
A good reputation and it is impossible to refuse a husband.
When she enters the new ways and laws of his house
She needs to be a prophet, since she has not learned at home
How best to live with this partner. ”

κἀν τῷδ᾿ ἀγὼν μέγιστος, ἢ κακὸν λαβεῖν
ἢ χρηστόν· οὐ γὰρ εὐκλεεῖς ἀπαλλαγαὶ
γυναιξὶν οὐδ᾿ οἷόν τ᾿ ἀνήνασθαι πόσιν.
ἐς καινὰ δ᾿ ἤθη καὶ νόμους ἀφιγμένην
δεῖ μάντιν εἶναι, μὴ μαθοῦσαν οἴκοθεν,
ὅπως ἄριστα χρήσεται ξυνευνέτῃ.

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

November 18 Heracleidae, Euripides 
with Helene Foley (Columbia University)

November 25 Special Edition: Tragic Fragments
with Melissa Funke (University of Winnipeg) and Charlotte Parkyn (University of Notre Dame)

December 2 Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles – 3:30pm EST
with Laura Slatkin (New York University)

Euripides, Medea 1090-1111

“I say that mortals who have no experience
Of and have never had children
Have a better chance for happiness
Than those who bear them.
The childless are ignorant from inexperience
Whether children bring pleasure or pain
Because they do not have them they
Avoid many toils
But those whose comes receive the sweet
Surprise of children, I watch all their time
Worn down by care—
First who they will raise them well
And then what kind of life they leave to them.
And then from these it remains unclear
Whether they labored over good
Or weak worries.
But one final suffering of all
I will speak remains for all mortals.
Once they have found enough of a living,
And they make it to adulthood whole
And good. If fate so chooses then,
Death just takes them to Hades
Carrying their children’s corpses.”

καί φημι βροτῶν οἵτινές εἰσιν
πάμπαν ἄπειροι μηδ᾿ ἐφύτευσαν
παῖδας προφέρειν εἰς εὐτυχίαν
τῶν γειναμένων.
οἱ μὲν ἄτεκνοι δι᾿ ἀπειροσύνην
εἴθ᾿ ἡδὺ βροτοῖς εἴτ᾿ ἀνιαρὸν
παῖδες τελέθουσ᾿ οὐχὶ τυχόντες
πολλῶν μόχθων ἀπέχονται·
οἷσι δὲ τέκνων ἔστιν ἐν οἴκοις
γλυκερὸν βλάστημ᾿, ἐσορῶ μελέτῃ
κατατρυχομένους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον,
πρῶτον μὲν ὅπως θρέψουσι καλῶς
βίοτόν θ᾿ ὁπόθεν λείψουσι τέκνοις·
ἔτι δ᾿ ἐκ τούτων εἴτ᾿ ἐπὶ φλαύροις
εἴτ᾿ ἐπὶ χρηστοῖς
μοχθοῦσι, τόδ᾿ ἐστὶν ἄδηλον.
ἓν δὲ τὸ πάντων λοίσθιον ἤδη
πᾶσιν κατερῶ θνητοῖσι κακόν·
καὶ δὴ γὰρ ἅλις βίοτόν θ᾿ ηὗρον
σῶμά τ᾿ ἐς ἥβην ἤλυθε τέκνων
χρηστοί τ᾿ ἐγένοντ᾿· εἰ δὲ κυρήσαι
δαίμων οὕτω, φροῦδος ἐς Ἅιδου
θάνατος προφέρων σώματα τέκνων

BerlinRoman sarcophagus showing the story of Medea and Creusa. Ca 150 AD. Altes Museum, Berlin

No One Righteous Without Fear: Reading Aeschylus’ “Eumenides” Online

Aeschylus, Eumenides 430

“You would rather seem just than act so.”

κλύειν δίκαιος μᾶλλον ἢ πρᾶξαι θέλεις

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.

Image

Aeschylus, Eumenides 644-651

“After the dust has soaked up the blood
Of a dying man, there is no resurrection.
My father can’t cast a spell on this
But all other things he can turn back and forth
Without losing his breath at all.”

ἀνδρὸς δ’ ἐπειδὰν αἷμ’ ἀνασπάσῃ κόνις
ἅπαξ θανόντος, οὔτις ἔστ’ ἀνάστασις.
τούτων ἐπῳδὰς οὐκ ἐποίησεν πατὴρ
οὑμός, τὰ δ’ ἄλλα πάντ’ ἄνω τε καὶ κάτω
στρέφων τίθησιν οὐδὲν ἀσθμαίνων μένει.

