Scene 1

AGAMEMNON: Old man!  Old man, come here!  Here, to me.

OLD SERVANT (OS): I am coming, King Agamemnon.  What has happened?

AGAMEMNON: Come quickly!

OLD SERVANT (OS): I am coming as quickly as I can.

(AGAMEMNON picks up the tablet, looks at it.  The OLD SERVANT enters, unnoticed.  AGAMEMNON throws the tablet down and holds his head in his hands.  AGAMEMNON picks up the tablet, looks at it and looks at the sky, not noticing the OLD SERVANT until he speaks.)

I was wide awake anyway.  At my age, my eyes don’t close at night.

AGAMEMNON: What star is that I see?

OLD SERVANT: It is Sirius, the dog star, swiftly pursuing the seven Pleiades.

AGAMEMNON: Everything has become so silent.  The birds, the sea, even the wind makes no sound.

OLD SERVANT: Then what has disturbed you from your rest, my king?  All is calm and quiet.  The guards are as still as statues.  Why not go back inside?

AGAMEMNON: I envy you, old man.  I envy any man who lives an anonymous life. I have never envied those who are famous or powerful.

OLD SERVANTL But those are the men who live lives of glory.

AGAMEMNON: Yes, but that glory is just a trap.  It is sweet for a moment, but painful thereafter.  Sometimes it is the gods who destroy you, and sometimes it is vicious hordes of mortal men.

OLD SERVANT: It disturbs me to hear such words from a noble king.  Agamemnon, you are the son of Atreus, and he did not bring you into the world to pursue happiness alone.  You are a man, and like all men, must experience both joy and sorrow.  Whether you wish it or not, it is the will of the gods.

But I notice that you have something in your hand, a tablet, and that your lamp is lit.  You’ve written a message.  You take your tablet and you throw it to the ground, you pick it up, and you weep.  You are like a man who has lost his reason.  My king, please tell me what drives you to such despair.  I am your loyal servant.  I have been with you since your marriage, and I was picked by your bride’s father for my honesty.  You can trust me.

AGAMEMNON: Yes, you are a loyal servant, loyal to both my wife and me.  Go.  Take this message.  Take it to my wife in Argos.

OLD SERVANT: Tell me what it says.  Then if she asks me to repeat it, I will be able to assure her she reads truly.

(AGAMEMNON reads the tablet.)

AGAMEMNON: “Klytemnestra, ignore what I wrote to you in my last message.  Listen to this only.  Do not bring your daughter here to Aulis.  The wind has died, and there is not even a wave that touches the shore.  We will find a more auspicious time for her marriage to Achilles.”

OLD SERVANT: What will you do when Achilles learns you have deprived him of his bride?  He will be furious with you and Klytemnestra.  This is a dangerous decision.

AGAMEMNON: We have used his name, but Achilles knows nothing of this plan, this marriage, nothing of what I have said about giving him my daughter.

OLD SERVANT: Then your promise to marry Iphigenia to the son of a goddess—

AGAMEMNON: Was merely an excuse to fetch her here, so she could be sacrificed for the good of Achaea.

OLD SERVANT: A bold and terrible deed.

AGAMEMNON: A horror!  By all the gods, a horror, I have gone mad.  I am heading to my ruin.  Go, quickly, as fast as your old legs can manage.

OLD SERVANT: I shall, my king.

AGAMEMNON: Do not pause to drink or rest or sleep.

OLD SERVANT: How could you think it?

AGAMEMNON: Stop at every fork of the road and make sure that no carriage rolls past you, carrying my daughter here to the harbor.

OLD SERVANT: I promise you, I will.

AGAMEMNON: If you see them on the way, make them turn back, send them at full speed towards Mycenae, to stay inside the walls constructed by the Cyclops.

OLD SERVANT: What will make them trust me when I tell them to turn back?

(AGAMEMNON hands the old servant his ring.)

AGAMEMNON: My seal.  They know it.  Keep that letter safe.  Now go.  Already the sun’s fire begins to light the sky.  Go.  I am depending on your help.

(OLD SERVANT exits offstage.) 

No mortal can truly live a life of happiness.  We are all fated to face misery, given time. 

(AGAMEMNON exits into his hut.)


© Edward Einhorn 2015