Sisyphus – Play in Progress

APXH


SISYPHUS:

My name is Sisyphus.
If it were not for me,
Mortals would have nothing
To talk about at all.
I am responsible
For the apparent rise
Of the Sun –
They give me no credit
For its fall!

I am not deaf to the gossip
About me,
And my shameless stone.
An author said of late
That I lead
An entirely futile life,
A life of one absurd revolution
After another,
Instead of doing
What any man
In his right mind
Would surely do,
If only he knew
What was rolling
Down the mountain –
Free himself,
Forthwith and forever,
From Fate!

Not that he would
If he could.

WE:

To what do we
Owe your appearance?

SISYPHUS:

People barely know themselves –
I periodically enlighten them.

WE:

Why?

SISYPHUS:

Why?
Because people
Must be stoned –
They have rocks for heads.
And I am duty bound
By obedience to myself,
As president of myself,
To trick the inmates
Of this perverse,
Rolling round house,
Into shattering their stones,
To free themselves
From the concatenations
Of their foolhardiness.

Wherefore I am named Sisyphus,
Or Se-sophos,
Meaning, Very Wise,

WE:

Tell us Sisyphus,
Where did you get
Your shining stone?

SISYPHUS:

Dragonessa Medusa,
Supreme female wisdom,
Made my marvelous mirror.

WE:

We see the light,
But are not enlightened.
Pray tell, then,
What have you done
For us lately?

SISYPHUS:

I so loved the world
That I created the gods.

WE:

Blasphemy!
Vanity!
Impiety!
Perjury!
Absurdity!

Will Sisyphus,
Who surpasses
All mortals
In intelligence,
Who is shrewdest
In contrivances,
Like a god,
Never learn
From the gods,
That he is merely
A mortal man?

Blasphemy!
He uses god’s power to destroy god.
Vanity!
He names god to flatter himself.
Impiety!
He exalts ungodly over godly.
Perjury!
He lies against his own law.
Absurdity!
What could be more absurd?

CRITIAS:

Will you stand by silently, Sisyphus,
Confronted here as you are
By these capital charges?

SISYPHUS:

I have already said quite enough
To sufficiently incriminate myself.

CRITIAS:

And I, Critias,
Am duty bound
To rid the community
Of deception,
Whether the community
Likes lucidity or not.

SISYPHUS:

Then you have
Multitudes to condemn.
So many heads must roll.
Streets must run red
With blood gushing forth
From necks gaping
On every corner.
Few are left standing
In the end,
When people thirst
For higher power.

WE:

Be gone, Critias!
We need no bloody tyrant
To slake our thirst
For aristocratic blood.
We are equal under our law,
By, for, and of the people.

CRITIAS:

What greater tyranny can there be
Than democracy over noble virtue?
A noble character is more credible
Than any law commonly considered,
For no mere talker may overcome it.
Many severed heads of big talkers
Are duly attached to our rostrum.

WE:

Aristocratic heads,
For the most part,
Hang from your rostrum!
We each are cattle
Humbled by our numbers.
Noble virtue shall not overcome
The dignity of our laws,
Or the grace of our god,
Nor shall big talkers!

Now this sophisticate, Sisyphus.
Claims to have so loved the world
That he created even the One God,
Thus he vainly puts his cause
Before the First Cause.
Would you plead his case?

CRITIAS:

If Sisyphus speaks truly,
That he created the gods,
He created tyrants over fools –
I prefer several to one –
And you should thank him
For exposing the truth
About your divine idiocy.

Gods,
States,
Laws,
All tyrants,
Yet you call me tyrant!

I fear not democracy,
For if gods, states, and laws
Are human creations,
They are no match
For the learned man.

WE:

A tyrant and a sophist!
What more could we ask for
In a big talker
Who claims nobility
Instead of divinity?

If only he were a demagogue,
We might call ourselves free!

CRITIAS:

Your political order is your true religion,
And your demagogue its talking idol.

SISYPHUS:

I created the gods
Then the one and only god –
And that was a restoration.

CRITIAS:

Thus you speak
To further incriminate yourself,
The self-created god,
To whom I put this question,
If you dare to answer:
Why were the gods created?

SISYPHUS:

There was a time when the life of all men
Was unordered, bestial, the slave of force:
There was no reward for the virtuous;
There was no punishment for the wicked.
So men devised laws of retribution,
That Justice might be their great dictator,
Having arrogance as its servile slave,
And if anyone sinned, he was punished.

