Pyrrha: A Play, scenes 10 and 11

Published August 15, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, see this page.  Scene 11 is one of my favorites; Aias and Pyrrha discuss the causes of the war.


Scene: Megaron of Lycomedes (Day)

Lycomedes sits on his throne, looking glum. Diphilos enters, and bows before him.

Diphilos: Good morning, sire.

Lycomedes: Forget the good mornings. Did you give her my ring?

Diphilos: She would not take it from me, sire. From the look upon her face, I’m sure she hoped to hear from you directly, not through an intermediary.

Lycomedes: Says the man who insisted on acting as an intermediary.

Diphilos: In the normal scheme of things, that is the way this would proceed.

Lycomedes: (to himself) Scheme is right. (to Diphilos) What did she say in refusing the ring?

Diphilos: Nothing meaningful, your majesty. I’m sure she feared a trick.

Lycomedes sighs.

Lycomedes: Precisely what do you think her mother instructed her before leaving the girl here?

Diphilos: I cannot say precisely, sire. I’m quite certain she was trained to incite you to love her, though. Her glances at you cannot be understood in any other way. The question is what you intend from her.

Lycomedes: You know what I intend.

Diphilos: Yes, but she does not. Perhaps her fear is that you will simply discard her after you have had your fill of her.

Lycomedes: I see how that could worry her. But so long as she can give me a son, she will have nothing to fear; what her virtue will lose, her honor will regain.

Diphilos returns the ring to Lycomedes.

Diphilos: I believe if you tell her so when you give her the ring yourself, you will find her the most receptive lady.

Lycomedes: Where is she now?

Diphilos: If not in the garden, then she is probably out walking through the town, the better to stir up every man’s desire.

Lycomedes rises from the throne.

Lycomedes: I’m off to the garden. Diphilos, you speak to the guards on the gates. Tell them that in the future, Pyrrha is not to be allowed out of the palace without my express permission.

Diphilos: A very wise precaution, sire.

Diphilos bows, and leaves by one exit while Lycomedes leaves by another.

Scene: Cliff overlooking the sea (Day)

Aias stands at the wall near the drop-off, staring at the sea below. Pyrrha approaches him.

Pyrrha: That’s a creepy place to stand.

Aias jumps, nearly falling off the cliff. Pyrrha has to grab his arm to help him back from the edge.

Pyrrha: You almost ended up like Theseus!

Aias: Theseus?

Pyrrha: He fell from here. Old Lycomedes says it was an accident, but most everyone else says he was pushed.

Aias scowls, nodding.

Aias: No wonder the sons of Theseus wanted to come with me. They wanted to avenge their father.

Pyrrha: Too bad they didn’t. I’d have liked to see that.

Aias glances at her, then looks away hastily, blushing.

Aias: That isn’t ladylike.

Pyrrha shrugs.

Pyrrha: You must have been pretty distracted if a famous warrior like you didn’t know I was there. What were you thinking about?

Aias: I was worried. Lycomedes seems to be very close to Menestheus.

Pyrrha: (perplexed) Peleus’ grandson?

Aias stares at her for a moment, then laughs.

Aias: No, not that Menestheus! The one who reigns now in Athens.

Pyrrha: Oh, him. That’s true, I’ve heard they’re close. They would be, wouldn’t they? Lycomedes ensured that the real king couldn’t come back and reclaim his throne. Though he must have gotten pretty old by the time Lycomedes did away with him.

Aias: A demi-god doesn’t age like an ordinary mortal.

Pyrrha looks down at her feet and nervously twitching hands.

Pyrrha: No, I suppose not.

There is an awkward silence. Pyrrha stares into the sea, and Aias stares at Pyrrha.

Aias: You’re very beaut—familiar. Have we met before?

Pyrrha laughs.

Pyrrha: A long time ago. You won’t remember me. But can I ask you something?

She turns to look at his face. Aias blushes and averts his gaze before nodding repeatedly.

Pyrrha: Tell me about this war against Troy. Why does the King of Mycenae want to destroy a trading city half the world away?

Aias: A Trojan prince came to visit Agamemnon’s brother Menelaos. While he was staying there, Menelaos’ grandfather died, and he was obliged to attend the funeral games. Trusting in the good faith between host and guest, the bond watched over by Zeus himself, Menelaos left for Crete, with the Trojan still his guest. But when he returned, he found that he had been robbed of both gold and wife by his faithless guest. Such an act against man and gods must not go unpunished, or it might be repeated.

Pyrrha: He’s only King of Lacedaemon because he married Helen, isn’t he? Doesn’t that make it her gold? What if she chose to run off with the Trojan? Wouldn’t that make it less a defiance of the gods and just her defying her husband?

Aias: No man could ever see it thus.

Pyrrha laughs.

Aias: In any case, Menelaos is convinced that his wife would not betray him. He is sure that she was carried off against her will.

