Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Greek History Play for Home School Students

The Struggle
By Jon Bodenet



The Farmer

The Spartan Boy

The Narrator

The Chorus




The narrator walks across the stage speaking to the people

The events take place at a farm near Athens, Greece.  It is late afternoon.  There are come clouds in the distant sky and the sun is slowly dipping toward earth, dissipating its warmth to the cool breeze that sweeps across a fox farm in the Athenian countryside.  A young Spartan boy slips stealthily into the farm and lingers for a while prowling about unseen.  Noticing the farmer, the boy slips quietly out of the farm in an effort to leave undetected. 

 As the boy starts down the road the farmer steps out from the farm and quickly overtakes the boy.  The Farmer sternly confronts the young lad.  The farmer, not quite sure what the boy intended, accuses him nevertheless of stealing a fox from his farm.  Yet, the farmer is somewhat puzzled because he sees no fox in the boy’s possession. 

Narrator walks off stage and stands to the side



Coming out of the farm gate and dashing onto the road the Athenian farmer moves quickly in front of the young Spartan boy.  The Spartan boy stops casually and looks innocently at the farmer.  But the farmer looks carefully and suspiciously at the young Spartan boy.  He circles the boy saying nothing for the moment, waiting for the boy to entrap himself with his own words.  But the boy appears calm and unafraid.  It is the boy’s reticence more than anything that piques the farmer’s interest.




As he circles the boy, the farmer’s thoughts reveal his suspicions. 

  “You stole my fox.  Where did you hide it?  Return it to me at once!”


The farmer speaks his thoughts…


His thoughts assessing the boy

“He’s a young Spartan boy I see by his attire.  Far from home, he is.  What brings such a fair young lad to my farm… if not to steal a fox?  I know these Spartan boys.  Only the strongest of them are even spared life.  And those who survive are then weaned on stealth and fed on deprivation.  Yea… adversity has been their close companion since birth. And they are clever.  Their gods have given them such cunning as to deceive even a clever serpent.  They are always ready for heroic battle or whatever clever mischief serves their present interest…  And their truth?… it is only relative. With them duplicity is a spoken art… as poetry is to the Athenian ear.  The melody of prevarication to them is like music to the gods.  And they keep their motives hidden so deep that not even Zeus can know their heart. 


Standing erect and wearing a proud expression on his calm face… he holds his coat closed and speaks calmly to the farmer.

“I am not a common thief as you describe me, sir.  What evidence begs your summary conclusion that I have stolen your fox?”  Do you see here a fox?  Unless the gods have endowed you with their own gifts, you cannot tell without seeing whether or not a fox has indeed been stolen.  Now, sir…I must leave that I may hurry on to my destination.”



The boy turns and starts to leave, but the farmer quickly steps in front of him again. Then, circumventing the boy as before the farmer once more contemplated how his interrogation should proceed…  (Pause).   He stopped abruptly and put his hands on his hips. Then he faced to boy directly but with a curious face.  The sun now begins to dip… a chill descended over the farm. 

The chorus, dressed in fine white robes and looking regal now moves slowly behind the two figures. Filing in from opposite sides, they speak (sing).  Lights on the farmer and the young lad slowly dim while the lights gradually illuminate the chorus.





            What fair and youthful face

                                                 Can hide

            Such malice in a youngster’s heart

                      Can it be that evil may abide

With beauty

         Even from the purest start?



The Chorus files out slowly              The scene ends









The farmer now walks slowly around the boy and surveys his lean healthy features.  He is still intrigued by the boy’s confident posture.  He stops again in front of the youth and places his right hand on the boy’s left shoulder.  He is convinced there is more to this encounter than appears on the surface but he does not know if the boy has indeed stolen a fox.  Moving his face closer to the youth he peers into the young Spartan’s eyes as though searching for his heart.  He speaks now in a soft voice as a father might speak to a dearly loved son.  He admires this boy. Yet, his lingering suspicion continues to prompt his interrogation. 


ASIDE:   A black robed and hooded figure moves somberly and silently across the stage behind but not close to the two figures. Then after a couple of times the dark figure leaves the stage.




“You’re a Spartan boy, aren’t you?   I can tell by your speech and your manner and also your unusual attire.  You Spartan boys are a bit too cocky…intrepid and undaunted by adversity you seek always to prevail… and with the certitude that you will. 


The farmer begins to relax his posture now.  He has grown more curious than aggressive.  Yet, he still has lingering suspicions. What was this young lad was doing on his farm?  Why so far from his family?



