Helen!

A Musical Comedy

<©>1995-2011 Katherine Anne Harris. All rights reserved.

Act III, Scene One

Troy by night. War-cries continue (or, after intermission, resume) as curtain opens. Added to starry backdrop are full moon over theologeion and temples glowing whitely on hilltop. Served by SLAVE, HELEN and PARIS dine on palace rampart (former bedroom, rolled to center and given crenellated edge). Stairs link it to ter-race stage left, edenic with flowers; here abduction bag is on altar with household gods. Low wall borders left. Far down left, ramped path is exit to town/ harbor. Edging downstage suggests massive stone walls supporting lofty citadel. Right of terrace is megaron, columned like Sparta's and with same upstage exit to palace but far more opulent, evoking Asia Minor via gold, vivid rugs, and damascened arms/armor. Attire, including ribboned caps and lavish jewels, is also bright: red, yellow, rust, purple. Unlike Greeks, men wear short hair, sleeved tunics, trousers.

PARIS: Ah, moonlight and war-cries from the harbor. Ain't love grand?

HELEN: Are those guys just whooping it up by the ships or coming in closer?

PARIS (as cries intensify): Full moon does tend to bring out the boys in bronze.

(SLAVE sounds alarm; light rise in megaron as TROJANS and WOMEN ENTER in nightwear from palace and ramp. TROJANS don armor, aided by WOMEN, SLAVES; KING PRIAM and QUEEN HEKUBA.)

HELEN (detaining PARIS): Maybe it's just another wild horse roundup. Worst case they'll only loot and burn some lower houses again.

PARIS: You know I get grief for a week if I'm five minutes late to a skirmish.

HELEN: Okay sure, you'd rather not hafta deal with Hektor of the Shining Helmet.

(PRINCE HEKTOR struts onto terrace with rough PRINCE DEIPHOBOS, polishing HEKTOR's helmet. Armored in bronze and gold scales, both are prickling with spears, swords, etc. HEKTOR shoves PARIS inside.)

HEKTOR: Get a move on, Gorgeous...(To HELEN) You up there.

(HELEN climbs on altar amid household idols. With a loud war-cry HEKTOR summons WARRIORS, who rush out and kneel.)

HELEN (dutifully smiling at WARRIORS): Go, Team.

HEKTOR: The glitter, Sister.

(As HELEN waves fan to release gold glitter, WARRIORS ooh. WOMEN are less than pleased. PRINCESS KASSANDRA ENTERS on ramp in saffron-hued priestess robe, carrying pot with snake motif.)

WARRIORS: Helen!

HELEN (squealing as DEIPHOBOS nibbles her toes): I did say go, Deiphobos.

(KASSANDRA kicks DEIPHOBUS' butt, then slams HEKTOR's helmet on him and shoves WARRIORS down ramp. After waving 'bye as WARRIORS EXIT, WOMEN admire PARIS, who's being dressed in armor and panther skin and given sword, bow, shield and spear by HEKUBA, a crowned matron and KASSANDRA. Both show skill in handling arms.)

KASSANDRA (grabbing bow for herself): I'm fighting, too.

PARIS: Forget it, Kassandra.

KASSANDRA: Ma, I can outshoot Paris any day!

HEKUBA: Your tomboy phase is over, Snookums; move on.

KASSANDRA: Paris couldn't even bring Aunt Hesione home!

PRIAM (struggling into well-worn armor): She did promise to write more often.

KASSANDRA: C'mon, Dad. Let's go stomp some Argive ass.

HEKUBA: Daddy's in for the night. Priam, will you please remove that armor? It's hell on furniture...(Putting helmet on PARIS) There you go, Son, ready for action.

(WOMEN (except KASSANDRA) applaud and PARIS bows. He then EXITS after kissing HELEN again. She stares after him.)

HEKUBA: Let's mount our own raid, Ladies -- on the kitchen. Be with you in a jif.

(WOMEN and SLAVE EXIT into palace. HEKUBA helps PRIAM shed armor and sees KASSANDRA sneaking out with a bow.)

HEKUBA: Halt!...Now hang that up nicely, Kassie. Don't you have your serpents to tend at the Sun Lord's temple, anyhow?...(As KASSANDRA points to pot) Snakes in this house again! I want them out this very minute.

HELEN (as KASSANDRA sets pot on terrace): Gr-oss. Any of those things deadly?

KASSANDRA: F***in-A, Sister.

HEKUBA (calling to terrace): Come in for a nosh, Girls!

KASSANDRA (climbing to rampart): My only appetite's for Greek blood.

HELEN: Whatever does it forya...(To HEKUBA) Let me help with Priam's armor.

PRIAM (loving it as HELEN comes to aid): Old fingers aren't what they used to be.

HELEN: Gahds, you folks are so sweet to me.

PRIAM: What's not to like?

HELEN: But all these Argive raids --

PRIAM: Haven't inconvenienced us beyond a few goats and olives. Besides, my boys need the exercise.

HEKUBA: And we've seen a lot more of our neighbors. Must be the will of Zeus.

HELEN (aside): Who knows from Will of Zeus? Pop's pussywhipped.

(A tremor shakes ALL on stage, who drop to ground for safety.)

HELEN: Sorry!

PRIAM: Please stop apologizing.

HELEN (wailing): But I'm causing this!

HEKUBA: Rubbish, Dear. That's just Poseidon's wrath. Flares up now and then.

PRIAM: My grandpa shoulda paid him. Built our walls...(As tremor stops) How they holdin up, Kassie?

KASSANDRA (checking): Lost a chunk or two...(Calling down as warcries resume)Not breakin through tonight, F***ers! Attaway, Trojans, drive 'em back!

(As KASSANDRA cheers, light hits theologeion where ARES cheers. He views battle through binoculars and slugs nectar from a six-pack APHRODITE, on his lap, waves to HELEN, removing armor.)

PRIAM (purring at HELEN's touch): I'm sure the gods sent you to us, Helen.

APHRODITE: Don'tcha love her in-laws?...Ares! Y'gonna watch sports all night?

ARES (over warcries): Let up on me, Baby. The fight's just gettin good --

APHRODITE (trying to peel "Trojans" jacket off ARES): But Hephaestus is at the forge tonight. He and the Cyclops have rush orders. We could go to my place.

ARES (as ZEUS ENTERS): Trojans're looking good, Dad.

ZEUS: Too early in the season to say. Problem with you's snap judgments...(To ARES' murderous look) That n'temper fits...What for y'hangin here, Cutie?

APHRODITE: Whatever your man likes, you have to feign an interest.

ZEUS: Dunno whatcha see in this dick-for-brains.

APHRODITE: I have my own brains, Zeusy.

(Over warcries, off, KASSANDRA cheers again. ARES stands to cheer, dumping APHRODITE, and grabs a bloody ear as it flies by. Gagging, APHRODITE EXITS.)

KASSANDRA: Hektor nailed one!

ARES: What a play! Good guy, he's devoted to me --

ZEUS (aside, throwing ear back): Too bloodthirsty, this kid. Takes after his mother.

HEKUBA (calling to KASSANDRA): Either back to temple now or into my kitchen!

KASSANDRA (descending steps): I want to talk to her

HEKUBA (as HELEN grins okay): Well, keep off the battlefield and none of that gloom n'doom business.

(HEKUBA and PRIAM EXIT.)

KASSANDRA (over warcries, off and ARES' cheers): I try like Hades to hate you.

HELEN: Need a coach, try my sis...Hektor's not real wild about me, either.

KASSANDRA: He's just b***hy 'cause you guys are getting the attention.

HELEN: He thinks I'm a troublemaker.

KASSANDRA: Where'd that pr**k be without trouble? Displaying his wit and charm? Trust me on this, Hektor's loving the sh** outa this war.

HELEN: It isn't quite a war -- they're just futzing. Like the first time.

KASSANDRA: You do this how often?

HELEN: I was ten! Nobody got hurt or anything.

KASSANDRA: Thought one of your brothers bit it -- that time.

HELEN: Later raid. Had to do with their wives...Wasn't much to it when the twins rescued me. Old Theseus and Peirithous weren't even there. Tacky! Truth is they drew lots and Theseus won me, then they both split trying to snag Cousin Persephone from Uncle Hades. Musta been in midlife crisis... Anyhow, it was all in the family. Theseus was my step-bro on Pop's side and Perry was my cossie, Poseidon's son. I never held grudges. Kept the slaves, though, and Theseus' mom, who was glad to get off the Rock of Aphidne. Theseus had loadsa hot ships with blue enamel prows, but he never took Aithra anyplace.

KASSANDRA (after a beat to take all that in): This'll be different.

HELEN: You honestly believe we'll have casualties?

