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A Trojan Summer Night

- An Erody in one Picture -


EROTIS PERSONÆ:

PARIS, Prince of Troy – black-haired, dark-eyed
HELEN, wife of Paris – black-haired, dark-eyed, taller than all others,wearing a diaphanous tunic with a belt
COMMANDER – blonde, blue-eyed
GOVERNOR – black-skinned
DAUGHTER of Paris and Helen – blonde, blue-eyed
SON of Paris and Helen – black-skinned
CASSANDRA, sister of Paris – wild, unkempt, mad with fear
POLYXENA, sister of Paris – pensive
PRIAM, King of Troy, father of Paris – melancholic, grey-haired
MENELAUS, husband of Helen, King of Sparta
MUSICIANS
SERVANTS
GREEK AND TROJAN WARRIORS


A large chamber, at its end an opened two-winged door to a balcony with a view of the courtyard, the city walls and, behind it, the shore and the sea.
The room itself is tastefully decorated with flowers, amphorae, fruit baskets etc.
In front there are two marble statues: one of Apollo with a lyre placed in his hand, and one of bare-breasted Aphrodite with a red rose placed in one hand and a pomegranate in the other. In the middle there is a small fountain.
In the far corner of the room, a group of musicians sit at a table and eat and drink. Their instruments lean against the wall or lie on the table. Beside them is the servants' entrance who bring food and wine, torches etc., remove plates etc.

Sunset. Paris and Helen.

PARIS: How beautifully Helos leaves this pleasant day, his shining carriage melting in the sea, how lovingly he spreads his flaming arrows across the lambent fields of Troy before the horses with his golden bowl descend to rest and rise again at morn.

HELEN: The sun goes down all right.

PARIS: I wish I knew where he is staying and where his noble horses sleep, I wish I knew that tranquil haven where gods and men can rest at ease.

HELEN: Why should you rest where gods are resting when there's a goddess by your side?

PARIS: My dreams might be more peaceful at their side.

They look at the sunset. After a while, she gently takes his hand.

HELEN: Master of Hearts, what's on your troubled mind?

PARIS: A dream approached my soul last night: I was the guard who watched the city gates when silver-breasted Aphrodite appeared beside me with the laurel garland. As I reached out for it, the gates were opened and Ilion was captured by the mob. They set the palace and the tow'rs on fire, and minutes later Troy was left in ruins; our fecund fields were burnt to ashes, and everything I have was carried off by peasants.

HELEN: Don't let your dreams confuse your mind! You have endured the long beleaguerment; in those ten years of war you did resist their armies, you weakened and beset the enemy. Now that their strength is fading and their power, the war will end, and victory is nigh!

PARIS: I trust you're right. I won't allow the gods to cloud my vision with silly dreams!

Commander enters.

COMMANDER: Paris, the Greeks are up to something new! They build a wooden horse to honour Pallas, and it is rumoured that whoever has possession of it will win the war!

PARIS: Then they shan't have it! Take the best warriors you have and launch a sally to capture Pallas' horse, and tell your men they needn't return without it!

COMMANDER: This, Paris, I have done already! Have faith in Ilion's army; we'll bring the horse tonight, and once the gods have turned against the Greeks, there shall be nothing that could stop our triumph!

Commander leaves.

HELEN: He didn't call you Prince!

PARIS: I didn't call him subject.

HELEN: Your people have to show respect for you! You surely will dismiss the man who called you by your name as if he were of noble birth himself.

PARIS: He's one of my best soldiers, and I will not dismiss him for not keeping the form!

HELEN: But you will certainly take measures against the hireling who dares to treat himself as an equal, in order to teach him some discipline!

PARIS: Discipline is for weaklings. Freedom is for men!

HELEN: But my first husband would have had him executed! In Menelaus' army there is rigid discipline, and even from Achilles himself he had never tolerated a slight like that!

PARIS: That's why he's not a man, and that is why his people have no respect for him!

