Tragedy in a Cup of Joe

“serenity now: insanity later.”

After a stressful series of errands to run and an hour to kill before I had to go to the library to meet my son, I went to a little cafe to sit for a moment: actually it was only after I was anxiously and studiously weighing the expenditure, indulgence, extravagance  and a voice finally screamed at me in my head GO HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE AND A COOKIE FOR CHIRST’S SAKE, JESSICA! that I wearily drove there.

I had forgot earlier in the day that I was going to meet my son so had already been to the library to pick up a few plays that we are reading for our book group. I brought one of the plays in with me to read, my choices were Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, Euripide’s Medea, or Sophocles’ Oedipus. I choose Oedipus because it was the newest most handsomest book. These are all stories everyone is familiar with, but it is interesting to read or re-read them. David R. Slavitt’s translation was a crisp, clip of a read. The first half seemed to go something like this:

Oedipus: Tiresias, prophet man, tell me who killed Laius.
Tiresias: No sir.
Oedipus: You better tell me right now.
Tiresias: No way.
Oedipus: Wow, you are seriously pissing me off.
Tiresias: Never the less…
Oedipus: Tell me immediatly or I will banish you!
Tiresias: Go right ahead, I didn’t even want to come here.

And so on. Oedipus tries to get his wife Jocasta involved, but she wisely sides with Tiresias and then in a flash of understanding tries in earnest to get him to drop his inquiry. It’s all very tragic as a Greek tragedy should be I suppose – torn hair, gnashing teeth, eyes poked out: a bloody mess.

I don’t know, maybe my formative years were unduly influenced by books such as Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Seven Arrows and John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire, (both unusual stories of consenting adult incest) but I just wanted to say to Oedipus and Jocasta, “Relax. You didn’t know. How can the sin of incest be a sin if there was no intent anyway? Perhaps going forward, you have some issues to work out, but hey, your kids all seem fine: as Fezik asks in The Princess Bride– ‘Doesn’t that you make you happy?’ No need to torture yourselves. Yes, you killed your father, but the crime was murder not really patricide. Come on people, letter of the law verses spirit, everybody chill out.”
This is probably why I don’t write fiction. Then again, I can make my own little Greek drama out of purchasing a cup of coffee….

9 responses to “Tragedy in a Cup of Joe

  1. There you go! You can find Greek drama in the damndest places…

  2. Maybe it’s not about the Greek drama, but the coffee – were you in writing mode instead of reading, so made more of the drama due to high caffeine levels? What were the Greeks on before coffee was discovered?

  3. Medea has been one of my favorites of Euripide’s for long & long…

  4. Hey Jess, your favorite green tea, non reading classical fiction reader here. Enjoying your complex musings with a smile. I was begining to like the David Slavitt’s translation of Oedipus. When you stopped reading … sigh. You should do an audio reading and post it. It would be great. And I certainly would like that.

  5. See how little I know, it was your input that was captivating 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s