“The Supper”

Themes 

Ancient Greek quotations and English translations are taken from:

D. Kovacs (1998), Euripides ΙΙ: Suppliant Women, Electra, Heracles [Loeb Classical Library], Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, and London.  

_________ (1999), Euripides IV: Trojan Women, Iphigenia among the Taurians, Ion [Loeb Classical Library], Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA and London.

_________ (2002), Euripides V: Helen, Phoenician Women, Orestes [Loeb Classical Library], Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA and London.

________  (2002), Euripides VI: Bacchae, Iphigenia at Aulis, Rhesus [Loeb Classical Library], Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA and London.

H. Lloyd-Jones (1994), Sophocles I: Ajax, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus [Loeb Classical Library], Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA and London.

A. H. Sommerstein (2008), Aeschylus II: Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides [Loeb Classical Library], Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, and London.

Quotations  from  Kambanellis’ “The Supper” are from:

 Iakovos Kambanellis (19942), Θέατρο, τόμος ΣΤ, Κedros Publications, Athens.

 

Plot

“The Supper” is the second play of the trilogy The Supper, which also comprises the plays “Letter to Orestes” and “Thebes Byway”. The dramatic time is a few years after Clytemnestra’ murder by Orestes and Electra. The play provides an account of the last reunion of the members of the House of Agamemnon¾not only the living (Orestes, Iphigenia and Electra) but also the dead (Agamemnon and Clytemnestra). The key figure of the play is Iphigenia, who has just been repatriated from Tauris. Aegisthus and Cassandra, both murdered at Agamemnon’s palace, are also present at the gathering. The dinner, which is held in honor of the dead, takes place outside Mycenae, at the humble, rural house of Pholos, Electra’s husband (though the marriage is a white one). Even though the presence of the dead at the table goes unnoticed by the living, the whole meeting is infused with a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. Seeing Electra and Orestes filled with remorse and shame for their crime, Iphigenia decides to release her siblings from their suffering by poisoning their wine. She also drinks from the poisoned cup herself, as she believes this to be the only way for her and her family to escape from the reciprocal cycle of violence and revenge that has beset them for successive generations. 

In the opening stage-directions, Kambanellis specifies that the play should be performed without period costumes and stage décor, as if it were merely a rehearsal (‘Καὶ τὸ ἔργο αὐτό γράφτηκε γιά να παίζεται ¾ χωρίς σκηνικά καί ἐνδυμασίες ἐποχῆς ¾ σέ μορφή πρόβας.’). This ruptures the dramatic illusion and encourages the audience to perceive what they see as merely a theatrical artifice rather than a ‘slice of real life’. Note that the same applies to the first play of the triptych, the “Letter to Orestes”, which “The Supper” presupposes and constantly alludes to.

 

Page 39 (stage-directions)

Ο ὑποτιθέμενος τόπος εἶναι (στό Ἄργος) ὁ ἰσόγειος χῶρος στό (καλοστεκούμενο) ἀγροτικό σπίτι τοῦ ΦΟΛΟΥ. Στή μέση τοῦ χώρου ἕνα μακρύ τραπέζι γιά πολλούς, στρωμένο γιά φαγητό. (Πιατέλες, καράφες, ποτήρια, κ.λπ.).

The action of Kambanellis’ play unfolds in the house of Pholos, Electra’s husband. Likewise, in Euripides’ Electra, the opening scene is also placed at the rustic cottage of Electra’s husband, who remains, however, unnamed. Kambanellis’ choice of name for this character  must be intentional: it appears to be an allusion to the mythic Pholos, the wise Centaur who welcomed and entertained Heracles in his cave. However, whereas Pholos’ house is described as “well-off”, in Euripides it is worthy either for a ‘ditch-digger or a cowherd’ (252).

