A Day With the Dead: Introducting Chas Libretto’s “Laodamiad” for Reading Greek Tragedy Online

Euripides, Trojan Women, fr. 646a

“Follow me when I guide you”

ἕπου δὲ μοῦνον ἀμπρεύοντί μοι.

Today’s performance of Reading Greek Tragedy Online is a new play, The Laodamiad,  by Chas LiBretto based on the story of Euripides’ Protesilaus . Protesilaus is the first hero to die at Troy and who received cult rites at a few places in ancient Greece. Euripdiess’ play remains only in fragments.

Laodameia is the name of Protesilaus’ wife, according to the Euripidean tradition. Other traditions have him married to Polydora, a child of Meleager. IN the non-Homeric tradition, Protesilaus was permitted to leave the underworld to meet his wife for a single day. The action of the play seems to have centered around this event, following Laodameia’s grief and the reactions of her near and dear.

Chas Libretto brings us a new interpretation of this story, rooted in the fragments that have survived and imagining the pieces we have lost. In a way, this is as true to the theme of the tale as humanly possible, arranging the remains of the lives we lead around the absence of the people we’ve lost.

Special Guests

Erika Weiberg
Performers and Scenes
Music performed by Bettina Joy de Guzman
Actors
Jessie Cannizarro
Tamieka Chavis
Damian Jermaine Thompson
Rene Thornton Jr.
Laodamia – Female, 20s
Iolaus/Protesilaos/Podarces, her husband and his brother – Male, 20s
Acastus, her father – Male, 50s – 60s
Chorus – Male/Female, 30s – 60s
Odysseus – Male, 30s

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 650

“Illogical hopes deceive mortals”

πόλλ᾿ ἐλπίδες ψεύδουσιν ἅλογοι βροτούς.

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 654

“When two are speaking and one is enraged
the one who resists fighting with words is the wiser.”

δυοῖν λεγόντοιν, θατέρου θυμουμένου,
ὁ μὴ ἀντιτείνων τοῖς λόγοις σοφώτερος

Crew and Amazing People
Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Host and Faculty Consultant: Joel Christensen (Brandeis University)
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Poster Illustration Artist: John Koelle

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 655

“I won’t betray someone I love even when they’re dead.”

οὐκ ἂν προδοίην καίπερ ἄψυχον φίλον.

Future episodes

All start times are 3pm ET unless otherwise noted. Live stream available at chs.harvard.edu and on YouTube.

December 15 An Ancient Cabaret

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 657

“Anyone who lumps all women together in slander
Is unsubtle and unwise
For among the many women you will find one wicked
And another with a spirit as noble as this one”

ὅστις δὲ πάσας συντιθεὶς ψέγει λόγῳ
γυναῖκας ἑξῆς, σκαιός ἐστι κοὐ σοφός
πολλῶν γὰρ οὐσῶν τὴν μὲν εὑρήσεις κακήν
τὴν δ᾿ ὥσπερ ἥδε λῆμ᾿ ἔχουσαν εὐγενές

Lucian, Dialogues of the Dead 13.3: Alexander Plays the Fool

“Shouldn’t I laugh, Alexander, when I see you still acting like a fool even in Hades, believing that you are Anubis or Osiris? Don’t hope too much about these things, most divine man: it is not permitted that anyone who has sailed into our harbor once and passed into our anchorage should return.”

Μὴ γελάσω οὖν, ὦ ᾿Αλέξανδρε, ὁρῶν καὶ ἐν ᾅδου ἔτι σε μωραίνοντα καὶ ἐλπίζοντα ῎Ανουβιν ἢ ῎Οσιριν γενήσεσθαι; πλὴν ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μέν, ὦ θειότατε, μὴ ἐλπίσῃς· οὐ γὰρ θέμις ἀνελθεῖν τινα τῶν ἅπαξ διαπλευσάντων τὴν λίμνην καὶ εἰς τὸ εἴσω τοῦ στομίου παρελθόντων·

(Yes, reading the Dialogues of the Dead around a birthday is not necessarily the most uplifting experience. But it is an experience. And, to paraphrase Alcman, an experience is the first step of learning…or something like that.)

Alcman, fr. 125 (Schol ad Pind. Isthm 1.56)

“Trying is the first step of learning”

πῆρά τοι μαθήσιος ἀρχά

I was always a little partial to one of the first lessons to be learned in graduate school (and life):

“Learn by Suffering”

… πάθει μάθος

(Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 177)