HELEN: They have! You know he leads one of the greatest armies, and everyone obeys his very word!

PARIS: Because they fear him; fear is not respect! Nobody can expect to be respected by people whom he won't respect himself, and as a man who doesn't value freedom, he neither can approve of pulchritude, for beauty rambles in the wild!

HELEN: You know that just like you he married me because of my beauty!

PARIS: Your other husband is amongst the richest men, and, having heard you are the grandest woman, he claimed you to be added to his wealth. Why did you choose him anyway?

HELEN: Having the choice between some senile chieftains, a few pubescent princes and a young and wealthy king, no woman would think twice. But, as you know, I never let him touch me; I never loved him, and I saved myself for the one who would capture my heart. Of course he tried to consummate our marriage, but I refused to let him near. He thought of leaving me, but all his subjects, all soldiers would have ridiculed their king, and so we played our roles until that day…

PARIS: That fateful day of invidious Eris' apple. Your father came to me with three contestants and asked me to decide who was to claim that generous present of the goddess of discord.
'To the most beautiful,' it was inscribed on the aureate apple that he gave to me.
'It certainly belongs to me,' shrieked boulder-hearted Hera, 'the mother of all mothers, the Queen of every king!'
'It doesn't say "To the most powerful,"' said I and saw her equine face contort with rage.
'I'm sure it's meant for me,' smiled sapience-armoured Pallas, 'who gently leads the virgins into prudence, the poets into wisdom, the nations into war.'
I answered, 'I wouldn't hesitate a moment if it said "To the most judicious," but as it doesn't, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for another apple.'
'So what's your verdict?' whispered silver-breasted Aphrodite, and speechless with admiration I looked at her flawless features and gave her the apple.
She told me, 'There is no truer appreciator of Beauty, and I shall award you the love of the most beautiful woman on Earth. Sail to Kythera and sacrifice in my temple, and there you shall find the woman who'll be known to the world as Helen of Troy.'
So I set sail at once beneath the azure skies, and flying o'er the peaceful ocean I soon approached the island of my fate. I hurried to the temple to bring my oblation, and there I met my swan-begotten doom.

HELEN: My maids informed me that the Trojan Prince advanced upon a brigantine with painted sails, and so I hastened to the silver shore to look at the most handsome hero and most passionate lover whom everybody talked about. And when I saw you, standing at the prow, I knew you were the one I had been waiting for. There only could have been one reason for a comely prince to visit Lovers' Isle, and so I sailed to Kythera as well to wait for you in Aphrodite's holy temple…

PARIS: I entered the halls of Cytherea and saw you standing in the aisle. Our gleaming eyes penetrated each others', and the firmest tie of the world was tied…

HELEN: Your glistening body of shining bronze, your locks of ebony, your eyes of velvet night – I almost fainted the moment I sank into your arms…

PARIS: I never thought the world would host such beauty! I only looked into your yearning eyes, I kissed your raven-hair and felt your crimson lips upon my skin. Your slender arms were wrapped around me, your gracile legs were touching mine, your salient breasts like Spartan bucklers stood erect, adorned by rosebuds of the early spring…

HELEN: For the first time I felt I was a woman, and since that day that's all I want to be. We let our bodies melt into one another, and, falling back on Aphrodite's sacred altar, fulfilled our love…

PARIS: The earth was trembling, Mount Olympus quaked the moment that our passion has been executed…

Nightfall. The full moon is rising. The gates are opened, and the wooden horse is brought into the courtyard.

PARIS: This is the product of a hand divine! No mortal master could create such beauty out of a piece of wood!

HELEN: It looks alive, as if it were ready to bury the city of Troy beneath its hoofs!

PARIS: It'll rather bury the armies of Greece! This horse is sacrificed to Pallas, and as we have it, she'll be on our side!

Commander enters.