 

Page  40

ΚΑΣΣ… ἐσύ τουλάχιστον μπορεῖς καί τούς βλέπεις…

ΚΛΥΤ. Μή μέ ζηλεύεις, Κασσάνδρα, αὐτό εἶν᾽ ἀκόμα πιό μεγάλο μαρτύριο…

ΚΑΣΣ. …σκέψου νά μήν εἶχες οὔτε αὐτό…

ΚΛΥΤ.  …μέ μισεῖς, Κασσάνδρα, κι εἶναι ἄδικο, τόσες φορές σοῦ τό ἐξήγησα… ἐγώ σέ πόνεσα ἀπό τήν πρώτη μέρα πού σέ φέρανε στίς Μυκῆνες… ἄκουγα τά λυπητερά τρωαδίτικα τραγούδια σου καί σκεφτόμουνα τό δικό μου χαμένο παιδί, τήν Ἰφιγένεια, καί μοῦ σπάραζ᾽ ἡ καρδιά, καί σ᾽ἀγαποῦσα … μ᾽ἔκανες νά νιώθω ὅτι εἶχα δίκιο πού ἀποφάσισα νά τόν σκοτώσω…

KAΣΣ… κι ἐπειδή σ᾽ἔκανα νά νιώσεις τό δίκιο σου, τό πλήρωσα μέ τή ζωή μου…;

ΚΛΥΤ…. ἤτανε μιά καταραμένη νύχτα, γίνανε πολλοί ἄδικοι φόνοι, κι ὁ πιό ἄδικος ἦταν ὁ δικός σου…!

Clytemnestra’s affectionate words towards Cassandra are very different from her bitter and detached attitude in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon. Aeschylus’ Clytemnestra treats Cassandra with arrogance and does not empathise with her plight; see, for instance 1064-8: CLYT.: “She’s mad, that’s all, obeying the promptings of an unsound mind. She’s come here from a city just captured, and she doesn’t yet know how to bear the bridle, not till she’s foamed out her rage in blood. Well I’m not going to waste more words and be insulted.” In Sophocles’ Electra Cassandra’s arrival at the palace as Agamemnon’s mistress is even put forth as the reason that led Clytemnestra to murder Agamemnon: CLYT.: “Well, even though I was wronged, it was not this that made me savage, and not for this would I have killed him. But he came home with the god-possessed seer girl and installed her in his bed and meant to keep two women at the same time in the same house” (1030-5).

Clytemnestra’s remark in the passage cited above implies that she was not involved in her murder, contrary to what happens in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon.

Cassandra’s complaint that, unlike Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, she cannot see her own (dead) family seems to serve as a reverse allusion to her prophetic power and her ability to see, clairvoyantly, even things of the future, such as Agamemnon’s and her own murder (see, e.g., Αesch. Agamemnon 1272-330).

 

Page 41

ΚΛΥΤ. …κάνει ὅ,τι μπορεῖ…! τήν Ἰφιγένεια ὁ ’Ορέστης πῆγε καί τήν ἔφερε…!

An allusion to Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians, where Orestes brings Iphigenia, now a priestess in Tauris, back home. Clytemnestra’s comment implies that Orestes’ journey to Tauris was made with the purpose of rescuing Iphigenia. Yet, in the Euripidean version, Orestes’ primary intention was to fetch Artemis’ image back to Athens, since, according to Apollo’s oracle, this was the only way for him to escape the Furies’ persecution (85-8).

 

Page 41

ΑΓΑΜ. …τό ξέρω… καί μακάρι νά μποροῦσα νά τοῦ δείξω τήν εὐγνωμοσύνη μου… τό εἶχα βάρος στήν καρδιά, Ἰφιγένεια… πῶς μπόρεσα νά τό κάνω αὐτό στό παιδί μου… Θεέ μου, ἐκείνη ἡ φωνή σου στήν Αὐλίδα…!

Agamemnon’s recollection of the events at Aulis alludes to Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis, in particular to Iphigenia’s monologue and desperate appeal to her father to show mercy and spare her life (1211-52).

 

Page 41

AΓΑΜ…. φανοῦ μεγαλόψυχη, συγχώρεσε κι αὐτόν καί τήν ἀδελφή σου γιά τή σφαγή τῆς μητέρας σας, ὅπως συγχώρησα κι ἐγώ ἐκείνη γιά τή δική μου σφαγή, καί ὅπως συγχώρησε κι ἐκείνη ἐμένα γιά ὅ τι ἔκαμα σέ σένα…!

