Aias

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MLM No “I” Repost – “The Party”

Published January 23, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

“The Party”

The megaron* at Mycenae sets the scene.
Agamemnon offers couches to the guests,
So many couches; no need to share.
But the red-headed son of Peleus objects:
“There’s one place too few!”
Patroclos mutters that he should go,
Of too small note for such great company.
“No way! You can’t leave!”
Patroclos’ dearest comrade demands.
“Normally, the couches are shared,”
Odysseus tells them,
A wry form upon the mouth.
“Then you’ll share my couch,”
Peleus’ son asserts, as he takes Patroclos’ hands.
Reluctant, the young man takes a seat,
Upon the couch of the pretty boy.
The son of Telamon laughs, and takes up a cup.
“Not yet!” Agamemnon remonstrances.
“We must pour for the gods.”
Drops are poured out neat,
And the gods assuaged.
Then the party can truly start.
“Many thanks to you all,”
Menelaos tells them, at a frown,
“For your help to restore my Helen.”
“Thank the oath,” the son of Telamon grumbles.
“But any honest man who fears Zeus,
And would see decency overcome rude cruelty,
Would gladly come to your help,
Even unbound by such an oath,”
Odysseus oozed, smarmy.
“Just as young Ach–”
“Hadda restore my name, after you shamed me,
Back on Scyros,” the boy growls.
“How much have you already had?”
Patroclos asks, and pulls the empty cup away.
“Your father would rebuke me
For such a drunken state!”
“Let the boy have all he wants,”
Laughed the son of Tydeus.
“All too soon we cross the sea for Troy,
And leave all joy at our backs.
For now, let the boy enjoy what we have.”
“Such enjoyment forms the core of the event,”
Agreed old Nestor, and nodded that gray head.
“Let us all enjoy each other’s good company,
As long as lovely Selene travels the sky.”
Toasts were drunk to Nestor’s plan,
And all cheered as the party got underway.


*Megaron = throne room/great hall.


MLM icon init bonus points MLM I


Made one small change from 1st post on 1/25/16.  (Whoa, almost exactly a year!)

Missing Letter Mondays – No “V”

Published April 25, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

The Author’s Oracle Tag

I saw this at Sara Letourneau’s blog, and thought it looked fun.  Also like something where I could omit this week’s letter with less effort than another chapter of “Peril-Led Princess“.  (It is coming back!  I promise!)  Despite that they’re my own rules, I’m not sure how the Missing Letter Monday rules feel about using the forbidden letter inside a quote…so rather than change the questions or use the letter, I’m just gonna put a * in the place of the letter-of-the-week where it occurs in the questions.

So the point of this blogging tag is that there are questions loosely inspired by the major arcana of the Tarot, which an author is to answer, focusing on their current work in progress.  Or, in my case, a major work that I keep putting off writing draft two of.  *shame*  But it’s been on my mind lately, so maybe this’ll get me working on that edit/re-write…once the semester ends, anyway.

Aaaanyway, let’s get on with it, ’cause I still need to do some reading this morning before I go to work.  (All text in bold in the following section is quoted.)


The Author’s Oracle Questions

I’ll be answering these questions based on my semi-YA series which currently has no series title.  Mostly I’ll be thinking about the first book (yes, I wrote the whole series in rough drafts before editing the first one) which needs a new title, as the one I had when I was working on it sucked quite atrociously.  I narrowed down a couple of good candidates, but they both imply things that aren’t quite true, so I’m not so sure about them.  Anyway, the first book takes place about 18 years after the end of the Trojan War, and my three leads are Atalanta, the (posthumously born) daughter of Achilles, Ariadne, the (illegitimate) daughter of Odysseus, and Eurysakes, the son of Aias and the only one who’s a genuine mythological character…though my Eurysakes and the real one differ wildly.  Atalanta and Ariadne’s mothers were sisters, and they were…ooh, I can’t use that word!  They were, um, household workers of a non-free sort in a particular city in Lesbos, and when Achilles and Odysseus had to go to Lesbos for complicated (but mythologically accurate) reasons, well, stuff happened, and nine months later…my heroines were born.  Anyway, part of my point here — apart from the fact that the heroines must escape from Lesbos at the start of book one — is that both her companions are Atalanta’s cousins, ’cause I’m going on the more well-known, later form of the myth, in which Peleus and Telamon were brothers.  (Originally, Achilles and Aias were not related, y’see…)

0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuiti*e?  The worst decision-maker?

Ariadne would be the most…uh…wow, most of these words use that letter.  She’s the one capable of the best perception of a situation, usually.  But she’s not as good at reading people as she thinks, so sometimes Eurysakes can make the better call.  Atalanta is by far the worst decision-maker; she tends not to think much.  It’s not that she’s not smart; she just got into the habit of letting Ariadne think for her.

