Lycomedes

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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.)

Read the rest of this entry →

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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 12, 13 and 14

Published August 16, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, see this page.  Scene 12 is going to feel pretty weird, fair warning, but it’s directly adapting a scene out of the 18th century opera this is based on.  I’ll explain in more detail after I’ve posted the full play.


 

Scene: A wide courtyard (Day)

{It’s a wide courtyard, surrounded by columns, which hold up the upper level of the palace. There would be a balcony overlooking the courtyard, but likely the balcony would just be part of the matte painting. Mycenaean columns, like Minoan columns, were wider at the top than at the base; they’re very cool-looking. The courtyard would be brightly painted and highly decorated.}

Lycomedes is just entering from one side of the stage as Pyrrha enters from the other.

Lycomedes: Ah, I’ve been looking for you, Pyrrha.

Pyrrha: Hmm? Why?

Lycomedes: Surely you know why.

Pyrrha: This isn’t about the silver vessel, is it?

Lycomedes: Vessel?

Pyrrha: I guess not. In that case, I can’t imagine what business you could have with me. But I’m expected in the garden, so—

Lycomedes: You will accept this token from me.

He holds out the ring.

Pyrrha: Zeus, give me strength! (to Lycomedes) Sire, I have no interest in your ring.

Lycomedes: There’s no need to play coy, my dear. No one can overhear us here.

Pyrrha: As I told your sycophant last night, I have not the slightest interest in receiving love tokens from you or any other man. I had hoped, for Deidameia’s sake, that he did not actually act on your instructions, but it would seem that my hopes were in vain.

Lycomedes: I will not have my hopes be in vain. Accept the ring, and with it my affections.

Pyrrha: I don’t want either.

She tries to leave, but Lycomedes blocks her path. 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 →

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? Read the rest of this entry →

Pyrrha: A Play, Scenes 1 and 2

Published August 7, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, since no one told me not to, I’m going to go ahead and post my play.  How many scenes per day will depend on how long the scenes are.  There are a total of 22 scenes, but some are pretty short, so a number of them will be doubled up, while others are pretty long, and will definitely stand alone.  The play will not be pre-empting the usual Monday, Wednesday and Thursday features.  So don’t worry about that.  Once I’ve finished, I’ll do a final post talking about the 18th century opera (operetta?) on which this was loosely based.  If you have any suggestions regarding dialog and characterization, please pipe up at any time, ’cause this is only an early draft.  Story matters should probably wait until after the whole thing has been posted, though.

I have no idea how plays are formatted these days, so I’m just kind of formatting this on the fly, and trying to make it clear what’s going on.  I apologize if I’ve goofed up in that regard.


 

Dramatis Personae
(In alphabetical order)

Aias, Prince of Salamis
Deidameia, eldest daughter of Lycomedes
[Diphilos], a courtier of Scyros
[Eurycleia], nurse serving the daughters of Lycomedes
Lycomedes, King of Scyros
Odysseus, King of Ithaca
Patroclos, a warrior of Phthia
Pyrrha, a mystery
[Polyphonos], advisor to Lycomedes
[Theaspe], Queen of Scyros
A Herald, in service to Aias.
Other daughters of Lycomedes.
Servants of Lycomedes.
Traders from foreign lands.

[The names in brackets are to be search-replaced once I have better ones; Diphilos and Theaspe come from the play I based this on (though there it was spelled Diphilus, but I changed it to Diphilos in order to match the other spellings, since I prefer the Greek -os endings to the Roman -us endings), Polyphonos just seemed a reasonable name for an advisor, and I borrowed the name Eurycleia from the Odyssey, since this one is a servant in the same basic position. As far as I know, there are no ancient sources which give a name for Lycomedes’ wife, so I just went with the name from the play I was basing this on, for now, but I don’t like it as a name, and would prefer to replace it with a better one.  If she did, in fact, have a name in antiquity, that would be perfect.  But I don’t recall seeing one in Statius–in fact, I don’t recall Lycomedes even having a wife in Statius, though surely he must have done, if he had daughters–and there aren’t actually that many ancient accounts of this myth to consult, so…yeah, for the moment, I just have to stick with this name I don’t like one bit.]

General stagecraft explanation: I imagine this as being the type of play to have minimal sets—especially given the rapidity of some of the scene switches—so it would probably just have backdrops and the bare minimum of props to make a scene work. Costumes and set design, ideally, would be based on the Late Bronze Age, not the Classical Era, since I’ve based various tidbits of dialog on LBA cultural realities—talking about Hatti, the kingdom of the Hittites, for example—and the stuff about the traders towards the end wouldn’t make sense if they were living in an era with coinage. I’ll give a brief description of each location the first time it shows up.

As to how people dress, the men would be wearing either kilt-like loincloths or short-sleeved tunics, either way stopping at about their knees. If they’re anything like the Greeks of the historic era, they don’t shave (well, except the historic era Spartans shaved their upper lips, for whatever reason, but as there aren’t any Spartans in this, that’s rather a moot point) but based on Mycenaean art, it’s not completely certain that they practiced the same non-shaving policy, so we’re free to imagine a handsomely clean-shaven Patroclos. (Yes, I’m biased in favor of the clean-shaven look. There’s nothing wrong with that.) How women dressed is even less clear from Mycenaean art, especially in the “everyday” sense. Formal, ritual attire may well have been like the famous “snake goddess” faience statuette found at Knossos, but for everyday purposes, it’s fairly certain that regular girls would not have walked around with their bosoms exposed. However, it’s very possible (even probable) that royal girls like the daughters of Lycomedes would have worn dresses with flounced skirts like those of the snake goddess, just not with the open top like that.

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Ulrich von Lichtenstein

Published December 6, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

I had no idea there was really a person by that name.  (Or using it as a pen name?)  But there was.  He wrote a (probably fictional) autobiography in verse that was largely about him courting ladies and jousting, sometimes in a dress.  (Seriously!)  Apparently, he lived in the early-to-mid 13th century.

Sounds like his autobiography hasn’t seen much publication in modern times:  the book listed a German one in 1812 (he was from Styria, a place in Austria) and a “condensed” English one in 1969.

If I had more time, I would look to see if I could find a copy.  I bet it’s a really interesting read.

(Speaking of interesting reads, I was disappointed by the ending of “Achilles in Petticoats.”  After Odysseus reveals Achilles’ secret, there’s no “wait, that’s a guy I was hitting on?!” moment for any of his admirers, just an “oh, so that’s why ‘she’ was so close to Deidamia!” moment, followed by the promise of an o’er-hasty marriage prior to his departure for Troy.  Very dull when compared to the comedy that preceded it.  I am totally writing an updated version, only mine is going to add Patroclos, and hopefully maintain the same tone throughout.  (To assert that it will be funny throughout would be overweening confidence, I fear…)  But I’ll keep some of the narrative devices that were not a feature of the classical myth, like Lycomedes developing a passion for the “girl” left in his care…)

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