Pyrrha: A Play, Scenes 5 and 6

Published August 9, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, consult the links on this page.  Scene 5 is where the play really picks up, because it’s when Patroclos and Aias arrive.  Yay!  (Yes, I’m biased.  So what’s your point?)

Scene: Megaron of Lycomedes (Day)

The throne is empty. Aias and Patroclos enter.  Aias is an enormous man, but Patroclos is of a more normal size.  Both wear armor and carry a sword, but only Patroclos has a shield.  {Shields, as I forgot to mention in discussing Bronze Age armor, tended to be gigantic in the Bronze Age, and warriors literally had to have guards on the backs of their ankles to protect them from chafing from their shields.  (Seriously, there’s mention of those guards in the Iliad, in talking about Hector’s shield.)  Aias does not have his shield with him because his was larger than most, and carrying it outside of battle is impractical.}

Aias: Hoh? No one at home?

Patroclos: Is it just me, or does this feel like a trap?

Aias laughs.

Aias: It’s just you.

Patroclos: “They will be welcomed as royally as they deserve.” That didn’t sound suspicious to you?

Aias: It’s just flowery court talk.

Patroclos grimaces.

Patroclos: I don’t know why they sent me on this mission, anyway. What do I know about courts and kings?

Aias: Ask Odysseus.

Patroclos: I’d rather not.

Aias laughs.

Aias: How long are we going to be made to wait?

He looks around.

Aias: (shouting) Is the palace deserted?

Patroclos: Don’t shout like that!

Lycomedes, Polyphonos and others enter.

Lycomedes: My pardon, guests! I was preparing for your arrival.

Aias: And yet you missed it.

Patroclos: (sotto) A-Aias! That’s rude!

Lycomedes turns to his servants.

Lycomedes: Fetch some wine immediately! Have the feast made ready at once!

Several servants bow, and run from the room.

Aias: We can talk business while we wait.

Lycomedes: I should not like to be so rude as to ask my guests’ business before they’ve supped.

Aias: You’re not asking. I’m offering.

Lycomedes coughs uncomfortably. Patroclos is stifling laughter.

Polyphonos: I’m sure it won’t offend the gods, sire.

Lycomedes sighs, and takes a seat on his throne.

Lycomedes: Very well, then. The herald said he worked for Aias, son of Telamon. No other man could have such godlike proportions, so you must be he.

Aias: (laughing) Godlike?

Patroclos: Yes, he is Aias, sire.

Lycomedes: I assume you must be Telamon’s…other son, then?

Aias scowls. Patroclos shakes his head.

Patroclos: Not at all, sire. My father is no one of such importance as King Telamon. I am Patroclos, son of Menoitios. I am simply here to assist Aias in his task.

Lycomedes: I see. (to Aias) How does your father fare? Is all well in Salamis?

Aias: It was when I left.

Lycomedes: Any news from Athens and my friend, King Menestheus?

Aias and Patroclos both frown.

Aias: He was well the last I heard.

Lycomedes: I’m glad to hear it.

Aias: About our business…

Lycomedes: Yes, yes. The herald says you’re here on behalf of Agamemnon.

Aias nods, but doesn’t seem to know what to say.

Patroclos: I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors, your majesty.

Lycomedes: They say his brother’s pretty wife ran off with an equally pretty Trojan, some grown-up Ganymede.

Patroclos: That’s…not the kindest way to put it. But not wrong, I suppose.

Lycomedes: I assume that Agamemnon asks men and arms to steal back the Queen of Lacedaemon?

Aias: Not steal. Recover.

Patroclos: It wasn’t just Queen Helen. The Trojan Alexander stole half the goods in Menelaos’ palace as well as the queen. Agamemnon seems convinced that if he gets away with it, more men will come to Hellas, stealing wives and gold and taking them back to Anatolia. He thinks all our women will end up in Hatti if we don’t put a stop to it now. He’s probably over-stating things, but Alexander’s deeds truly were unforgivable.

Aias: It was an insult to his host. And therefore to Zeus. The men who sail with us will become one of the god’s own thunderbolts, delivering justice to the thieving Trojans!

Lycomedes just stares at him.

Patroclos: Somehow, that sounded better coming from Odysseus.

Aias sighs. Lycomedes clears his throat.

Lycomedes: You must be tired from your journey. Perhaps you would like to bathe before the feast.

Patroclos: That might be nice, yes.

Lycomedes: Polyphonos, take my guests to a chamber where they may refresh themselves.

Polyphonos: Yes, your majesty.

Polyphonos bows to Lycomedes, then exits, with Aias and Patroclos.

Lycomedes: Those two are no friends of Menestheus…

He scowls, rises from his throne, and leaves the stage.

Scene: The royal garden (Dusk)

Pyrrha stands in the middle of the garden, scowling. Deidameia approaches her.

Deidameia: Pyrrha, Mother is looking for you.

Pyrrha: (to herself) What can it mean?

Deidameia: It means that Mother wants to speak to you!

Pyrrha: (to herself) There must be a significance to it.

Deidameia: She’s probably angry at you for shirking your duties again.

