Greetings everyone. This play goes out to all who have read Greek tragedies. I got the idea to write a sequel to Oedipus the King from researching the references that Aeschylus makes throughout the play. As with all Greek drama, there is a great deal of back-story that the audience knew about but we do not. Thus, the play I wrote was meant to bring in the most relevant parts of the back-story into the foreground while at the same time giving some real resolution to the cycle. At any rate, if you haven't read Oedipus the King it isn't a very long play (about 1200 lines) and it'll take you around an hour to two hours to do so. I suggest you read that before you read how I responded to it or you won't get as much out of the experience.
At any rate, here's the play.
Character list (in order of appearance)
Hermes – Dressed in his classic style. He has a toga, wand, helmet, and winged sandals. Son of Maia and messenger god of Olympus.
Oedipus – Make-up to look the part of a shade. Wearing bleached out clothes which are also grimy. The actor may choose to wear some sort of eye-covering to aid the fact that he is “blind”. The director must put
actual shackles on the legs of Oedipus.
Helicon – A taller actor he must have some history in singing in order to keep up the musical tones throughout. A mountain and god located west of Thebes.
Cithaeron – A shorter actor and able to keep a deep voice and still project his lines. A mountain and god where the Thebes was built.
Cyllene – Good friend of Hermes and the place of Hermes’ birth. Wearing a sheepskin and carrying a shepherd’s staff. A mountain and god located near the western shore of Greece.
Olympus – Need only be grand and noble sounding. Gold clothes, snowy hair but young looking. A mountain and god located far to the west and North from Thebes.
Parnassus – Played by an elderly man wearing a drab hooded cloak. A mountain and god located near Delphi, west of Thebes between Olympus and Helicon.
Scene: the foothills of Mount Cithaeron where the cairn of Oedipus was built for his burial. It is morning but there is a haze in the sky which casts the land in a pallid shade.
(Manent Hermes and Oedipus a spirit, they rise out of the floor of the stage)
HERMES: Keep hold of me, blind and lame king, we are arriving at the place of your burial.
OEDIPUS: Long years did I dwell in shame and tears, eking out my life upon these hills. The family of those woeful shepherds, being near to kin, saw to my care in the shadow of Cithaeron. My cairn views the city of Thebes from the hill nearby. Why have you, leader of the dead, brought me up from the depths of the underworld to this place?
HERMES: Lame of foot in life, lamer of hope in death! Will you continue to despair of any goodness even after you have been dredged out of the waters of the underworld itself? Quiet your questions and believe the messages that your gods speak for once in your existence. Do not repeat the mistake you made while king by acting before thinking of what consequences may come.
OEDIPUS: As you say.
HERMES: On account of a long string of favors was I able to remove you for a time from the grasp of Hades, for he is loath to release his charges, and return you to the place of your death. The origin of this plot began with the god, Mount Parnassus. Parnassus had previously made me privy of certain prophecies of the Delphic oracle that Apollo had meant not to reach other divine ears and in return for that favor Parnassus asked me to ensure that you would be here from sunrise to sunset on this day. It is he who wishes to speak to you but not he alone... as Parnassus told me of some of his comrades of rock who are also coming.
OEDIPUS: For what purpose has this great mountain called for an audience?
HERMES: An audience with you? It is you who has an audience with them, shade! He did not inform me as to the details but said that it was good news to a troubled soul.
OEDIPUS: Few have been the mortals with a more pitiful life than mine. Now in my death I hold no hope at all of redemption or a better state. I would rather continue in the loneliness of Persephone’s government than be offered false hope again. The gods have offered healing before at the cost of my life.
HERMES: You are not hopeless in truth though you may be hopeless in your mind. Here come some of the other visitors. Take care to show your respect for these are elder gods birthed of the earth spirit Gaia into great mountains. Because you are blind take care to remember what their voices sound like, in no other way will you be able to remember them. Cithaeron is short but strong and wears a laurel crown; his voice is deep and pulls at your ears. Helicon is tall and has a more musical voice.