KASSANDRA: Look, I pray I'm wrong but I keep seeing stuff, just like in Ma's old dream -- blood, flood, fires and eveything falling, the whole city wrecked --

HELEN: How's your potassium level?

KASSANDRA: Go on, hide your head in an amphora -- like Hektor. Thinks Troy can't fall with him running the show!..Well, he's got that part f***in right -- he won't live to the end, lucky bastard.

HELEN: You employ interesting language for a priestess.

KASSANDRA: Well it's not like I set out to be one. I wanted to be an Amazon. I had talent, too. But when Apollo invites you -- you don't just say screw off.

(Smug and radiant in white with gold lyre APOLLO ENTERS above. KASSANDRA faces away and he signals "hush" to HELEN.)

HELEN: Your visions come --?

KASSANDRA: Direct from Apollo of the Silver Bow.

HELEN (enjoying this): Actually, he's more into his lyre lately. And mucho pre-occupied with this mortal chick who's two-timing him. She won't last...Bottom line, he's a cold dude. He could really hurtcha. Great hair, though.

(APOLLO EXITS in a huff and another tremor shakes the place.)

HELEN: Sure that's Poseidon's wrath?

KASSANDRA: Great-grandpa left a debt with Apollo, too. Subbed parta the wall job...(as tremor stops) but he's holding Poseidon back, see -- as long as he can...(Rising as war-cries resume) He's on our side, protecting us from those sons of --

HELEN: Watch it, Kass, you're talkin about my boyfriends.

KASSANDRA (peering off edge to check wall): They were all your boyfriends?

HELEN: The officers, except Aggie and the old farts. They were mad with desire for me, demented. Used to be I found it funny -- 'til I fell the same way for your brother. Crazy in love, outa my head. It was like I had no choice --

KASSANDRA(laughing): You didn't. Who does, with her calling the shots?

HELEN (getting it, not wanting to) Aunt Aphrodite?...Nah, she wouldn't set me up..Would she? Excuse me. (Screaming as she runs to rampart) Auntie A!

ZEUS: Somebody answer that.

HELEN (screaming over warcries): Helen to Queen of Love! Talk to me, dammit!

(ZEUS thunders. Again reaching for weapons in megaron. KASSANDRA EXITS into palace as if afraid the boom was to admonish her.)

ZEUS (rising, to ARES): Quieter spot, huh? Like the field a'combat --

HELEN: Pop, don't go! Ares!... Gahds, get me Aphrodite!

(ZEUS and ARES EXIT. As HELEN yowls, APHRODITE PEEKS, then shoves IRIS, who ENTERS donning headphones.)

IRIS: Olympus Central, how may we help?

HELEN: Took you long enough to pick up, Iris.

IRIS (over warcries, off): Battletime rush.

HELEN: This is Helen of Spart -- make that Troy. Get me Aunt Aphrodite.

IRIS: Her Loveliness is away from her throne.

HELEN: Oky, get me Pop!

IRIS: His Formidability appears to be away from his throne also...Perhaps you could try your prayer again later.

HELEN: Find me somebody! Who in Hades is on call?

IRIS: For information on Hades, this is not the correct extension.

(Lights fade above as POLLUX ENTERS via ramp. HELEN hugs him.)

POLLUX: Came as soon as I could, Sis.

HELEN: Somehow a thousand ships arrived ahead of you, Speedy Gonzales...It wasn't like we rushed, ourselves. Hera held us up with a storm while she was recruiting Argives, then we stopped to sack Sidon for my trousseau -- you know how much I love those clothes. Eventually we had an awesome wedding party. (Sulkily over war-cries) You shoulda been here.

POLLUX (absently, looking upset): It wasn't my day.

HELEN: Well, this sure isn't mine.. Paris has run off again to pummel Argives and I can't even get through to Aphrodite. Or Pop. Maybe it's my imagination but it seems like they've been avoiding me. For weeks. Ever since I split Sparta.

POLLUX: You can imagine how Mom took that.

HELEN: I hope she didn't cancel her holiday...(To his sneer) First dolphin home, huh? So how's the baby?

POLLUX: Menelaus parked her with Kay when he left. Mom's at Mykenae, too --

HELEN: That's where you've been hanging -- Aggie's place. Traitor!

POLLUX: Look, Klytemnestra's falling smooth apart.

HELEN: Just can't cope without a man around the house.

POLLUX: You don't know about Aulis? Oh shit....(Evading) Harbor town in Boetia. Scenic beach, usual temples. Taverna gets two amphorae next edition...Okay, it's where the guys met to convoy. There was -- a hangup.

HELEN: Couldn't quite get their ships together?

POLLUX: Couldn't score a favorable wind. Dead calm, wrong direction, gales outa season. Supplies were dwindling; morale sucked --

HELEN: So it was like Who've We Pissed Off? And a seer looked into it...(To his startled look) That much is common sense. Hit me with the oracle report.

POLLUX: Artemis. Seems Agamemnon shot her sacred ox, or maybe it was a heifer -- well, you know what she's like when she gets her knickers in a twist.

HELEN: Guy even peeks when she's bathing, he's history, but jump back on track.

POLLUX: It was a ram, I think -- no, a stag -- and Aggie bragged he could hunt better than the Goddess of the Chase.

HELEN: Musta been ripped, but what in blue blazes does this have to do with Sister Kay? Clearly the boys served the Divine Huntress another whatever.

POLLUX: Ante'd gone up; only a virgin would do. Our bro-in-law sent home for --

HELEN: Not Iphigenia! Klytemnestra would never let her go.

POLLUX: Odysseus worked a con -- said Akhilles wanted to marry her...I got the scoop before Kay, when the poor kid turned up in the undergloom... Genie died without a word; no family curses. They gagged her with a horse bit.

HELEN: Oh thank you for sharing that detail with me, Pollux.

POLLUX: Look, our sister's lost a daughter; your daughter needs her mom --

HELEN: I want joint custody! I'd have brought Hermione along in the first place, but that mighta meant --

POLLUX: War?...Guess what -- people are dying here.

HELEN: Couple a'pushy Argives who had it coming. Not any locals.

POLLUX: Well, Troy's completely off the hospitality map after those tourists got snuffed in the marketplace raid.

HELEN: They didn't know where to take cover. It's the palace -- publish that! The raiders can't ever get this high. It's a maze, the lower city.

POLLUX: Give it up, Sis. Go home.

HELEN: You go to Hades!

POLLUX (checking hour glass): Just leaving...(Starting to go, he returns to give HELEN clay tablets and parchment scraps) Almost forgot your fan mail.

HELEN: Paying social calls down at the harbor? Consorting with the enemy?

POLLUX: From the look of these, you are, too. (Fanning himself) Whoo --

HELEN: What the boys get up to in their fevered brains isn't my --...(Aside) Somebody really oughta get around to inventing the envelope. How hard could it be?

POLLUX: They think they're rescuing you; your shade appears by night, imploring --

HELEN: Flapdoodle...(After a beat): Real letters, wow. Since the blockade, our mail service has gone totally down the tubes.

(As she begins to read, POLLUX EXITS. Helen looks up guiltily.)

HELEN: No, I can't do this; take 'em...(Calling, off) Uh, give Kay my condolences!

(Dejected, HELEN climbs to rampart. Torchlight reveals here to WARRIORS, OFF, and warcries segue to cries of her name.)

WARRIORS, OFF: Helen! Helen! HELEN!

HELEN (aside, cowering): Like why do I have this effect on people?

(In white robe with white flag and trumpet, HAROLD THE HERALD -- another role for AGAPENOR/POLLUX-KASTOR -- runs up ramp.)

HELEN: Not tonight, Harold. I have a headache.

HAROLD: Sorry, Your Fabulousness, it's mandatory. Our first fallen hero...(As HELEN stuffs fist into trumpet) Argives sneaked into the hills after Priam's herds. Troops got through in time to save the livestock, but not old Agelaus.

HELEN: He's old and he's ageless?

HAROLD (carefully pronouncing): Agelaus.

HELEN: Ga-ahds -- the shepherd who raised Paris.

(HAROLD blasts. With snacks, HEKUBA, PRIAM and WOMEN ENTER; HEKTOR and PARIS ENTER via ramp. HELEN joins PARIS.)

WOMEN: Ooh, here come the boys -- bet it's another victory panty raid!

HAROLD The Argives are driven back to their ships...That's the good news --

(Carrying corpse, TROJANS ENTER behind HEKTOR and PARIS.)

WOMAN 1: Yuck, somebody died.

HEKTOR: All hail faithful Agelaus!

TROJANS/WOMEN: Hail Faithful Agelaus!