This week brings us the final play of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the Eumenides. In it. We find a maddened, battered Orestes who fled from his brief ‘victory’ in killing his mother and Aegisthus, hounded by the earth-bound goddesses of vengeance, the Furies. At the start of this play, Orestes manages to evade them in Athens, but they too are chased by the ghost of Klytemnestra who demands vengeance for her murder.

This takes us to the final and elemental conflict of the trilogy, the face-off between justice and vengeance and the creation of trial by jury at Athens. One set of divine mandates insisted that Orestes kill his mother for her murder of his father; another set demands his suffering for killing her. How is this cycle of suffering and vengeance in any way ‘just’?

The Oresteia, like the end of the Odyssey, acknowledges that a cycle of vengeance is ultimately irresolvable and that human anger and suffering demands some other remedy. In this particular version of the tale, the solution arises at Athens, where Athena and Apollo introduce a trial by peers as a solution for the retributive strife that tears states apart.

Aeschylus, Eumenides 696-698

“I advise the citizens to revere
Neither anarchy nor despotism
And never to cast fear out of the city completely.”

τὸ μήτ’ ἄναρχον μήτε δεσποτούμενον
ἀστοῖς περιστέλλουσι βουλεύω σέβειν,
καὶ μὴ τὸ δεινὸν πᾶν πόλεως ἔξω βαλεῖν.

Aeschylus, Eumenides 704-706

“This court must be established free of personal gain,
Revered, sharp-hearted, a wakeful guard I set over the land
For the sleeping people.”

κερδῶν ἄθικτον τοῦτο βουλευτήριον,
αἰδοῖον, ὀξύθυμον, εὑδόντων ὕπερ
ἐγρηγορὸς φρούρημα γῆς καθίσταμαι.

Scenes (from Oliver Taplin’s Translation)

Just wait and see!

Performers

Orestes – Tim Delap
Pythia/Apollo – Evelyn Miller
Clytemnestra/Athena – Eunice Roberts
Chorus – Carlos Bellato, Tamieka Chavis, Tabatha Gayle, Sara Valentine
Special Guests: Ellen McLaughlin, Andrew Simpson, and Oliver Taplin

Aeschylus, Eumenides 104-105

“Sleeping lights the mind with new eyes.
But during the day, a mortal’s fate is unseen.”

εὕδουσα γὰρ φρὴν ὄμμασιν λαμπρύνεται,
[ἐν ἡμέρᾳ δὲ μοῖρ’ ἀπρόσκοπος βροτῶν.]

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)

Aeschylus, Eumenides 368-369

“Humankind’s delusions so sacred under the sky
Shrink as they melt on the earth without honor.”

δόξαι δ’ ἀνδρῶν καὶ μάλ’ ὑπ’ αἰθέρι σεμναὶ
τακόμεναι κατὰ γᾶς μινύθουσιν ἄτιμοι

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)

Orestes Pursued by the Furies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1862) - Google Art Project.jpg
Orestes Pursued by the Furies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1862)

Aeschylus, Eumenides 977-987

“I pray that the insatiable evil
Of civil strife
Will never burn through this state.
May the dust never drink deep the dark blood of our citizens
As it terrorizes the country
In the endless rage of murder meted out for murder.
May we have joy
In our shared view of friendship
And hate with a single focus.
This is a cure of many problems mortals have.”

τὰν δ᾿ ἄπληστον κακῶν
μήποτ᾿ ἐν πόλει στάσιν
τᾷδ᾿ ἐπεύχομαι βρέμειν,
μηδὲ πιοῦσα κόνις μέλαν αἷμα πολιτᾶν
δι᾿ ὀργὰν ποινᾶς
ἀντιφόνους ἄτας
ἁρπαλίσαι πόλεως·
χάρματα δ᾿ ἀντιδιδοῖεν
κοινοφιλεῖ διανοίᾳ
καὶ στυγεῖν μιᾷ φρενί·
πολλῶν γὰρ τόδ᾿ ἐν βροτοῖς ἄκος.

“A Saving Light in Our Home”: Reading Aeschylus’ “Libation-Bearers” Online

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 18-19

“…Zeus allow me payback for the death
Of my father and be my willing ally.”

ὦ Ζεῦ, δός με τείσασθαι μόρον
πατρός, γενοῦ δὲ σύμμαχος θέλων ἐμοί.