(Manent Cithaeron and Helicon)
HELICON: I still can’t believe I was asked to come at the same time as you, Cithaeron! You still wear the crown you won at my humiliation.
CITHAERON: Stop your incessant complaints, Oh Mountain of muses. Five hundred seasons have passed since that time
HELICON: If it was so long ago as to forget then why do you persist to wear the symbol of your victory?
CITHAERON: Because you persist to call yourself the musical Mountain.
HERMES: May I remind you, esteemed gods that you are not here to bicker.
OEDIPUS: Yes, please relate to me the purpose of your visit.
HELICON: Ever since Gaia birthed my greatness, I was known as gifted in song. Over the ages I inspired many poets and even became a home to three of the nine muses! I was chief among my brothers in this until Cithaeron upstaged me. It was I who made the challenge to all of my brothers, “best me in song and I will call your mountain greater.” None but Cithaeron took up the call. We held the competition and he was declared the victor by votes. I wouldn’t be vengeful at his triumph if it weren’t for the means by which he secured it. Many years before I issued the challenge Cithaeron helped Zeus and Hera reunite after one of their petty arguments. Both Zeus and Hera were present to vote at the singing challenge and Cithaeron won over me by exactly two points.
CITHAERON: He still maintains I cheated when he has the word of all three gods in question against the fact that it happened. You must understand Oedipus that ever since he lost Helicon has plotted revenge against me. At his defeat he dashed a great rock on the ground as evidence of his lingering malice and curse. But he could never do me direct harm; so when a human who resembled me enough and who was under my protection appeared, he hatched a plot to secure the man’s absolute misery. Wounds against you were wounds against me.
HELICON: It seemed like a good idea at the time.
CITHAERON: You mean before or after you had five hundred years to change your mind? (Helicon takes a defiant stance in response)
OEDIPUS (Taking has hand off of Hermes): I knew it was the hand of some malevolent force which must have orchestrated my downfall! I had always thought the gods so pure and noble... above such base revenge. All my life Fate and divinity were plotting my destruction and I, like my legs, were shackled to them.
HELICON: Yes it’s true! Rage, rage at Fate and curse your birth. It is only Fate which could have secured Cithaeron’s victory over me. I am the better singer, the better artist. I will not bow down and call his mountain greater.
HERMES (Catching Oedipus’ hand): Peace brothers! Was it your mission to upset your charge? This shade has suffered enough.
OEDIPUS: No, shepherd’s guard, do not tell them to stop. Whether or not they set out to torture me they have done so... and it was indeed Fate that twisted their gentleness to pain. Who would have thought the musical Helicon could hold a grudge so long? It is beyond the thoughts of even the gods and into the realm of Fate.
HERMES: How many times will I need to tell you to take courage? Your name is not mistaken, all is known about you now. Your current state is not like your life when no man knew the nature of your lineage. But now, you stand here fully known and yet we still say that there is great hope for you. The Mountains have chosen you for some blessing, now you must endure but a little longer to see what it is. Now here arrives my birth Mountain to give you his tale, dressed in sheepskin and wielding a staff of guidance.
OEDIPUS: I mean no disrespect to you honored gods, but this audience has become tiresome to me. How long, messenger of the gods, must I gain hope in the face of such a long procession of mountains?
CYLLENE (smiling at Oedipus): I have glad news for your ears to enjoy. We mountains each have a hand in your downfall, either by direction or inaction. For this reason we have searched for a remedy to your affliction, to preserve our honor. Cithaeron and Helicon had nothing to offer but their tale – for they can only sing... never act. But I have found a possibility of your ascension from Hades.
OEDIPUS (Downcast): Guide me then Cyllene, mountain of shepherds.
