Pyrrha: A Play, scenes 15 and 16

Published August 18, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, see this page.


Scene: Cliff overlooking the sea (Day)

Aias stands near the cliff, looking down at the ocean.

Aias: As fair and untamed as Artemis, with eyes that flash like Athene’s, and as warm as Hestia’s hearth…

He sighs deeply, shaking his head.

Aias: If only I could remember where I’ve met her before. If I knew why she feels so familiar, perhaps I could banish her from my thoughts. The eve of war is no time to fall in love…

Sighing even more deeply, he leaves the stage. Almost immediately, Theaspe enters from the same direction that Aias exited, and Patroclos enters from the other side.

Theaspe: Ah, there you are!

Patroclos: Were you looking for me?

Theaspe: I was, yes. You know, I hear from my daughters that you are quite the ardent suitor of young Pyrrha.

Patroclos blushes, and looks down at the sea.

Patroclos: I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t dare. I’m no one of the rank to pay court to a princess.

Theaspe laughs.

Theaspe: You know, I doubt very much that she is at all a princess.

Patroclos: But if she’s been left in the care of the king…

Theaspe: Yes, we’re meant to believe that she’s a princess. Given her insufferably proud bearing, her father is indubitably a king, but I doubt that her mother is that king’s wife.

Patroclos stares at her in shock.

Patroclos: That doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to assume about such a fine young lady.

Theaspe: I mean no disrespect to the child! But why else would she have been left with us, without any information as to the identity of her parents? Why else would she have been so strictly instructed never to tell us who her parents are or where she comes from?

Patroclos: That’s a good point, I suppose, but…

Theaspe: All I mean to say is that you needn’t worry yourself over the position of her father, because her own position is doubtless less honorable than your own.

Patroclos nods uncertainly.

Theaspe: As she is my fosterling, I can arrange a marriage between the two of you, if you would like.

Patroclos: Marriage?! I…I don’t think that would be very fair to Pyrrha. I sail for the war at Troy soon, and who can know if I’ll survive it.

Theaspe: But if you don’t marry her now, surely some other man will win her while you’re away at war, and then she’ll be forever forbidden to you. Surely neither of you wants that.

Patroclos: Y-you can’t know what she truly wants…

Theaspe: Didn’t she say she wished she could sail away with you?

Blushing, Patroclos nods.

Theaspe: What else could she have meant but that she wished to be made your own? Come, I’ll make all the arrangements! You can wed her tomorrow night, and have several days of married bliss before you have to leave for war.

The queen takes Patroclos by the hand, and leads him, unresisting, off the stage. As soon as they’re gone, Diphilos appears out of the shadows, watching them depart, then scurries off in another direction.

Scene: The royal garden (Day)

Patroclos stands to one side, nervously, as Theaspe is talking to Pyrrha.

Pyrrha: What?!

Theaspe: I will have no argument from you, young lady! You’re lucky I’ve arranged such a fine husband for you, instead of turning you out of doors for the way you flirt with my husband!

Pyrrha: Flirt with—I’ve never done any such thing! I’d sooner die that flirt with that old lecher!

Theaspe: You will be wed on the morrow.

The queen turns and storms into the palace. Patroclos approaches uneasily.

Patroclos: (worried) Old lecher?

Pyrrha: The king. That’s why she’s trying to force you to marry me; she thinks I’m going to wreck her marriage.

Pyrrha shakes her head.

Pyrrha: With a husband like hers, you’d think she’d want it ruined.

Patroclos: You’re opposed to the marriage, then.

Pyrrha clears her throat.

Pyrrha: It’s not quite so simple. You see, I…I’m not who you think I am…

Patroclos: What do you mean?

Pyrrha: I—

Before she can say anything more, all of Lycomedes’ daughters—other than Deidameia—rush out into the garden and surround them.

Daughter 1: It’s so exciting!

Daughter 2: You’re so lucky, Pyrrha!

Daughter 3: Ooh, he’s so handsome!

