All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions of Four Greek Tragedies Sophocles' Ajax, Philoctetes, Women of Trachis; Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound (A Vintage original)

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9780307949738: All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions of Four Greek Tragedies Sophocles' Ajax, Philoctetes, Women of Trachis; Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound (A Vintage original)

These contemporary translations of four Greek tragedies speak across time and connect readers and audiences with universal themes of war, trauma, suffering, and betrayal. Under the direction of Bryan Doerries, they have been performed for tens of thousands of combat veterans, as well as prison and medical personnel around the world. Striking for their immediacy and emotional impact, Doerries brings to life these ancient plays, like no other translations have before.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:


Bryan Doerries is a writer, director, and translator. He is the founder of Theater of War, a project that presents readings of ancient Greek plays to service members, veterans, caregivers, and families to help them initiate conversations about the visible and invisible wounds of war. He is also the cofounder of Outside the Wire, a social impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, end-of-life care, prison reform, domestic violence, political violence, recovery from natural and man-made disasters, substance abuse, and addiction. A self-described evangelist for classical literature and its relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from suffering and loss.

For more information about his work, please visit: www.outsidethewirellc.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHARACTERS
(in order of appearance)
Odysseus: the director of Greek intelligence
Ajax: a formidable warrior
Athena: the goddess of war
Chorus: the sailors and soldiers of Ajax
Tecmessa: the battle-won wife of Ajax
Eurysaces: their three-year-old son
Messenger: a soldier of the Greek army
Teucer: the half brother of Ajax
Menelaus: the deputy commander of the Greek army
Agamemnon: the commander of the Greek army
Odysseus appears at dawn—low to the ground—darting in and out of shadows. He is searching for a safe place to wait for Ajax.

Athena startles him, a voice at the borders of darkness.

Athena

   Why am
   I never
   surprised,
   son of Laertes,
   to catch you
   stalking
   an enemy
   at daybreak,
   like a blood-
   hound after
   some scent,
   tracking foot-
   prints behind
   the tents
   where Ajax
   and his men
   hold down
   the battle line?
   
   You wish
   to know if
   he’s inside, 
   soaked 
   in sweat 
   from the 
   slaughter? 

   Then tell me 
   what you’ve 
   come to do, 
   and you may 
   learn from one 
   who knows.

Odysseus 

   Dearest Athena, 
   guardian goddess, 
   though your shape 
   evades my eyes, 
   I hear you clearly 
   in my mind, like 
   the tune of a song 
   to which I somehow 
   know the words. 
   I’m circling 
   in on an enemy, 
   just as you’ve guessed, 
   close on his heels. 

   I have come 
   for Ajax, 
   the one 
   we called 
   the "shield." 

   It is he alone whom I now hunt. 

   Last night, 
   he did some-
   thing vile, 
   some vile 
   thing, some-
   thing un-
   imaginable, 
   if he is the one, 
   we cannot be sure, 
   still shaken by 
   the sight of it, 
   and so they 
   sent me here to 
   confirm what 
   he has done. 

   All of our cattle 
   are dead, and 
   the men who 
   tended them, 
   hacked to pieces, 
   butchered by 
   a hand—his, 
   we think—for 
   one of our men 
   swears to have 
   seen him sprinting 
   across the field 
   with a wet sword. 

   As soon as I heard, 
   I was on the case, 
   following the tracks, 
   which led me here, 
   but I’ve been thrown 
   by strange markings 
   in the mud and cannot 
   find him anywhere. 

   You have 
   arrived, 
   as always, 
   at the right 
   moment 
   to guide 
   me with 
   your hand. 
            Athena steps out of the shadows.

Athena 

   Obviously, Odysseus, I came to help with the hunt.

Odysseus 

   Then I am on the right track?

Athena 

   He is the one you describe: the killer of cows.

Odysseus 

   A reckless gesture, but why did he do it?

Athena 

   Black bile—blinding rage—over the arms of Achilles.

Odysseus 

   But what drove him to attack the animals?

Athena 

   In his mind, their blood was yours.

Odysseus 

   He wished to kill the Greeks?

Athena 

   Affirmative. 

   He would have completed his mission 
   had I not been paying attention.

Odysseus 
   
   Where did he find the courage to do it?

Athena 

   He stalked you quietly in the night.

Odysseus 

   How close did he come to his target?

Athena 
   
   Close enough to strike the generals.

Odysseus 
   
   And what contained his bloodlust?

Athena 

   I did. 
   
   I robbed him 
   of the pleasure 
   of cutting you 
   to pieces, 
   raining on 
   his death 
   parade, 
   distracting 
   him with 
   visions of 
   bovine foes 
   grazing in 
   the fields 
   under 
   the watchful 
   eyes of simple 
   herdsmen. 

   He descended 
   upon them 
   with full fury, 
   ripping out horns 
   with his hands, 
   slitting throats 
   and snapping 
   spines, at one 
   point squeezing 
   the life from 
   a general, then 
   taking the lives 
   of other officers, 
   or so he thought, 
   trembling from 
   contamination. 

   I stoked his rage, 
   driving him deeper 
   into the snare. 

   Finally tired from 
   all the killing, 
   he bound and 
   gagged his sad 
   prisoners, those 
   pitiful few cows 
   and sheep some-
   how still standing, 
   and rounded them 
   up for the death 
   march back to his 
   camp, convinced 
   they were men. 

   He tortures them inside the tent. 
   And now I will 
   expose you 
   to his illness, 
   so you may see 
   it with your 
   own eyes. 

   Stand there, 
   like a man. 
   He won’t 
   hurt you, 
   as long as 
   I am here. 

   Don’t worry. 
   I will hide you 
   in his blind spot; 
   he won’t see you 
   in the shadows. 

            Athena turns and shouts toward the tent. 

   You, there, 
   in the tent, 
   stretching 
   prisoners 
   on the rack, 
   put down 
   your ropes; 
   report to me 
   immediately!

Odysseus 
   
   What are you doing? Lower your voice.

Athena 

   Watch what you say. Someone might call you a coward.

Odysseus 

   Please, Athena, by the gods, let him stay inside the tent.

Athena 
   
   He’s only a man, not to be feared, the same as before.

Odysseus 
   
   He was and is my enemy.

Athena 

   Well isn’t it satisfying to laugh at an enemy?

Odysseus 
   
   It would please me more if he stayed within.

Athena 

   Are you afraid to gaze upon a maniac?

Odysseus 
   
   When he was sane, I would have met his stare.

Athena 
   
   He won’t see you standing before him.

Odysseus 
   
   Isn’t he looking through the same eyes?

Athena 
   
   I’ll shade his eyes and darken his vision.

Odysseus 

   Whatever the goddess wants, she takes.

Athena 

   Stand there silently. Do not move!

Odysseus 

   I must remain, against my wishes.

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