|"The English Translation of
the Previously Lost 'Bo-oedipus the Chicken'"
Translated by Jacobus Arcoirix. First published
in "The Journal of Ancient Greek and Roman
Writing, Storyboards and Backgrounds" Volume
41, Number 7 (July, 1999).
Recently, an abridged version of a lost play by
the ancient Greek tragedian Sophokles was
discovered in the Book of the Mad Souls (Codex
Animaniakoi) at a monastery in western Turkey.
The remnant appears to be of the lost satyr play
that accompanied Sophocles' famous "Oedipus
the King" ("Oidipous Tyrannos"),
and like most satyr plays, was intended as a
comic burlesque of the themes of the more serious
dramas. Tentatively titled "Bo-oedipus the
Chicken" ("Booidipous Ornithion"),
this fragment of the Great Age of Greek Tragedies
is presented here for the first time in
translation for the enjoyment of the general
public. A certain major entertainment
conglomerate has already claimed copyright
infringement on the part of Sophocles; however,
as he died some 2,500 years before the
establishment of this multinational, it is
doubtful that the charge will be upheld in court,
and even if it were, Sophocles' estate has
dwindled appreciably and the company doubtless
would receive little in way of a cash return.
by don Jaime
The setting: Thebes, in Boiotia in Greece.
The time: The Heroic Age.
The characters: Bo-oedipus, King of Thebes.
Iokasta, his Queen, widow of the previous King.
Kreon, her brother.
Tieresias, a blind prophet.
A chorus of Thebian citizens.
CHORUS: This is our city, Thebes. We have
Been cooped up here for some months now,
Facing ruin as this foul plague struts about
Spreading its filth upon the land, spurring us
On to ruin. We've combed the town, searching for
The cause, that we may pull it by the greasy
And heave it abroad, to strike some other land.
We have no luck in saving our home. So our King,
Bo-oedipus, who solved the riddle during the last
Has sent Kreon, the Queen's own brother, to
To learn the cause. See, even now he returns. We
Yet be able to feather our nest by Mount
Kithairon once again.
KREON: Behold, I bring the news from Apollo!
Send for the King, that he may hear the news!
He Represents the law of this city, and to him
The town must turn. He is our law-giver, and
Answers to the gods for us.
CHORUS: Yea, and he is no coward either.
KREON: Truly, for he defeated the Sphinx.
CHORUS: None may call this man a chicken.
BO-OEDIPUS: Bawk bawk bawk-awk?
KREON: Hail, Bo-oedipus, child of Korinth!
Apollo has egged me on with this news. We must
The unclean thing that harms our city. The man
Knows the truth lives nearby, up Kithairon.
Can read the signals given by the birds, though
Is blind. Apollo says he has our answer.
BO-OEDIPUS: Bawk! Bawk bawk-awk awk!
KREON: With all due speed, my King! All hail the
City's first man, who acts in our best interests!
CHORUS: Hail, Bo-oedipus! The man who saved us
When the last King, cunning Laios, failed to
From Delphi with an answer for the awful Sphinx.
How crafty was the stranger to know the magic
To break her evil spell! Do you not remember when
She asked her prey, What has no legs in the
Two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?
The stranger merely clucked at her, to tell her
It was the chicken's egg that had no legs, but
When hatched, and three drumsticks when the bird
The Pick o' the Chick Valu-Pack. How she screamed
(Iocasta enters at about this point.)
As her power vanished! It was truly a sign from
That Bo-oedipus was meant to rule in Thebes.
Hail, King Bo-oedipus!
IOKASTA: My darling, I hail you in your power,
But don't heed them. The gods give us no signs.
My late husband, Laios, poor man, was told by
The liar Tieresias that our son would be cursed,
To slay his father and marry me. With a prophecy
Is it no wonder my pregnancy laid an egg? Laios
The child we had thrown from Kithairon, towards
In Korinth, that he might never harm us. And the
Proved false, for surely he died up there, and
No part in Laios' demise, pecked to death by the
Chickens he was bringing from Delphi. For that
was the true
Cause of the plague, for the riddling Sphinx
What the philosophers call salmonella, and she
To our fowls. Would that Apollo had given him the
To the Sphinx that you already knew, so that
(Tieresias enters at about this point.)
He could have driven her from the town before
Going to Delphi. So, please, dear husband,
Don't listen to the lies of the prophet.
Egg you on to disaster. He has no interest but
His own in mind.
TIERESIAS: What pretty words to greet me with.
IOKASTA: Return to Kithairon, by the grave you
dug for my son.
TIERESIAS: Your son is a chicken, I tell you, a
IOKASTA: What, you spite me yet, by saying he is
TIERESIAS: Yes, your clucking son is very near.
IOKASTA: I am tired of these sticky myths of
yours. I go.
TIERESIAS: You thought you had dodged a curse
from the gods.
Yet already it is here before you!
Have you not eyes? Is it not obvious, that this
Is not a man from Korinth?
A redbird of the Island of Rhodes told me truly
His like kind, the child of Laios and Iocasta,
That day to show the Sphinx her answer! Take a
At him. He is a chicken, I tell you, a giant
CHORUS: He is not! What a foul accusation. You
would have our
TIERESIAS: I will not be buffaloed into merely
The truth. Your son the chicken is here before
IOKASTA: Surely you must be chicken-hearted
To say such things.
TIERESIAS: Rub your eyes, and see. The king will
Help in this, as he has no hands.
IOKASTA: Here, husband, let me rub your eyes
To satisfy this liar. Then, please, have him
Kreon would do it for you, to avenge these
The city's leader, if only he were here.
(Iokasta rubs at Bo-oedipus' eyes, and
accidentally knocks his mask off.)
BO-OEDIPUS: BAWK BAWK BAWK-AWK BAWK BAWK BAWK
IOKASTA: What is this I find? He IS a chicken!
I've kissed chicken lips!
TIERESIAS: Drive this plague from our town! We'll
Live this down, not even for three thousand years.
CHORUS: You wore a disguise to look like human
But you're not a man, you're a chicken, Boo!
(Iokasta, Tiersias, and the Chorus drive Bo-oedipus