Agamemnon’s remark is in contrast with Aesch. Choephori 324ff and 400ff, where the Chorus imagine the dead Agamemnon as being still angry with his murderers and eager for revenge. 

 

Page 44

ΙΦΙΓ. …γι᾽αὐτό ἦρθα! ἀλλιῶς θά ᾽μενα μέ τούς βαρβάρους πού μέ εἶχαν στείλει, εἶχα βρεῖ ἕνα σκοπό στή ζωή, δέν εἶχα κανένα παράπονο… ( ΦOΛΟΣ τὴν κοιτάζει παραξενεμένος ἀπ᾽αὐτό πού ἄκουσε.)

ΙΦΙΓ. …μήν ἀπορεῖς καθόλου…! αὐτοί πού ἐδῶ τούς λέμε βάρβαρους θέλουν νά μένουν βάρβαροι γιά νά μή μᾶς μοιάσουν…! λυπήθηκα τ᾽αδέλφια μου, ἀλλιῶς δέ θά ᾽φευγα ποτέ ἀπό κεῖ.. πρόδωσα καί πρόσβαλα ἀγαθούς ἀνθρώπους, καλούς σἀν παιδιά, τούς εἶπα ψέματα πώς θά γυρίσω σύντομα…! 

[…] 

IΦΙΓ. … ἦταν φῶς φανερό τί ἐφιάλτες καί τύψεις τόν κυνηγούσανε… καί κατάλαβα γιά καλά πώς ἡ μοίρα μου ἦταν νά γυρίσω ἐδῶ, ἀλλιῶς δέ θά τελειώσει ποτέ ἡ δυστυχία μας…

Iphigenia’s description of the ‘barbarian’ Taurians as ‘noble’ and ‘innocent’ is in stark contrast with ‘murderous’ (ἀνθρωποκτόνους 389), the adjective that Euripides’ Iphigenia uses with reference to the people of Tauris. See also Iphigenia’s letter to her brother, where she desperately begs him to save her from her entrapment in the land of the Taurians: “Take me away from the goddess’ sacrifices where it is my office to kill foreigners…” (Iphigenia among the Taurians 775-6).

In Kambanellis, by contrast, Iphigenia is quite happy dwelling among ‘barbarians’, as may also be inferred from Clytemnestra’s observation that Iphigenia is the healthiest and happier among her children (Page 40, ΚΛΥΤ.: Εύτυχῶς ὅμως εἶχα κάνει λάθος… ἐσύ καί μέ τούς βαρβάρους τά ᾽βγαλες πέρα, καί γύρισες καί δείχνεις πιό καλά ἀπ᾽ὅλους…! ἔ, Ἰφιγένεια…;) Iphigenia’s comment that the ‘barbarian’ Taurians are much less barbarian than the non-barbarian Greeks could be an ironic allusion to her claim in Eur. Iphigenia at Aulis (1400-1): “Greeks, mother, must rule over barbarians, not barbarians over Greeks: the one sort are slaves but the others are free men!”

 

Page 44

ΙΦΙΓ. ὁ Όρέστης εἶχε φάει τόν κόσμο νά μέ βρεῖ, ἔλεγε καί ξαναέλεγε “γρήγορα, Ἰφιγένεια, γρήγορα, ἡ καημένη ἡ μητέρα μας σέ περιμένει”… καί τό ᾽λεγε σάν νά ᾽ταν ὅλα ὡραῖα καί καλά ἐνῶ τήν εἶχε σφάξει ὁ ἴδιος…!

Iphigenia’s remark is in contrast to Euripides’ version in the Iphigenia among the Taurians, where Iphigenia is informed about Orestes’ matricide while she is still in Tauris  (554-5).