COMMANDER: Paris, the war is won! We quietly surrounded their host and then attacked out of the blue! Some of the warriors tried to put up resistance, but soon they were defeated while the others hurried to their ships and fled in terror!

PARIS: This is the end of all our sufferings; the Greeks are gone, the shore is ours again! I will award you all the honours you deserve, all treasures I can give and, above all, the hand of my fair sister Polyxena. Your deed will be remembered by all future generations: you saved the city of our pride! Now go and give orders to prepare the feast for the morrow!

Commander leaves.

PARIS: This is the second happiest moment of my life! I wouldn't dare to think what would have happened if Menelaus had won the war and claimed you back…

HELEN: I never would have gone back to Menelaus; I'd rather die than live without your love!

PARIS: I couldn't live without your love either: you're everything I have, and all I have is yours.

Governor enters with Paris' and Helen’s son and daughter.

GOVERNOR: Your children want to say goodnight.

PARIS: What have you done today?

SON: We have been hunting rabbits in the woods!

PARIS (bending down to them): Tomorrow I will take you to the shore!

DAUGHTER: The shore? You've said it's full of soldiers, and everyone who goes there risks his life!

PARIS: The Greeks have fled – the shore is ours again! Now go to sleep, and when the sun has risen, I'll show you all the beauties of the sea: the billows and the shells, the turtles and the fish, and miles and miles of sand; we will go bathing in the crystal water and watch the sunset far beyond the ocean. (Kissing his children:) Goodnight, my dears. I'll see you in the morning!

Governor and children leave.

Night. Servants close the door of the balcony. Torches are lit.

HELEN: There's something fishy about this horse! If what they said was true, it wouldn't have been seized that easily!

PARIS: We caught their army by surprise, that's all there is to it! They know the war is lost, and now they're heading home!

HELEN: You doubt the victory as much as I do and try to hide your qualms from me!

PARIS: A man can only hide his thoughts by covering his face and gagging his own mouth. Man's spirit is an open-air arena where everybody sees what's happening, while woman's spirit is a labyrinth, and there's a Minotaur at every corner.

Cassandra enters.

CASSANDRA: The horse must burn! Tonight the war will be over, and if the horse should still be in Troy at dawn, our city will be devastated and wiped out from the face of the Earth! Destroy the horse, or else we shall not live to see the morrow!

PARIS: The horse, Cassandra, is dedicated to Athena, and with it she herself is on our side! She is too strong an enemy to take a chance, and I'm too close to victory to follow sororal advice!

CASSANDRA: I don't speak as your sister – I'm speaking as a prophetess! I've seen Achilles, Agamemnon, Menelaus and their armies storming against you, seen their attempts to make you fall being to no avail, and I have seen the wooden horse spitting blood and fire and run over you as if you were a toy!

PARIS: You are a prophetess as much as Hector was a shepherd; tell me, how many of your prophecies have ever been fulfilled?

CASSANDRA: All of them, and you know it! The Greeks don't stand a chance against your army, and like the Spartans they are fighting for they now resort to subterfuge!

HELEN: I'm Spartan, and I'm proud of it!

PARIS: A man is proud of his achievements, not of his origin.

HELEN: What harm could there be done by a wooden horse? Are you afraid that it might nigh and spoil your hairdo?

CASSANDRA: This horse will be the end of Ilion; ten years you could resist a mighty host, and now you're falling for a simple trick!

Cassandra storms out.

PARIS: Why did she have to refuse Apollo? He loved her, and he would have granted her all gifts that she could ask for; but since he's been rejected by Cassandra, he's done to her mind what he couldn't do to her body!

HELEN: The love of gods has always led to trouble, whether it's been accepted or refused.