II . The High Priestess: Do any of your characters ha*e *ery strong beliefs?

Yes, definitely.  Atalanta has a lot of them:  she’s deeply religious (which is quite different in ancient Greece than in modern times, of course), she has a lot of beliefs about her father (see below), and she has a lot of super-strong beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong, and sometimes that gets her into trouble (usually the combat sort of trouble).  Ariadne’s strongest beliefs tend to focus on her father (see below), but she’s also got strong religious ties where Athene is concerned (the other gods are more of an afterthought for her).  For Eurysakes, the most normal of the three, again most of his strong beliefs focus on his father, but especially on how his father was wronged by the other Achaian kings (and especially Odysseus), and how it’s his duty to bring his father the respect and honor he merits.  Korythos, the new King of Troy in Book 1, also has strong beliefs, but most of them would be spoilers.  (Though the chances of anyone other than me seeing this book are pretty darned slim…)  The whole-series baddies also possess strong beliefs, but those would really be spoilers.

III. The Empress: Who is your biggest supporter?  Gi*e them a little lo*e here.

Er…my brother?  I guess?  I mean, he listens to me ramble about my characters and sometimes makes suggestions.  On some of my other books, he’s been willing to read them, but he didn’t get far in this one before being repelled…which is not a good sign…

I*. The Emperor: Do you outline or plan?  (You know… plotter or pantser?)

Like most people, a little of both.  I come up with an outline, but I rarely follow it too far before it needs to change ’cause I end up going in a different direction.  But a sparse outline helps me keep my characters at least a little reined in, and helps me to focus on where I’m going as I let the book follow its own flow.

*. The Hierophant:  What do you feel is your most *aluable piece of writing ad*ice?

Mmm…most of it I come across doesn’t quite seem to fit me.  If “keep writing but keep it to yourself” was out there as a bit of writing wisdom, that’d probably be the best fit for me.

*I. The Lo*ers: Which of your characters follow their heart? Is it for the right reasons?

Well, Atalanta does, because it’s all she knows how to do; I don’t know if that’s “the right reason” or not.  Ariadne would claim she’s following her heart, I’m sure, but she’s really only doing so when she’s doing something for Atalanta’s sake.  Or for Athene’s sake.

*II. The Chariot: Tell us about the first “darling” you e*er “killed.”

In this series, she’s…well, just in case, I can’t say who she is or how she relates to the others, but she takes a while to show up, and longer to establish herself as a character, rather than a bit part.  She was always antagonistic to Atalanta, because reasons, but…after a while I came to the realization that the bad guys would be out of character if they didn’t recruit her.  And they had the perfect hook to make her want to help them, so there was no way she would choose the side of the gods instead of the side of the baddies who want to destroy them.  It was heart-breaking for me, because she’s the offspring of two mythological figures, and I really wanted things to work out well for her, especially since her mother really got a raw deal in the original myth and in my continuation of it.  But once she turned on me — I mean on my heroes — I mean on the gods, I had no choice, and she had to be taken down.  Of course, she’s technically immortal, so she wasn’t actually killed…but she was thrown into Tartaros, so she may as well be dead.

*III. Strength: What do you feel your greatest creati*e strength is?

Coming up with story ideas; I think of lots of ideas that feel like they’re really great.  It’s just what I do with them afterwards that’s no good.

IX. The Hermit: Can you write in coffee shops or other busy places, or do you need quiet?

I used to be able to watch a film on the tube and write at the same time, but I can no longer do that, I’m sorry to say.  Writing in public places is still fine, so long as no one’s around me is talking in such a way that I can’t help but listen in.  (You know the kind of thing I’m talking about, right?)

X. The Wheel of Fortune: Do you ha*e a set routine or schedule?

Nah…but this summer I’m planning on making one.  I seem to spend extremely little time (if any at all) writing lately, so I plan on making a schedule for that and a few other things that need doing.  I’ll be posting about it sometime in early May, once I hammer out the details.

XI. Justice: What’s the biggest consequence that your main character will ha*e to face? (If it spoils the plot, feel free to be *ague.)

Well, she’s always risking life and limb in combat against an assortment of enemies, some human and most inhuman.  There’s one point in the series where the baddies try to coax her into joining their side, at which point she’s risking the consequence of a lightning bolt to the face, ’cause Zeus is watching her quite closely.  Other than that…well, there are a few minor run-ins with foreign kings that are of a less than pleasant type, but…mostly the only consequences would be if she fails in her goals of stopping the bad guys.

Wow, my books sound really shallow all of a sudden.

