The Fifth Grade Study
In Greek Mythology
Mr. Riley’s class
Jan 9, 2000
This is not a good job.
No, it makes my feeble heart to throb.
Each year a lottery is drawn,
A child (me) must to this dread oracle and temple come.
O’ it is heroically proclaimed,
Compared we are to those
from Athens who were sent,
To that dread Minotaur on Crete
By lottery chosen, to be the dreadful, meat;
Of the son of Pasiphae…
Oh, but my task, they say, is easy…
Look you to right and left…
These are the former winners sent,
turned to frigid stone.
Each, their tale, to me,
A shivering one, unknown.
But this face was Javlinikus a class mate
Now why is he as icy as my self shall surely be?
There, Pedijog ever slow to run away,
Forever caught and on display..
To toss this platter, almost did yon Diskoseus succeed
Who shall I my terrible plight, plead?
There sits the dreadful sulking monster I must tend,
So soon as I am done, look you all, see my bitter end!
(gr. Weedy [Kudzu] person)
Do not be afraid, come forth.. I groan from the weight of heavy summer sprouting. Overgrown, weedy,
Don’t forget stringy.
(Puppet people slowly loop vines around Micoeus and drag him toward plant.)
Stringy, shrubby, itchy, grubby, shrubbery, underbrush, flora, foliage, thicket, herbage, verdure, Vegetation….
(Different echoing voices, act as the vines, until the one voice of character)
That is what happens to oracles and their pure springs, on which I sit,
when they are untended. You see, I get so summery dreamy, lazy, lumbering, thick… I lose my edge, my wit.
My weeds grow, my thoughts flitter like fireflies.
I can’t wipe the dew or the sweat from my eyes.
I become a mere vegetable,
a head of lettuce,
my wise sayings, become cliches and wives tales. The advisors and leaders are misdirected and soon people are running hither and thither, starting things that I told them to do… when I wasn’t anything but landscape, lulled by limp leaves, and soggy with silly summer thoughts.
So what shall happen to me and why have all my friends been turned to stone!??
They were stricken with fright,
but I tell you they are still alright.
They were sent like you, to clear the oracle, trim me as it were.
Instead they ran, or worse,
with their fear comes a little curse.
But fear not.. Take the knife and cut a strand..
With each cut, your fellows from their fear, I will command.
Will this hurt?
O for the love of Begonias and Evergreens, would you please just snip!
(He snips and one strand is freed and one of his frozen friends, relaxes and sits still in slight daze but with a smile)
There you see. Try another.
(Again with the same results)
By Buttercup I think you have it.
(Again with same result)
Could they but talk, but no, they sit with dreamy looks
While I must snip and snap all this monsters greeny nooks.
If you are oracle wise, and much sought for wisdom true,
How comes it that you’ve become so untidy, unkempt with
Such a wild mop of leafy stew?
The people of your town care not for truth as my oracle reveals
They want me sloppy so to tell their feeble hearts what’s all unreal.
Then they rush away and leave me in squalor,
While to the town, they boast and raise a mighty holler.
There is a pretty spring beneath thy tresses,
Oh, that feels delightful young sire, the trim that blesses.
Now, now, can I see the stars pass in the little spring
Now, now can I dream wisdom once again and
Once again my oracle may sing.
(Bluish, silvery costume, light flute for dance)
Oh, so long asleep I was, I dreamt, I froze into a drip
but now all melted and flowing over rocks I skip.
Brook, and broadford, liquid, lapping, wave on wave
Each soul caressing. O’ thank you Thetis mother of waters,
For little Rivulet has been saved.
Dashing, flowing, over weedy river beards, going,
Eddy, whirl and spin in my delight, I feel my wetness, growing.
O spirits of waters, spirits of the sea,
Nymph and undine sisters hear my plea,
Hear my spring clear sigh,
In the surge and flow so happy, may I never dry.
My spring’s nymph. Rivulet by name.
Rivulet… this is.. This… is.. Ah, yes..
Micoeus. He it is who has cleared the way
Cleared your spring and brought me day.
But it’s night, it’s night!
Master Micoeus, through thy hair, I wet and wash
That thy mind be clear, I swish and swash
All the little feathers of thy head
That all the noble stars above, to thee be led.
(giggles and exits)
Enough, enough, what and who are you?
(After messing up Micoeus hair Rivulet dives into the little spring)
I am Itonus, the leafy, willow shrub
Oracle profound, greetings to thee Micoeus,
Welcome to the club.
Rivulet has gone under again, to play with frog, and tadpole,
turtle, minnow, crab and little shell,
Of her dreams she will swim and tell.
