The truth is revealed.
|Act 3 Scene 3 Revelation
The last scene opens later that evening in the great room with Peleus, holding the baby and Andromacha staring pensively into space. She gets up and delivers monologue.
What's happening to me?
I've never been that angry
and I can't believe I went to such lengths.
I drove that poor girl to murder.
What came over me?
Has my hate grown so strong, it consumes me?
Pyrrhus seems to think so.
He said I've raised a bitter stone on my son's memory;
Then, talked to me like a fool.
None of this makes any sense.
He must have known the gem belonged to my son.
So what was it doing around Pergamus' neck?
What am I missing?
Didn't Helenus warn me that nothing is ever as it seems?
That I should listen to my heart?
My heart tells me that Pyrrhus couldn't have killed Astynax,
but if he didn't do it, then who did?
(Pounding on door. Enter Servant.)
Sir, a man named Helenus is at the door.
I know of no Helenus.
Dear god! Could it be, my brother-in-law, here to visit?
Show him in.
You don't know how happy I am to see you. What you foretold was true and my woes are unbearable. But seeing you is like sunshine, taking the chill off my heart.
You're no happier than I am.
(Looks to Peleus begging an introduction.)
This is Peleus, my friend and savior, Pyrrhus' grandfather.
I'm honored to meet you. I've spent a lifetime hearing of your exploits, not just by men but by gods too. No mortal is peer to your reputation and fame.
That might be going a bit far, still I'm flattered. If you're a friend of Andromacha, you're a welcome visitor and if you bring a little sunshine to this bleak house, even more so. What brings you to Pharsalus?
I was summoned in a dream, by the goddess Thetus.
The end is near?
She makes your house ready and will soon come for you.
God! How I miss her.
To take your hand and walk with you down the path to immortality.
I'm ready. What more did she say?
It's about to be revealed.
(Enter Menelaus, sees Helenus.)
Not you again! No don't answer that. You and your damned prophecies. I should have shut you up when I had the chance.
That night I warned you, about the dangers of knowing tomorrow. She listened, you didn't.
Perhaps I should've. Hermione says my obsession roused the unthinkable. Well she certainly did that, but not so bad that it can't be remedied. What do you say Peleus? Can't we talk some sense into that grandson of yours? Sure, he'll be angry, but what more was it than two wives, scraping over the same bone? And there's no harm done. I stepped in before matters got out of hand.
So how about you Helenus? Do you think my obsession roused the unthinkable?
I know it for a certainty.
In your madness to change destiny, you made it happen.
What kind of absurd talk is that? Where's my daughter anyway?
(Banging on door. Pyrrhus' servant enters disheveled and exhausted.)
What's happened to you? Where's Pyrrhus?
Terrible tidings master, so bad, I can't bear to speak.
Compose yourself, say it out.
This morning we left with the caravan in a gay and festive mood. When we got to the crossroads it turned, but my master wished to linger there and take his breakfast, so he waved, bidding them to continue.
We spread our fare on the ground and began to eat. We were nearly finished when it happened.
A band of brigands fell upon us, led by a hooded man on a horse. Pyrrhus sprang for his sword, telling me to flee for my life. I went a short way and then snuck back, hiding in the bushes nearby. From that vantage point I saw everything that happened.
He was down on one knee, terribly wounded, a spear driven through his back. Three lay dead around him as they assailed him from all sides. Two more he cut down, as I watched, but they kept coming. This time another spear was driven under his arm and out the other side. It was a mortal wound that pierced his heart; Still he arose, crying out to the man on the horse.
What did he say?
He said, "I'll see you in hell Orestes!" With that he fell to the ground and they finished him.
(Beside himself with grief.)
My boy is murdered! My boy is murdered!
That mother's son! I'll track him down and kill him with my bare hands. CAPTAIN! Summon the guard. Get some horses. We ride in half an hour.
Can you tell me more? What did you see next? Which way did they go?
When my master was still, the hooded man rode over to look. When he was satisfied, he spat and said, "Fuck you Pyrrhus." Then he threw the assassins a pouch and bid them take the mule. They headed West and he rode back towards Pharsalus.
(Picks up gear, walks over to Peleus)
I would console you dear friend but vengeance won't wait.