Pyrrha: That might just be wishful thinking on his part. (pause) But I guess if she had really chosen the Trojan over her husband, she probably would have tried to end her marriage so she could marry him and make him king in Menelaos’ place.

Aias: Exactly. Therefore, it was against her will.

Pyrrha: Is this going to be the new trend? Bloody war against the kingdom of a man who betrays his host?

Aias: After this, no other man will dare to do so.

Pyrrha: Hmmm.

She looks back at the sea.

Pyrrha: How much can a man do before it shifts from inconveniencing his host to outright betraying him?

Aias: Stealing his wife and gold is definitely a betrayal.

Pyrrha: Oh, I know that. But…well, say a man seduced his host’s daughter. Would that be a vengeance-worthy betrayal?

Aias swallows heavily.

Aias: It would probably depend on his actions afterwards. If he married the girl, then surely it wouldn’t be a betrayal at all. (pause) But you aren’t Lycomedes’ daughter, are you?

Pyrrha: (confused) Did someone say I was?

Aias shakes his head.

Pyrrha: What if a man seduced his host’s daughter, got her with child, and then slipped off again—maybe sailed away to a foreign war—without marrying her, because he was getting sick of her. Would that be a betrayal?

Aias: I would think so, yes.

Pyrrha scowls.

Pyrrha: (to herself) I was afraid of that. (to Aias) Is that the sort of thing that would launch an army against the offender’s homeland?

Aias: Probably not, especially not if he was off to war somewhere else. I’m sure the offended host would simply demand that the villain return and marry the defiled maiden.

Pyrrha: Hmm.

Aias: Why would you ask such questions?

Pyrrha: What?! Um…no reason…

Aias: Surely you aren’t…you weren’t defiled in such a manner?

Pyrrha stares at him for a moment or two, then laughs.

Pyrrha: No, that’s not it.

Aias nods, looking relieved.

Aias: Why were you left in Lycomedes’ care?

Pyrrha clears her throat.

Pyrrha: It’s complicated. Maybe I’ll tell you after I know you better.

Aias blushes, looking back out at the sea. After a moment or two, he looks back at her.

Aias: Where do you come from originally? Who are your parents?

Pyrrha: I don’t think they’d want me to say.

Aias: I suppose not. (pause) You said we had met before. When was that?

Pyrrha: A long time ago. I guarantee, you don’t remember it.

Aias: It must have been at your father’s court?

Pyrrha sighs.

Pyrrha: Yes, it was. But it was about ten years ago, so there’s no chance you recognize me. Your father was taking you and your brother Teukros somewhere, and my father was one of your hosts.

Aias: Ah. We were headed to Phthia, to my uncle’s court, to meet our cousin, Achilles.

Pyrrha swallows heavily.

Pyrrha: Why aren’t you travelling with your brother right now? I thought you two were supposed to be all but inseparable.

Aias sighs deeply.

Aias: You don’t know much about my brother, do you?

Pyrrha: Well, I know he has a different mother than yours…

Aias nods.

Aias: His mother is Hesione, my father’s concubine. She was part of his share of the spoils when he helped Heracles throw down the walls of Troy.

Pyrrha winces.

Pyrrha: So he won’t be taking part in the war at all, then?

Aias: No. He wanted to prove his honor on the field of battle, and to prove that he is a man of Salamis, not a displaced Trojan. Even though the prince who stole Helen is his cousin.

Pyrrha: If I was in his position, I don’t think I’d go to the war.

Aias laughs.

Aias: Lucky that women don’t fight!

He shakes his head while Pyrrha scowls at him.

Aias: Teukros is showing great honor by accompanying us to the war. But it didn’t seem right that he ask others to shed the blood of his kin.

Pyrrha: I wouldn’t think so.

Aias: May I ask you a personal question?

Pyrrha clears her throat.

Pyrrha: Depends how personal.

Aias: How old are you? Why are you still unmarried?

Pyrrha: That’s much too personal.

Aias: If you’re seeking a suitable husband—

Pyrrha: By all the gods on Olympos, no! That is literally the last thing I want.

Aias: You’ve dedicated yourself to one of the virgin goddesses, then?

Pyrrha: Uh…if that will put an end to this subject, then sure, why not? I do value Athene very highly…

Aias is still looking confused when his herald runs up.

Herald: Sire, a trading vessel has arrived with a message for you. You need to come to the docks right away.

Aias sighs.

Aias: Very well, herald. I hope we can speak again, my lady.

He bows his head to Pyrrha briefly, then he and the herald leave. Pyrrha grimaces.

Pyrrha: Won’t that be fun?

Shaking her head, she leaves the stage.


Is it my imagination, or is Pyrrha swinging from naif (wow, that looks awkward without the dots over the “i”) to almost too worldly?

I think I still need to work on my characterization skills, big time…ugh….

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