PRIAM: Heart attack, hm. Too much excitement.

HEKUBA: Too much mutton fat, I kept warning him.

HEKTOR: He went out bravely. Showed real Trojan spirit, defending the herds.

HEKUBA: The old fool.

HEKTOR: All hail our glorious dead!

TROJANS/WOMEN: Hail Glorious Dead!

(HEKTOR leads procession indoors. HELEN and PARIS stay out.)

ARES, OFF: Hey, Dollface -- sounds like a party.

(TROJANS sing. MUSES play, OFF or ON. Funky effects turn theologeion to dancehall as ARES, APHRODITE and EROS ENTER.)

Ares' March

HEKTOR: For our glorious dead there's no end!
They fight on in the hearts of stalwart friends!
Spurred by their bold bravery, we will hack, impale and crush the enemy!

TROJANS: You and me, valliantly!

HEKTOR AND TROJANS: All hail to our glorious dead!
By this lofty example we are led.
Stern courage to confront the foe!
Ferocious will to lay men low!
All hail to our glorious dead!
By this godlike example we are led.

APHRODITE (spoken, dancing cheek to cheek): Let's go to bed.

ARES (spoken): While they're playing my song? You run along.

(Interrupting EROS' piccolo solo, APHRODITE EXITS in a snit, dragging him.)

WOMEN: Vie now; get your sendoff with honors.
It's too late; guys can't rate if they're goners.
When it's your turn to face the undergloom
at least you can leave a good tomb.

HEKTOR: Cheat lasting doom, while you have room!

HEKTOR AND TROJANS: All hail to our glorious dead!
By this lofty example we are led.
With his zeal, we'll do our duty
-- with bloodlust, you bet your booty.
All hail to our glorious dead!
By this godlike example we are led!

(Music ends. To drumbeats, TROJANS EXIT to palace. ARES EXITS.)

PARIS: He was a sweet guy, Helen. He wasn't into killing.

HELEN: Then I'm sure he'd be a lot more glorious, living.

PARIS: Are you okay? You don't look so good.

HELEN: You mean there's hope? I'm fading?

PARIS: Sorry to disappoint. I only meant you look like you've been crying.

HELEN: I had awful news, too. My niece -- she's prime martyr for the other side...Sacrificed for fair winds to bring the armada.

(EROS ENTERS above and fires arrows HELEN and PARIS snap in two.)

HELEN and PARIS: We are not in the mood!

EROS (calling, off): They're breakin my arrows!

APHRODITE, OFF: Who?

(EROS EXITS. APHRODITE ENTERS mad and HELEN rises, furious.)

HELEN: You set us up! Auntie A, why? Surprise treat for your warlover, Ares?

PARIS: Nothing so selfless as that, was it, Pretty One?

APHRODITE (squirming guiltily): Love, ah, deserves to be honored.

HELEN: You honor love by loving, right? I've done that every chance I got.

APHRODITE: And I sent a new squeeze when you truly needed one. Be grateful.

HELEN: I was; I am. But I coulda stayed put! Paris coulda gone home; now n'then we'd get together on Chios or somewhere, split the distance. Why'd you push things so far? You despise marriage -- why'd we have to get married?

APHRODITE: I certainly can't take all the credit for that.

HELEN: This is true...(Aside) We couldn't very well hang around Sparta waiting for Menelaus, when I was already knocked up.

PARIS (fiercely): Show Helen the apple.

APHRODITE: That is not how to stay on my beneficent side, Young Man.

PARIS: Show her the apple, damn you!

(APHRODITE tosses down gold apple and descends from theologeion.)

HELEN (reading apple): "For the fairest"...I saw this at my wedding -- the first one.

PARIS (blurting confession): You were a bribe in a celestial beauty contest.

APHRODITE: Oh, poo! Me, Hera and Athena, that was no contest.

HELEN (getting it): Way back then, you two mapped my life out! Over gold fruit!

APHRODITE: Naturally, they started the bribery. They offered Paris the moon. I had to do him a better deal -- and marriage was -- part of the package.

HELEN (barely restraining herself): Do you know what this means, Honey?

PARIS: That I'm sleeping on the sofa?

HELEN: That you have made some extremely powerful enemies.

PARIS: They're not so tough; pit 'em against an old man they win, but --

HELEN (screaming Zeuslike): I am not talking about dudes in black ships!

(Cowed, PARIS EXITS via megaron; APHRODITE sidles up steps.)

APHRODITE (placating): There woulda been war, regardless. Hera promised him rule over Asia and Europe. Athena pledged victories everywhere.

HELEN: Then all I did to earn you this -- was change sides...What does Pop say?

APHRODITE: Lately he talks a lot about -- too many heroes.

HELEN: And a mere plague for population control, wouldn't that be dead-boring?

APHRODITE: You can keep my apple if you want.

LEDA'S GHOST, OFF: She hates fake produce. I always told her it was tacky.

APHRODITE: Take five, Leda! I just arrived...(To HELEN) I, ah, actually dropped by to let you know your mother had a little accident.

(HELEN runs down, stopping halfway as LEDA'S GHOST ENTERS via ramp -- otherworldly in gossamer grey, with a noose dangling.)

HELEN: Not another death on my hands!

LEDA'S GHOST: It's shaping up to be a record day. I'd be across the Styx already except military get priority during battle hours...Sugar, run on back to Mykenae.

HELEN: It isn't so simple. I'm having a baby.

LEDA'S GHOST: Oh, goody. A little brother or sister for Hermione!

HELEN: Menelaus may be a dolma short of a snack, but he'd never buy that.

LEDA'S GHOST: People can be very understanding about abductions.

HELEN: I wasn't exactly abducted, Mama.

LEDA'S GHOST: Not good. Hm, you could call it date rape...(As HELEN sobs) For pity's sake, pull yourself together. I don't have all night; see, it's a timed ticket.

(LEDA waves Styx Ferry ticket; APHRODITE laughs on rampart. HELEN looks down/up, down/up, caught between.)

APHRODITE: Helen's staying right here. She's in love with Paris!

LEDA'S GHOST (shocked): Is that accurate, Helen?

HELEN (guiltily): Madly in love with him. And married to him.

LEDA'S GHOST: Did somebody suck out your common sense with a straw?...(In full martyr mode): Where did I go wrong? You've pulled some stunts in your time, Young Lady, but this one takes the baklavah.

HELEN: I'm sorry, Mama.

LEDA'S GHOST: Then fulfill my last request -- go home.

HELEN: But Menelaus is dull as mud. And I'm in the throes of irresistible powers.

LEDA'S GHOST: You're involved in this up to your rosy -- crown, huh, Aphrodite?

APHRODITE: Show some respect, Mangey Mortal!

LEDA'S GHOST: Or what? I am beyond all your influence now...(To HELEN) And apparently you're beyond mine. (A dig) I'll convey your regards to Iphigenia.

(LEDA EXITS and APHRODITE takes out gold mirror and scissors.)

APHRODITE: You'll want to snip your hair in her honor, of course. Nothing drastic -- let's just nip those nasty split ends.

(HELEN throws apple as hard as she can, then grabs for scissors and tries to stab herself. Mirror breaks in the tussle.)

APHRODITE: Seven years' bad luck...(Aside) Hm, in this case I put it closer to nine.

HELEN: I can't go back to Menelaus, Mama, but I'm coming with you!

(HELEN "EXITS" via a suicidal leap from rampart's rear. ZEUS,OFF laughs. Having "caught" her, ZEUS ENTERS carrying HELEN, who wriggles free and plunges an arm into the snake pot.)

APHRODITE (calmly, not missing a beat): Oh, hi, Zeusy.

ZEUS (laughing): Not a chance, Kid. When your number's up, I'll letcha know.

Black.


Scene Two

Same night. Pyre flickers on backdrop hilltop. On apron, minimal set suggests more pyres and sandy shore. Under flokatis, pillowed on shields, MENELAUS cuddles a spear and AGAMEMNON, hugging goldware, snores near upended wine amphora. ANTILOCHUS, NIREUS and aged NESTOR sleep close by. (Other pallets aren't occupied but seem so.) To surfsounds, HELEN enters, wringing out clothes.

HELEN: Surf's like ice but I'm not even running a fever. Drowning doesn't work, either. Ouch! Nasty blade fragment. (Taking it from foot, menacing her face) Hey, I'll try disfigurement -- as a last resort...(Pushing it in sand, calling down) Put this in your beach report, Bro! Ga-ahds, your buds are gross -- amphora shards, arrowheads, greasy bones -- and they call everyone else a barbarian!

ARGIVES (murmuring in their sleep): Helen! Helen!