CYLLENE: As you well know, there are few places for spirits to call home in the afterlife. You found your lot with the common in the land of Hades. But there is a chance that you could seize a better home. If you were to eat of the Amaranth from the Elysian Fields then you would be granted access to the land which brought forth that divine celery. Then you would call yourself contented to dwell with the heroes and enjoy the blessing of all the gods in peace.
OEDIPUS: How can I obtain such a sacred plant? For all of your good will, you have none of the flower never fading to give me to eat.
(There is a moment of silence)
HELICON: It is true, no god but Zeus himself could give to you that plant. To gain access to the Elysian Fields you must eat of that which you cannot get, to eat you must gain access to where you cannot go. I find your position even worse than that of Tantalus’, for he at least had tasted of the forbidden substance but you are caught between the water and the tree with no taste of ambrosia on your lips.
HERMES: Let your words be as careful as your songs are divine, Helicon.
CITHAERON: Do not grieve overmuch, Oedipus. The time of a shade in the house of Hades is not over-burdensome. Despite your blindness and your chains-
OEDIPUS (Interrupting him): Console not me, noble Cithaeron, for you do not know the bare substance of a shade in the hands of the stern caretakers. Slowly we forget the energy of every joy we experienced in life and the drain of grey upon grey leaches your memories out of us. One by one we spirits lose all knowledge and sink into sleep at the bottom of the Lethe- never to rise. Come Hermes, lead on my spirit back to the doom of forgetting and across the black rivers.
HERMES: I cannot do so, my charge, for the sun has yet to set... though the time to evening is not so far away. There still remain two who might have a good message to carry. Remember the amount of work these mountains did in order to even secure a conversation with you. They did not come only to satisfy the questions you may have about your life.
CITHAERON: We also have our names at stake by rectifying your own. Put aside your stubborn doubts and smile on the mere chance of betterment.
(Manent Olympus and Parnassus)
HERMES (Embracing him): Olympus, dear friend, how did you find time to come away with all of the activities of the gods at your peaks?
OLYMPUS: The task itself was simple but required a painful audience with the king of heaven and queen of lives. Cyllene had told me of his plan to gain the virtuous flower so that the celery would grant its virtue to the shade king. I grasped their knees and recalled the many favors I had done for them. I pleaded that they grant this exception to enter the Fields but... Zeus did not for a moment entertain the request.
OEDIPUS (In a weak voice): What was it... that he said?
OLYMPUS: He said that no man can change his fate. And even if that were possible Zeus himself would forbid any man unworthy of the rank hero to enter the Fields. Lest he dishonor all dwelt there who had maintained honor and fought for the gods.
OEDIPUS: There is no hope then. Here at last the truth is uncovered from the stones of your stories. I feel like the man who heard of a great treasure buried underneath the guard of weighty stones and upon uncovering the chamber found only his tomb.
HELICON: You are more right than you know, mortal, the many corpses of shame our channels hold.
OEDIPUS: I thank you for answering the questions that lingered in my mind. But it is all to no avail for I will still slip into the Lethe and remember nothing.
(He turns towards his grave and begins to sink into the earth)
OLYMPUS (Grabbing his shoulder): You shall remain! Though you blame fate I tell you the truth, there is no decider of your actions but yourself. You need not have killed your father at the crossroads for blocking the way. You assumed that he was a dishonorable man and judged him. It would have been a small thing to wait a few moments for him to pass. You could have shown him mercy and left the matter lie. This had you done so you may have indeed escaped the curse Helicon laid out. Do not take the easy road to escape your pains. If indeed you are guilty show more honor now than you did in life and spurn the forgetting waters of Lethe.
OEDIPUS (Weeping): Let it be as you say, great one.
PARNUSSUS: Hermes, psycho-pomp, carry him before us. The sun is not yet to set.
(Hermes picks up the weightless shade and sets him down among the mountains. They make a semi-circle around him)
PARNASSUS: Before I speak, I must ask you. Are you content now to accept your lot?