Pyrrha: (to herself) They can’t have arrived by coincidence.

Deidameia: What? Pyrrha, are you even listening to me?!

Pyrrha: (to herself) Is this what my mother was worried about…?

Deidameia sets a hand on Pyrrha’s arm. Pyrrha reacts violently, stepping backwards and raising a fist as if to strike her. Deidameia shrinks back with a shriek.

Pyrrha: Deidameia? When did you get here?

She lowers her fist again.

Deidameia: I’ve been standing here talking to you forever!

Pyrrha: (dubious) Forever?

Deidameia: My mother is looking for you.

Pyrrha: I don’t care about that. I have other concerns on my mind right now than her.

Deidameia: Why? Are you that worried about performing before Father’s guests?

Pyrrha frowns.

Pyrrha: It’s not that. I just…

She shakes her head.

Pyrrha: Did you hear anything about why they’ve come?

Deidameia: The guests? I think they’re trying to convince Father to go to war on their behalf. Or something like that. Why?

Pyrrha: Maybe this is what she was worried about.

Pyrrha turns away from Deidameia again, staring into space.

Pyrrha: (to herself) Or maybe they’re my only chance?

Deidameia: What are you saying, Pyrrha?

Pyrrha: (to herself) I can’t stay here forever.

Deidameia: What?! You can’t be thinking of leaving me! Not after all we’ve meant to each other!

She grabs Pyrrha’s arm plaintively.

Pyrrha: (to herself) I have to find some way to salvage my honor.

Deidameia: What about my honor?! Pyrrha!

Pyrrha shakes off Deidameia’s grip, turning to glare at her.

Pyrrha: If you have any love for me at all, then let me have some peace! I need to think!

Deidameia: Is it asking so much for you to speak to me when I’m standing right here in front of you?

Pyrrha: That’s what the night is for. Right now, I need to concentrate. My problems are serious.

Deidameia: They cannot be as serious as mine!

Pyrrha: You must be joking. Yours are—

Theaspe enters the room.

Theaspe: What is this delay? Aren’t you ready yet? The guests will hardly wait forever!

Pyrrha: Who are they?

Theaspe: They are my husband’s guests. Their identities are of no concern to anyone but my husband and myself. You need to learn to mind your place!

Pyrrha: Is an innocent question really worth such hostility?

Theaspe: A girl who cannot behave herself will never get far in life. She’ll find all her suitors rejecting her hand as soon as they come to speak with her.

Pyrrha laughs.

Pyrrha: That’s the last thing I’m worried about!

Theaspe: You arrogant little—

Deidameia: Mother, Pyrrha, please! Don’t fight so! What if the guests heard you?!

Theaspe: Fine! Since this girl is such a favorite of yours, Deidameia, then I hold you responsible for getting her to the hall with your sisters!

Deidameia: Yes, Mother, of course!

Theaspe storms out again.

Pyrrha: Impossible woman! I can’t imagine why she hates me so much.

Deidameia laughs, then kisses Pyrrha on the cheek.

Deidameia: She’s just jealous, because you’re so much prettier than any of her real daughters.

Pyrrha: That’s not a compliment, Deidameia.

Deidameia: Come, let’s go join the others! Don’t you want to sing for them? You were so excited when you picked the song for us!

Pyrrha: I’m just worried about who these guests are. I know my mother stuck me here for a reason…

Deidameia: I don’t understand what that has to do with anything.

Pyrrha sighs.

Pyrrha: She was hiding me from something. Or someone. But she didn’t explain it, so I can only guess if these men are what she was hiding me from. If they are, then I probably shouldn’t let them see me.

Deidameia laughs.

Deidameia: I doubt they’d know you even if they did.

Pyrrha: That only makes it worse.

Deidameia laughs again, and keeps laughing. Pyrrha crosses her arms, looking annoyed. Eurycleia enters.

Eurycleia: Girls? What are you doing here? You should be with the others!

Pyrrha: Eurycleia, do you know who the guests are?

Eurycleia: Of course not. Though I think I did hear the herald saying that he served the King of Salamis.

Pyrrha: Then the guests must be Aias and Teukros.

Pyrrha laughs.

Pyrrha: I wonder if they’d recognize me? It’s been at least ten years since I saw them…

Deidameia: You’ve been to Salamis?

Pyrrha: This should be interesting! All right, let’s go, Deidameia!

Pyrrha leaves the garden at a run.

Deidameia: Ah, Pyrrha! Wait!

She runs out after her.

Eurycleia: Young ladies shouldn’t run about like that…

She, too, leaves the stage.

It was, in fact, viewed as being rude to ask what your guest’s business was before you’d fed him.  (Witness various scenes in the Odyssey, for example where Nestor doesn’t even ask who Telemachos is until after he’s fed him, let alone what brings him to Pylos.)

Aias’ (or rather, Odysseus’) point about Alexander’s actions being an insult to Zeus was because Zeus was the god who watched over xenia, guest-friendship, the relationship between guest and host.  The relationship that Alexander/Paris violated by stealing his host’s wife and gold.

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