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.

Image

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 225-228

“When you see me you, fail to recognize me
But when you glanced at this lock of hair
Or followed along the shape of my feet,
You took flight and imagined me there!”

αὐτὸν μὲν οὖν ὁρῶσα δυσμαθεῖς ἐμέ·
κουρὰν δ᾿ ἰδοῦσα τήνδε κηδείου τριχὸς
ἰχνοσκοποῦσά τ᾿ ἐν στίβοισι τοῖς ἐμοῖς
ἀνεπτερώθης κἀδοκεῖς ὁρᾶν ἐμέ.

Today we come to the second play of the Oresteia, the Libation-Bearers, which follows the death of Agamemnon some time later with the return of his son Orestes. Motifs from this play remained well-known enough that audiences of the later Elektras by Sophocles and Euripides could be relied upon to recall its moments of recognition and the tension between the expectations placed on Euripides and his hesitation when finally facing the deed.

Along with the rest of the trilogy, the Libation-Bearers earned first prize at the City Dionysia in 458 BCE. But what was it about these plays that charmed the judges and audiences? This play certainly does not present the heroic narrative one might expect from the Homeric Odyssey, where Orestes is repeated hailed as a returning avenger and a model for Telemachus. This Orestes reunites joyously with his sister and joins her in a shared song of lament that takes up the central portion of the play. When the time to act arrives, pushed on by Apollo’s prophecies, Orestes hesitates before taking his mother’s life. And then he is cursed by the furies, pushing him into the exile resolved in the Eumenides.

The story of Agamemnon and Orestes hinges on the balance of justice and vengeance. The horrible logic of the later faces up to the demands of the former and comes up short. In the distance between the two, humankind continues to suffer.

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 387-394

“May I sing a song of victory
Over a slaughtered man
And a woman as she dies—
Why should I hide
The kind of plan floating in my mind?
Before my heart’s prow
A driving anger blows,
Hatred’s rage.”

ἐφυμνῆσαι γένοιτό μοι †πευκή-
εντ᾿† ὀλολυγμὸν ἀνδρὸς
θεινομένου γυναικός τ᾿
ὀλλυμένας· τί γὰρ κεύθω
φρενὸς οἷον ἐντὸς
ποτᾶται; πάροιθεν δὲ πρῴρας
δριμὺς ἄηται κραδίας
θυμός, ἔγκοτον στύγος.

Scenes (from Oliver Taplin’s Translation)

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

Performers

Orestes – Tim Delap
Electra/Pylades – Evelyn Miler
Clytemnestra – Eunice Roberts
Chorus – Carlos Bellato, Tamieka Chavis, and Sara Valentine
Slave – Sara Valentine
Special Guests: Anna Uhlig and Oliver Taplin
Special Director: Liz Fisher

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 585-95

“The earth feeds many things,
Terrible griefs of fear,
And the folds of the sea
Are full with similar monsters.
Lights burning between
Sky and earth cause harm
To creatures on wing and on foot.
You might even mention the wind-borne rage of hurricanes.
But who can speak of the arrogant
Mind of a man or the all-daring
Lusts in a woman’s thoughts,
The joined paths of mortal ruin?”

πολλὰ μὲν γᾶ τρέφει
δεινὰ δειμάτων ἄχη,
πόντιαί τ᾿ ἀγκάλαι
κνωδάλων ἀνταίων
βρύουσι· βλάπτουσι καὶ πεδαίχμιοι
λαμπάδες πεδάοροι
πτανά τε καὶ πεδοβάμονα· κἀνεμόεντ᾿ ἂν
αἰγίδων φράσαις κότον·
ἀντ. αἀλλ᾿ ὑπέρτολμον ἀν-
δρὸς φρόνημα τίς λέγοι
καὶ γυναικῶν φρεσὶν
τλαμόνων παντόλμους
ἔρωτας, ἄταισι συννόμους βροτῶν;

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)

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 434-438

“You speak of complete dishonor!
She will payback the dishonoring of my father
With willing gods
With my willing hands.
When I have cut her out, may I die too.”

τὸ πᾶν ἀτίμως ἔλεξας, οἴμοι·
πατρὸς δ᾿ ἀτίμωσιν ἆρα τείσει
ἕκατι μὲν δαιμόνων,
ἕκατι δ᾿ ἁμᾶν χερῶν.
ἔπειτ᾿ ἐγὼ νοσφίσας ὀλοίμαν.