XII. The Hanged Man: What sacrifices do you make for writing time?  Or, what must your main character be willing to choose between?

Hmm…what does Atalanta need to choose between?  I can’t really think of anything, which is alarming.  But the thing is, I was kind of following the mold of some of the more grand myths, like Perseus’ quest to protect his mother from the lecher who wants to marry her, or Jason’s quest to get the Golden Fleece (minus the part where he starts being a horrible cad and all the wretchedness that follows) and there’s not a lot of…it’s just…the mode of the story is pretty simple:  go, do, fight, triumph.  I tried to add a little more to it than that, but…yeah, still ends up sounding really shallow, no matter how I try to shine it up.

XIII. Death: What do you do after you’*e finished a project?

After I finished the first book in this series, I went right on to the next one.  I wasn’t ready to stop writing yet.  Besides, I knew my pantsing would continue to affect where the story was going, and that later books would probably contradict earlier ones, but that the later tales would be better…and I was right about that:  something I had to say about the causes of the Trojan War in Book Six contradicted something from…Book Two, I think it was.  Either way, Book Six’s new wrinkle was much better, and might actually be truly original, so…yeah, I think I made the right call there.

XI*. Temperance: Please share your best-tested & pro*en tip for balancing writing and “the rest.”

I can’t balance anything; my life is chaos.

X*. The De*il: E*eryone has a nasty habit they can’t shake. What’s your main character’s?

For Atalanta, that’d be running off half-cocked.  She gets excited easily, and can’t stop herself from acting.  But she also has self-doubt that interferes at the worst times.  For Ariadne, it’s thinking too much and paralyzing herself by coming up with too many contradictory plans and/or possible pitfalls.  Eurysakes…honestly, I think it’s his way of talking.  He talks extremely slowly, just like his father did, which annoys those around him, and makes Ariadne cut him off a lot, because she’s pretty impatient about stuff like that.  (Though Atalanta is more or less the lead, it’s a team book, so I think it’s okay to list all three here.)

X*I. The Tower: Ha*e you e*er had to scrap an entire project and start o*er? How did it feel? Were you frustrated, sad, relie*ed, etc.?

Yeah.  This past NaNo’s project, “The Island of Dr. Tanaka.”  I was writing it specifically for these two characters I rescued from another book’s backstory, but then I didn’t finish it during NaNoWriMo, and as I kept working on it, it just got slower and slower and I couldn’t finish and I couldn’t finish…until I finally realized it was the two characters who had gotten the project going in the first place who were also killing it.  They just don’t fit the story.  But I like the story, so I don’t want to just abandon it.  So now I’m going to need to start again, with new characters in their places, and come up with something else for them.  (There are a number of my Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts on this subject…))  It is exceptionally frustrating.  To the point that I’m not ready to work on either of the projects yet.  When the semester ends and I get my summer break time, I’m either going to finally re-write Book One of the YA project I’m talking about here, or work on a superhero-themed short story I’m working on coming up with characters for.

Or possibly both, trading off one to the other on my whims.

X*II. The Star: What is your fa*orite part of starting a new project? New notebook smell? Getting to know the characters? Building the plot?

Probably the plot.  It’s usually what gets me interested.  But sometimes it’s the characters.  When it’s both, that’s when I feel the most compelled to write.  That happened with this semi-YA series; I was excited about both the characters and the whole-series plot.

X*III. The Moon: What’s the biggest lie that your main character is telling herself?

For Atalanta, it’s that her father was a great man.  Achilles was certainly great on the battlefield, but off it he was pretty reprehensible.  (Though my Achilles in the books (each book starts with a prologue during the war) isn’t nearly as reprehensible as he should be, ’cause I’m not good at writing that kind of character.)  At one point the heroines go to the the house of Hades to talk to a shade (because how could they not?) and Hermes and Hades both work pretty hard to make sure that she doesn’t meet her father’s shade, because they don’t want her to get disillusioned and fail in her quest, since that would be bad for the gods.  (Part of Atalanta’s main impetus to be heroic is to try to be worthy of who she thinks her father was.)

Ariadne is also telling herself lies about her father.  At first, she’s telling herself that the men who fathered her and Atalanta weren’t really Odysseus and Achilles, but a couple of con men (in modern parlance) claiming to be Odysseus and Achilles.  (This despite that Atalanta — at nine years old — was strong enough to throw a grown man onto a one-story roof.)  Once the oracle at Delphi had addressed Ariadne as the daughter of Odysseus, it was harder to claim her father wasn’t really Odysseus, so then Ariadne starts lying to herself that Odysseus is the scum of the earth, the worst man in the history of humanity.  While Odysseus can be pretty reprehensible, he’s nowhere near that bad.  And when Ariadne finally spends some time with Odysseus, she’s quite cold to him, despite that he wants to take up his responsibilities as her father and he genuinely cares about her.  (Of course, at her age, the only responsibility left to a father towards his daughter is to find her a good husband and pay a big dowry, but…he both offers to do both and also promises that he won’t force a husband on her.  Which is pretty astonishing for the time period.)  So one of Ariadne’s major growth points is coming to accept him, at least a little bit.

