PEACE by Aristophanes
Yiolanta Christodoulou Theatre Group, Cyprus
Friday 10 July│Curium Ancient Theatre
Tuesday 14 July│Paphos Ancient Odeon
Thursday 16 July│“Skali” Amphitheatre, Aglantzia
A new theatre group, founded by Yiolanta Christodoulou, presents the anti-war utopia Peace by Aristophanes. This comedy, more contemporary than ever, reflects the human desire for a peaceful life, free of wars and bloodshed, while it reminds us that the motives and the wrong choices people make through the centuries, unfortunately remain unchanged.
▪ The performance will be surtitled in English
The Athenian citizen Trygaeus, fed up with the ten-year Peloponnesian war, decides to act by himself and put an end to the war. He feeds a beetle, which grows to be a real beast, then rides it and flies up to heaven in order to discuss the whole matter with Zeus. When he reaches Olympus, he only finds Hermes, since the rest of the gods had retreated to the upper regions of heaven, so as not to see anymore the disgusting misfortunes of war. In their place War reigns, while he has imprisoned Peace in a cave and is ready to pound all the Greek cities that are fighting each other.
But because War has no pestle and there is nobody to give him one – Cleon and Brasidas are dead – he enters his house to create one himself. Trygaeus takes the opportunity, persuades Hermes to show him the cave where Peace is imprisoned and asks everybody who is fed up with the war, farmers, craftsmen and traders to free Peace from her prison, against Zeus orders.
They manage to free Peace and its attendants, Opora and Theoria. Together with them, he climbs down to earth and there follow some amusing scenes in which different war-profiteers are discomfited, while honest and peace-loving people rejoice. The play ends with a cheerful scene where Trygaeus goes off the stage, in a wedding procession, to marry Opora.
Peace was presented in 421 BC at the great Dionysia, a few months after the death of Cleon and the Spartan general Brasidas and only a few days before the conclusion of Nikieias peace and won the second prize.
He says, he wants to be free. Kill him!
– Nicos Kazantzakis: The Fratricides.
I wonder if death is peace after all.
I wonder if this is the only way to reach peace.
What kind of Peace are we fighting for?
What kind of Peace do we wish to have?
Who is war?
“War is the father of all” said Heraclitus.
War. It has been a dominant force since the beginning of man’s appearance on Earth. The Greeks deified him. Ares (Mercury), the god of war, was so strong and handsome that he managed to mesmerize Aphrodite, the goddess of love…
Does man have it in his nature to fight? Is he fated to fight? Is he inevitably in this situation? Is this his very existence? His destiny? Will he ever manage to escape from this destiny?
Τhe Holy Bible says: “In the cities of men, which your God has made you owners of, no man must stay alive, you will exterminate them all, as your God has commanded”.
While the muslim, mystic Sidna Ali says:
Whoever seeks me finds me.
Whoever knows me loves me.
Whoever loves me I love him.
Whoever I love I kill.
Solomos says while singing freedom: “ I recognize you by the fearsome sharpness of your sword”,
God in Kazantzakis’ Askitiki, is presented as Digenis Akritas, the devoted, great warrior in the most distant borders. An emperor commander of all the forces of light, the visible ones, as well as the invisible. Words uttered by pacifists, intellectuals, religious people who fought either literally or metaphorically, for Peace. I believe that it is not incidental, when in our efforts to achieve Peace we use words such as struggle, war, battle, revolution. We fight for something, for an idea and when we conquer it, at that very moment, a new war begins to conquer another idea. Freedom, democracy, human rights. Since all these ideals surely cannot be completely conquered, the fight aiming at their conquest is perpetual and continuous.
People have through the centuries been fighting for the conquest of freedom and the prevalence of Peace, Democracy, Prosperity, but what we finally achieve is the complete lack of peace and democracy and the violation of human rights and the freedom of people. And then war begins anew.
After all those centuries and the long distance humankind has travelled, people are deprived of democracy and their right for freedom.
No, I don’t believe that we will ever get rid of wars and fights. Maybe because this is the way we are, maybe because humans are like that, maybe because this is the way they should be, maybe because war is the basis of peace.
War is a process of catharsis and renewal of people. Without war humanity would be threatened with decline. War rather unites than separates people, with war people and nations acquire cohesion. – Hegel
Costas at one of the rehearsals wrote: “Now I don’t know what to say and what to utter, just one parabasis is not enough for me to deal with this issue. How can I utter Aristophanes’ words today, when the garland I am wearing is made of thorns, instead of laurels. What kind of Peace are you talking about? What kind of Peace do you want? What kind of Peace are you crying for?”
Peace: the beginning of a new war. Man fights, goes to battle, gets killed and then gets up and fights again. War, war, war.
And the fight for Peace goes on perpertually.