PARIS: Even settling their disputes can be of fatal consequences! I was content before my dream came true, content to play the lyre and sing of Beauty, content with the muse that Apollo bestowed unto me; but since my boyhood's dream has been fulfilled, I live in anguish, and I dread the morrow. I didn't get a chance to win; had I chosen boulder-hearted Hera, she would have made me a great emperor – but poets do not live to rule a country. Had I chosen sapience-armoured Pallas, she would have made me a philosopher – but poets do not live to seek the truth. I made the judgement according to my conscience, for Beauty is the only virtue that rewards her acolytes by her mere existence; in any case, I had to offend two of these deities – had I refused to judge, all three of them would now have turned against me!

HELEN: You gave the apple unto Cytherea.

PARIS (confused): Of course I did! What do you mean?

HELEN: You gave her the apple that said 'To the most beautiful,' so you must deem her more beautiful than me.

PARIS: It's sad that Eris' power goes so far! I didn't know you then, and if I hadn't given it to her, I never would. You're certainly more beautiful than Cytherea , but one can hardly ask a goddess to return a present!

Polyxena enters.

POLYXENA: You slew the man who loved me most of all! His eyes were like the tempered iron of red-hot sword blades when they leave the forge, his hands as big and strong as thunderbolts from killing beasts and heroes without weapons…

PARIS: He tried to ravish you, Polyxena!

POLYXENA: A woman can only be ravished against her will!

PARIS: He was an enemy and tried to kill the lot of us! He was the mightiest warrior of the foe, and it was prophesied that Troy could not be conquered without his help; now, since he's dead, the walls of Troy are safe!

POLYXENA: What are the walls of Troy to me, now that my dream has been extinguished? What is the Trojan moon to me, now that she rises o'er an early grave? What are the lives of my own kin to me, now that the one I've lived for lives no more? I lie awake at night, still waiting for his footsteps in the hall, but I shall hear them nevermore. I ope my eyes at night, still waiting for his face to bend o'er mine, but I shall see it nevermore. I clench my fists at night and wish our father had killed you when you were born!

Polyxena leaves.

PARIS: Why is the taste of Love so bitter? Why is the scent of Love so sweet? Why do we have to play our threnodies and canzonets upon the selfsame lyre?

HELEN: Love is the punishment for wanting more. No man, no god has ever been content with what they had, and their ambition to reach higher is called love: love for a woman or a country or a horse.

PARIS: I am content with what I have, and I'd be happy if no one tried to take it away!

HELEN: Some crave the things they cannot reach, and some the things they cannot keep.

Priam enters.

PRIAM: I understand the Greeks have left the shore.

PARIS: They have indeed, my father, and will not return.

PRIAM: I wouldn't be so sure if I were you, for Menelaus is a desperate man, and he will not give up that readily. Still I don't know why he has launched this war as Helen merely seems to be his coat of arms. He doesn't love her, nor anybody else; why did he marry her, and why won't he accept the kingly meed you offered him?

PARIS: When, as a child, we saw a comely rose, we had to pluck it, and when we saw a noble swan, we had to catch it, and when we saw a gracile deer, we had to kill it, and when we saw a fancy toy, we had to buy it. Some of us have matured, and some have not.

PRIAM: So, if you have matured, why not return his wife, restoring peace and prosperity in Troy? The world's most nubile and attractive women could be yours; there's none who wouldn't gladly come to Troy to live with you, like svelte Oinone, the lissome nymph you have deserted, or handsome Penthesilea, the Queen of Amazons who's fighting on our side.

PARIS: Who tasted nectar won't return to wine.

HELEN: King Priam, certainly the war is over! The horse the Greeks have built to honour Pallas is now within the walls of Ilion, and, knowing that the gods abandoned them, the hosts of Agamemnon and of Menelaus have withdrawn.

PRIAM: With or without the horse the war is lost! There's something I should have told you long ago, or, better even, never tell you.
The reason you were raised by shepherds in the mountains was not that robbers killed your governor and that they found you crying in the woods and brought you to their tents. When you were born, your mother dreamt that she gave birth to a burning torch, and she was told that Troy would be destroyed by you. She urged me then to bring you to the sea and drown you, but how could a father even think of killing his child? I wrapped you up in woollen blankets and took you to the shepherds in the mountains who cared for you until your mother died; then I came back to bring you to your people, ignoring the appalling prophecy.