 

Page 46

ΙΦΙΓ. ἡ ἀδελφή μου, ποῦ κοιμόταν ὅλ᾽αὐτά τά χρόνια πού ἔμειν᾽ἐδώ…;

ΦΟΛΟΣ …. ποῦ…! μή μέ πεῖς ἀφιλόξενο, δἐ φταίω ἐγώ… νά ἐκεῖ πλάι στό τζάκι, στρώνει σέ κεῖνο τό πατάρι καί κοιμᾶται…! φυσικά ἀπ᾽τήν πρώτη κιόλας νύχτα τοῦ γάμου μας-τρόπος τοῦ λέγειν-τῆς εἶπα νά μένει στό ἀπάνω δωμάτιο κι ἐγώ κάτω… δέν ἤθελε μέ κανέναν τρόπο…! μαντεύεις γιατί…; γιατί ἄν μέ ξυπνούσανε τίς νύχτες τά βήματά της στή σκάλα, θά τή ρωτοῦσα “᾽Ηλέκτρα, ποῦ πᾶς;”…

Electra’s self-imposed celibacy is a key theme in tragedy; see, e.g. Sophocles. Electra 164-5, 185-92, 962. In fact, Euripides goes as far as to present her as a virgin even after her marriage with the Farmer, who explains in lines 43-53 that he never forced her to consummate their marriage: “To her bed-Aphrodite is my witness-I have never done dishonor, and she is a virgin still: a sense of honor prevents me from taking the daughter of a wealthy man and committing outrage against her since I am not her equal. […] If anyone says I am a fool for taking a young virgin into my house and leaving her untouched, he should know that he measures modest behavior by his own mind’s false standards and is himself a fool”. Kambanellis follows Euripides’ version, even though he gives it a clever twist by presenting Electra eager to have sexual intercourse with Pholos in order to take revenge against Aegisthus and Clytemnestra  (see also the comments on Pages 46&47 below)

 

Page 46

ΙΦΙΓ. … τίνος ἦταν ἡ ἰδέα γιά γάμο, τῆς μητέρας μου, ἤ τοῦ Αἴγισθου…;

ΦΟΛΟΣ …δέν ξέρω, δέ ρώτησα, ἀλλά τί σημασία ἔχει…;

ΙΦΙΓ. … κι ἐσύ τί ἔβαλες μέ τό νοῦ σου, δέ σοῦ φάνηκε παράξενο…;

ΦΟΛΟΣ… ὄχι, γιατί ἡ μητέρα σου μοῦ ἐξήγησε τό λόγο…! εἶπε ὅτι ἄν δέν ἔφευγε ἡ ᾽Ηλέκτρα ἀπ᾽τίς Μυκῆνες τό γρηγορότερο….

ΙΦΙΓ. …κατάλαβα…!

ΚΛΥΤ…. τά ᾽βλεπα νά ᾽ρχονται αὐτά πού γίνανε ὕστερα, Ἰφιγένεια, τ᾽ἄκουγα σάν βήματα πού πλησιάζανε…! γιά νά τή σταματήσω ἀπ᾽αὐτά πού ἑτοίμαζε τήν ἔφερα ἐδῶ…!

In Kambanellis, Electra is sent to live with Pholos outside Mycenae, so that she may not succumb to her matricidal impulses. In Euripides the motives behind her marriage with a humble farmer are more sinister: Aegisthus marries Electra off to a peasant, a man beneath her station, in order to humiliate her and eliminate the chance of his dethronement by her offspring.  See, e.g., Eur. Electra 37-42: FARMER: “This he [Aegisthus] did so that if he gave her to a weak man, the fear he felt might also be weak. For if a man of standing had married her, he would have awakened from its slumber the murder of Agamemnon, and punishment might have come thereafter to Aegisthus.”

 

Pages 47

ΦΟΛΟΣ:  …τρόμαξα…! κι ἐπειδή τό κατάλαβε, πῆγε νά τό δικαιολογήσει “θέλω νά κάμω ἕνα παιδί, μοῦ λέει, μόνο ἅμα κάμω ἕνα παιδί, θά πάψουν νά μέ νοιάζουν ὅλα τ᾽ἄλλα”… δέν τήν πίστεψα βέβαια, ἤτανε φανερό πώς ἤθελε νά ἀντιστρέψει τό διώξιμό της σέ ἐκδίκηση! Νά ᾽χει νά λέει πώς τήν κοροϊδέψανε καί πώς ὁ δῆθεν ψεύτικος γάμος της ἦταν ἀληθινός…! νά κάμει καί παιδί μ᾽ ἕνα χωριάτη σάν ἐμένα γιά νά δείχνει πόσο ταπεινώσανε τήν κόρη τοῦ Ἀγαμέμνονα…!