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)

Pieter Lastman – De offerstrijd tussen Orestes en Pylades

Aeschylus, Libation-Bearers 548-550

“It is right—because she raised a terrible monster—
For her to die violently. Once transformed into a snake,
I kill her. That’s what this dream is telling us.”

δεῖ τοί νιν, ὡς ἔθρεψεν ἔκπαγλον τέρας,
θανεῖν βιαίως· ἐκδρακοντωθεὶς δ᾿ ἐγὼ
0κτείνω νιν, ὡς τοὔνειρον ἐννέπει τόδε.

“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

Psst, What’s the Password? Reading Euripides’ “Rhesus” Online

Euripides’ Rhesus 34-34

“Some news you announce is frightening to hear
Some of it gives me hope. Nothing is clear at all!”

τὰ μὲν ἀγγέλλεις δείματ᾿ ἀκούειν,
τὰ δὲ θαρσύνεις, κοὐδὲν καθαρῶς.

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.

Last week, we turned to the most tragic of epics (according to Aristotle, at least), Homer’s Iliad.

This week we remain in Trojan War material but return to tragedy with the Rhesus, traditionally attributed to Euripides. This play covers the same basic events of Iliad 10 where Diomedes and Odysseus go out to spy on the Trojans at night and end up slaughtering the Thracian king Rhesus and his men to steal his horses. Euripides’ play give us a little more from both sides: we see a somewhat more monstrous Hektor, get to hear from Rhesus himself and are invited to see the slaughter as a calamity worthy of attention on its own.

In performing the play. we are less interested in whether or not it is genuinely Euripides–and its authenticity has been doubted for some time because of its contents and its style–than we are in how and why this play may have appealed to ancient audiences and what it has to tell us about the reception of Trojan War figures on the Athenian stage. We see Odysseus in many different plays, but having Hektor and his allies in a performance is a rare thing indeed. This play also invites us to think about the fixity of scenes from the Iliad we possess and the complex relationship between performative genres and audience expectations.

Euripides’ Rhesus 182

“It is right to cast your life in the dice game of fate
For things that are worthy.”

χρὴ δ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἀξίοις πονεῖν
ψυχὴν προβάλλοντ᾿ ἐν κύβοισι δαίμονος.

Scenes (from George Theodoridis’ translation)

Section 1, Lines 1-223: Chorus, Hektor, Aeneas, Dolon 

Section 2, Lines 344-526: Chorus, Hektor, Rhesus  

Section 3, Lines 565-674: Odysseus, Diomedes, Athena, Paris 

Section 4, Lines 808-996: Hektor, Chariot Driver, Muse, Chorus 

Euripides’ Rhesus 394-397

“…I love to speak the truth
All the time and I am never a duplicitous man.
Long, long ago it would have been right for you to come
And share our pain…”

φιλῶ λέγειν
τἀληθὲς αἰεὶ κοὐ διπλοῦς πέφυκ᾿ ἀνήρ.
πάλαι πάλαι χρῆν τῇδε συγκάμνειν χθονὶ
ἐλθόντα

Performers

Hector/Odysseus – Tim Delap
Aeneas/Rhesus/Athena/Chariot driver – Tabatha Gayle
Dolon/Diomedes/Muse – Evelyn Miller
Chorus/Paris – Paul O’Mahony
 
Special Guest, Mary Ebbott

Euripides, Rhesus 497-500

“Ajax doesn’t seem to me to be any lesser than him
Nor does Tydeus’ son. But that Odysseus,
He is the most twisted crook, a man bold enough to be arrogant,
One who has outraged this land most of all.”

Αἴας ἐμοὶ μὲν οὐδὲν ἡσσᾶσθαι δοκεῖ
χὠ Τυδέως παῖς· ἔστι δ᾿ αἱμυλώτατον
κρότημ᾿ Ὀδυσσεὺς λῆμά τ᾿ ἀρκούντως θρασὺς
καὶ πλεῖστα χώραν τήνδ᾿ ἀνὴρ καθυβρίσας·

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)

Euripides, Rhesus 756-57

“In addition to our suffering, this has been handled
With the greatest shame. This doubles the pain.”