OEDIPUS: It is as Olympus said, I have no right of complaint - no pride or strength. I the king am now a
simple shade and only just.
PARNASSUS: It is good. Much of what I wished to accomplish has come to pass. When Pan taught Apollo the mystery to prophecy, he did so while upon my mountain. A single facet from the many is that all prophecies are dependent upon executors and without a vessel to carry forth, the ideas there is no fulfillment. My first gift to you, Oedipus, is this; prophecy and Fate are only true so far as they are made.
(Oedipus is unable to speak, but clutches his hair in shock)
PARNASSUS: Why is it that you think the gods always tell of the prophecies and then keep a very close watch on the progress of their predictions? If it were inevitable then they need only speak the prophecy in order to have the desired effect on the faith of their followers.
(Oedipus starts to get up)
HERMES: Stay calm man.
(Oedipus remains on the ground)
PARNASSUS: There is another, greater, gift I would give you... when you are collected.
(A moment passes, Oedipus dries his tears and takes a deep breath – then nods)
PARNASSUS: I began this process because I had the chance to divert your path from slaying your father at my crossroad. Two out of three of the roads there lead to my mountain by different routes. One goes first to Delphi and then on to the mountain. The road to Daulia also winds its way to my mountain. The prophetic element was meant to trap you on your course to ruin. I only needed to send a slight impulse along the roads and you would have had visions of what that future held for you. But, I refrained out of fear of Apollo.
HERMES: These Mountains even now risk much by uncovering the secrets of the gods. I for one am not in favor of what they do but I swore I would help Parnassus in his need. It is better for the mortals to continue in fear of what we might be able to do rather than to know how they might act out their own plans.
PARNASSUS: I will not challenge your thoughts beyond this, what good are servants ill educated? It is better to tell all to those who you would have love you and risk their loss, than to keep them ignorant and secure no love at all. Listen to me, Oedipus. Though your very name is about to change, we have decided to bestow upon you the highest honor the Mountains have power to grant.
(The five Mountains take hold of Oedipus)
PARNASSUS: We are going to transport your cairn to an empty place far from the shadows of Olympus. There, in a foreign land, your burial will find its stones enlarged and multiplied. We are making you into a Mountain.
(Oedipus is hidden from the sight of the audience by the pressing bodies of the Mountains for a few moments. When he emerges his sight is restored and the shackles are removed from his legs)
PARNASUS: There you will lie in rest and peace. Once your Mountain is made your spirit will take on a form more suitable for your newness. After a great amount of time there will come many artists and travelers to admire and enhance the beauty of your landscape.
OEDIPUS: This is boon beyond my ability to express thanks.
CITHAERON: Thank us as you might but we also will thank you for receiving our gifts and freeing us from our shame.
(Oedipus nods unable to speak once again)
CYLLENE: The sun has come to setting and soon you must return to the place from which Hermes brought you. Endure your loneliness there for only five more days. A day for each of us to add to the height and beauty of the Mountain we are making for you.
HELICON: Its form and color shall surely inspire songs and poetry.
OLYMPUS: Its prominence and location shall also lend it more fame.
OEDIPUS: I trust in your hands, ancient Stones, the making of another as you already are. I find myself
fortunate to call such as you future brothers – closer than birth can make it.
HERMES: Come now; take my hand. We must descend again. And as you go I’ll tell you some of the legends you will make. But first of all, your new name. They shall call you Rushmore.
 Amaranth is a special species of celery which grows in Greece. Its flower once plucked does not wilt but will maintain the blossom and color for a long time. Because of this it is called the never fading flower and was thought to be eaten by the heroes in the Elysian Fields in order to protect their immortality.
 One of the five rivers of the underworld, the spirits of the dead drink from it in order to forget their earthly lives. The others are the Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Cocytus.
 Greek, meaning “procession of spirits”. It is one of the many names of Hermes.