My donkey had not strayed far. I lashed his body to it and came back straight away. I wasn't two miles from here when I heard horses. Hiding in the brush I saw again the same hooded man, this time riding towards me with a woman. They raced past, crouched in their saddles, hoofs pounding in the night.
Hermione? Where is Hermione? Bring her at once.
She's gone Sire, packing in great haste, riding off with that man named Orestes.
How could she do this to me? This could have been repaired. It wasn't as bad as she imagined. Far worse awaits her in the company of that knave.
(Soldiers come in with Pyrrhus body. One hand is clutching something.)
Put him there on the table. Look at his head, bruised and cut. His arms, broken and bloody. His hands clutched and defiant. What's this? A chain attached to something in his hand. Such a powerful grip. I can't get his fingers loose. It must be valuable because even in death he won't give it up. Help me, Menelaus, to pry it open. There now, we have it. Why it's an emerald talisman, clutched to death in his cold hand.
Yes and it has a familiar look about it.
It should, my son was wearing it on the night you had him executed. A gift from Hecuba, but it was a weak charm and brought him no luck.
Dear gods. I remember now.
I held the boy that night and saw the emerald gleaming on his neck.
It was glowing an iridescent green pulsing to his heartbeat,
as if alive, with a bright star burning inside it.
I told Pyrrhus to take it but he wanted no part;
said it was a bad omen and feared touching it would bring bad luck.
If he didn't take it then how does he have it now? Clutched like the most precious thing in the world?
Good question! Now, let me think back. I was holding the infant.
There was a table full of armor and a basket on the floor,
filled with garments... and on the top, the most splendid cape.
Pyrrhus was all keyed up, his nerves worn from the day.
Briseis, should have been back at the tent...
for her son was only then rallying back from the fever...
and she was nervous and fidgeting about.
Anyway, there was this basket on the floor with the cape in it.
Being hungry, I reached down, hoping to find some fruit
and as I did so, Philistes spoke up to me,
begging for himself the honor of throwing the boy off the wall.
Now since I hadn't seen him for five years and wanted a good look,
I handed the baby back to Briseis.
After that I turned back around, and we helped Pyrrhus get dressed.
After we buckled him up, Philsites held his cape wide, like a magician...
And Pyrrhus stepped back into it; Briseis still holding the boy,
handed him to Pyrrhus. The rest is....
The rest is what?
Oh my god! Oh my god! How could I have been so STUPID!
I stood on the threshold of exposing their treachery!
And by the power of Zeus, I would have,
if it hadn't been for that oily tongued son of a sister of mine,
who stepped in and distracted me.
Distracted you from what?
Don't you see you senile old fool?
They swapped the babies, they swapped the babies,
don't you see? They swapped the babies.
By the gods, it can't be true, it can't, it can't.
The gods be damned! It is! It is!
(Goes over to Pyrrhus' body, grabbing him by the tunic, blind to the absurdity.)
May you fry in Hades you....
You, no good scheming trickster of a son-in-law!
(Puts his hands around his neck, choaking.)
You deceitful, lying, treacherous, low down, conniving, ingrate.
After all I did for you. I'll make you pay for this.
(Starts slapping him.)
You'll rue the day you ever double-crossed me!
Get a grip on yourself!
And Philistes, that son of the devil!
That abomination of my horrible sister.
Only he could have deceived me.
Like a magician is right. "Let me have the honor.
I have a score to settle with the Trojans.
Let me help you with the cloak."
I remember how the hate smoldered in Seneca's eyes
the night she delivered Philistes.
Ramos, covered in her bloody scum, holding that bastard.
Imagine the shame, our lineage stained by a damned cook.
Him old enough to know better and her too young to care.
I should have killed them both, right there on the spot,
but my kind heart intervened and I kicked her greasy lover
and that misbegotten son all the way to Thessaly.
Peleus can tell you the rest of that sad tale.
Then as I stormed out,
Seneca let out the most god awful shriek
and in her rage put a curse on me that I suffer to this day.
I can almost hear her voice. Can't you? Yes its getting louder!
Where's it coming from, those clapping hands, that piercing wail,
the hysterical laughter ringing in my ears?
Hear her hands, clap, clap, clapping?