But I came to realize that Ariadne is also telling herself a much bigger lie about the way she feels for Atalanta.  I started writing a follow-up to the final book, which starts out with them going to all the places they gained help during the main series, and letting them know that the enemy has been defeated.  But when they get to Troy, they’re going to meet up with the daughter of Hector, and following some desire on her part to kill Atalanta because of what happened between their fathers, more stuff will happen and they’ll end up on their way to Hattusa to see the Hittite king, and other stuff will happen, and I didn’t really get too far.  (They hadn’t reached Troy yet.)  Anyway, as I was writing that, returning to the characters after about a year, I suddenly realized that Ariadne didn’t just possess the standard cousins/sisters feelings for Atalanta:  she wasn’t aware of it, but her feelings were more romantic in nature.  I had not intended that to be the case, so I was pretty surprised by it.  I had Eurysakes point it out (he didn’t think it was right, since Atalanta and Ariadne had been raised pretty much like sisters) but Ariadne of course denied it utterly, unable to understand that about herself.  I’m not sure if I’ll make her realize he’s right or if she’ll keep denying it.  And I’m not sure if I’ll try to make it apparent in the main series as I re-write or if I’ll let it remain as it already is.

XIX. The Sun: Do any themes, symbols, or objects come full circle in your story?

Hmm….I can’t think of any, off-hand.  Except the prologues:  the first one shows the, well, the introduction (and leading off to the bedchamber) of the heriones’ fathers to their mothers, and then shows their births nine months later, while the final prologue returns to Lesbos and shows the girls at about nine years old, and shows their mothers again, while intimating some new things about why they were born.  I’m not sure if that’s really “full circle” or not, though.

XX. Judgement: Do your characters get what they deser*e? Why or why not?

Well, in the books already written, two of them basically do…sort of.  At that point, they’re all three heroes, and they should get a happy ending, right?  So at the ending of the last book, they’re all setting out on a journey together, to share the news of their triumph, and generally to enjoy the trip, glad that they won’t be attacked so much anymore.  This is exactly what Atalanta and Ariadne want, though they do merit better still.  Eurysakes wants to marry the woman he adores, but at the end of the book he still can’t, because Helen has not yet coaxed Ramses into allowing his adopted daughter to marry a non-Egyptian.  (Yes, Helen, Queen of Sparta, is trying to play matchmaker between a Greek prince and an Egyptian princess.  It’s that kind of series.)  So he hasn’t gotten the happy ending he wants yet.

After the books, though (and I mean after the unfinished one here), Eurysakes will get to marry his Egyptian princess, and he’ll go to rule Salamis, at least until he and his brother gift it to Athens.  This is will break up the trio, though of course the girls are welcome in Salamis at all times.  But their happy endings get less and less happy, because I had in mind another series, set millennia later:  Atalanta will be forced to accept immortality and marry a god (and yes, “forced” is the word, because she doesn’t like him) and Ariadne will be left alone.  So after the books, the heroines don’t get the happy ending they should.  Which I recognize is really weird, and a little messed up, especially considering the male in the trio does get his happy ending.  (Though Ariadne will end up in an Amazon-like town the heroes help establish in one of the books, so she’ll be all right, except for the pain of being parted from Atalanta.)

It’s probably weird that I came up with this much of what happens to them long after the books end…

XXI. The World: At what point did you know that you had to write this project?

After seeing two back-to-back film trailers that utterly desecrated the entire idea of ancient Greece, in my seething fury at Hollywood, I was re-reading and re-writing my Trojan War book.  When I got to the part about Achilles killing Thersites and being sent to Lesbos, where Odysseus would perform the purification rite to cleanse him of the homicide, I started wondering what happened when they were there other than the purification rite.  I started imagining a dialog between them, as Odysseus kept getting Achilles more and more drunk, mostly for the laughs.  (This dialog ended up being a large part of the prologue of book one.)  When I knew I had to write the project was when I started wondering what the two girls would name their daughters (who in my initial imagination were just going to run off to be Amazons) and as soon as I decided the daughter of Achilles would be called Atalanta, I knew I had to write their story in full.  (Naming her Atalanta was actually an inside joke to my Trojan War book:  when Thetis took the nine-or-so-years-old Achilles to Scyros to disguise him as a girl, he suggested that his girl name should be Atalanta, which of course Thetis rejected.)

