1227.4 The Play's The Thing

In the beginning of winter, a thick sheaf of parchment is delivered to Korvin's door, labeled "The Harrowing of Orestes", with a note from Stultus attached.

it's done. It's finally done. I feel like a woman who's just given birth: the pangs were excruciating, but the end result seems somehow worth it. Let me know what you think.
--Stultus Maximus"

The play is a translation and adaptation of "Orestes" by Euripides. (A summary of the original play can be found here.)

The themes already present in the play served Stultus' purposes: the question of man's interpretation of divine will, and the role of natural law versus manmade law. In the original, Apollo is referred to as "the law-giver" in only one place: Stultus inserted several more references, and altered a few references to the gods to read as "the law-givers" or "those who handed down divine law".

The section where Orestes and Menelaus indict the leaders for manipulating the masses has been expanded, and made more pointed. Menelaus' responses (which in the original say that it would be better for the masses to select their own leaders) instead question the need for leaders at all.

Stultus' background in comedy is, in retrospect, obvious. The play is a tragedy, no question, but there's an undercurrent of very dark, 'gallows' humor that runs through it. Menelaus at one point inquires about Helen with the words "Where is the face that launched a thousand funerals?" Electra refers to Tyndareus' daughters (Helen and Clytemnestra) as "Yes, Tyndareus had two lovely daughters - dogs of a fine pedigree." The scene with the Phrygian slave, which in the original serves as comic relief anyway, has been 'punched up' a great deal.

There is a major alteration to the character of Helen. In the original, she's a brainless bimbo. In Stultus' version, she is a great deal smarter and more manipulative. He also inserted a monologue wherein she rails against the gods, expresses her anger at Apollo over her abduction to Troy, and in the end bitterly concludes "The gods are not worth it". That should endear her to any Tremere in the audience, but more importantly subtly associate her with the Tremere in the minds of others.

Apollo's appearance at the end has also been altered. First of all, the description of his appearance in the stage directions gives a great deal of detail, but the overall effect when seen from a distance is meant to be subtly reminiscent of Guernicus formal robes. Apollo goes into more detail about the Trojans, explaining that they had to be destroyed because they had grown too powerful, and prideful in their power. That is why the gods used Helen as their tool to bring about Troy's destruction, and now Helen is rewarded for her role as pawn by being made a star. The rhetoric used is (again, subtly) reminiscent of that used as the justification for the Schism War. When Apollo promises Orestes that he will be acquitted in his upcoming trial, the line has a winking, underhanded "don't worry, the fix is in" overtone, made all the more ironic by the fact that various characters rail at Apollo for breaking his promises all through the play.

Throughout the diatribe, the god's reasoning seems weak and self-serving. Apollo's final conclusion, that Peace is most prized by the gods and therefore is to be attained at any cost, seems weak and unsatisfying, even more so than in the source material.

(( Korvin asked for a play intended to make people think. It is the player's contention that Stultus delivered exactly that. :slight_smile: ))

EDIT: (( I just realized that people might not be as familiar with Greek myth as I am. I can provide the context of what the entire mess was all about, if necessary. ))

((Making people think is fine. Korvin wants plays to make Magi think. He wants plays to be performed in Covenants for magi. Thus using a single Redcap for each acting troop.))

(( Yeah, I got that part.

When you put Stultus' alterations together and listen to the final sequence, the subtext is "The Diedne (aka Trojans) had grown too powerful, they had to be destroyed for the peace of the Order. So we Guernicus manipulated the Tremere and the rest of the Order to bring about Diedne's destruction, and now the Tremere are being rewarded for their role as catspaws."

His alterations are meant to make Magi see the parallels between the story of the fall of Troy and the Schism War, and question the 'official' story, while at the same time believing they came up with the idea themselves.

Did I make it too subtle? ))

((No need to club them over the head. Subtle is good. Results should/could take years.))

Korvin will have Abagail involved in all of this. At least she will know what Korvin and Stultus are doing.

Subtle also equals plausible deniability 8)