A club for morbid statues, flitting little brooks, mulch and weed
A talking, giant shrub, that’s all I need.
Pray, thou Overgrown oracle, now that you can see,
what stars in Rivulet’s little spring,
might those reflections be?
(Several actors, whiz through audience with rainbow comets tails, long streaks of rainbow with a bunched, woven head on a stick, the tails whipping in the breeze as they circulate round the audience)
Oh, Oh my, don’t look up, Micoeus don’t look up!
(Drumming with a scary rhythm and from the corner of the Stage, a giant puppet head of MEDUSA carried by one actor and in dark colors, the coiling snakes, hissing, NINE of them, each attached to the giant head of Medusa and each a separate stick attached that one of the nine actors can wiggle..)
Micoeus, don’t look up and don’t say a word. Stare into the stars in the spring, count them, but do not look up.
One, two, three, four…. etc…. (softly)
(gr. Cunning snake goddess)
Micoeus, O sweet boy,
I have come to reward you with joy
Upon my head a crown I wear
With you, for your service, I will gladly share.
(gr. Viper 1)
When the heat and damp and swamp
Around us slithers and the green weeds romp
And all is sloppy, slippery, coiling,
we come a spoiling…
When each heart with slumber drenched
Cannot from their lazy couch be wrenched
And wine and song and laughter dull the soul
Then with my eels, we wheel and slide and roll.
The cool grass and the serpents bite,
Sandals off and sliding, secret, slithering, white
Look, Micoeus, the fang the poison
All on a summers night.
Intoxication, and laughter, hanging from the rafters
Cobwebs and spiders weaving, I search for tasty bugs.
Summer, summer, last forever, let us never hear cool autumns laughter
My snaky sisters nine to summers sinister whispers hug.
Deception and illusion through my glistening eye,
My poison thus delights and burns each soul I spy.
May all the earth refuse the cool and crisp clear days
Through poisons illusion let us lead them all astray.
Never let the growing cease,
Untamed, unbridled feast
Summer’s cup come choke the heart
And let every good deed freeze.
Selfish, sisters, weave and wear,
An endless, endless summer without care.
That every brain grow eyes like ours,
To see what selfishly has powers.
(viper 7 )
Gobble pleasure, gobble sight,
Gobble only what delights.
In the meadow, in the pool,
Gobble all that makes them drool.
(viper 8 )
For our mistress do we slave,
Earth’s growing force alone we crave.
Summer, summer sloth and swell
Weave in each our summer spell.
(viper 9 )
Waken never, soul of man,
Dream of bliss in never land.
While asleep and soaked in passion
Let my sisters for you fashion
Murky darkness, mythic soup,
So from heaven you will droop.
Zeus, Zeus knew not the power of nature’s force.
First it was Metis that he ate.
So with many disguises could he play and charm.
Metis, mother of darkest night and nature’s wisdom, filled with
Women’s secrets, only, once filled the universe.
Zeus ate Metis, my mother and she, gave birth to Athena.
Athena sprang out of the male head,
Hammered free from his Patriarchal skull by Haephestus…
She should have given him more than a headache.
Athena, my sister, hates me,
I hold the earth’s summer secrets.
I have been trimmed, you may not haunt my Oracle
I must pass through all the hearts that cling to summer only
Seeking those who fear autumn’s spirit awakening light.
To their souls, I bring my hydra headed blight.
Each must slay me, that I may haunt them not,
Or else the clear thinking gifts of Autumn,
Will in them fall foul and rot.
I see the passing stars, beneath my bushy hair.
My limbs feel heavy from your frosty stare.
But of your haunting terror, I will stand unafraid.
Unafraid, unafraid..When I return, it is thee I will turn to stone
It is thee, who shall be frozen, it is thee who will be alone.
I will bring the frosty weather, I will bring the icy cold,
Your leafy garment, mere brittle leaves and death.
Rivulet, your clear spring, frozen with my icy breath.
Listen to me and slumber now, and hide your silly secrets,
Humans wish to sleep, that is why they live on vain regrets.
I will be back to steal back what’s mine
Your dead limbs, will make for me a lovely shrine.
One thousand four hundred ten, one thousand four hundred eleven, one thousand four hundred twelve… Holy cow Itonus, you shouldn’t talk back to her. She is mean. Is it true, is it true?
Will she return and make firewood out of you?
When she returns, you must be prepared. When she passes through my grove again, you must slay her.
Ya, right. I must slay her? Right. I must be gettin’ back to town. I am very glad to have met you and I am very happy you released my friends, but this is where my trouble started and this is where it ends.