HELEN: Musta been some apres-battle bash, commanders all trashed in one heap...(A flash) Super chance for a little sleep-teaching...(Working into "rap" rhythm) Speaking, Dreamboats. Take this on deck, in reply to your notes: They're dreck.
Like heck you guys have god on your side t'save a stolen bride n'salve wounded pride.
If you stay to sack this town, the Heroic lifestyle goes down!

ARGIVES (in their sleep): No! Nah! No way!

HELEN: Way. They're playing us like pipes -- Immortal types.
They wantcha dead no matter who I wed. I'm just an excuse.
For toy abuse!
Boys, Troy's no end -- it's a trend, Friends!
The gods are sore; Big Daddy's bored with all their fuss
-- and with us.
Zeus wants a change, he isn't subtle:
All Cyclopean walls will fall to rubble
unless you heroes flee
on the double.
You're in a no-win situation, demanding swift evacuation.
To save your tail and civilization from dismal ruination, act on facts: Pack up your black ships fast
and sail!

ARGIVES (in their sleep): We can't leave Helen!

HELEN: It's cool, Dudes, for a cause more compellin.

MENELAUS (in his sleep): What about f-fame? And m-my good name?

HELEN: Like he's just the same. Gonna set Greece back eight hundred years and blame it on a dame.

MENELAUS (in his sleep): I've al-m-most mastered the sp-spear!

AGAMEMNON (in his sleep): And there's so much bloody gold here!

HELEN: That's cold and crass, you daughter-slaying bastard...
(Aside) He's risking everybody's ass plus cultural disaster!

(FAUX-HELENS (GRACES in "Helen" masks) PEEK from under covers.)

FAUX-HELENS:Who asked her?...All you hunky heroes, go back to sleep.

HELEN: Go back to Greece or you're dead meat!

FAUX-HELEN 1: It's just a false dream, Lovers, false allegation.
(To HELEN) Beat feet, Bitch; they don't need misinformation.

HELEN: Who're you bimbos, to give me flak?

FAUX-HELEN 2: Cute alter-egos takin up slack.
It's kicks. Get lost.

HELEN: You're tricks. I'm boss!

FAUX-HELENS (rising to begin "street chickens versus princess" choreography): Hardly!... Diomedes, keep catchin zees.
Antilochus, shush-shush.
Takes rest to fight your best.
For us. And plunder.

HELEN (shouting over storm sounds): Dudes, this is significant thunder!

FAUX-HELEN 3: Don't pester Nestor. Let Ajax relax. Make tracks!

HELEN: But doom's fated and slated! We're being manipulated!
Y'gotta stop Pop's Med redevelopment plan: Split for your own lands!

FAUX-HELEN 1: She's tellin you lies.

HELEN: Like tune out the Phyrgian Follies, Guys!

FAUX-HELEN 2: This beach is our turf.
Princess, hit the surf.

HELEN: I already swam.

FAUX-HELEN 3: We mean it, scram --

HELEN: They're my beaux!

FAUX-HELENS: Don't think so.

HELEN: I vowed undying love to every one.

FAUX-HELEN 1: Job's gettin done, Hon.

ARGIVES (restless): Helen!

FAUX-HELENS: Such swell men!
We'll be right there; we're dealing with the nightmare.
Don't be scared --

HELEN: They should be! This siege is no skip through the mall.
Guys are falling, Darlings -- check out those funeral pyres!
And if your heroes expire, you chicks are history, too.

FAUX-HELENS (laughing): Untrue!

HELEN: But you're sheer fantasy.

FAUX-HELEN 2: The key to longevity! Illusions don't age;
we'll find a new stage; we'll manage.

FAUX-HELEN 3: Always fresh hopes, new folks to encourage.
To mututal advantage.

HELEN: Y'mean lust-fed carnage?

FAUX-HELEN 1: Sometimes.
It's not our favorite drill. I dig a picnic in the hills
so galloping through Thessaly was great.

FAUX-HELEN 2: Me, I went nuts for the almond fête.

FAUX-HELEN 3: And it was neat in Crete -- watchin all the jocks compete.
Wouldn't mind a repeat.

HELEN: You were actually there?

FAUX-HELENS: Sure, everywhere! And we prefer romance.
But for now, it's face the slaughter and dance!

(Ending routine in her face, FAUX-HELENS usher HELEN off.)

FAUX-HELEN 1: Adios, then. Auf Wiedersehen!

FAUX-HELEN 2: Shalom -- go home! Farewell -- go to hell!

FAUX-HELEN 3: Who needs ya'? Hasta la vista, Helen --

ARGIVES (in their sleep): Oh, Helen!

HELEN: I'm tellin the truth on Zeus, they gotta cut me loose!

FAUX-HELENS: Vamoose!

HELEN: Just one more minute?

FAUX-HELEN 1 (starting stopwatch): Begin it.

HELEN: If you're anti-war, what for are you hanging here?

FAUX-HELEN 1: Our views, though sincere, have the weight of cashmere.

FAUX-HELEN 2: Pre-existing desires are our givens.

FAUX-HELEN 3: We're customer-driven -- it's outside our brief to dictate.

HELEN (laughing in spite of herself): In other words, you can't fight Fate.

FAUX-HELENS (high-fiving HELEN): Damn straight!

HELEN: Y'help my ex get a rep, his brother win treasure. The others?

FAUX-HELEN 1: Pleasure-buffs, mainly.

HELEN (getting it): It's about axiology!

FAUX-HELEN 2: But never symbology. We don't represent; we're embodiments --

FAUX-HELEN 3: Of Perfection. Just like you, but on night-shift...(As watch beeps and ARGIVES toss, groaning) Yasu.

(FAUX-HELENS vanish under covers. ARGIVES sigh content. From shadows ODYSSEUS ENTERS with AKHILLES, a typical teen jock but in long hair and robes of a princess. Bearing baggage is Akhilles' horse. XANTHUS (HEBE and IRIS in horse suit). They see only HELEN.)

HELEN: But I'm the real Helen!

FAUX-HELEN 1 (peeking): What's a "real" Helen?

HELEN: The ostensible cause of this war!

FAUX-HELEN 1: We're just as ostensible as you are.

HELEN (grudgingly as FAUX-HELEN 1 hides): That's -- defensible. But you're ephemeral as moonbeams --

FAUX-HELEN 2 (peeking): Forms loosed of content to contain men's dreams!
And you're identical, in essence. The rest -- is an excrescence.

HELEN: I am concrete!

FAUX-HELEN 2: That part goes obsolete.

HELEN (as FAUX-HELEN 2 hides): You're mere ideas of the Ideal.

FAUX-HELEN 3 (peeking): It greases the Wheel -- your appeal.
And repetition's Necessity's seal.

HELEN: Y'mean Nemesis is behind this...What's her scheme, then?

FAUX-HELEN 3 (before hiding) We are her daimons! You, too, of course.

HELEN (sighting OTHERS): If I'm a Cosmic Force, that's a talking horse.

XANTHUS: How-dy...(Bowing head as HELEN swoons and AKHILLES raises whip) Naughty horsy; naughy horsy. 'Til you're presented, don't speak or they'll freak.

ODYSSEUS (bringing HELEN around): Helen, you all right?

HELEN (groaning recognition): Don't tell me joined my Harbor Knights.

ODYSSEUS: My dear, I did vow --

HELEN: But you'd gone mad as a badger, somebody said -- totally fou if not brain-dead.

ODYSSEUS: Psych deferment fell through.

HELEN: His, too? Who's the hunk, or has Athena gone punk, Unk?

ODYSSEUS: Make that "cousin by marriage."

HELEN (aside): Big phoney's so damn vain about his age.

ACHILLES: Make it PrinceAkhilles the Brave.
Bad break y'already been saved, but back t'my bitchin babes.
To the daughters of Lykomedes, let's cruise. Please.

ODYSSEUS (grabbing AKHILLES as he starts to go): I found him draft-dodging on Skyros. Son of King Peleus and the goddess --

HELEN: Thetis, for sure; he's got her oceany eyes...Wanna see me home, Guys?

XANTHUS: Guys and Xanthus, Immortal Steed....(Offering hoof) Rare breed. Didn't mean to scare, Ma'am. Put 'er there.

AKHILLES (as HELEN shakes hands with XANTHUS, then rises): Which tent, Hon?

HELEN: None. I'm at the Pergamum.

XANTHUS (nuzzling her): Thoughtcha weren't the tent type.

ODYSSEUS: You're still Paris' wife? You belong with Menelaus --

HELEN (moving ahead): No, he belongs in Argos.

AKHILLES: Y'coulda had me.

HELEN (remembering): The prince from Thessaly. Great Runner, said to be. Placed a long-distance bid.