In Euripides, Electra tells Orestes that Aegisthus married her off to a humble and poor man because he wanted to deprive her offspring from laying a claim to the throne (267). Kambanellis ingeniously appropriates this motive for his own Electra: As Pholos confesses to Iphigenia, Electra wanted to give birth to his child as part of a revenge scheme, so that she might claim that her marriage was more than a pretense. By bearing a villager’s child, she might showcase her humiliation by Aegisthus and Clytemnestra to all citizens of Argos.  

 

Page 48

ΦΟΛΟΣ ….. καὶ μαζί ὁμόρφαινε ὅλο καί πιό πολύ … μάζευε νερό τῆς βροχῆς γιά νά λούζεται ἀγόρασε ἕνα μεγάλο καθρέφτη… ἔδειχνε νά τήν ἔχει κυριεύσει ἡ νέα γυναίκα πού ζωήρευε μέσα της…! ἀκόμα καί στό φῶς τοῦ κεριοῦ τό δέρμα της φέγγιζε σάν τό φλούδι τοῦ μήλου… μαγεύτηκα κι ἄς μήν εἶμαι πιά νέος….

ΙΦΙΓ. …δέν εἶσ᾽ἀπό ξύλο, κι ἄν τήν ἐρωτεύτηκες, ἀνθρώπινο εἶναι…! ποῦ εἶν᾽ ὅμως οἱ τόσες ὀμορφιές πού λές, τί γίνανε…;

ΦΟΛΟΣ… πάρε τήν καράφα μέ τό ὡραῖο κρασί κι ἄδειασέ τη τελείως… αὐτό ἀκριβῶς ἔγινε μέ τήν Ἠλέκτρα ἀπ᾽τή μιά μέρα στήν ἄλλη…

ΙΦΙΓ…. δέρμα γεροντικό, τά χέρια συνέχεια κρυμμένα στίς μασχάλες, ἄν δέν ἔρθει στό κρεβάτι μου νά τήν πάρα ἀγκαλιά, δέν κλείνει μάτι…!

Unlike Kambanellis’ Electra, whose beauty starts flourishing when she moves away from her house to her husband’s cottage, in tragedy the deterioration of her beauty begins right after her father’s murder, as a result of her ongoing mourning: her close-cropped and dirty hair and her tattered clothing bear witness to her reduced circumstances; Eur. Electra 184-5, 241, 303-8; Soph. Electra 191-2, 450-2.

 

Pages 50-51

ΚΑΣΣ. … τόν πατέρα μου τόν λέγανε Πρίαμο, τή μητέρα μου Ἑκάβη… εἶχα πολλές ἀδερφές καί πολλούς ἀδερφούς… ὁ πατέρας μου δέν ἔκανε κανέναν ἄδικο πόλεμο, οὔτε θυσίασε μιά κόρη του γιά νά πετύχουν τά σχέδιά του… ἡ μητέρα μου δέν ἔφερε ἕναν ἄλλο στήν κάμαρά της, οὔτε σκότωσε τόν ἄντρα της… καμιά ἀδερφή καί κανένας ἀδερφός μου δέ σκότωσε τή μητέρα μου καί τόν ἀγαπητικό της…! Τί γυρεύω ἐγώ ἀνάμεσά σας…;!

Kambanellis’ Cassandra is cast in a completely different light from her Aeschylean counterpart. Far from being inarticulate and vague (see, e.g. her language in Aesch. Agamemnon 1035ff), her remarks are always clear, sharp and filled with irony regarding the absurdities associated with the Trojan War. Kambanellis’ Cassandra is not Aeschylus’ submissive captive woman, a plaything of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra; on the contrary, she eloquently indicts Agamemnon (and the Greeks who followed him to Troy) as ruthless destroyers of human lives.