I can’t make you. I thank you for all you’ve done. You and your friends have been, almost, wonderfully brave. Now Javlinikus, Pedijog, Diskoseus, Micoeus come gather round my roots here, by the spring. I wish to bid you fond farewell from this my humble oracle.
(All boys gather, awakened, hugs, hand shakes, circle round Itonus. After they have gathered, again the comet like runners whip through the house and the boys look in wonder as they circle through the audience)
What large fireflies, buzz and whirr overhead.
They seem too large for fireflies, what are they Itonus?
They look like little flaming Discus sprites.
Every year the great hero Perseus swings his mighty star sword and then begins the haunting of the groves and towns and souls of men. Perseus swings his sword to awaken them. Medusa’s ghostly head awakens from the mist and her ghostly wish is to infect all souls with endless, dreamy Summers bliss or turn them to rigid stone.
But wasn’t Medusa already killed by Perseus?
Indeed, but from her spilled blood..
Pegasus the winged steed from Zeus high throne was decreed
Lightening bolts it brought down
Men’s hair, stood on end, like a crown.
Thundering jolts of the Word,
From the hoofs of Pegasus heard,
Flame in the poets brain
to give the invisible names.
The blood from Medusa spilled
Brought the dead to life or killed.
To be reborn is to surely die
So to heaven we may not lie.
Perseus hero on high, from your place on high in the sky
Bring us your hero’s might, that Medusa we may here fight.
Do you know the labors and betrayal of Hercules?
(In the following sequence through drumming, dancing and acting out the stories and shouting the number of the labors, all twelve heroic tasks of Hercules, help escalate in the participants the courage needed to face Medusa)
Of this we have all heard tell…
Stood forth the Nemean lion, enormous, a monster, man eating
Hercules roar was much greater
With his might the monster defeating.
(gives a giant lion roar)
Next to the swamps of the Hydra,
Was Medusa more evil than this?
Hercules torched their heads,
Till he killed that immortal hiss.
And mighty the golden deer, that Hercules chased for a year.
Next was the wild boar
Each tusk was as long as an oar
Hercules chained it in snow
Bad Boar found no place to go.
Rivulet knows this tale
How the barn was loaded with dung.
Two rivers he made into one
Washed the barn clean of its dung.
Mars with his Stymphalian birds
Were shocked by the sound of a rattle.
Hercules fought steel with steel
Till their wings were broken in battle.
Pasiphae loved a great bull
Who gave her a terrible son.
Hercules journeyed to Crete
The fiery bull to defeat.
Next to those horses that eat
Tender human pieces of meat.
Hercules wet their whistle
With the trainer who’d made them bristle
The Amazon women were brave
They hated those critters who shave.
Hercules beard was thick,
To grab the girdle he had to be quick.
The Geryon tri-headed thing
Kept his cattle tight in a ring.
Three bodies in one were narrowed,
As Hercules had him arrowed.
Great apples did Atlas guard
With a dragon all chained in the yard.
On his shoulders the stars of the gods
Where Zeus and his family trods,
Nearly crushed Hercules back,
But the Apples he did not lack.
For Hades did Hercules aim
To make ghosts and nightmares be tame.
The three-headed hound of the dead
To the light, by Hercules led.
Zeus so much wanted Hercules to be an indestructible hero. But Hera…
Hera made it hard for his hero’s heart to shine.
That is right. I see now. Hera tried to show how humans will always be subject to death. How the greatest hero must also suffer terribly.
No free rides. Hera gave Hercules the greatest of gifts… humility
Even if they are blessed under the holy star of Zeus.
Even if they are heros born…
Even if they are heros born. Born under Perseus.
The Shield of Achilles.
Javlinikus, Pedijog, Diskoseus, Micoeus
The Shield of Achilles!
Your famous shield, son of Thetis,
Engraved all round with figures
To terrify the hearts of the Trojans.
On the outermost rim was great Perseus
Hovering on winged sandals
Holding the severed head
Of Medusa the sister of Gorgons.
In the center of the shield blazed forth
The gleaming circle of the sun
Drawn by winged horses that circled
The celestial constellations in their dancing.
(looking up at the stars)
The Pleiades, Hyades, Twins and Taurus and Crab.
The fierce heat of the Lion’s hot breath.
Which Hector, his eyes, wide beheld
On Achilles helmet of gold
Sphinxes, their claws clutching
Struggling prey caught by enchantments.
And on the rounded corselet
That lioness breathing fire,
Her clawed feet stretched in flight
At the sight of Pegasus wingspan.