PARIS: But there's a prophecy saying that Troy could not be defeated without Achilles' help, and now our city has outlived the warrior! When I confronted Menelaus in the combat for this one prize only one man can claim, I caught a glimpse of this shadow of a hero, lovesick and sulking, wishing his King were dead. But though he pined for copper-haired Briseis, Mynes' wife whom Agamemnon took from him, I saw his face light up at Polyxena's sight; the pulchritude of my languorous sister revivified his spirits in a trice!
That night I hid beside her sleeping chamber, and in the dead of night I heard his steps as he approached the object of his ardour; Zeus only knows how he got into Troy, but lovers always find a way. I followed him into her room, and there I saved my sister's chastity, revenged my brother Hector and refuted the prophecy of Ilion's fall.
No host could break the power of Achilles, no warrior was able to impair him; now Love has done what armies failed to do!

PRIAM: I have misgivings about your parlous victory; there's nothing I wish more than that you're right, but something tells me that Olympus has hung its shroud of doom o'er Troy.

Priam leaves.

PARIS: Stay up with me tonight and let us glory in our triumph! Let us await the dawn with eager eyes to greet the orient daystar when flamboyant Eos unfolds the morn of victory!

HELEN: And when the sun has risen, we will take our children to the shore. How long I longed to swim in Ægean waters again and feel the billows clasping me, how long I longed to walk the solitary beach again and feel the fine warm sand beneath my naked feet. That's how we'll celebrate the conclusion of the war that caused so much bloodshed and senseless killing on either side.

PARIS: Not either side! No Trojan ever murdered anyone who did not try to kill him first; we're nothing like the Greeks who slay whomever they get hold of, who massacred our women, men and children without discrimination, and who don't even baulk at butchering their kin.

HELEN: What do you mean?

PARIS: Your other husband's brother, Agamemnon, affronted Artemis; she caused a calm just when his fleet was heading out for Troy, and Agamemnon rather sacrificed his daughter than have his people row. And he is not the only one: the Greeks burn enemies, friends and relations on the stake and think they can appease or please the gods; they have no more respect for life than the barbarian tribes which they descend from.

HELEN: Why do men always generalise? The Greeks are a friendly and civilised people who very seldom kill their children.

PARIS: I know that I'm preoccupied, but my idea of friendliness and civilisation differs from what the Greeks displayed in Troy.

HELEN: The love of my first husband brought them here, your love induced the Greeks to launch this war; a war of lovers, strange as this may sound. Why do men take nothing seriously except for love?

PARIS: And why do women take everything seriously except for love? What is the sole ambition of a man, the aim that he pursues throughout his life, the prize that, once obtained, will be defended at any cost, to woman seems a simple toy she may enjoy though she could do without.

HELEN: The love of woman is an emotion that doesn't cloud her common sense; the love of man is an obsession that's drowning out the voice of reason. What is it that you love about me?

PARIS: I love your sable hair when you throw back your locks and the lubricious lustre of your umber eyes, the way you pout your carmine lips when you are smiling, your iridescent spirit as you speak; I love your supple limbs when you are moving, your planar breasts as they approach my hands and the sensation of your mouth upon my skin; I love your sinuous nape bending under my kisses, your slender thighs wrapped all around my waist, the dewdrops on the scarlet petals of your orchid when they reveal the damask style. In times of joy your beauty makes my happiness complete, and in the hours of despair it is my comfort to watch your saving grace.

HELEN: Your voice sounds like a flower when you speak of beauty, a purple flower swaying in the breeze. Sing, Paris, sing for me like the nightingale when she announced our victory tonight and let me bathe in tender sounds of beauty and gentle words of love!

Paris takes the lyre and sings. He may be accompanied by some musicians.