 

Page 51

ΙΦΙΓ. … τό ψωμί τοῦ σπιτιοῦ σας μοσκοβολᾶ…

ΦΟΛΟΣ…. τό ψωμί πρέπει νά μοσκοβολᾶ, τό ἴδιο καί τό κρασί καί τό λάδι, εἶναι ἡ ἁγία τριάδα τῆς σοδειᾶς…

ΙΦΙΓ. … ποιός τό ζυμώνει…;

ΦΟΛΟΣ… ἡ ’Ηλέκτρα…

ΗΛΕΚ… ψέματα λέει, ὁ ἴδιος τό ζυμώνει…

[…]

ΦΟΛΟΣ:… τώρα πιά τά ξέρει πιό καλά κι ἀπό μένα…

Electra’s engagement with menial tasks, such as bread-making, brings to mind Euripides’ Electra 54-81, where the heroine is portrayed carrying a water jug on her head like a slave. However, whereas in Euripides Electra’s husband raises objections to his wife’s involvement with such tasks, as he considers them inappropriate to her noble nature, Pholos not only approves of her involvement with the household, but also praises Electra for it.

 

Page 52

ΚΑΣΣ. …θυμᾶμαι κι ἐγώ ἕναν ψαρά κι ἕνα ποταμό… ἡ μάνα μου κι ἐγώ ψάχναμε στά νερά του τή μικρή μου ἀδερφή… τήν ἔβγαλε μέ τό δίχτυ ἕνας ψαράς καί μᾶς τήν ἔδωσε…!

The fishing imagery employed here brings to mind the ‘net’ that enveloped and killed Agamemnon. Agamemnon is trapped in a garment with no holes for the head or the arms¾a garment visualised figuratively as a net (see Aesch. Agamemnon 1115, 1382, Choephori 492-3, Eumenides 634-5). Kambanellis ingeniously reverses the Aeschylean symbolism; here it is Agamemnon who becomes the fisherman and the Trojans the fish trapped in his net. Agamemnon turns from victim to victimizer.

 

Page 60

ΙΦΙΓ. …στήν ὄψη πῶς ἤτανε…;

ΗΛΕΚ…. ἀκόμα καί νεκρός ἦταν ὡραῖος… καί ὅταν φίλησα τή μητέρα μας νεκρή, φίλησα καί τόν Αἴγισθο…

ΦΟΛΟΣ …. ἤτανε ψηλός, καστανόξανθος, μέ ἔξυπνα μάτια…

ΗΛΕΚ…. ἔμοιαζε μέ τόν πατέρα μας…! ἦταν πιό ὡραῖος, ἀλλά ἔμοιαζε πολύ… ἴσως πάρα πολύ…

ΙΦΙΓ… σοβαρά…;! τί διαβολική σύμπτωση…!

ΗΛΕΚ. … ναί… ἀφοῦ ἅμα τόν εἶδα νεκρό, ταράχτηκα…! καί σκέφτηκα, “θεέ μου! ἕνας ἀδαής θά ᾽λεγε ὅτι σκότωσα τόν πατέρα μας…!”

When Iphigenia inquires about Aegisthus, Electra exclaims that he remained handsome, even after his death. Her remark is in stark contrast with her conduct in Euripides (Electra 902-56), where she verbally abuses and reviles the dead Aegisthus.

Electra adopts a similar stance towards Aegisthus in Sophocles: “She [Clytemnestra] barks out words like these, and her noble husband stands by her to encourage her, this utter coward, this total plague, this man who fights his battles with women’s aid” (Electra 299-302).

Electra’s remark that Aegisthus look very much like their father may be an ironic allusion to Soph. Electra 266-74, where Electra expresses her distress at seeing Aegisthus try to become Agamemnon by appropriating everything that belonged to her father – his staff, his throne, his clothes and his bed:  “And then what kind of days do you think I pass when I see Aegisthus sitting on my father’s throne, and when I see him wearing the same clothes he wore, and pouring libations by the same hearth at which he murdered him; and when I see their final outrage, the murderer in my father’s bed with my miserable mother, is she can be called mother when she sleeps with him?” 