FARMER:     What are you doing here so close to Athens? Did you come on some important family matter, which you keep secret in your heart… or did you  come  to steal  my  fox?  (Italics spoken slowly)




Still undaunted, the Spartan boy does not move back as the farmer moves closer to him.  But now the Spartan boy begins to show subtle signs of distress.  The farmer being a keen observer and sees the boy’s eye begin to wet.  He noticed a perceptible shiver come over the lad as well. 



Lights are dimming low now.  The farmer and the boy are shadows in the dark.  The Chorus is unseen but heard to speak (sing).


By the light of the moon

            When secret plans are laid

Capricious gods design the fate

            That snares the mighty and the weak

Extinguishing the light of life too soon

            With no remorse nor love nor hate



SPARTAN BOY:  (Impatiently)

“I did not come to steal your fox!  You can see, sir.  I have no fox!   You may watch me take my leave and see that I will not recover any fox.  So, Let there be an end to this fruitless altercation for I have urgent needs that beg my attention.  And as you have no evidence to offer in proof of your accusation, you must grant me leave of your presence without further demands.” 


 The chorus, dressed now in black robes and hoods, enters from both sides and merge together behind the two figures. They move in a circle ceremoniously and stop.  As they look toward the audience they make a long low sounding melodic moan and slowly exit.  The Chorus now in black robes enters from each side and group together. 




            Pain is nothing

                        To a Spartan man

                        Or even to a Spartan lad


            It’s but a feeling spent in vain

                        Like a washed out, faded color


            The test of man is not vested in his pain

                        It is vested in his valor

The chorus leaves and the scene ends









The farmer, still standing in front of the Spartan boy, is struck by the change in the boy’s expression.  The young Spartan’s posture now begins to slightly stoop.  His appearance is pale and tired.  In the minutes that have passed the boy has grown pale white and apprehensive.  His expression is that of compensated pain. “Is this a clever Spartan trick?” the farmer’s thoughts entertained.



A dull yellow light now illuminates the two figures.  A lone figure in the black hooded robe returns and moves somberly in anticipation behind the young Spartan boy.


Now testing the boy

“Do you entreat me with a smile, young Spartan?   I grow all the more convinced of your guilt yet I wish not to raise my hand against you.  Your time now grows short.  One last opportunity is left to save you from the judgment of a lie.”



The young Spartan boy bending in a stoop clearly has no smile.  It is pain that sweeps across his face.  He is now beyond pale; he is ghostly white. He is obviously weakened.  The bright youthful light is his eyes have now grown dull and he speaks in interrupted panting tones.  Yet he maintains his innocence.  The dark robed figure slowly moves closer to the young Spartan and shadows him for a moment.



Now unable to speak without pain, he speaks in interrupted breaths.


I did not… steal your fox.  It’s just as…I have told you.  I must leave you… now… at once.  Do not detain me … any longer.”


The light focuses on the three figures.  It dims very gradually and pans on the farmer as the boy and the black figure fall into the shadows but remain visible. 

The Spartan boy begins to take his leave and the farmer follows slowly behind, mystified by the strange turn of events. The dark figure follows the boy and watches the farmer with caution. The evening shadows are now falling quickly on the two lonely figures.  The farmer recognizes that he was not as patient or perceptive as he was blinded by his own convictions. He is still convinced of the boy’s guilt, yet he has no heart to lift up a strong hand against the lad.  As he prepares to reach out a caring hand to the young Spartan, the boy’s body collapses limp to the ground. 

Momentarily startled by this, the farmer stood with unresolved emotions, his hands reaching out to the Spartan; he is gripped now by great sorrow.  Then he bends down and looking at the boy’s lifeless face he pulls open the lad’s coat and falls quickly back.   He is startled by the discovery of a fox.  Inside the boy’s coat a fox had been steadily eating out the young Spartan’s bowels as they stood and argued.  As the fox sped off down the road, a flood of grief fell over the farmer.  Tears welled up in his eyes and he cries out loudly as he caresses the boy’s face like a loving parent, still unable to reconcile the events with any logic or reason.


“Oh, how sad it is to see this fair lad die so young, and such a miserable and meaningless death at that.  How he must have struggled, with his hopes and his game. Torn between truth and duty... Oh how his gods have deceived him, and deprived him of his hope and even his own free will.


 The chorus files in dressed in black




            What fickle gods are these?

                        That care not how

                               Our youth may fail

            What good is bogus valor?

                        That is predicated on a lie

                               That brings a fair young lad

To death’s dark murky parlor

                              So meaningless to die


The curtain closes with the farmer weeping    

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