PARIS (singing):

When the silence takes the meadows as the sparrows cease their twitter
while the sunset casts the shadows of our bodies in the sand,
when you walk amongst the shady birches where the crows still flitter,
you may see a naked lady who will take you by the hand.
Then your heart will play a forte with a beat that makes you fly:
every man must meet Amorte, and who meets her has to die.

Hades' task and Eros' unction made her what she is. On Venus
- Mars and Saturn in conjunction - she was born when Time began;
now the mistress of seduction roams the planet of our genus,
brings fulfilment and destruction to the soul of every man.
Where she walks the air grows colder, Life stands still where'er she rests
with the Raven on her shoulder and the Rose between her breasts.

She will find you in the badlands, she will find you in the mountains,
she will find you in the wetlands and wherever you may hide;
but, when bringing your oblation at the Phlegethontic fountains,
you'll forget your trepidation, and you'll never leave her side.
She will take you to the far land of whose shores you never knew
and adorn you with a garland made of myrtle and of yew.

Hold your breath! Your Queen is coming, striding like the vain flamingo,
thirsty like the fickle hummingbird, and full of pride and grace;
she will touch you with the magic of her fingers and her jingo
tenderness. You're blessed and tragic: Love and Death have found your trace!
Paralysed, you're staring at her form; whate'er you chanced to see,
think or feel before you met her will escape your memory.

Say adieu to prudent Pallas, say goodnight to shining Phoebus -
welcome two-faced Ate's malice, Cytherea's tyranny:
Gloominess will be your lover, Goat and Song will be your rebus,
and enraptured you'll discover Dionysian ecstasy.
Like the butterfly you'll cherish every moment of the game,
like the butterfly you'll perish once you touched the naked flame.

On the wall her shadow dances like a doomed celestial creature,
all of your admiring glances are returned with mutual lust.
Seize the night, then woe betide you; lewdness is her only feature
as she's lying down beside you with your arm around her bust.
No more sunbeams, no more skylight will you see, no morning dew:
you have met your swan of twilight, and you've met your swansong, too.

You're enthralled by the coherence of her actions, you're enchanted
by her aquiline appearance as she'll focus on her prey.
Nightly gore sustains her power; when your last request was granted,
you'll be fading like the flower that but once has hailed the day.
Look into her orbs, reflecting naught like the Arabian bird;
still you know what she's expecting, though she'll never say a word.

She will kiss you as she grapples you; so sweet's her kiss and bitter,
like an orchard full of apples, like a pomegranate tree -
petrified, you'll watch her sable hair that makes her bosom glitter
and her sanguine face, unable from her mystic traits to flee.
She's the Queen of false pretences you refuse to fly or doubt,
she's the hourglass of your senses when your time is running out.

Captured by her solemn beauty, you will leave the world behind you,
poisoned by the rich and fruity draught you tasted when you kissed,
you will nevermore go back and gaze at her while she will blind you
with the rubies round her neck and with the diamonds round her wrist.
Softly she will come and see and win and make you pine a while
with her eyes of ebony and cherry lips that never smile.

She will be your heart's disaster, she will be your life's completion,
you will be her pet and master, meet her blessing and her curse:
her entrancing touch will thrill you, you'll caress her breast's accretion,
and her toxic look will kill you as your pupils melt in hers.
She is a malefic demon in angelic camouflage;
you're her unsuspicious leman, ever chasing the mirage.

You will render on your lyre merry airs, divine and fervent,
with the spout of your desire you will raise the Stygian flood;
in the shade of Darkness' pinion you will be her will-less servant,
for the night is her dominion, and her nourishment your blood.
She will be your last decision, and your destiny you'll find
in the beauty of the vision and the sadness of your mind.

With the tang of belladonna on your tongue, you'll moan and shiver,
lying at her feet, you'll honour her amazing pulchritude;
Acheron will soothe your troubled heart before you cross the river,
and your vigour will be doubled, and your strength will be renewed
for the final chord. Your flora will be covered by her locks,
and the presents of Pandora will escape the opened box.