 

So, that’s the end of the questions.  Since I’m just borrowing the questions and wasn’t strictly speaking tagged (she just left an open “anyone reading this” kind of tag) I’m not gonna tag anyone else.  ‘Cause weird.

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with me talking about these books, I want to point out that this is the first time the heroines’ names appear on my blog.  (Well, in connection with these characters, anyway.  The names show up in talking about the original mythical characters for whom these characters are named.)  I’m not sure if using their names like this is proof that any hope of publishing has disappeared, or if this means I actually secretly still think it’ll someday be publishable and I’m subconsciously trying to raise interest.

Ugh, this turned out way too long.  (Took like two hours!)  Why do I always think long things are going to be short?


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Missing Letter Mondays – No “I”

Published January 25, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

“The Party”

The megaron* at Mycenae sets the scene.
Agamemnon offers couches to the guests,
So many couches; no need to share.
But the red-headed son of Peleus objects:
“There’s one place too few!”
Patroclos mutters that he should go,
Of too small note for such great company.
“No way! You can’t leave!”
Patroclos’ dearest comrade demands.
“Normally, the couches are shared,”
Odysseus tells them,
A wry form upon the mouth.
“Then you’ll share my couch,”
Peleus’ son asserts, as he takes Patroclos’ hands.
Reluctant, the young man takes a seat,
Upon the couch of the pretty boy.
The son of Telamon laughs, and takes up a cup.
“Not yet!” Agamemnon remonstrances.
“We must pour for the gods.”
Drops are poured out neat,
And the gods assuaged.
Then the party can truly start.
“Many thanks to you all,”
Menelaos tells them, at a frown,
“For your help to restore my Helen.”
“Thank the oath,” the son of Telamon grumbles.
“But any honest man who fears Zeus,
And would see decency overcome rude cruelty,
Would gladly come to your help,
Even unbound by such an oath,”
Odysseus oozed, smarmy.
“Just as young Ach–”
“Hadda restore my name, after you shamed me,
Back on Scyros,” the boy growls.
“How much have you already had?”
Patroclos asks, and pulls the empty cup away.
“Your father would rebuke me
For such a drunken state!”
“Let the boy have all the drops he wants,”
Laughed the son of Tydeus.
“All too soon we cross the sea for Troy,
And leave all joy at our backs.
For now, let the boy enjoy what we have.”
“Such enjoyment forms the core of the event,”
Agreed old Nestor, and nodded that gray head.
“Let us all enjoy each other’s good company,
As long as lovely Selene travels the sky.”
Toasts were drunk to Nestor’s plan,
And all cheered as the party got underway.


*Megaron = throne room/great hall.


 

 

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Oh.  My.  God.  So.  Much.  Harder.  Than.  Expected!

 

Pyrrha’s Original

Published August 23, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

As promised, now that I’ve posted my version, I’m going to talk about the 18th century original play.  I’ve mentioned it before, a bit, but I’m going to go into more detail now.  The title of the opera was “Achilles in Petticoats“, and it was performed in 1774 at Covent Garden, at the Theatre Royal.  The copy of the libretto I have is a .pdf of a microfiche–microfilm?–something?–of the original souvenir booklet from the time, or something.  So it has the cast list–all listed as “Mr. So-n-so” or “Miss Such-n-such”–and those horrible “long s” letters that look like “f”s and everything’s blurry like a bad old photocopy, and there’s dirt and obstructions, so sometimes it’s very hard to read.

Anyway, the interlibrary loan data on the front page of the .pdf provides the full data on the composer as the “author”, so I have his full info–Arne, Thomas Augustine, 1710-1778–but all I have on the lyricist is the “Mr. Gay” provided in the libretto itself.  Oh, no, wait, it’s here in The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s (by Jane Davidson Reid) which first told me about this opera in the first place:  “John Gay, 1685-1732, Achilles. Ballad opera (4 tunes attributed to Arcangelo Corelli).  Libretto, composer.  First performed 10 Feb 1733, Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.”  So Arne had altered (and presumably expanded) Gay’s original libretto, as well as changing the title.

Now, the most obvious changes in my version, apparent right from the start, are that I went with all-Greek names.  The 18th century preferred Roman names.  The cast list literally has “Ulysses” on it.  (Seriously.  Except it looks like it says “Ulyffes.)  So “Ulysses” and “Ajax” regained their dignity as Odysseus and Aias.  And I changed a few spellings while I was at it, preferring the Greek -os to Roman -us.  (The -eus ending actually is Greek, however.  Which is why it’s Odysseus, and not Odysseos.  In case anyone was wondering about that.)

