February 03, 2008

 A playlet

Extract from The Tragicall Historie of Jno. McCaine

Scene: any small town in America.
Enter John McCain, Duke of Arizona, with advance men, journalists, pundits, spin-doctors, fundraisers, and other attendants.

John McCain:
Shun yonder donkeys and their milksop bray!
I'll chase Osama to the gates of hell. (1)

Cheers, alarums, balloons. Exeunt on a campaign bus.

The face of Osama bin Laden appears on multiple video screens, as from a cave.

Osama bin Laden: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it. (2)

The face fades.

Chorus of Argive electors :
Now things stand as they stand.
What’s destined to come will be fulfilled,
and no libation, sacrifice, or human tears
will mitigate the gods’ unbending wrath. (3)



(1): stump speech, eg here.

(2): Christoper Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus

(3): Aeschylus, Agamemnon, l. 90

The full speech of the chorus recounts the desperate sacrifice by Agamemnon of his daughter Iphigeneia , made at the outset of the Trojan War ten years before. To meet Artemis'
"demand for another sacrifice,
one which violates all human law,
which no feast celebrates"
he commits an atrocity that leads to his own bloody death at Clytemnestra's hands. Later in the cycle, his son Orestes avenges his father by killing his mother. Athena and the assembly of Athens finally permit Orestes to end the cycle of crime and vengeance, assuaging the Furies by granting them their own temple on the democratic city's Acropolis.

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