Trojan Women 2.0
Hecuba
Queen of the Trojans. There is about her an air of fatalism and exhaustion. She loses none of her regality, even lying in rags. And in the end, when the last of her daughters has been led off in sacrifice, she rises, rages, and sets in motion a series of events by which Troy will ultimately be avenged.
We are nothing but creatures waiting
to be shattered by our lives.
In the end,
we don't come through life
as we come through each experience along the way--
enriched or changed,
wounded or restored;
in the end we are all
each one of us
consumed by life.
Soon all my world will be blotted out with ash.
Eisa
The serial wife. She’s gone from bad relationship to bad relationship without a break. Very angry and very earthy. Not the fragile victim type; she killed one of those five or six husbands she’s had, and she was probably smiling while she did it.
Right, right,
okay, but you know,
you're talking to someone who had five husbands
so it's not like I don't know anything about men.
Aimable
Gave herself to an enemy general to survive, and is ashamed of the fact that he made her feel safe.
I was at a movie,
a very large theatre, very dark,
a downtown theatre,
and I knew it was wrong for me to be there.
Only enemy soldiers were allowed there.
And their general came in and sat next to me.
And I was more scared than ever.
But he put his arm around me.
And I felt comforted.
He put his hand on me.
Inside my thigh.
And I liked it.
Sei
Loved the opera and moving among the beautiful people. She is all blasted elegance now, still kind in a fragile way.
I was sitting in a box at the opera,
dressed in a new gown.
It was a big opera house,
filled with beautiful people,
downtown,
and they were performing my favorite opera.
My hair was done up so beautifully.
And when it came to the line,
"There is the devil,"
a company of enemy soldiers ran in,
stomping their feet,
and came right up to me.
They had a secret machine
that had told them
that when I heard the word devil I thought of their general.
I looked around for help,
but everyone in the audience was staring straight ahead
silent, expressionless,
not even showing pity for what I'd got myself into.
An elderly gentleman in the box next to mine
looked over at me,
but when I started to speak to him,
he spat in my face.
Valerie
Lost her son. Valerie and Sei are still capable of compassion, and form a counterpoint to the bitter alliance of Eisa and Chea.
All of a sudden, it went dark
and before I knew it, I was outside.
I was holding my son still,
and I looked down at him.
Fragments of glass had pierced his head.
Blood was flowing
from his head over his face.
But he looked up at me and smiled. His smile
has stayed glued in my memory.
He didn't understand what had happened.
And so he looked at me
and smiled at my face which was all bloody.
I had plenty of milk which he drank all throughout that day.
I think my child sucked the poison right out of my body.
And soon after that he died.
Chea
Chea and Eisa feed off each other’s anger; it keeps them from breaking. Her cynicism masks a tremendous amount of old pain; she’s no stranger to poverty, abuse or suffering.
I was running away with my mother.
There were shells landing everywhere
making craters in the ground
throwing up rocks and dirt.
And when she couldn't run any more
I put her on my back and carried her
still running.
But she was heavy,
and I suffered with the burden of her.
Until after a while I realized she was dead,
and I felt relieved to let her fall from my back,
and be done with her.
Talthybius
Cool, polished, cultured, presents himself as a man of conscience, but that doesn’t stop him from carrying out the worst of orders with terrible efficiency and no little enjoyment. Talthybius is Lucifer, the practiced torturer whose worst tortures are entirely psychological.
I am not the man to do this,
I admit it.
Some other,
without pity,
should have come in my place.
But I've come to do my job.
Bill
One of the soldiers. Bill’s been at war long enough that he’s gotten addicted to violence. A cheerful sort of sociopath.
Easy to say the war is over
but the men are still on fire
Their blood racing
They'd like to feel
the impact of two or three more bombs exploding
the woods moving like one living creature
heaving up the earth,
the slow collapsing pull of gravity
before they feel at peace
Ray Bob
Bill’s best friend, another soldier, equally damaged and dangerous.
The natural state of a man,
the ecstatic state,
will find itself in the visions
of things that appear suddenly:
cadavers, for example,
nudity, explosions, spilled blood,
sunbursts, abscesses, thunder.
Joe
Another soldier, one who doesn’t say much, because he’s brooding and processing and wondering what the hell he’s doing there. Joe hasn’t entirely lost his humanity.