Next major change, just in the cast list, is that I replaced the queen’s nephew with Patroclos.  In the course of “Achilles in Petticoats,” the queen engineers an engagement between her nephew and Pyrrha, and a jealous Ajax challenges her nephew to a duel over that engagement (which is fought entirely off-stage), yet her nephew, intent on sailing off to the war at Troy, has zero interest in Pyrrha.  (He is, in fact, about the only character in the play immune to Achilles’ charms.)  That doesn’t make sense and isn’t interesting or entertaining.  So I thought that if the nephew was replaced with Patroclos, then we could restore the bisexuality of the original myths, and give all those events some meaning and impact because all parties involved are actually interested.  Plus I thought that Patroclos is one of the few people who would stand a chance of surviving a duel with Aias for more than three seconds.  Also, as my favorite Achaian, I’m always eager to include him.  (May as well be honest, right?)

The final cast list change is the addition of Polyphonos, an aid to Lycomedes.  (Well, also there’s the nurse Eurycleia, but…she’s a minor character, just a servant.  And I removed Diomedes, who arrived at the end with “Ulysses,” but there was no need of him.  It had just become the traditional view that Diomedes had gone with Odysseus to fetch Achilles from Scyros, but it was hardly a task requiring two, and there wasn’t dialog enough to justify the addition of another character there.)  Polyphonos is mostly used as an aid to the death of Theseus sub-plot I introduced, but he’s also a good advisor to off-set the panderer imported from the original play.

Let’s talk about that sub-plot now, as we veer off into the changes I made to the plot.  My main goals in changing the story of the play were two-fold:  restore mythical accuracy (somewhat) and reduce sexism as much as possible (within the confines of the ancient Greek world it’s set in, at any rate).  I still kept various story angles added to the myth in “Achilles in Petticoats,” such as Lycomedes and Ajax falling in love with Pyrrha, and the jealous queen trying to marry Pyrrha off to get her out of the way, and the scene where Lycomedes tries to “ravish” Pyrrha.  (Little knowing that “Pyrrha” is actually a demi-god, and could have snapped him in half if he’d chosen.)

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Pyrrha: A Play, Scenes 20 and 21

Published August 22, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, see this page.


Scene: Cliff overlooking the sea (Day)

Pyrrha is marching along past the cliff when Patroclos catches up to her.

Patroclos: Please, listen!

Pyrrha sighs, and turns to face him.

Pyrrha: To what?

Patroclos: I just wanted to explain that it wasn’t my fault. Aias seemed to think that I had tricked the queen into—

Pyrrha: Look, I don’t care what he thought, said or did.

Patroclos: But…you…

Pyrrha grimaces, then looks around.

Pyrrha: This seems like a quiet enough spot. Maybe I can finally tell you.

Patroclos: Tell me what?

Pyrrha: Why Aias was so sure he’d seen me before.

Patroclos: I don’t understand…

Pyrrha: The truth is, I’m— Read the rest of this entry →

Pyrrha: A Play, scenes 17, 18 and 19

Published August 21, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, see this page.


 

Scene: The chambers of Lycomedes (Dusk)

{The king’s chambers would be ornately decorated, but not heavily furnished.  Possibly not really recognizable as a bedroom in the modern sense.  In fact, it wouldn’t have to be “his chambers,” just a setting where they wouldn’t be disturbed or overheard.}

Lycomedes paces his chambers, muttering angrily to himself. Diphilos approaches the king at a run, and bows low before him.

Lycomedes: You have nerve to lie to me, Diphilos. How shall I punish you for the gross deception you have played upon my fragile heart?

Diphilos: It is not I, sire, who stands in the way of your union with the young lady.

Lycomedes: No, it’s the young lady herself!

Diphilos: Nay, sire, listen to me, I pray you! It is those strangers, the men sent by Agamemnon!

Lycomedes: What? What do you mean by this cryptic accusation?

Diphilos: They both covet her for themselves, and their handsome youth distracts her from the love she truly bears for you.

Lycomedes: Then you think she will restore her affection for me once they’ve sailed off to die in battle?

Diphilos: Not if the queen has her way, sire.

Lycomedes: That blasted woman! Always standing in my way!

Diphilos: But I have a plan, sire. If her two handsome beaus should kill one another, then the lady Pyrrha will have no man but you. Read the rest of this entry →

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. Read the rest of this entry →

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. Read the rest of this entry →

Pyrrha: A Play, Scene 7

Published August 11, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the previous scenes, see this page.


 

Scene: Megaron of Lycomedes (Dusk)

The court has been set up for the banquet. There are large tables, set with food. Reclined on couches beside the tables are Lycomedes, Theaspe, Polyphonos, Diphilos and other members of the Scyran court, along with Aias and Patroclos.