 

Page 63

ΟΡΕΣ. …οἱ ἄλλοι ἔξω τρέχανε καί φωνάζανε  “πάει ἡ σκύλα, πάει η κακούργα…” καταχαρούμενοι…!

ΙΦΙΓ….ποιοί ἄλλοι…;

ΗΛΕΚ. … οἱ φίλοι μας, αὐτοί πού ἦταν μέ τό μέρος μας… σκορπίσανε στούς δρόμους, ἀνάβανε φωτιές, πανηγυρίζανε σάν δαίμονες…!

[…]

ΗΛΕΚ. …φαίνεται πώς ἔχουνε μείνει στίς Μυκῆνες καί περιμένουνε…! ἔχουνε τίς πόρτες ἀνοιχτές, στολίζουν τούς δρόμους, κρεμᾶνε σημαῖες, τρῶνε, πίνουνε, μεθοκοπᾶνε καί κάθε τόσο παίρνουν τούς δρόμους καί μᾶς γυρεύουνε…

The joyful reaction of the people of Mycenae to Clytemnestra’s death contradicts the popular fury with which the matricides are faced in Euripides’ Orestes. In the Euripidean tragedy, the two siblings are treated as outcasts by the Αrgives, who feel repugnance at their loathsome crime. As Electra notes at the opening of the play: “Argos has decreed that no one is to receive us under his roof or at his fireside or even speak to us since we are matricides. And this is the appointed day on which the city will vote whether we two must die by stoning” (46-50).

 

Page 62

ΟΡΕΣ….ἡ πόρτα ἦταν μισάνοιχτη… κοίταξα καί τήν εἶδα πού τό διάβαζε…κρατοῦσα ὥς καί τήν ἀνάσα μου γιά νά μή μ᾽ ἀκούσει… γιατί ἄν γύριζε τό πρόσωπο καί τήν ἔβλεπα νά μέ βλέπει, δέ θά μποροῦσα πιά τίποτα…! κοίταζα τό λαιμό της καί πλησίαζα… μόνο τό λαιμό της γιά νά βλέπω μόνο τό σημεῖο, ὄχι ἐκείνη… κι ἅμα πλησιάσα ὅσο γιά νά μπορῶ νά τήν ἀγγίξω… (μιμεῖται τό χτύπημα… τό ἰσοκράτημα φεύγει… ἡ ΙΦΙΓΕΝΕΙΑ ταράζεται….ὁ ΦΟΛΟΣ πιό πολύ καί σηκώνεται… οἱ νεκροί παρακολουθοῦν φοβισμένοι… ὁ ΟΡΕΣΤΗΣ ἐπαναλαμβάνει τό χτύπημα… ἡ ΗΛΕΚΤΡΑ – μίμηση – γέρνει καί σωριάζεται κάτω…)

In the Greek tragic plays ,the killing of Clytemnestra takes place off-stage (Aesch. Choephori 935-71; Soph. Electra 1404-25; Eur. Electra 1139-67). The audience can hear Clytemnestra’s cries for help, but cannot see the actual murder. Even though Kambanellis converges with the three tragedians by ending his “Letter to Orestes”, where Clytemnestra’s murder takes place, at the exact moment when Orestes is about to stab his mother, in “The Supper” he brings the scene of Clytemnestra’s murder on stage by ingeniously having Orestes and Electra re-enact that very event.

 

 

Mythic Characters

The larger-than-life mythic characters of Greek tragedy appear now as ordinary people, unglamorous and lusterless perhaps, but hardly bland or forgettable.

Clytemnestra

Kambanellis’ Clytemnestra is a far cry from the manly, power-hungry, and merciless woman we come across in Aeschylus and Sophocles. She is closer to Euripides’ Clytemnestra, who appears to be more humane and treats her children with more tenderness and concern. In Kambanellis Clytemnestra is depicted as an emotional, refined and high-minded woman. Above all, she is portrayed as a motherly figure.

Agamemnon

Even though at the beginning of the play Kambanellis’ Agamemnon appears remorseful, as the plot unfolds, his lust for power crops up. Despite his children’s plight and suffering, Mycenae is his one and only concern. He deems it Orestes’ sacred duty to succeed him to the throne, and is afraid lest his children abandon the palace.