That with the span of heaven
Had grown from Medusa’s blood.
Achilles, Hercules, Perseus, all had to strike out the fear of the Medusa in their hearts. A polished shield, a mind so clear that only by reflection, can you escape her death that draws so near. To see her own reflection, in little Rivulet’s spring, will freeze little Rivulet. You can keep Medusa from the heart of town by each of you showing courage from the heroes that you’ve known.
I’d, I’d, chop off her head.
I’d snip each snaky sisters that from her evil they have fed.
I’d drag her behind Pegasus, like a ball and thread.
But how can we slay a ghost. A thing that slithers in our fears?
You see these blazing little tails of light
That whirr and whizz through the starry night?
Like fireflies only bigger.
Each year that curving blade of Perseus, sends forth these fiery iron racers.
Each year the ghost of Medusa, rises with cool damp mist.
She rises from her swampy lair and starts to brush her ghostly hair.
She remembers that she’s hungry, for living things she’s lost
Her restless hunt begins, coating tree and bush with frost..
She freezes them as they dream,
But in humans her icy stare becomes more mean.
To slay her, you must take a limb, a bat and aim
A fiery iron racer so that it strikes her eye…
You must bat one of those streakers that fly through the sky.
They are little pellets of the iron from Perseus sword,
They are the fiery force of Autumn’s spirit word.
(They find a stout rough club and attempt to bat the racing meteors which is not as easy as it seems. They fly through but miss or foul it)
(The Approach of Medusa is heard, drumming)
Come Perseus send us a good pitch. Oh Medusa, Medusa!
(They attempt to lure Medusa, and as she turns her snaky head this way and that they turn their backs so they won’t be turned to stone. But each time they are trying to strike a fiery meteor into the face of Medusa as she turns)
Come sisters of the slimy hair
There are sleepy humans here about
Coil and snare everywhere
That overripe with sweat and fat
They may forget where I’m at.
Pedijog, the bat, I feel her near. You look so pretty today who does your fine hair?
You haven’t a shot yet. Here! Here! I am a nice fat sleepy, juicy human, you hoo! Medusa!
I’ll lure her up to the Spring. When you get a shot at her, I’ll duck. Here get a swing. Medusa, I have heard of your beauty. You said you would offer me a crown. I certainly deserve it. I am handsome and lazy and love to sit on the beach and get tanned. In fact just this morning I built two sand castles dedicated to you. If you come to me, I will take you there.
Micoeus, such a crown of joy I have for thee
Just turn around and you will see.
What I can’t hear you. Where are you beautiful Medusa? Are you there?
Are you there?
I can hardly wait much longer. Hit one of those things or I’m goner.
Javlinikus, Pedijog, Diskoseus
We’re trying.. We’re trying! Perseus is putting spin on these things.
What name was whispered through the trees?
I heard a horrible name sisters… What was it?
Strike sisters strike.
(Rivulet is frozen by the stare of Medusa and the Snakes)
No, no, not little Rivulet. Rivulet is frozen.. Frozen! Quick before Itonus is also Frozen.
Medusa you cruel witch. Poor little Rivulet is dead.
I warned you oracle. I would seize your limbs and freeze them to make for myself a shrine. Now your weedy cycle ends. In dreams must you fade and die.
Medusa! Medusa! Forget that overgrown shrub. You want me, I am here.. Come…
One of the swinging meteor chasers hits one square and it line drives right toward Micoeus, he ducks and turns as Medusa turns and gets the iron spark right in her face.)
(Medusa dies and out from the snakes appear nine beautiful muses)
(Muses line up in front of stage boys bow down, special music)
We are the nine trapped sisters the muses in each human heart
History, Comedy, Tragedy, Dance, Music, Astronomy, the sacred flute, Cosmic destiny, Songs from the human heart.
When courage to face the heavens and courage to face your self
Releases your inner powers, Medusa can’t steal your wealth.
Nine great virtues of learning we Muses bring to the earth
When the skin of the snake is forsaken your spirit rises to birth.
When Perseus sends his iron, to quicken the heart and mind
Seek for us in your learning and courage you always will find.
Nature may sleep with unknowing cruelty encompasses all
But humans awaken compassion as autumn leaves ready to fall.
So from the blood of Medusa and from the sword in the sky,
Nine great spirit virtues arise from each human I.
PURCHASE FOR YOUR NORSE BLOCK THE FOURTH GRADE CLASS PLAY “Gullveig’s Gold” by Bradford Riley
Description of Shield of Achilles from Euripides- Greek Playwright 484 B.C.