AKHILLES: Sure did. If you'd actually seen --

HELEN: Woulda pegged you for queen. Mustn't linger; here's dawn, rosy-fingery --

ODYSSEUS (taking out notepad): Charming simile.

XANTHUS: Don't get sore, but it's a metaphor.

ODYSSEUS (making notes): Hm, how would you describe the sea?

HELEN (making to go): Dunno -- "wine-dusky," maybe.

AKHILLES (chasing HELEN): Not so fast, Foxy. You're goin to Greece!

HELEN: Not on a bet!

AKHILLES (grabbing HELEN): Bleagh, she's wet!

HELEN: Lemme loose, we're on funeral truce!

AKHILLES: Can we possibly stuff all this rhyme?

HELEN: Fine! Uncle Odysseus, teach this ditz some manners. And find him some clothes! These sleeves went out with Medea!...(Breaking free, chased) Oh I'm scared beyond belief. Y'know Theseus liked to dress up, too, but he had style.

AKHILLES: Mom's working on some decent armor for me -- Hephaestus stuff.

HELEN (allowing herself to be caught): Uncle Heph's stuff, whoa!

ODYSSEUS (as the OTHERS' clench takes on chemistry): Let her go.

AKHILLES (confiding as he keeps holding HELEN): Old Heph digs Mom's company. Doesn't get much at home, y'know.

XANTHUS (stamping hoof): He said let her go.

AKHILLES: Don't be a nag. She's in our camp, spying --

HELEN (angry again): I am not!

AKHILLES: Are so!

ODYSSEUS (separating OTHERS): Kids, Kids!...(Aside) Obviously life'll stay primitive 'til we swing a longer average lifespan.

HELEN: Wanna see primitive, do this war! If Troy falls, it's look out Mykenae, Tiryns, Pylos, the whole nine yards -- that's what I'm here to communicate.

XANTHUS: You were raving on something about moonbeams.

HELEN: So I got sidetracked. Also spent a while tryin to drown myself, okay?...Odysseus, we gotta stop this thing. Is Tyndareus with ya?

ODYSSEUS: Somebody has to rule Sparta and Mykenae, bury your mama, tend to your daughter and the other grandkids and arrange therapy for Klytemnestra.

HELEN: Okay sure, Stepdaddy's way underappreciated. I'll send him something super-nice. And you'll help me hammer out a dowry and custody deal, right?

ODYSSEUS (hesitant): It's the gods --

HELEN: They wanna clobber us! Won't be enough heroes left to shake a spear at.

ATHENA (ENTERING with spear): Somebody takin my name in vain? Better not be.

HELEN (dropping a curtsy and nudging AKHILLES): Bow! Now!

ODYSSEUS (with a bow): Ever the greatest of pleasures to see you, Ma'am.

AKHILLES (to HELEN): Who's he talking to?

HELEN: Who else? Athena Spear-Shaker.

AKHILLES: You talkin to her when we came in?

HELEN (shaking her head no): Lotsa cosmic chatter during a Gotterdammerung...Oh, never mind.

ODYSSEUS: So you're still backing me, Wise Athena?

ATHENA (slapping ODYSSEUS on the back): To the end.

HELEN: That is not a figure of speech.

ATHENA: But you'll win through, covered in glory.

ODYSSEUS: My god-ess, what a story...(Proudly) Odysseus, Last of the Heroes.

HELEN (kicking ODYSSEUS in shin): This is my story and I reserve all rights.

AKHILLES (as HELEN leaves in a huff): See y'around, Helen.

ATHENA: See y'hauled off in chains, Tramp, n'this joint trashed behind ya!

(HELEN EXITS. ARGIVES roused by shouts frantically search covers.)

MENELAUS (sniffing his covers): I c-can smell her p-p-perfume!

ANTILOCHUS (sniffing own covers and smiling): Fracas, yeah.

MENELAUS: Wipe that gr-grin off your f-face, Antilochus. Helen's m-my wife!

ARGIVES (howling, bereft): Helen! Helen!...(Seeing AKHILLES) Helen?

(AKHILLES attacks nearest ARGIVE and is pulled away by ODYSSEUS.)

ODYSSEUS (forcing AKHILLES to shake hands): Name's Akhilles. Excusable error.

(AKHILLES unrolls battle-plan scroll and approaches AGAMEMNON.)

AKHILLES: Here's how we're gonna take Troy, A.G.

ODYSSEUS: May still be hope of a diplomatic solution...(Prodded by ATHENA's spear) On the other hand, no...(As AGAMEMNON indicates trumpet, white "Herald" robe and bullhorn) Aw, A.G...(Glared down) Right, why pay a herald?

(Robed, ODYSSEUS blasts trumpet. HAROLD ENTERS, trumpeting back.)

ODYSSEUS (though bullhorn): Surrender Helen, you scoundrely wife-thieves!

HAROLD (through bullhorn, congenially): Good morning to you, too.

ODYSSEUS (through bullhorn): Give Helen back and all the stolen gold!... Well, do it...Okay then, come out and fight. One or the other.

HAROLD (through bullhorn): Why?

(HAROLD EXITS with a yawn.)

AGAMEMNON: Alpha force, form for area raiding; Company Beta, you're on civil engineering.

AKHILLES (outraged, as MOST ARGIVES EXIT): But I came here to kill Trojans!

AGAMEMNON: Siege means starve 'em out. Meanwhile cover costs plus some. These coast villes give great pillage -- slaves, gold --

MENELAUS (over power-saw, off): And w-we're p-putting in an O Club.

AKHILLES (to ODYSSEUS): You promised me glory!...(Raging to sky) Great Gods!

ATHENA (aside, glancing at theologeion): They get distracted. Give it a few years.

Black.


Scene Three

Years later. Tools sound in darkness then daylight shows elaborate camp in apron. By hut at left ("Camp Troy HQ and O Club; HRH Agamemnon, Commander") is a taverna with mileage sign to Greek hometowns. ATHENA AS FRENCH WAITER sets umbrella tables and hangs posters promoting Retsina Nouveau and a Muse concert. Hut stage right is identified as "Myrmidon HQ; HRH Akhilles, Comman-der." On terrace above, WOMEN sow seeds under "Victory Garden" sign, singing Don't Get Around Much Anymore to MUSES' harmonica. HEKUBA fries dough in cauldron down left and PRIAM serves blobs and wine in go-cups. HEK-TOR and DEIPHOBOS tank up and EXIT with take-out baskets, but KASSANDRA's snakes won't consume the stuff. In megaron at pink Louis XIV-style desk, HELEN -- not visibly aged -- writes in one of several pink diaries at hand along with gold wine glaux, dough blob, "family photo" urns and scent atomizer labelled "Fracas."

HELEN (aside): So we're still blockaded by invaders, there's an up side -- we've been deserted by the gods!...(Showing urns) Even when Bynomos was born, all they did was send Iris with a fleece and for the twins there was absolutely no acknowledgment...Well, Athena stopped by with Gorgons; she runs Argive Morale and Rec -- with a lotta help from the fake me's, I gotta figure. The boys also got lyres from Apollo, who sticks to Kass. Otherwise we're on our own, except for Bubba Dion; he's with us in spirit. I'm not a lush; this is basic break- fast, vino di tavola and blobs. Ground acorn bread. Can't use our fields outside, but we have oaks in the city, olives for oil, meat from animals raised for sacrifice when that mattered and vineyards like weeds...(A toast) Bro, here's to ya!

KASTOR (PEEKING from behind pillar): An adequate if overcasual welcome.

(KASTOR ENTERS with basket; HELEN turns back to writing.)

HELEN: I was referring to Bubba Dionysos. My only relative who gives a grape.

KASTOR (showing basket of produce): But I brought you these --

HELEN (still writing): Another batch of fan mail. You can cram it, Pollux.

KASTOR: One more guess.

HELEN (still writing): Hiya, Kastor...(As he brings basket) I toldya, I don't want... (Seeing what he brought ) veggies!...(TO WOMEN as she stuffs produce in her mouth and runs out) Pitch the swill -- we're havin minestrone!

(As KASSANDRA upends cauldron over wall down left, yowls sound.)

KASSANDRA (looking down): Climbin up that weak spot in the wall -- the f***ers!

ATHENA (calling, off): Dudes, haul out the pyre-hose!

(ARGIVES ENTER, then EXIT, uncoiling fire hose. ATHENA follows.)

KASSANDRA: Quick -- more pots, wood, oil! We're formin a cauldron squad!

(As TROJAN WOMEN EXIT, HELEN grabs diary away from KASTOR.)

HELEN: This I gotta get down. Huge technological breakthrough!

KASTOR: Even in a memoir, you can't just leap from crops to military technology.

