Pyrrha: A Play, Scenes 3 and 4

Published August 8, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Scenes 1 and 2 can be found here.  Scene 4 introduces a sub-plot that was not in the 18th century original.  The sub-plot is based on a different myth featuring Lycomedes.  It’s really in scene 4–and in tomorrow’s scene 5, which introduces my two favorite mortals–that the play starts to pick up.  (I’m ashamed to note that these early scenes still bear a bit of the taint of the old-fashioned language of the play that inspired this…how the heck did that happen?  I gotta fix that…but I’m pretty sure the later scenes don’t have that problem…)


 

Scene: Megaron of Lycomedes (Day)

The king once again sits on his throne, looking lovelorn. Diphilos enters and bows before him.

Diphilos: Had you any luck with the young lady, my liege?

Lycomedes: Wasn’t given a word alone with her…

Diphilos: Permit me to be your go-between, my lord. I am accustomed to such duties, and the young lady will trust in my experience.

Lycomedes: Or she will be repulsed by your vile character.

Diphilos: There’s much of the coquette about the young lady, my lord. She will be pleased to know she has captured your favor.

Lycomedes: Hmm.

Diphilos: Think how carefully and warmly her mother entrusted her to your personal care, my king. How she sang the girl’s praises to your receptive ears. Has not the girl always been gentle as a dove with you, despite her vigorous personality?

Lycomedes: Do you dare to imply misconduct in that innocent child?!

Diphilos: Certainly not! But would it be misconduct for her to accept your affections when her mother has specifically instructed her to do so?

Lycomedes: You can’t know her mother gave her any such instruction.

Diphilos: If she had not, then why would she have left the girl with you?

Lycomedes: I cannot help but feel that you say only the words you think I wish to hear.

Diphilos: Test her feelings for yourself, my lord. Send her some little token to speak of your deep love for her. I am certain that she is waiting for such a signal from you.

Lycomedes: Do you really think so?

Diphilos: Have you not seen the way she averts her eyes from yours, with a coy expression, as if to enflame your desire?

Lycomedes: How could I fail to note that?

Diphilos: Have you not perceived the way she sits for hours on end, staring at the sea and sighing in a most melancholy manner? What reason should a maiden have for such behavior but the broken heart that waits for a lover’s first approach?

Lycomedes: Hmm.

Diphilos: Or do you fear the queen’s jealous ire?

Lycomedes: I fear no woman!

He removes a ring from his finger and hands it to Diphilos.

Lycomedes: Give her this token. Tell her…

Diphilos: Of your undying love, sire?

Lycomedes: I suppose. Is that what a man normally says in these sorts of situations?

Diphilos: It is, sire. Have no fear. I know just what to say to the young lady. I can assure you that she will be delighted to learn that your desires so align with her own.

Diphilos bows, and leaves the stage.

Trumpets sound, and a herald enters, bowing low before the king.

Herald: Greetings, King Lycomedes!

Lycomedes: (to himself) Even sooner than expected… (to the herald) Whom do you serve, herald?

Herald: Aias, son of Telamon, King of Salamis. My lord’s ship has arrived in your harbor, and I have been sent ahead to request an audience with you, your majesty.

Lycomedes: It is the duty of all who fear Zeus to welcome guests, and I shall not fail in that duty, you may assure your prince. Has he business with me, or is his ship merely passing on its way?

Herald: He has King Agamemnon’s business with you, sire.

Lycomedes: (to himself) As I feared. (to the herald) I would be a fool to insult the King of Mycenae or his chosen ambassador. Please, assure your prince that he and his party will be welcomed as royally in my home as they deserve.

Herald: I will be delighted to deliver your message, sire. May the gods find you a just reward for your gracious hospitalities!

The herald bows, and leaves the stage. Lycomedes frowns.

Lycomedes: A just reward, eh…? Hmm…

He rises from the throne, and leaves the stage.

Scene: Cliff overlooking the sea (Day)

{The most improbable location in the play, this is literally a place where a wall has fallen away and there is a sheer drop-off that leads directly into the sea far below. Yes, there is a plot reason for this. Uh, sort of. Okay, it’s more like a sub-plot reason. Tied into an actual myth, I might add. I added the entire sub-plot; it wasn’t in the play I based this on, and that was something that bothered me about that play, because it was something about Lycomedes that was being utterly ignored.}

Lycomedes and Polyphonos approach the cliff and look over the edge at the ship below.

Lycomedes: Well?

Polyphonos: Sire, how could I possibly tell from here?

Lycomedes: If the sons of Theseus are among their number…

Polyphonos: I doubt it greatly, your majesty. Even if they are, you have nothing to fear from them. The seers have all been quite clear on that matter. Only the grandson of a goddess, born of two mothers, can be your downfall.

Lycomedes: Ludicrous double-talk! No child can be born of two mothers! The trouble with omens is that not even seers know what they mean until they’ve already come true. And by then it will be too late!

Polyphonos: In any event, as Theseus cannot have been said to be the mother of his sons—

Lycomedes: But some of our people thought he looked like a woman because of his long hair! Couldn’t that be what the prophecy meant?!

Polyphonos: Stop panicking, my lord. Even if it was, in what way could his sons be the grandsons of a goddess? I know his grandfather claimed it had been Poseidon, not Aegeus, who laid with his daughter, but that would make them the grandsons of a god, not a goddess.

Lycomedes: What about their mother? Who was she?

Polyphonos: Phaidra, a daughter of King Minos of Crete.

Lycomedes: There! You see?! I knew it! That prophecy was about the sons of Theseus!

Polyphonos: I fail to see what you mean, your majesty.

Lycomedes: Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, is immortal, the daughter of Helios and…and…whoever! I don’t know. I don’t care!

He clenches his fists.

Lycomedes: If the sons of Theseus are aboard that boat, they must not survive the night. See to it. But keep it quiet! I have no wish to anger the Atreidai, or Telamon.

Polyphonos: As you wish, my king.

Polyphonos bows, and leaves the same way he came in. Lycomedes takes one last look at the boat, then follows him.


 

I was tempted to add the next scene as well, but…ultimately decided it worked better to leave it for tomorrow; thematically it fits better with the scene following it.

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