κακῶς πέπρακται κἀπὶ τοῖς κακοῖσι πρὸς
αἴσχιστα· καίτοι δὶς τόσον κακὸν τόδε·

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

Saturday, October 17 Assemblywomen, Aristophanes
with Francisco Barrenechea (University of Maryland, College Park)

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

Euripides, Rhesus 938-942

“Athena, you deserve the blame for this.
Odysseus and the son of Tydeus didn’t do it
Don’t imagine you sneaked by me.
Still, my sister Muses and I honor your city
Most of all….”

καὶ τοῦτ᾿, Ἀθάνα, παντὸς αἰτία μόρου—οὐδὲν
δ᾿ Ὀδυσσεὺς οὐδ᾿ ὁ Τυδέως τόκος
ἔδρασ᾿—ἔδρασας· μὴ δόκει λεληθέναι.
καίτοι πόλιν σὴν σύγγονοι πρεσβεύομεν
Μοῦσαι μάλιστα

Euripides, Rhesus 866

“I don’t know these Odysseuses you keep mentioning”

οὐκ οἶδα τοὺς σοὺς οὓς λέγεις Ὀδυσσέας·

“Something for people in the Future to Sing About” Reading Homer’s “Iliad” Online

Homer, Iliad 22.304-5

“May I not die without a fight and without glory
but after doing something big for men to come to learn about”

μὴ μὰν ἀσπουδί γε καὶ ἀκλειῶς ἀπολοίμην,
ἀλλὰ μέγα ῥέξας τι καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι.

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 week, we turn to the most tragic of epics (according to Aristotle, at least), Homer’s Iliad

Image

As everyone knows, the Iliad begins with the rage of Achilles. As many of us forget, it ends not with the Trojan Horse or the death of Achilles, but instead with the burial of horse-taming Hektor. I think it is probably dangerous to ask a Homerist to tell you about the Iliad, because so often we don’t know where to start, whether it should be in thinking about its relationship with the Odyssey or about what it means to say the word “Homer”. True Story: many years ago, while patronizing a drinking establishment in Queens, my wife asked me to tell her what the Iliad was about. After about 45 minutes, she asked how much more there was to it. I had not even finished book 1 yet…

Ancient performers of the epics didn’t have these challenges because audiences grew up hearing stories about most of the events and characters they would be singing about and because the performance contexts didn’t expect them to tell the whole story. We don’t know a lot about the actual performance contexts and practices of Homeric poetry in the ancient world (see the work of José Gonzalez on rhapsodes, Casey Dué’s work on multiformity, Egbert Bakker’s From Formula to Poetics or any of Gregory Nagy’s Poetry as Performance or Plato’s Rhapsogy and Homer’s Music), but it seems likely that the stories were performed in episodes at various occasions and at times in monumental performances at festivals. How these performances were prepared is another issue: some think they were memorized from a script, others think they were composed in performance. I tend towards the latter belief with the acknowledgement that even when something is composed in performance, there are various degress of fixity from one performance to another and one singer to another…

And, here again, I have started to trail off. Often people talk about performance of song within Homer to start us thinking about epic performance (the songs of Demodokos and Phemios in the Odyssey; Achilles singing to his lyre in the Iliad) but there’s some evidence outside the poems too. One passage comes from Plato’s Ion:

Plato, Ion 535d-e

Ion: Now this proof is super clear to me, Socrates! I’ll tell you without hiding anything: whenever I say something pitiable, my eyes fill with tears. Whenever I say something frightening, my hair stands straight up in fear and my heart leaps!

Socrates: What is this then, Ion? Should we say that a person is in their right mind when they are all dressed up in decorated finery and gold crowns at the sacrifices or the banquests and then, even though they haven’t lost anything, they are afraid still even though they stand among twenty thousand friendly people and there is no one attacking him or doing him wrong?

Ion: Well, by Zeus, not at all, Socrates, TBH.

Socrates: So you understand that you rhapsodes produce the same effects on most of your audiences?

Ion: Oh, yes I do! For I look down on them from the stage at each moment to see them crying and making terrible expressions, awestruck by what is said. I need to pay special attention to them since if I make them cry, then I get to laugh when I receive their money. But if I make them laugh, then I’ll cry over the money I’ve lost!”

ΙΩΝ. Ὡς ἐναργές μοι τοῦτο, ὦ Σώκρατες, τὸ τεκμήριον εἶπες· οὐ γάρ σε ἀποκρυψάμενος ἐρῶ. ἐγὼ γὰρ ὅταν ἐλεεινόν τι λέγω, δακρύων ἐμπίπλανταί μου οἱ ὀφθαλμοί· ὅταν τε φοβερὸν ἢ δεινόν, ὀρθαὶ αἱ τρίχες ἵστανται ὑπὸ φόβου καὶ ἡ καρδία πηδᾷ.