The whole army of the Greeks
was drawn up in ranks.
Some soldiers held her arms,
and Achilles' son, Neoptolemus, led her to his father's grave
and there drew his sword to kill her.
But she spoke first:
Wait, she said,
let no man touch me
I die of my own free will,
and the soldiers let her go.
She took hold of her robe at the shoulder
and ripped it open to her waist.
She sank to her knees
and said to Neoptolemus,
Here is my breast, then,
will you stab me here?
Here is my throat ready for your sword.
And Neoptolemus,
torn between pity and duty,
stood hesitating
and then, at last,
slashed her throat with his sword
and even as she dropped to the ground
she did so with dignity and grace.
Cassandra:
One of Hecuba’s daughters, the one Agamemnon chose for a concubine. Gamin, sharp-tongued and angry, Cassandra is perhaps the most lucid of any of the women. Certainly the strongest. She enters and leaves the stage on her own terms, grimly determined to make what’s left of Agamemnon’s life a living hell.
The bride of Agamemnon!
And blessed am I to lie at a king's side.
I'll tell you what I see
in this king's future,
I see he takes a bride
who will climb into his bed
and cut his throat.
Andromache
Hector’s widow, Hecuba’s daughter-in-law. She is beautiful, remote, disconnected, a blown mind--not superficial or silly, but blown away and in shock. She carries a doll with her in the old Chippewa tradition of women grieving the loss of children; Astyanax was taken from her and killed four days ago, his brains dashed out against a wall in front of her. Andromache tried for years to be the perfect, virtuous wife, and all it gained her in the end was an excellent reputation and a wasted life.
You think
well
I deserved it
living all this time in such comfort
when you look around you
and you see others not so well off as you are
suffering
in fact
suffering
Polyxena
A girl of roughly thirteen, Hecuba’s youngest child. Structurally, her death substitutes for Astyanax’s. Innocent and brave and unfailingly honest, she’s willing to sacrifice herself so that her mother might live.
I think
I wish I had lived to have some years with you
when we would both be grownups
and talk as equals
and share our thoughts.
But when it's in your numbers
or your horoscope
you just know
that's the way the world was
when you had your life
and you accept it.
Helen
Menelaus’ wife, the Queen of Sparta, and the pretext for the war. She ran away with Paris to Troy for love, now something she passes off as an abduction. Helen survives on her wits and her wiles, and is the only one of the women to use sex as a weapon.
And now you would kill me?
I have been a bride of force.
Do you not think I've suffered enough,
away from you,
that you couldn't bring me back to your bed,
forgive me
lie with me
our arms around each other
to make love
or not
just lie together
your arms around me
your stomach pressed into my back
your arms around me
your face buried in my hair
one hand on my stomach
feeling once again
at peace
Menelaus
The King of Sparta, and Helen’s husband. An older man, easy prey to the wiles of a young and pretty wife he’s still in love with. That aspect of Menelaus is actually remarkably sympathetic. There’s another, darker side to the man, though, a dreamlike and almost emotionally absent comfort with the notion of using violence to achieve his ends.
Really.
Put it how you will.
My friend betrayed me.
Or my wife did.
Broke her promise.
Her vow of marriage.
Betrayed my love.
That's the point, isn't it?
Aeneas
Aeneas is another son of Hecuba and Priam, and while the men of Troy have been slaughtered and the women have been raped, beaten and bartered, Aeneas has been hiding amongst the Greek soldiers. He reveals himself at the end of the play, finally, when Hecuba berates him for his cowardice. And on his frail shoulders rests all the salvation there is.
When I see a girl being drowned
I go crazy
and I have butterflies in my stomach
and pressure of some kind in my temples
and they seem to get hot
I sometimes smell something burning
and I am overcome by panic
I feel some kind of feeling in my penis
my heart rate goes up
I sweat sometimes
I get the runs
and then I masturbate over and over and over and over again
six times a day for days
while I see in my mind the drowning I have seen on television
I wish I could have videotaped it
and watched it over and over again
I have the head rush of that sweeping liquid-like feeling
that goes through my brain when I see a drowning
and I have trouble breathing
I have asthma
I have to use my inhaler to breathe normally again
I might not sleep for days on end
I am in a constant state of fear and agitation
I can't eat
I ache all over
and all because of the drowning of the girl
that I saw on television