She revels in my misery, she revels in my misery,
can't you hear, she revels in my misery?
Hang onto yourself, you're going mad!
And Briseis, that conniving bitch.
No doubt about it. This was all her idea.
Only a woman could concoct such a scheme;
No man has the imagination.
"Oh, my son's doing so much better my Lord."
When he was stone cold dead.
Can you believe the nerve of it all?
The devil take her cold blooded heart!
And where do you suppose the two are now?
Celebrating their nuptials in Delphi?
In a pig's ass! They're racing for the frontier,
with enough money and goods to disappear forever;
And Hector's son with them
The men are ready Sire, where do we go. After your daughter or to the frontier?
This is too much for me to bear.
I'm weary and sick of heart.
I've spent a lifetime in service,
carrying the world on my back,
an oppressive weight, heavy on my shoulders.
Using my will, when resolve ran out and all hope flickered,
to rekindle men's determination and steady a trembling world.
Small thanks it got me.
Well, it's time someone else got the worry because I've had my fill of it. Form the troops Captain.
I'm going home to my beloved Helen.
(Exit Menelaus and Spartans.)
Briseis tried to tell me, Philistes tried to tell me,
Pyrrhus tried to tell me and even my heart tried to tell me.
"You weren't there."
How true those words and how sadly they echo in my ears.
I wasn't just deaf, I was blind.
For two years hate consumed my life and though the truth beckoned me
I saw only one thing and that was false.
About me was the evidence. I had only to examine it.
Instead, I refused and in my misery, laid waste to everyone in my path.
Hermione I struck down as surely as a dagger through her heart.
Sending her to a life of shame with the most infamous of rogues.
My dear Briseis, ventured everything,
sacrificing the body of her own child to save my son.
What was her reward? I called him a "Bastard."
Don't you see the irony?
And Philistes, risking the wrath of a king, stepped bravely to my interests,
holding the pieces together while the plot trembled and almost fell apart.
What did he get? A cold shoulder.
And Pyrrhys, my silent protector, fearing I would betray everything,
kept the secret safe, at the cost of his own happiness,
and died with the proof of it clutched in his hand.
I was surrounded by friends who served me with unselfish devotion, reciprocated by the cruelest spite.
For me they sacrificed everything, running like fugitives into exile,
or like my hero, dead.
What were you thinking Pyrrhus, when death made its grim appearance,
as execution pressed close on all sides?
(Picks up emerald)
Did you waste precious time searching for it?
Was it in your purse, your pocket, or around your neck?
Did you think of me when you found it, your heart pounding with fear?
Did you smile that grim look, clutching it, as death closed in around you?
Did you imagine "explaining it to me," and the sparkle in my eyes?
(Strokes his face.)
How many nights did you dream how happy I'd be,
to know that, after all, my son was still alive?
You held it tight, so tight, so very tight
as if nothing could be more precious.
(Falls to knees and kisses hand.)
I'll always remember our night together when you stormed into my heart
and I lifted the latch, letting you into my soul.
I never told you this but sometimes, in the still of the morning,
I creep back into that room and quietly open the door...
to see if you're still there.
And I delight in seeing my spirit, glistening in your arms,
still laughing as you twirl me around and around.
That night you showed me a wonder I never knew
and if I'd only loved you in return,
what a life we might have had.
(Weeps, drying nose. Peleus hands her Molossus)
Pyrrhus, I have much to atone for
and I'll try my best to make it up to you.
And if I forget, Molossus will remind me.
Every day I'll speak your name,
telling him what an awesome man you were
and I'll raise him to be just like you.
If he's good I'll tell him how proud you are
and if he's bad, I'll be hard on him just like you would.
And when you see what a good job I'm doing ...
maybe then you can start to forgive me.
(Collapses in sobs.)
Our time is short and full of woe, as all who live have come to know.
The blistering heat, the chilling cold, formed these plains in days of old;
And no one is exempt from pain, when clouds of sorrow bring the rain;
But storms will pass and then the sun can have its way with everyone.
And laughter, joy and hope and love, can dry the tears from high above.
For good and evil come to thee, as ebbs and tides abound the sea
And each must pass that one may live...to bear the times we must forgive.
(Helenus picks up charm, helps Andromacha to feet. They exit stage.)