Lycomedes: I hope my island fare is suitable to your palate?

Aias: (irked) Salamis is also an island.

Patroclos coughs uncomfortably.

Patroclos: Everything is excellent, sire.

Theaspe: My husband tells me your father’s name is Menoitios?

Patroclos: Yes, your majesty. I doubt you will have heard of him.

Theaspe: Is he not the one from Locris?

Patroclos: Formerly of Locris, yes. I’m surprised you would know of him.

The queen laughs.

Theaspe: I should I hope I would! He married my sister, after all.

Patroclos: Wh-what?!

Theaspe: I don’t find it too surprising, looking at you. You resemble my poor, late brother.

Patroclos: Y-yes, that’s what my mother says, too.

Theaspe: I don’t know why he joined those fools in their struggle against Thebes.

Patroclos: My father tells me my late uncle was very fond of Tydeus, and that was why he joined their mad quest.

Aias: At least Diomedes avenged them.

Patroclos: That’s true. I probably ought to thank him on my mother’s behalf.

Aias laughs.

Aias: Better not to. He might get a swelled head.

Patroclos chuckles.

Lycomedes: Ah, here they come! My friends, as I keep no bards or other entertainers, the only diversion I can offer you is a simple song, performed by a few of my own daughters. But I do hope their meager talents will still please you.

Pyrrha, Deidameia and other daughters of Lycomedes enter. They assemble in a group, with Pyrrha and Deidameia at the center front, and begin to sing.

Girls: (singing) Once on a time Hera bare him because she was angry with father Zeus, when the Son of Cronos bare all-glorious Athena in his head. Thereupon queenly Hera was angry and spoke thus among the assembled gods: ‘Hear from me, all gods and goddesses, how cloud-gathering Zeus begins to dishonour me wantonly, when he has made me his true-hearted wife. See now, apart from me he has given birth to bright-eyed Athena who is foremost among all the blessed gods. But my son Hephaestus whom I bare was weakly among all the blessed gods and shrivelled of foot, a shame and disgrace to me in heaven, whom I myself took in my hands and cast out so that he fell in the great sea. But silver-shod Thetis the daughter of Nereus took and cared for him with her sisters: would that she had done other service to the blessed gods! O wicked one and crafty! What else will you now devise? How dared you by yourself give birth to bright-eyed Athena? Would not I have borne you a child—I, who was at least called your wife among the undying gods who hold wide heaven. Beware now lest I devise some evil thing for you hereafter: yes, now I will contrive that a son be born me to be foremost among the undying gods—and that without casting shame on the holy bond of wedlock between you and me. And I will not come to your bed, but will consort with the blessed gods far off from you.’ [Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, as far as I can tell; this Kindle thing is really kind of hard to navigate through; temporary song, just to give an idea of what the content would be]

The room is silent for too long after the song ends.

Theaspe: What are you hanging about for? Go back inside!

The girls dutifully leave, though Pyrrha lingers at the door, staring expressionlessly in the direction of the table. Because Aias, Patroclos and Lycomedes are all sitting near each other, it’s impossible to see which of them she’s looking at.

Polyphonos: Strange choice of song.

Lycomedes glances at his wife suspiciously.

Lycomedes: Yes, it was.

Aias: Who was the maiden with the red hair? I feel as though I have seen her before.

Lycomedes: Ah, that was Pyrrha. I had not intended for her to take part in this diversion. She was entrusted to me by her mother many years ago, and has been raised with my daughters ever since.

Patroclos: She’s beautiful…but she also looked sad. Is something troubling her?

Lycomedes: She has been a bit melancholy of late.

Theaspe laughs bitterly.

Lycomedes: I’m sure it’s nothing serious. You know how young girls are.

Aias: That last look from her was haunting.

Patroclos: It felt like she was looking into my soul.

Aias: (a bit jealous) Why should she have been looking at you?

Patroclos: I didn’t mean that she—

Lycomedes: She was merely curious about our guests, I’m sure.

Theaspe: I don’t see why our guests should concern Pyrrha, my husband.

Lycomedes: Young girls are naturally curious, my dear.

Theaspe: Perhaps she simply wanted another look at them because they’re such handsome young men.

Lycomedes scowls. Aias and Patroclos both look embarrassed.

Lycomedes: I’m sure Pyrrha is not so shallow as that.

Theaspe: No, I’m sure not. She’ll have been more interested in their fortunes than their faces.

Lycomedes slams his fist into the table.

Lycomedes: That is no way to speak of our guest!

Polyphonos: Sire, perhaps this is not the time to discuss the young lady…

Lycomedes clears his throat uncomfortably.

