TRIGGER WARNING: This monologue contains references to sexual violence.
Monologue Title: “The Luxury of Tears!”
From the Play: No More Trojan Wennen
Author: Justy DeForest
Character: Agamemnon, Commander of Greek Forces
Setting: In Agamemnon’s hut at the Greek Camp outside the ruins of Ancient Troy
Background: After a meeting with Hecuba, in which she makes a tearful plea for him to grant Cassandra a reprieve from his attentions that night, Agamemnon comes to emotional terms with what the cost of going to war with Troy has done to his own daughter, Iphianassa, to Hecuba’s daughter, and to himself.
(Answering a Servant) No. Don’t send Cassandra to me.
I grow weary of her. Let me know when the torches go up
on the Trojan ramparts.
(AGAMEMNON waves off Servant and pours himself a goblet of wine.)
I give your daughter a reprieve tonight,
Oh Queen of Compassion!
Could a “monster” so easily play a man?
I do have daughters, Hecuba.
Three of them!…had three:
Electra, Chrysothemis, and Iphianassa.
I have not seen Electra or Chrysothemis in ten years…
I do not go ten minutes without seeing Iphianassa.
I cannot give her a reprieve, Hecuba,
as I have your daughter.
Death grants Iphianassa no reprieve.
And her shade refuses to grant me one!
Your tear ducts are not the only
“Great Dam” in Troy,
Cry yourself a river over Cassandra, Hecuba! —
I have cause to cry an ocean!
Emotions are enemies to Humankind. Like sharks, they roam
our depths, taking their breath from the very tears we hold within.
Grief rips with monstrous fang; sorrow lashes with weighty tail.
And, in its grip, guilt cuts deep. What reason, then, keeps them
submerged to spawn grief from grief, hate from hatred? –
Generation following generation in murky depths.
Better to throw grief forth with tears, and in view of sun
and open air, beach the shark and let emotion die!
Thinking beings should not feel – Throw all emotion forth!
For wars must be won, lives sacrificed.
Humin achievement is hampered by humin concern!
Then throw feeling forth with violent eviction.
Empty the sea upon a cheek, and let emotion die!
And call myself a “man”? Does a man crouch in his tears?
A general surrounded by his army? – A king?!
Yet Man laughs when he is happy,
strikes when angered,
embraces when he feels passion. –
And by these actions are his pangs relieved.
Then why must he not cry if he feels pain?
Why must grief have no release?
Hecuba, I envy you the Luxury of Tears!
More reason in Wenn’s honesty than in
Man’s obstinate denial of what he holds within.
Cry, then, for your daughter, Hecuba, and I shall cry for mine.
I sacrificed Cassandra as once I sacrificed Iphianassa.
Through mine, I drove the sword. Through yours, that other blade.
But you mustn’t call it “Rape,” Hecuba! —
There are those who stripe themselves of Manhood
by their very attempts to prove it. –
Against the will of those they —
But I am different! I am a general! – A king!
Cassandra was my prize. – I won her in battle!
Nassa was my offering; I had to go to war!
Surely, the circumstances make a difference!
(Pauses, then laughs.)
We tell ourselves the Godden demand it.
The Godden expect it.
The Godden excuse it.
We tell ourselves anything but the truth!
I killed Iphianassa.
I murdered my daughter
for the spoils to be won in war!
And yes, Hecuba. I’ve violated Cassandra.
I’ve raped your daughter…for pleasure!
And there is nothing kingly about it.
Great Athena! Patron of the Greeks!
Virgin Godde of Wisdom! Heir to Olympus!
Hear my prayer! Deign to grant my petition:
Vanquish the monster that has devoured me!
© Justy DeForest 1987, 2008, 2022