Since the laws now forbade them to commit
Their usual crimes out in the open,
They began to commit them secretly.
A very wise and clever man appeared,
And for love of man he invented fear
Of the gods, that mortals might have on hand
Useful means of frightening the wicked
If in secret they did or thought of some
Evil deed. And therefore he introduced
The Divine, saying that there is a god
Flourishing with immortal life, hearing,
And seeing with his mind, and thinking of
Everything and caring about these things,
And having divine nature, who will hear
Everything said among mortals, and will
Be able to see well all that is done.
If one secretly plans something evil,
He will never escape the gods in this,
For they have surpassing intelligence.

Together with these words he introduced
The most pleasant of teachings heard by men,
Covering up the truth with false theory,
He said the gods dwelt in remote places,
Out of reach of the understanding of
Mere earthly mortals, where he could therefore
Use gods to frighten men out of their wits,
And convince them hard life has its rewards
And its punishments in a hereafter,
As dictated from those upper regions,
Where they saw lightning and heard dread thunder,
Beheld the star-faced body of heaven,
The beautiful embroidery of Time –
The skilled craftsman who brought forth the bright mass
Of Sun, and wet shower upon the Earth.

With many fears did he surround mankind,
Through which he established the deity
In a fitting place with his argument,
And thus he quenched lawlessness among men.
For the first time mortals were persuaded,
To believe in a high race of deities.

CRITIAS:

May I presume that this man
Is none other than you, Sisyphus,
Who have laid claim to creating the gods?

SISYPHUS:

You may so presume.

CRITIAS:

I cannot say that I blame you,
At least not for the tyranny,
But I question your devices,
For gods created by men are deceptions
Which can be destroyed by wise men.

SISYPHUS:

But I am the wisest of all men,
Surpassing all mortals in intelligence,
Shrewdest in contrivances,
Like a god, as it were.

CRITIAS:

It is best that a real tyrant rule directly,
By virtue of truth,
Than for people to be deceived
By false representation.

WE:

Death to Critias! Death to Critias! Death to Critias!

As for you Sisyphus,
Your sophistry rolls over our heads,
Day by day,
Just to sink into night,
Again and again.
Why raise our hopes so highly?
To cruelly let us down?
What have we done
To deserve this stoning
Unto death?
Have you no shame?

Death to Sisyphus! Death to Sisyphus! Death to Sisyphus!

SISYPHUS:

Your death sentence is most condign,
For without the light of Day,
You would have no Apollo
Attending your far-flung future.

WE:

But what of Night?
And all that Darkness implies?

SISYPHUS:

A living thing that needs the light
Must rest at night,
Lest its yearning
give it cause for burning.

WE:

But we are afraid of the dark.

SISYPHUS:

Wherefore I gave you gods
To mask Chaos with Cosmos,
That you might understand
One another and be secure
In your numbers, as One.
Have you forgotten so soon?

WE:

Threefold Goddess
Rose from Chaos,
Dressed in Earth,
Sea, and Night.

Black-winged Night,
Mother of Mystery,
Courted by Wind,
Laid a Silver Egg
In the Womb of Darkness,
Hence Love was hatched.
To move the Cosmos.

Now Darkness lives
Under Earth,
And Night resides
In the West.

When Day retires,
Night appears
In her chariot,
Drawn by steeds
Good and Evil,
With Starry Court in train.

She leads the Twins,
Death and Sleep –
Night saved Sleep from Death,
And Mighty Zeus,
In awe of Night,
Dared not intervene.

Ambivalent Night,
Frightening friend,
Hides guilt and innocence,
Conceals stolen valuables,
Covers lover’s charms,
Fosters fear and hope,
Turns sticks into snakes,
Logs into monsters,
Monsters into gods.

Mother’s introspection,
Provokes vigilance,
And prepares us for
The surprises of
The Enlightening Dawn.

SISYPHUS:

Hence my cue,
The Crowing Cock.
What of the Fateful Sisters
Dwelling well in the cave
Nearby the Moon?

WE:

Clotho who spins,
Lachesis who draws,
Atropos who cuts,
By the light
Of the Silvery Moon,
Tell us please,
Whose face among us all
Is the most beautiful?

processing….

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