Damon & Pythias; a scene from Greek myth/history (A work in progress)
Scene: Damon's Cell, Day
Damon (Looking through barred window): Oh my friend, the sun. Is this the last I'll ever see your golden face? Oh friendly air, will you still visit my breast when next the cock crows. Oh, Pythias come back; come back, please I beg or I will have to wear that noose that was made for your neck. Have I not been a good, true, loyal friend? Going to your prison cell as happily as a tired man going to bed; wearing your irons as gladly as a woman wears her gold. Why would you repay such true friendship with betrayal? Such brave sacrifice with the cowardice of a cur?
Enter King Dionysus-
Damon: King Dionysus; your majesty. Is there no news of my friend Pythias. Has his ship returned?
Dionysus: Oh,Damon. If your friend Pythias does return then t'will be proof of miracles. Still you cannot say you were not forewarned. I told you when you volunteered to take your friends place in my dungeons that no man with half his senses would return when doing so would place him in the hangman's hands. Have you ever heard of a hare who, having 'scaped narrowly with its life, ran back to the hounds.
Damon: But Pythias is not a wild beast. He is a good man. An honest man.
Dionysus: And since when did good and honest men plot treason 'gainst their king?
Damon: He would not betray his friend. I know that. For to Pythias a true friendship is a thing more sacred than any nation, king or crown.
Dionysus: Well the only friend that I trust is my experience; the only friend I have known never to betray me and in my experience, the number of honest men in this world wouldn't fit upon a pin and no man chooses death and dungeon when he can choose his freedom and his life.
Damon: Even when that choice means leaving his best friend to hang. No. I don't believe it. Pythias will return.
Dionysus: But, Damon, why should he? Why should a man be just when he cannot be brought to justice? Have you never heard of King Gyges and the ring that made him invisible to mens eyes. Knowing that he was invisible, he did the unspeakable.
Damon: And in doing those evil things, he did evil to himself; he lost himself, heart and soul, in the mist of his depravity becoming not a man but a monster; following the path of his appetites which, ultimately, led him down a dark course of misery.Pythias, though, is not like that, the only demon in him is a demon to do good, he prides himself upon control of himself; treasures his humanity and his reason and most of all the love he bears his friends. He will do the right thing.
Dionysus: You've picked a strange way to grow up, young Damon, by hanging. You'll see the world as it truly is and then see it no more.
Damon: So I will still have to hang even though I have committed no crime?
Dionysus: Someones neck has to fill the noose. Pythias plotted treason and the price of treason must be paid. You volunteered to take his place in my prison so that he could go home and make his fairwells to his family ; if he does not return, well,then it is only right that you take his punishment too. And if he does not return, then it is your punishment for being such a trusting fool. Let your fate be a warning to other young men to see the world as it is and not to blur their eyes and fill their heads with foolish dreams and ideals.
Damon: Oh but what is a life without ideals, sire; without faith or trust? It is the bleakest sort of life that would drive many a man to hang himself. Better to be a condemned man with the riches of hope in his heart, I say, than a King who has such a leaden view of the world.
Dionysus: Huh. You dreamers can blind yourselves to anything; but you'll see clearly enough when the rope has gripped your throat. You'll see that your good friend Pythias has tricked you, that like all men he is a coward; a liar and a cheat. You'll think yourself a fool for trusting him and damn all your dreams and ideals.
Damon: But Pythias will return. I know him. He loves me; the highest kind of love which is friendship. He will not let me hang.
(They hear the sound of a commotion coming from off stage)
Damon: What is that? What goes on out there. Its Pythias. Pythias has come back. I'm sure of it.
Dionysus: Oh, nonsense. It is merely the hangman and his crew raising the gallows.
Damon: (looking off stage) No. It is Pythias, look. I see him. I see his golden face. Oh Pythias, my friend, has come.
Dionysus (Looking off stage): It is not true. It can't be.
Pythias: My good, dear friend Damon. Have no more fear. I am here to take the punishment that is mine.
Damon: I never doubted you would return.
Dionysus: I still doubt it. How can it be true? What kind of a man when he manages to trick Hades, gives death a second chance.
Damon: A man of ideals; a true friend (Pause) But why were you so long in returning?
Pythias: My ship...my ship was attacked by pirates. Mad, fiercesome men with cutlasses and knives. I begged them to let me go. Telling them of how you had sacrificed your freedom and would lose your life too if I did not return but they wouldn't listen. They laughed while I poured out my tale and called us both a pair of fools and so, seeing that we were not far from the coast, I seized at a chance and ran to the side of the ship and leapt off and I swam;I swam with every ounce of me and although I was so tired that at times I thought I might tire too much and drown I did not stop for deeper than the sea was my love for you and worse than drowning, the thought of you going to the gallows believing that I had betrayed you when I never would.
Dionysus: If what you have said is true then my experience has betrayed me. Then you have shown me another, brighter side to this world. I thought true and honest men a myth; a mariners tale like dog headed men or mermaids but you have shown me that true and honest men do infact walk upon this earth.
Pythias: Sire. Lead me to the gallows happy knowing that my good friend Damon is free again and that he shall live even if I do not.
Dionysus: No. You have reopened the eyes of a young man in me; showed me the world anew. I had thought the world made of treason and so I trusted in nothing but you have shown me I was wrong. No, Pythias, you will not hang for you are a good man and good men should not hang.
Damon: Did you hear that? (To Pythias) Oh, blessed Olympus. We are both free men.
Pythias: Then come with me, Damon.
Pythias: To live a life of friendship, of dreams, of joy and adventure; we'll live life for a dozen, my friend, before we die.