Lycomedes: Perhaps not. But I don’t want my guests thinking that they will be gossiped of so crudely as—

Theaspe: Crudely? You ignorant dolt!

She rises from the table and storms out of the room. Lycomedes sighs.

Lycomedes: I apologize that you had to witness such a display. She’s normally better behaved than that.

Aias nods silently.

Patroclos: I’m used to that sort of thing. My mother’s the same way.

Polyphonos: I must say, I find the sudden claim of shared blood between yourself and the queen somewhat…hard to believe.

Patroclos: As did I, until just now. But I’ve never seen any other woman act that way before. Must be something in the blood.

Aias starts laughing.

Polyphonos: Your mother never mentioned her sister being a queen?

Patroclos: She never really talks about her family, other than her late brother. But she did say once that she had five sisters, and only the one brother.

Aias: That must be the reason Odysseus asked you to come. He knew about the queen being your aunt.

Patroclos: I guess. Wish he’d mentioned it to me, though.

Aias laughs.

Lycomedes: (suspicious) I thought you were here on behalf of the King of Mycenae. Why should the king of such a remote place as Ithaca have been giving you orders?

Patroclos: Odysseus is one of Agamemnon’s most trusted advisors.

Aias: (chuckling) The most trusted, if you ask Odysseus.

Lycomedes: One hears bad rumors about the man.

Patroclos: I think most of them are unfounded.

Lycomedes: Only most?

Patroclos laughs uncomfortably.

Aias: Will you be sending ships to help recover the Queen of Lacedaemon?

Lycomedes: I can’t come to such a momentous decision so quickly!

He shakes his head.

Lycomedes: That being said, of course, I’m sure that there must be many young men here who would wish to go and make their fortunes in war. I cannot spare many of my own soldiers, and I am certainly not young enough to go myself, but I will provide ships to carry any volunteers from the island.

Aias: You should at least send one of your sons to lead them.

Lycomedes: Alas, I have no sons. My stubborn wife refuses to deliver any. Keeps insisting that it must be my fault that she’s had ten daughters and not a single son.

Patroclos: I think it’s safe to say that she’s wrong about that, sire. It seems to run in the family.

Polyphonos: Oh? Are you secretly a woman?

Patroclos: Of course not! But I do have four sisters.

Polyphonos: My sympathies to your father.

Patroclos: I’m sure he’d appreciate them. He and the king are always moaning about their bad luck in producing offspring.

Lycomedes: Which king would that be? Surely not Telamon!

Patroclos laughs.

Patroclos: Certainly not! No, my father and I reside at the court of—

A servant runs into the room, interrupting Patroclos, and whispers something to Polyphonos, then runs out again.

Lycomedes: What was that?

Polyphonos: As you requested, housing has been arranged for the men aboard the Salaminian ship. They’ve been safely moved ashore, and are being fed.

Lycomedes: Ah, excellent.

Aias frowns, and gets to his feet.

Aias: I want to see to their provisions myself.

Polyphonos: I’ll show you the way, my lord.

Polyphonos rises, and leads Aias out of the room.

Lycomedes: Ah, that reminds me, Diphilos, did you see to the matter I requested of you?

Diphilos: I have been unable to so far, my lord, but I should be able to complete your task instantly.

He rises, and scurries out. Lycomedes frowns.

Lycomedes: I shan’t be able to rest until I have my answer…

He rises, and walks out of the room.

Patroclos: What…?

He looks around. The other courtiers can only look back at him uncertainly.

Patroclos: I suppose the banquet’s over, then.

He, too, rises, and leaves the stage.


Just as the ancient sources say sod-all about Lycomedes’ wife, they also tend to be silent about Patroclos’ mother.  (Uh, in those sources that don’t make him first cousin to Achilles, that is.  In some of those cases, we probably know more about his maternity.  Probably.)  Anyway, given that, I figured it was okay to play fast and loose like this.  Because, you see, Patroclos was not in the play I’m basing this on.  He’s taking the place of a character who was not in the original myth, a character who was the queen’s nephew.  So I decided that, since we know so little of Patroclos’ mother, we could make her the queen’s sister, so he’s still the queen’s nephew.  Stupid?  Yes, probably.  As for the whole bit about the Seven against Thebes, well, that just seemed like an easy talking point, something that everyone would know about, so that they could discuss a lost relation that Patroclos resembled, someone who had died in a manner that everyone present–relative or not–would know about.  It was just a cheap-and-dirty “neither of them is making it up” thing.  I hope it worked acceptably, and didn’t make it sound more fake instead of less.  (It’s hard to judge these things from the inside, y’know?)

 

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.
Read the rest of this entry →

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