HELEN (writing): Digression is the stuff of epic...New form I'm onto. Sprawling, inclusive. God's in the details, Kastor.

KASTOR (as HELEN drinks wine and writes): Then perhaps you should notice...(Ignored) I'll, uh, have a taste of that.

HELEN (still writing): Splash yourself a glaux, then; amphora's on the sideboard.

(TROJAN WOMEN ENTER loudly with wood, oil and cauldrons.)

KASTOR (over din on terrace): What did you say?

HELEN (still writing): I'm too busy to play hostess.

KASTOR: Bire your tongue!...(Tasting her wine) This is plonk.

HELEN (still writing): Dies on the middle palate, but we're in no position to import.

KASTOR (banging a painted rock on desk): Last time I bring you a care-package.

(KASTOR EXITS behind pillar. HELEN examines rock with fury as, at KASSANDRA's cue, synchronized cauldrons upend, screams sound, off, and WOMEN cheer. Gorgeously clad, PARIS ENTERS from palace with lyre and little BYNOMOS whooping at the uproar.)

PARIS (waving BYNOMOS off to terrace): Ssh. Mommy's weaving.

HELEN (aside through clenched teeth): Ladies don't write, so they say I --

PARIS (nuzzling her neck): How's that tapestry coming?

HELEN: Book, would it killya to say 'book'?... Sorry, I'm a little -- here, Kastor left us this.

PARIS (with a pained groan at sight of painted rock): A travel brochure.

(Lifted aloft in triumph, KASSANDRA EXITS with TROJAN WOMEN.)

PARIS: What are they on about?

HELEN: Boiling oil.

PARIS: Best dish she ever made for brunch, huh? Why'd they turn the pots over?

HELEN: Latest advance in defensive weaponry.

PARIS (with a wince, getting it): We used to like company.

HELEN (eying travel brochure longingly): We used to be company.

PARIS: Stir-crazy?...(Strumming lyre as she nods) Ditto...(Half-singing with a smile) All dressed up and nowhere to go --

HELEN (spoken, smiling back): Still, you are by far my best beau.

PARIS (half-singing): Some might deem our marriage a fiasco --

HELEN (spoken, turning on boombox): But what th'freak do they know?

(PARIS and HELEN sing and show off many dance steps in...)

The End of my Rainbow (Is You)

PARIS AND HELEN ( singing): So we can't show off our mambo in Fomento;
can't do the limbo on Tobago;
can't even disco out in Frisco --
you're still the fellow I choose!

PARIS: Though we can't have a tango in Rosario;
can't flamenco on the Costa del Oro;
can't saltarello in Sorrento;
my amoroso keeps me enthused!

HELEN: So we can't bravo the maestro in Milano.
Can't score bibelot on the Veneto --

PARIS Can't play torero in Toledo
or load up on fine vintages in Bordeaux --

HELEN AND PARIS: It simply doesn't matter where we can't go --
the end a'my rainbow is you!

(BYNOMOS, who's been peeking at them, comes to dance and sing.)

BYNOMOS: Far as I'm concerned, this place is primo.

PARIS: You'll wanna get around someday, when you grow.

HELEN: Lotsa sights outside can really tantalize -- delight -- surprise.

BYNOMOS: What I like best is right before my eyes!

PARIS: Likewise.

HELEN: So I can't wow the Pharoah down in Cairo
or be the toast of club-goers in Soho
or flaunt my total glory on the Lido --
that's de trop when I've got my guys!
Who'd y'rather think that you're worth idolizing?
I'm recognizing what's true:
If I gotta be ghetto-ized, it's optimized with you!

PARIS: Though I won't explore the world like Marco Polo
(strumming lyre) or be renowned as a lyric virtuoso
or collect a portfolio of bimbos --
that's ho-hum next to family ties.
Who'd y'rather think that you are magnetizing?
I'm emphasizing what's true:
If I gotta be ghetto-ized, it's mesmerizing with you!

HELEN AND PARIS: So we can't cruise the seas in regal splendor;
can't fandango in Santander;
can't do Morocco each December --
Who needs sucha hectic agenda?
Who needs somethin extra to remember?
The end a'my rainbow is you!

(HELEN, PARIS and BYNOMOS hug, laughing.)

Black.

Scene Four

Day. In taverna on apron, AKHILLES arm-wrestles AGAMEMNON. XANTHUS watches. MENELAUS casts spears. OTHER ARGIVES ENTER and EXIT, busy with building materials. ODYSSEUS talks to REPORTER dressed "Baba Wawa"-style.

ODYSSEUS (pointing off): That'll be the new PX -- agora concept, state-of-the-art...O Club here's getting a dancefloor; should be done before the Muses' tour.

REPORTER (shooting pix of ARGIVES with lumber): Digging in for the long haul?

ARGIVE 1: Gotta. Trojan motherf****ers won't hardly come out.

REPORTER (a bit shocked): What's your name? I'll quote you.

AKHILLES (nasty): For defining a siege, Private Nobody gets ink.

XANTHUS (sympathetic): Go figure.

ODYSSSEUS (leading REPORTER to table as AKHILLES and AGAMEMNON vie more fiercely, showing off) This gal's from the Delphi Oracle, A.G... (To REPORTER) Our commander-in-chief, captains a hundred ships.

REPORTER: Agamemnon -- a legend!

AKHILLES: Akhilles here.

ODYSSEUS: Yes, Akhilles is one of our top commanders.

AKHILLES (slamming AGAMEMNON's arm down): XANTHUS (stamping hoof): One of? He n'Patroklus brought fifty ships!

ODYSSEUS (as REPORTER collapses, unnoticed): About an average number.

AKHILLES: Ask how many he brought from Ithaca!

XANTHUS: Twelve!...(As ALL turn to see REPORTER collapsed) Naughty horsy?

ODYSSEUS (dragging REPORTER away): Meet Agamemnon's distinguished brother.

REPORTER (reviving to greet): Co-King Menelaus! The aggrieved party, himself!

AKHILLES (petulantly): Who isn't aggrieved? Like I'm here to surf maybe!

ODYSSEUS (as PATROKLUS and GRACES AS SEXY SLAVES ENTER, running by with surfboards): As you see, we work hard and play hard.

AKHILLES (callihng as PATROKLUS EXITS): Pat, get serious!

(AKHILLES kicks table as XANTHUS EXITS at a trot.)

ODYSSEUS (presenting MENELAUS): Now Menelaus, he captains sixty ships.

REPORTER (as AKHILLES pounds table in fury): The blue-prowed ones, aren't they? Would that be Helen's favorite color?

MENELAUS (as REPORTER makes notes): She's m-more of a p-pink p-person.

AGAMEMNON (as AKHILLES howls and throws chairs): Son, you're oversensitive.

AKHILLES (choking AGAMEMNON): Don't call me Son!

ODYSSEUS (steering REPORTER away): Just one of our many new games -- this way for the volleyball demo...(Stage whisper) Athena!

(ODYSSEUS and REPORTER EXIT. ATHENA emerges from HQ hut in waiter garb to separate AGAMEMNON and AKHILLES.)

ATHENA: Cut th'crap, Guys!

AGAMEMNON: He tried to kill me!

AKHILLES: He called me son!

ATHENA: Chill, Kid -- n'Aggie, give him a break; he pillaged villes all night. Now shake hands n'finish breakfast. Hera loves you both but don't push...Menelaus, park your butt, too -- y'didn't say 'scuse me.

MENELAUS (unable to get it out): Ek-ek-ek-eks --

AKHILLES: There's no excuse for him.

(Backing on to return volleyball, ODYSSEUS and REPORTER ENTER.)

REPORTER: Would you say this is a typical day at Camp Troy?

ODYSSEUS: So far. (Checking sun-dial) Oh nine hundred. Warriors in place, A.G.?

AGAMEMNON: Just in case.

ODYSSEUS (to REPORTER): "Hostilities" are due to begin. Take a pew...(Handing "herald" gear to AKHILLES) Your turn.

(AKHILLES trumpets. Trumpeting in return, HAROLD ENTERS via megaron with ROYALS. KASSANDRA and HELEN (in sunglasses with BYNOMOS) stay on terrace as HEKUBA and PRIAM wave from rampart to army, off. On theologeion, lights rise on APOLLO, waving to HELEN and KASSANDRA as GRACES AS CHEERLEADERS ENTER, followed by ZEUS, HERA and APHRODITE.)

HELEN (aside, in terror): Gahds, they're back!...(To KASSANDRA) Y'don't suppose that's good news...(Aside) Nah, she wouldn't.

APHRODITE (waving excitedly at HELEN and showing African souvenirs): It was just the greatest banquet in Ethiopia, Darlin -- best party in ages!