No man lived unless he relished every drop from Passion's chalice;
while her breasts like two embellished Trojan bucklers stand erect,
their embossed vermilion centres will invite you to the palace
whence there's no return. Who enters has to treat her with respect -
then Life's stream becomes a wadi as she'll drain her victim's soul;
she'll consume your mind and body like the fire consumes the coal.

One fine day I know she'll call me when I least expect her coming;
glee and terror will befall me when at last I meet my date.
I can feel her coming nearer, hear the distant thunder drumming,
see her image getting clearer as the herald of my fate.
She's the first of Charon's daughters, she is Himeros' fair bride;
at the dark Cocytus' waters all her gallants loved and died.

O'er my head the pipistrelli and the robins sail the aether,
and I'll board her father's galley with my empress hand in hand.
I won't hurry, I won't tarry when my lifeblood I'll bequeath her,
for the swift nocturnal ferry brings me to my native land.
Pull the oars, you ancient bencher, let us leave this mundane shore:
I'll set out for the adventure that this life prepared me for!

And she'll mutely give her orders as I watch her flowr's exposure,
and she'll take me past the borders of what's known to mortal eyes.
With her gracile hand she fettles my existence at its closure,
and I spread the damask petals at the gates of Paradise.
Dour and stern is her expression, Hell and Heaven are in reach:
I will taste the fruit of passion, I will split the firmest peach.

And I will not mind her bossy manner as I grasp with pleasure
six foot something of most glossy depilated hazel skin -
she will take me, she will love me with Philotes' fullest measure;
her retrorse physique above me, I will taste the wine of sin.
My destroyer and protector comes to show me Lust's abyss:
she will drink Elysian nectar, and I'll give her Lethe's kiss.

Loving me in every fashion, she'll discover and unfold me;
whisp'ring in the dead of passion, I will kiss her silky face
and her tresses and her glowing rosy cheeks. I'll let her hold me
tight and ever tighter, knowing she won't loosen her embrace.
Paramour of pains and gladness, Queen of sorrows and delight,
Goddess of all joy and sadness, take me in your arms tonight!

Meet me at the hidden quay, and there we'll hold our rendezvous:
you shall give your love to me, and I will give my life to you.

HELEN: Why are your love songs always sad? Yours is the undying love of the most beautiful woman on Earth, you have two children every father would be proud of, you rule the wealthiest and most prosperous kingdom, and you have won the war against the Grecian empire. There is no need for you to be so melancholic, and nothing is as far from you as death.

PARIS: Love and Death walk hand in hand and cast their dice. There is no human soul escaping either; where one is near, the other waits around the corner. No man has ever lived who didn't love, and those who love one day will have to die. But you are right: this is a day of love and triumph, and there's no need to think of death!

HELEN: Talk more of love and tell me how your sister has been seduced by him whom armies couldn't stop!

PARIS: I waited next to Polyxena's chamber, and when the wolves commenced their serenade to marble-faced Selene, the pachydermic hero palled the hall. With an acuity beyond imagination he found the door that separated them and walked right in; Polyxena was ready and stood beside the bed, her arms stretched out to welcome the intruder, her lips apart to seal the treason. I called Achilles, and he turned around and threw his spear at me; he missed, and mine dropped merely off his chest. He headed for the door and fled, but with my second spear I pierced his heel – the only spot that hasn't been invulnerabilised by the black waters of the Styx, for this is where his mother held him when she dipped him in the stream, and now he has to cross the river that failed to give him immortality.

HELEN: I love it when you speak of killing. Take me, take me here and now!

PARIS: First dance for me! Dance Anadyomene's Ascent to make me feel the magic of Love's beauty and let your body be the foam upon the wave, dance Anadyomene's Ascent to let me marvel at the goddess' birth.

