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"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 enters.)

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 wattles
And heave it abroad, to strike some other land. Yet
We have no luck in saving our home. So our King,
Bo-oedipus, who solved the riddle during the last plague,
Has sent Kreon, the Queen's own brother, to Delphi
To learn the cause. See, even now he returns. We may
Yet be able to feather our nest by Mount Kithairon once again.

(Kreon enters.)

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 first
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 enters.)

BO-OEDIPUS: Bawk bawk bawk-awk?

KREON: Hail, Bo-oedipus, child of Korinth!
Apollo has egged me on with this news. We must seek
The unclean thing that harms our city. The man who
Knows the truth lives nearby, up Kithairon. Tieresias
Can read the signals given by the birds, though he himself
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 before,
When the last King, cunning Laios, failed to return
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 morning,
Two in the afternoon, and three in the evening? And
The stranger merely clucked at her, to tell her
It was the chicken's egg that had no legs, but two
When hatched, and three drumsticks when the bird is in
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 Zeus
That Bo-oedipus was meant to rule in Thebes.
Hail, King Bo-oedipus!

BO-OEDIPUS: Bawk-awk!

IOKASTA: My darling, I hail you in your power, too,
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 like this,
Is it no wonder my pregnancy laid an egg? Laios ordered
The child we had thrown from Kithairon, towards your home
In Korinth, that he might never harm us. And the prophecy
Proved false, for surely he died up there, and had
No part in Laios' demise, pecked to death by the new
Chickens he was bringing from Delphi. For that was the true
Cause of the plague, for the riddling Sphinx carried
What the philosophers call salmonella, and she spread it
To our fowls. Would that Apollo had given him the answer
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. Tieresias will
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 giant chicken!

IOKASTA: What, you spite me yet, by saying he is alive?

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 that
His like kind, the child of Laios and Iocasta, returned
That day to show the Sphinx her answer! Take a good look
At him. He is a chicken, I tell you, a giant chicken!

CHORUS: He is not! What a foul accusation. You would have our
King roasted!

TIERESIAS: I will not be buffaloed into merely winging
The truth. Your son the chicken is here before you.

IOKASTA: Surely you must be chicken-hearted yourself
To say such things.

TIERESIAS: Rub your eyes, and see. The king will need
Help in this, as he has no hands.

IOKASTA: Here, husband, let me rub your eyes clean
To satisfy this liar. Then, please, have him killed.
Kreon would do it for you, to avenge these slanders on
The city's leader, if only he were here.

(Iokasta rubs at Bo-oedipus' eyes, and accidentally knocks his mask off.)


IOKASTA: What is this I find? He IS a chicken!
I've kissed chicken lips!

TIERESIAS: Drive this plague from our town! We'll never
Live this down, not even for three thousand years.

CHORUS: You wore a disguise to look like human guys,
But you're not a man, you're a chicken, Boo!

(Iokasta, Tiersias, and the Chorus drive Bo-oedipus out.)


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