ΣΩ. Τί οὖν; φῶμεν, ὦ Ἴων, ἔμφρονα εἶναι τότε τοῦτον τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ὃς ἂν κεκοσμημένος ἐσθῆτι ποικίλῃ καὶ χρυσοῖς στεφάνοις κλαίῃ τ᾿ ἐν θυσίαις καὶ ἑορταῖς, μηδὲν ἀπολωλεκὼς τούτων, ἢ φοβῆται πλέον ἢ ἐν δισμυρίοις ἀνθρώποις ἑστηκὼς φιλίοις, μηδενὸς ἀποδύοντος ἢ ἀδικοῦντος;

ΙΩΝ. Οὐ μὰ τὸν Δία, οὐ πάνυ, ὦ Σώκρατες, ὥς γε τἀληθὲς εἰρῆσθαι.

ΣΩ. Οἶσθα οὖν ὅτι καὶ τῶν θεατῶν τοὺς πολλοὺς ταὐτὰ ταῦτα ὑμεῖς ἐργάζεσθε;

ΙΩΝ. Καὶ μάλα καλῶς οἶδα· καθορῶ γὰρ ἑκάστοτε αὐτοὺς ἄνωθεν ἀπὸ τοῦ βήματος κλαίοντάς τε καὶ δεινὸν ἐμβλέποντας καὶ συνθαμβοῦντας τοῖς λεγομένοις. δεῖ γάρ με καὶ σφόδρ᾿ αὐτοῖς τὸν νοῦν προσέχειν· ὡς ἐὰν μὲν κλαίοντας αὐτοὺς καθίσω, αὐτὸς γελάσομαι ἀργύριον λαμβάνων, ἐὰν δὲ γελῶντας, αὐτὸς κλαύσομαι ἀργύριον ἀπολλύς.

Note in this passage that Plato’s Socrates assumes that Ion is faithfull performing a ‘text’ ascribed to Homer and that they both identify as salient features of the performance the context (“sacrifices” and “festivals”) the emotional affect (crying and carrying on, channeling the emotive content of the scenes) and the impact on the audience (making them cry too) all while emphasizing the material benefit accruing to a rhapsode who pleases his audiences.

When I think about Homeric performance, I think a lot about how little we know about the audiences and their responses and how crucial this was to the shape of the poems we have. I too often forget that the performers were an important part of this process in shaping the reception through their use of intonation, voice, gesture, and tune. So, in our readings from the Iliad today, I will be thinking about the parts, and not the whole, and how performance creates a new text of its own.

We’ve selected some passages today for performance from different parts of the epic to give an idea of the power of the whole and to provide a range of characters for our actors. We will get some of the debate in book 1, some family scenes in Troy, and a whole range of lament and regret. What more could one ask for a Wednesday?

Homer, Iliad 1.158–168 [Achilles addressing Agamemnon]

“But, you great shamepot, we follow you so that you feel joy,
As we collect honor for Menelaos and you, dog-face,
From the Trojans—you don’t shudder at this, you don’t care.”

ἀλλὰ σοὶ ὦ μέγ’ ἀναιδὲς ἅμ’ ἑσπόμεθ’ ὄφρα σὺ χαίρῃς,
τιμὴν ἀρνύμενοι Μενελάῳ σοί τε κυνῶπα
πρὸς Τρώων· τῶν οὔ τι μετατρέπῃ οὐδ’ ἀλεγίζεις·

Selected Passages (Using the Stanley Lombardo translation with permission from Hackett)

Iliad 1 Agamemnon and Achilles’ argument
Iliad 6 Hector and Andromache
Iliad 19 Agamemnon and Achilles reconcile – may be cut for time
Iliad 22 Andromache’s first lament for Hector
Iliad 24 Achilles and Priam
Iliad 24 Priam, Hecuba, Andromache and Helen laments for Hector

Iliad 1.224–228 [Achilles Addressing Agamemnon]

“Wine-sod! Dog-eyes! You have the heart of a deer!
You never suffer to arm yourself to enter battle with the army
Nor to set an ambush with the best of the Achaeans.
That seems like death itself to you!”

