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By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:47 AM
Sing out the song of sorrow, song of grief,       but let the good prevail. — The WATCHMAN
In one of the highest points in the history of tragedy, Aeschylus opens the first play of the Oresteia, Agamemnon. The scene is at the end of the Trojan war.
I'm still looking for that signal flare,                                        the fiery blaze from Troy, announcing
      it's been taken. These are my instructions                                 
      from the queen. She has a fiery heart,
      the determined resolution of a man.
      When I set my damp, restless bed up here,
      I never dream, for I don't fall asleep.
      No. Fear comes instead and stands beside me,
      so I can't shut my eyes and get some rest.

A weary watchman talks about the endless nights of watching for the relay of fires across the hills to Argos, home of King Agamemnon, Atreus's son. The fires, which arrive, signal the fall of Troy and the impending arrival of Agamemnon home. This should be a joyous event. Only home seals the king, and the never heeded prophetess Cassandra, to a brutal death at the hands of Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.

As for all the rest, I'm saying nothing.       A great ox stands on my tongue. But this house,
      if it could speak, might tell some stories.
      I speak to those who know about these things.
      For those who don't, there's nothing I remember.

The watchman knows far more than he feels safe to tell the doomed king, leaving fate to take its deadly course rages forward toward the destruction of the king, his revenge through son Orestes and the bloodthirsty persuit of Orestes by the Furies of matricide.

One disgrace exchanged for yet another,       the struggle to decide is hard.
      The man who sins is sinned against,
      the killer pays the price.
      Yet while Zeus sits upon his throne                              
      this decree from god remains—
      the man who acts will suffer.
      Who can then cast from this house
      its self-perpetuating curse?
      This race is wedded to destruction.

The eclipse that causes the crimson moon is an artistic liberty I have taken.

Quotes taken from the translation of Agamemnon by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College.

The Writing in the Shadows

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:27 AM

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