Daybreak. The musicians pick up their instruments and play. Paris accompanies them on the lyre. Helen dances very sensually, and after a while she slowly removes the top of her tunic which then hangs down from the belt. Later she takes the rose out of Aphrodite’s hand and strokes her upper body with it.
From outside a few voices can be heard, and gradually the noise is getting louder until it finally drowns out the music.
Helen, still barebreasted, rushes to the balcony and bursts through the door.

HELEN: What is that clamour?

She faces the Greek army who have entered the courtyard and are ready to storm the castle. The city gates are open, and from the bottom of the horse a rope hangs suspended from a trapdoor. The warriors cheer at Helen who, after having stood paralysed for a few seconds, runs back and crouches in a corner.

HELEN: My husband comes! Don't let him take your wife away; I'd rather die than being in a peasant's arms!

PARIS: Don't fear the advent of the yeomanry! Although I may have lost the war, I'll guard your welfare with my life!

Menelaus storms in, draws his sword and points it at Helen.

MENELAUS: You're a disgrace to every living woman! You have abandoned your loyal husband to run off with the least of noblemen, you've left a loving daughter without mother because a childlike youth set eyes on you! You've brought ten years of suffering upon your country, the number of the men who died on your behalf is way beyond compute, and still you show no pity for the multitude that you left broken-hearted at their tombs; give me one reason why you should live!

HELEN: My lord, I did not follow Paris! I've been abducted, forced against my will to sail with him to Ilion, and every night I prayed to Ares that you succeed in liberating me! I swear no other man has ever touched me, no man has ever seen my body save yourself! You must believe me that I never let him near me, for all those years I kept my love for you!

MENELAUS: I know you did. Helping her up: I'm sorry I have doubted your faithfulness, for after all those years I've lived with you, I should have known you better. Come with me to the ship and let us journey homewards: my people cannot wait to welcome back their Queen, and Hermione hardly can remember her mother's face.

PARIS (aside): When men awake from golden dreams, they always wake up to a nightmare! The obvious that we refuse to see will finally catch up with us, and the goats sing of men who believed in their wives! A woman will give everything but her heart, and she'll accept everything but your love!

Menelaus (pointing his sword at Paris): I should anatomise you limb from limb to make you pay for what you've done to me and to my people! For ten long years I had to wait to get revenge on you who took the Spartan flower from her master!

PARIS (shielding his heart with the lyre): You never smelled the rose that burgeoned in your field, you never grazed your eyes upon her peerless beauty, you never praised her crimson petals in the twilight, yet when somebody plucked her who was able to cherish her enchanting attributes, you chased the lover who deprived you of your most displayed possession! Not love has brought you here but pride, not love makes Helen go with you but adaptation. Now that you have retrieved your reluctant property, now that you have achieved what you've been killing for, now that you completed your vital mission, your life will be as wretched as an offering to Ares that is failing to catch fire and decomposes on the altar.
I feel that I should pity all you petty soldiers and your downstream minds, you mothers of senseless values, you fathers of eyeless discipline who dare not look at the beauty of freedom for fear of getting lost. You all grew up ambitiously, devoting your life to what you deem a virtue: you to accumulate and to defend your wealth, your brother to establish and increase his power, Achilles lived for fame and victory, knowing that future generations will sing him as a hero, yes, even the immortal gods bathe in the praise and hymns of mortals. You all achieved your goals in Troy: where would you be without my love to Helen?
I've lived for Love and Beauty, and I wasn't even aware of it until they came to me; I wasted the days of my fleeting youth and meandered through existence until I found my destiny, and when I did all others turned against me with their claims, their armies and their pride! And yet, ten years of suff'ring and oppression have been ten years of joy and happiness, fulfilment in the shade of an illusion, and now my way is at an end. This was my life, and I have lived it to the full: there never could have been a different life for me!

Menelaus stabs him through the lyre.


© 6240-6241 RT (1999-2000 CE) by Frank L. Ludwig