οἰνοβαρές, κυνὸς ὄμματ’ ἔχων, κραδίην δ’ ἐλάφοιο,
οὔτέ ποτ’ ἐς πόλεμον ἅμα λαῷ θωρηχθῆναι
οὔτε λόχον δ’ ἰέναι σὺν ἀριστήεσσιν ᾿Αχαιῶν
τέτληκας θυμῷ· τὸ δέ τοι κὴρ εἴδεται εἶναι.

Performers

Tabatha Gayle
Paul O’Mahony
Rhys Rusbatch
Sara Valentine
 
Special Guest, Lynn Kozak

Homer, Iliad 9.32-34

“After a while, Diomedes good-at-the warcry, addressed them:
“I will fight with you first because you are being foolish, son of Atreus,
Which is right, Lord, in the assembly. So don’t get angry at all.”

ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετέειπε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·
᾿Ατρεΐδη σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν ἄναξ ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.

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)

Iliad 21.461-465

“Then lord Apollo the far-shooter answered,
“Earthshaker, you would not think that I would be prudent
If indeed I fought with you over mortals,
Wretched men who are like the leaves now flourish
Until they grow full, eat the fruit of fields,
And then they diminish until they die…”

Τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπεν ἄναξ ἑκάεργος ᾿Απόλλων·
ἐννοσίγαι’ οὐκ ἄν με σαόφρονα μυθήσαιο
ἔμμεναι, εἰ δὴ σοί γε βροτῶν ἕνεκα πτολεμίξω
δειλῶν, οἳ φύλλοισιν ἐοικότες ἄλλοτε μέν τε
ζαφλεγέες τελέθουσιν ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδοντες,
ἄλλοτε δὲ φθινύθουσιν ἀκήριοι…

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

October 14 Rhesus, Euripides
with Mary Ebbott (College of the Holy Cross)

Saturday, October 17 Assemblywomen, Aristophanes
with Francisco Barrenechea (University of Maryland, College Park)

October 21 Agamemnon, Aeschylus
with Fiona Macintosh (University of Oxford)

Iliad 24.503-6

“Achilles, respect the gods and take pity,
Once you think of your own father. I am even more pitiable,
Since I endure what no other mortal person ever has,
To reach my hands to the lips of the man who slaughtered my child.”

ἀλλ’ αἰδεῖο θεοὺς ᾿Αχιλεῦ, αὐτόν τ’ ἐλέησον
μνησάμενος σοῦ πατρός· ἐγὼ δ’ ἐλεεινότερός περ,
ἔτλην δ’ οἷ’ οὔ πώ τις ἐπιχθόνιος βροτὸς ἄλλος,
ἀνδρὸς παιδοφόνοιο ποτὶ στόμα χεῖρ’ ὀρέγεσθαι.

Iliad 24.732–738

“You, child, will also either follow me
Where you will toil completing the wretched works
Of a cruel master or some Achaean will grab you
And throw you from the wall to your evil destruction
Because he still feels anger at Hektor killing his brother
Or father or son, since many a man of the Achaeans dined
On the endless earth under Hektor’s hands.”

… σὺ δ’ αὖ τέκος ἢ ἐμοὶ αὐτῇ
ἕψεαι, ἔνθά κεν ἔργα ἀεικέα ἐργάζοιο
ἀθλεύων πρὸ ἄνακτος ἀμειλίχου, ἤ τις ᾿Αχαιῶν
ῥίψει χειρὸς ἑλὼν ἀπὸ πύργου λυγρὸν ὄλεθρον
χωόμενος, ᾧ δή που ἀδελφεὸν ἔκτανεν ῞Εκτωρ
ἢ πατέρ’ ἠὲ καὶ υἱόν, ἐπεὶ μάλα πολλοὶ ᾿Αχαιῶν
῞Εκτορος ἐν παλάμῃσιν ὀδὰξ ἕλον ἄσπετον οὖδας.

Iliad 24.801–804

“After heaping up the mound [sêma] they returned. Then
Once they were well gathered they shared a fine feast
In the halls of the god-nourished king, Priam.
Thus they were completing the burial of horse-taming Hektor.”

χεύαντες δὲ τὸ σῆμα πάλιν κίον· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
εὖ συναγειρόμενοι δαίνυντ’ ἐρικυδέα δαῖτα
δώμασιν ἐν Πριάμοιο διοτρεφέος βασιλῆος.
῝Ως οἵ γ’ ἀμφίεπον τάφον ῞Εκτορος ἱπποδάμοιο.

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