HELEN (aside, snubbing her): Shame it didn't last a few more years.

APHRODITE (to OTHER GODS): 'Bout how long were we away?...Few days, wasn't it?...What's that in their time?

AKHILLES (through bullhorn): For the three-thousandth time we're telling you scumbags, give up the barbarophile!

HAROLD (through bullhorn): And for the three-thousandth time we're telling you --

BYNOMOS (taking Trojan bullhorn): Get stuffed!

AKHILLES (aside): Terrif. Barbarian rugrat's on the horn again.

MENELAUS (taking Argive bullhorn): L-let me t-t-talk to M-mommy, if sh-she's in.

HELEN (aside over ARGIVE laughs): Like where else would I be?...(Through horn) You've got my dominion, my daughter, the dove glaux; what more d'you want?

MENELAUS: H-Helen, c-come h-home, D-Dear!

HELEN (aside): That glaux was our best wedding pressy. Men are never satisfied.

MENELAUS (through horn) C-come home! S-save everyone gr-grief!

KASSANDRA (as HELEN glances at abduction bag): Don't even think it...They'd kill y'in a flash n'say we did it. War'd roll on, it's fated: fires, earthquakes --

HELEN: Blood in the streets, yeah...Gosh we've a lot to look forward to.

MENELAUS (through bullhorn): I'll h-have to k-k-kill him then! I want a d-d-duel!

HELEN (through bullhorn): Will you kindly for Pete's sake go away, Menelaus? I don't mean you're not a nice person. We were too young, it was stupid -- look, I'm not the only woman in the world!

MENELAUS (sniffling through bullhorn): At l-least sh-show me your f-face!

AKHILLES (through cupped hands): Up on the rampart, Foxy! Y'know y'wanna!

HELEN (through bullhorn): It just fires up both armies.

WARRIORS, OFF (a tumult of voices, chanting): Helen, Helen, Helen!

MENELAUS (whining through bullhorn): P-please. Pr-pretty please!

BYNOMOS (aside): I whined like that, I'd get knocked into th'middle of next week.

HAROLD (on bullhorn returned by HELEN): Trojans, maintain gate defense!

AGAMEMNON (on bullhorn taken from MENELAUS): Company Alpha, form for civil engineering; Beta force, it's your day to raid.

HERA (as MOST ARGIVES EXIT): Lead a charge, Somebody -- be a mensch!

REPORTER (consulting notes): What about these heavy looting casualties lately?

AGAMEMNON (drunkenly): Significant gains are being realized -- commodities highly useful to th'war effort. Our position's been considerably strengthened.

REPORTER (turning to ODYSSEUS): Is the haul worth the losses?

ODYSSEUS: Judge for yourself. Head out with Beta force, unless you'd rather take in the theatre groundbreaking.

REPORTER: No more local hostilities?

ODYSSEUS: Well, they tend to go downhill from here.

AKHILLES (through cupped hands): Buncha crummy chickens! (As ATHENA whispers cues) Spineless lily-livered gutless fraidycats!

KASSANDRA (through cupped hands): You're arrogant a**holes!...(As HEKUBA covers BYNOMOS' ears.) I'm on a mission from God, Ma. Apollo's word is upon me.

APHRODITE (squealing to APOLLO): You said that? I can't believe you said that!

APOLLO (as HELEN and IMMORTALS stare): Actually I said "hubristic terrorists."

AKHILLES (clucking): Chickens! Trojan chickens!

ARES: You Greeks are chickens, too -- if you had any balls, you'd storm the walls!

GRACES LED BY HERA: Argive heroes, storm these walls!
Show these Trojans you've got balls!

APOLLO (rising to shout): Thy Argive pride, it presageth a fall!

KASSANRA (through horn): Right, so get back to your ships, Pricks!

GRACES LED BY APHRODITE: Push 'em back, push 'em back to their ships!
Troy's for Trojans! Greeks are pricks!

AKHILLES: Crazy Kassie wears combat boots!

APOLLO (smitten): Lo, she doth.

KASSANDRA (displaying boots proudly): To stomp Greek cowards with! Who attacks defenseless harbor towns, huh? Not us Trojans! Who swipes an unarmed priestess? Just a kid! A maiden sworn to Phoebus Apollo!

IMMORTALS (a collective gasp excluding All-Knowing ZEUS, who already knew): No!

APOLLO (rising again): Dawn of the day of righteous vengeance, hail!

KASSANDRA (after listening to APOLLO): Got it...(Through horn): Thinkya rule the universe, Dickheads? Well, last night you went too f***in far!

ZEUS (laughing as APOLLO blushes): Some gift she has for paraphrase.

REPORTER: You have a priestess on the premises? Where are ladies' quarters?

ODYSSEUS (lewdly): No Y.W.C.A. 'til next year's budget. She's at A.G.'s place.

(AGAMEMNON grinns drunkenly as CHRISSY PEEKS ON. In "Dolly Parton" wig and towel, she waves from door of HQ hut.)

AGAMEMNON: I like her.

AKHILLES (to REPORTER): My best broad's just as hot.

ODYSSEUS: Super photo opp -- gold, silver, slave girls!

AGAMEMNON (giggling): I really like her.

REPORTER: My readers, they're Delphians,remember? Apt to take a dim view of a priestess kidnap.

ODYSSEUS (changing tunes): Don't get the wrong idea, golly. Mere show of strength; she'll be returned in good order.

ZEUS: That I gotta go along with.

KASSANDRA (through horn): Free the priestess Chryseis!

AGAMEMNON (laughing drunkenly): I like her better than my wife!

HELEN (to APHRODITE): Knowing Klytemnestra -- gosh, surprise.

HERA: Enough I've heard, Athena -- get that little priestess packed!

KASSANDRA (aside): Personally I don't think she has a real vocation, but I'm deputized...(Through bullhorn) Name your ransom for Chrissy; I'm authorized to deal.

AGAMEMNON (taking bullhorn): No deals.

(Seeing APOLLO rise again -- this time placing arrow in silver bow -- ATHENA whispers to ODYSSEUS, who urgently reports)

ODYSSEUS: A.G., I really think you'd better.

ATHENA (raising cafe tray as a shield for ODYSSEUS as APOLLO fires) Incoming!

(ATHENA's tray deflects the first of many arrows fired by APOLLO as he laughs maniacally. ARGIVES scramble for cover.)

Black.


Scene Five

Night. On theologeion, APOLLO -- in spotlight -- fires arrows down at dark apron. As HELEN writes, POLLUX ENTERS from behind column and sets basket on desk.

HELEN: More veggies!...(Reaching in basket to find clay tablets) Argive casualty lists -- all their latest Styx crossings! Thanks, Kastor. (Moving tablets away with a giggle as he shakes his head) Geez, Pollux, whatever would I do with these?

POLLUX: Keep your story balanced.

HELEN: Story?...I, uh, compose a little poetry...(Pretending to read from diary) "Roses are red; rubies are redder. Posies are good to get; jewelry is better."

POLLUX: But you're writing a chronicle --

HELEN: Kastor told!...(Biting her lip) You didn't mention it to Mama?

POLLUX: We're all glad you've picked up a hobby besides courting mass love.

HELEN (after a scowl): Some days I'd go stark-raving rubber-ducky without it. Talk about housebound. Can't even hit the beach except during funeral truces.

POLLUX: Siege must be a b***h for a party girl...(Reading over her shoulder as HELEN reviews lists and calculates on abacus) "Apollo, majorly upset about the Chrissy issue, aimed his sharp arrows with a fierce twang from his silver bow. First he zapped the mules and nimble dogs, then the men. For more than a week, he's been sniping. Funeral pyres blaze day and night"...Not bad, Sis. I especially like the "nimble dogs." Good image.

HELEN: 'Course we'd look nimble, too, dodging Bubba's arrows.

POLLUX (examining picture-urns on desk): How're the boys?

HELEN (smiling at urns): All perfectly normal, so far: Black sheep for our lot.

POLLUX (tentatively presenting another urn): I saw Hermione today.

HELEN (examining girl's image on urn): Can't tell much from these. She's not --

POLLUX (sadly): Beautiful.

HELEN: Sh**. Is she happy?

POLLUX: Yourself all over, except for Menelaus' red hair. And very bright --

HELEN: I asked about happy.

POLLUX: Who's happy?

HELEN: Gahds, Greeks are such drama queens; everything's gotta be a tragedy...So what's new at Mykenae? Orestes still have that scar where Kay dropped him?

POLLUX: Haven't actually popped in there lately. I saw Hermione at Sparta. Tyndareus took her home -- felt the Pelopids were becoming a bad influence.