The daughters descend into an unintelligible babbling of giddy voices. Patroclos looks embarrassed, but not truly disturbed. Pyrrha starts a slow burn as they continue to babble ceaselessly.

Pyrrha: (roaring) Zeus blast you with a thunderbolt! Shut your irritating mouths!

The girls shriek and cower back. A little.

Pyrrha: (grumbling) This is why I hate women.

Daughter 4: Don’t be so cross, Pyrrha.

Daughter 5: We were just happy for you.

Daughter 6: We didn’t mean to intrude on you and your betrothed.

Pyrrha: That wasn’t what I was angry about.

The daughters all withdraw to one side of the garden, where they sit down and smile at Pyrrha and Patroclos.

Daughter 7: See, we’ll just watch from over here.

Daughter 8: You can talk in peace now!

Daughter 9: Do kiss him!

Pyrrha scowls. Patroclos laughs.

Patroclos: What was it you wanted to tell me?

Pyrrha glances at the girls, then looks back at Patroclos.

Pyrrha: I can’t. Not with an audience.

Patroclos: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

Pyrrha: You will, eventually. (sotto) And then you’ll really be sorry.

Patroclos stares at her uncertainly for a moment or two.

Patroclos: I’d like to know. Should I be considering myself engaged to marriage or not?

Pyrrha flushes, and looks down at her feet.

Pyrrha: I doubt the queen’s going to let this go so easy. But…we can’t get married. Not really. Even if she forces a wedding feast, it won’t be a real marriage. As long as you understand that…

Patroclos: Is that because you don’t want to get married, or because you don’t want to get married to me?

Pyrrha: It’s complicated, and I can’t explain right now. But I can tell you that I will never be married to a man. It can’t happen.

Patroclos: So it’s not me, then.

Pyrrha laughs.

Pyrrha: No, it’s not you.

Patroclos: I’m glad to hear it.

He glances at the daughters of Lycomedes, who are all watching them expectantly.

Patroclos: Then I hope that means you won’t hate me for this.

Pyrrha: This? This what?

Patroclos affectionately chucks her under the chin, turning her face up towards his.

Patroclos: This is for your “sisters,” all right?

Pyrrha: What is?

Instead of answering, he kisses her, short but sweet. The daughters of Lycomedes squeal with delight. After the kiss is over, Pyrrha stares at him, wide-eyed.

Pyrrha: That…was for my “sisters?” Why didn’t you give it to them, then?

Patroclos: I wasn’t sure if you wanted yours.

Pyrrha opens her mouth as if to answer, then shuts it again, blushing. Patroclos leans in and kisses her again. This time is much longer—maybe even too long—and Pyrrha reacts awkwardly, arms twitching as if she doesn’t know how to use them. The girls watching them giggle and coo excitedly.

When the kiss is finally over, Pyrrha remains motionless, eyes shut, as if still lost in the kiss. Patroclos smiles.

Patroclos: There’s more, if you want it.

Pyrrha shakes her head, opening her eyes again.

Pyrrha: No, I…it’s just… (pause) Being kissed by you is very different from when I kiss Deidameia.

Patroclos: Er…yes, I would expect so. Do you…do you often kiss other women? That kind of kiss?

Pyrrha blushes, and looks away from his face.

Pyrrha: That’s not…I didn’t say anything!

Patroclos: All right.

They stand there in silence, as the daughters of Lycomedes continue to giggle.

Patroclos: Do you want me to go?

Pyrrha: For the moment…that might be best.

Patroclos: Very well. Please send for me if you change your mind.

He takes hold of her hand and gives it an affectionate squeeze before leaving the garden. The girls all get up and swarm around Pyrrha.

Daughter 1: Why did you send him away?

Daughter 2: You could have kept kissing!

Daughter 3: We wouldn’t have told Father!

Pyrrha: Get out of my sight, you screeching harpies!

The girls all shriek, and run out of the garden.

Pyrrha: (grumbling) Someday, I’ll have an island of my own, a haven without one single woman on it!

She stomps off the stage in a most unladylike fashion.

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