Aegisthus

Unlike his tragic counterpart Aegisthus is portrayed as a noble, benign, honorable and sagacious man. He is very much the raisonneur, and it is characteristic that at the end of the play the actor who impersonates him removes his mask and addresses the audience directly. In contrast to Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, Aegisthus has come to realize the futility of human life.

Cassandra

Kambanellis’ Cassandra is diametrically opposed to her submissive and distressed Aeschylean counterpart. She is not the vulnerable victim of her captor’s wife, and her language is anything but inarticulate. In Kambanellis, Cassandra fires back: she openly and harshly reproaches Agamemnon and Clytemnestra for the absurdities of the Trojan War that caused countless deaths and left her homeland in ruins.

Orestes

Throughout the play Orestes appears to be racked by remorse and shame for his matricidal crime. In this respect he resembles Euripides’ Orestes, even though his role in “The Supper” is rather passive and secondary.

Electra

A far cry from her Aeschylean and Sophoclean counterparts, Kambanellis’ Electra is a fragile woman, filled with guilt not only for her mother’s murder but also for egging her brother on to perpetrate the matricide.

Iphigenia

Kambanellis presents us with a grown-up Iphigenia; she is neither the innocent girl of Aulis (Eur. Iphigenia at Aulis), nor the entrapped young woman that Orestes encounters in the Land of the Taurians (Eur. Iphigenia among the Taurians) anymore. Of all her siblings she is the only one who is not morally shattered, and can still think reasonably without being overwhelmed by the misfortunes of her family.

Pholos

Pholos is Kambanellis’ equivalent of Electra’s husband in Euripides’ Electra, although here he has a name (by contrast, the manuscripts of Euripides’ Electra merely call him ‘A Farmer’). Despite his poor condition and low social status, he is highly admired by the others for his nobility of spirit. 

 

Language 

 

Bibliography 

Gotsis, Y., E. Kali, P. Sakellaropoulou, V. Tassis and D. Tsatsoulis (2008), Από το αττικό δράμα στο σύγχρονο θέατρο: Μελέτες για την πρόσληψη και τη διακειμενικότητα, Athens.

Grammatas, T (1994), ‘Μύθος και διακειμενικότητα στη δραματουργία του Iάκωβου Καμπανέλλη’ in Kambanellis (1994) 203-25.

Kambanellis, I. 1994. Θέατρο ΣΤ’: Γράμμα στον Ορέστη, Ο Δείπνος, Πάροδος Θηβών, Στη Χώρα Ίψεν, Ο Διάλογος, Ποιος ήταν ο κύριος;, Ο Κανείς και οι Κύκλωπες. Athens.

Liapis, V. (2014), ‘Iakovos Kambanellis’ The Supper: Heterotopia, Intertextuality and Metatheater in a Modern Tragic Trilogy’, Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism 22: ?

Papandreou, N (1994), ‘Ο μύθος των Ατρειδών στo νεότερο θέατρο’, in Kambanellis (1994) 11-18.

Pefanis, G. (2000), Ιάκωβος Καμπανέλλης: Ανιχνεύσεις και προσεγγίσεις στο θεατρικό του έργο, Athens.

______ (2000/1), ‘Μακρινά ταξίδια μυθικών προσώπων: Η Κλυταιμνήστρα και ο Αγαμέμνων στο νεοελληνικό θέατρο (1720 – 1996)’, Themata Logotechnias 16: 150-89.

W. Puchner (2010), Τοπία Ψυχής και Μύθοι Πολιτείας, Το θεατρικό σύμπαν του Ιάκωβου Καμπανέλλη, Athens.

Sakellaropoulou, P. (2008), ‘Γράμμα στον Ορέστη και Ο Δείπνος του Ι. Καμπανέλλη: Στοιχεία πρόσληψης και διακείμενα’, in Gotsis et al., 121-76.

Tassis, V. (2008), ‘Πάροδος Θηβών του Ι. Καμπανέλλη και τα διακείμενά της’, in Gotsis et al., 177-210.

 

 

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