HELEN: Orestes was always a weird child.

POLLUX: More neurotic than ever, now that Kay has a lover. (As HELEN gasps) Little Elektra's showing a nasty streak, too. It'll all end in tears.

HELEN: You could have a real chirpy chat with Kassie.

POLLUX (going behind column with a wave): I'm past deadline already.

(POLLUX EXITS, APOLLO fires, HELEN studies Hermione-urn, pacing.)

HELEN (after a huge "bite the bullet" sigh): Auntie A!

APHRODITE (ENTERING theologeion): Now you're speaking to me?

HELEN: This is business. About Hermione.

APHRODITE (looking into far distance): Pretty little thing. With only slaves and Tyndareus to guide her, mama-less, she's learning chess and reading her eyes out...(Looking away from this cruel vision) I can't watch.

HELEN: I want you to enroll her.

APHRODITE (grinning): I can't remember when I last smelled a sacrifice from you.

HELEN: I'll roast doves tomorrow.

APHRODITE: Promises, promises.

HELEN (pouring out wine): This oughta tide y'over.

APHRODITE (gagging): Plonk!

HELEN (as APHRODITE eyes perfume atomizer on desk): It's my last bottle!

APHRODITE (as HELEN spritzes scent and waves it at her): Little more, more. 'Til it hurts. We're talking sacrifice. (Snapping fingers) Chariot's on its way, Darlin.

HELEN (as floor shakes and mufffled bull's roar sounds): Pop, stop the bull -- I will not have you bringin girls into our cellar!...(As shaking continues) Pop!

APHRODITE (laughing as tremor ceases): That old debt to Poseidon needs payin. Apollo's bill, though -- could be he's taking it out in trade.

(APHRODITE elbows APOLLO as KASSANDRA ENTERS via ramp in trenchcoat, shades and fedora.)

KASSANDRA (cheering APOLLO): Thud! Zing! Pow! Attaway, Deadeye!

APOLLO (aside, proudly): My closest friends call me Deadeye.

(As APHRODITE EXITS, laughing, KASSANDRA reaches megaron.)

HELEN: Where've you been?

KASSANDRA: Top-secret negotations.

HELEN: Messing around with Apollo! Bet he letcha use his bow.

KASSANDRA: Don't tell Ma; she'll b***h me out.

HELEN: It wasn't combat, just painless death-arrows.

KASSANDRA (telling a secret): They're not necessarily painless.

(To sounds of ARGIVE SENTINELS moaning and barfing on dark apron, FAUX-HELENS ENTER with torches, acting nursy. The afflicted are escorted or carried off. ALL on apron EXIT.)

KASSANDRA: Bet Apollo's arrows are taking out more Argives than the troops are... (Ss HELEN shows lists) They log it that way officially -- "Apollo's Arrows!"

HELEN: As causa death, "loathsome scourge" doesn't sound glamorous...All these euphemisms, wow -- like my tapestry.

KASSANDRA: You're really serious about this Phrygiad?

HELEN: Sounds too much like an appliance. I've retitled it --

KASSANDRA: Troiad?

HELEN: Way dumb. Whatcha think of The Iliad?

KASSANDRA: Hm, named for Ilium. Has a ring.

HELEN (completing calculations) With your plague on top of battle losses, the Greek geeks are down to half strength.

KASSANDRA: Damn shame we have to call it off now. Aggie's finally giving the chick back. Ceasefire starts at dawn.

HELEN: Why now?

APOLLO (calling down): Step-Mummy.

KASSANDRA: I'll tell it; you keep getting those last licks in...(As APOLLO resumes firing and HELEN takes notes) Hera got Akhilles to call an assembly and ask Aggie if the guys could talk to a prophet about how to get right with Apollo.

HELEN: Polite. Like maybe somebody else besides Aggie screwed up.

KASSANDRA: Then Kalchus said he had psychic gifts from Apollo and Akhilles vowed to protect him, so Kalchus leveled. Chrissy was the prob; she had to go. Offerings, too. Well, Aggie said he'd only give her up for a fresh prize and threatened to snag Akhilles' floozy, so Akhilles tried to kill him -- but he didn't.

HELEN: I'll guess --

APOLLO (calling down): Step-Mummy.

KASSANDRA (after a hard stare at APOLLO, who again resumes firing): Hera sent Athena down to stop him with a bribe, so Akhilles backed off. But he called Agamemnon every name in the book. (As Helen notes) "Thief, schemer, drunken sot, unconscionable cur with the eyes of a dog, the courage of a doe." (As HELEN laughs) Then he stormed off to sulk. Goons came for the girl and Akhilles vowed Aggie'd regret it. Akhilles may take his Myrmidons home.

HELEN: He's clearing out -- no more Akhilles, no more war!

KASSANDRA (going into a trance): I can't see it.

HELEN: Right. (Quoting KASSANDRA) "Fire, earthquakes, blood in the streets --"

KASSANDRA: Later. What I see at the mo' is him on the shore -- Akhilles praying and weeping, and rising swiftly like a mist from the grey watery wilderness is --

APOLLO: His mummy!

(Dayight rises as Akhilles' MYRMIDONS ENTER from theatre rear. Chanting, they march down aisle as honor guard for AKHILLES, PATROKLUS and XANTHUS. ZEUS ENTERS above and sits, tapping his feet.)

MYRMIDONS (augmented by voices of many more, off): 1-2-3-4, we won't rage your f***in war!
5-6-7-8, not without Akhilles the Great!
To him we Myrmidons are sworn!
They call us ants 'cause we're a swarm!
You need us, we are thousands strong!
Make Agamemnon say he's wrong!
You need our might, you need our nerve!
So treat our prince like he deserves!

AKHILLES (aside, urging applause as MYRMIDONS march by HQ): Catchy, huh?

HELEN (trading "hi" waves with AKHILLES): What a prima donna! Gotta admit he's aging well, though. Kinghell confidence level, too -- like he's in a really safe place...(Breaking up) Relatively.

AKHILLES (nudging PATROKLUS forward for a bow): My pal Patroklus wrote that march. Pat, treat the king to another chorus.

XANTHUS (calling into HQ): We know you're in there, Aggie! You never fight!

MYRMIDONS (directed by PATROKLUS): We demand the gal you stole!
And better throw in lotsa gold!
Without us your brave cause is lost
'Cause Zeus said so and Zeus is boss!

HERA (rushing onto theologeion, howling outrage): Say what?

AKHILLES: So, Pat, see if he's ready to apologize.

(PATROKLUS enters hut and is hurled back out. AKHILLES shrugs and leads MYRMIDONS, XANTHUS and PATROKLUS up aisle.)

MYRMIDONS: You'll be begging soon enough!
Almighty Zeus is mighty tough!
When you are ass-deep in gore,
you'll come crying "Save the Store!"
1-2-3-4, you can't win this f****in war!
5-6-7-8! Without us, you're just fightin Fate!

(MYRMIDONS EXIT laughing. ZEUS laughs, too; HERA's dumbstruck.)

HELEN: Spoiled rotten, just like his mama! Pop can't say no to her 'cause she's the only one who ever got away with saying it to him. If they'd had a son, he'd have been stronger and overthrown Zeus. Also she saved Pop's ass once. When Thetis of the Silver Feet comes begging, she gets anything she wants!

KASSANDRA: Why silver feet?

HERA (pointing to theologeion floor): I know these tracks; they're like slug-slime! (Calling, off) Hebe, clean this mess already!

(Scared HEBE ENTERS with mop, sponge and pail. Cleaning, she follows HERA, who follows circuitous slime trail to ZEUS.)

KASSANDRA: Earth to Helen -- why silver feet?

HELEN (eyes on theologeion): It's another euphemism, Kassie.

HERA: Want creatures from the deep, go to their house! Dripping, disgusting, ugh! The knees, Hebe, scrub! To your father, a water-nymph has been kneeling! And the chin; where has this chin been?...(As ATHENA ENTERS, cracking up) No time to laugh is this. Making vows to Thetis of the Silver Feet he's been; don't step in anything. Akhilles skips a battle and your papa aids the Trojans --

HELEN (getting it): Kass, it's true -- with Akhilles off the field, Pop's with us.

HERA: Dread Son of Kronus, how could you?

ATHENA: Daddy didn't explain?

ZEUS: That would require getting a word in.

ATHENA: He's just coaxing 'em outa the woodwork. They go on offense, Aggie gets desperate, he makes it up with Akhilles. We'll finally see some real action.

ZEUS (patting ATHENA): Y'nailed it, Bright Eyes. Wise girl you are, Little Athena.

(As ZEUS is kissed by HERA, HELEN mimes "gag me" and PARIS ENTERS megaron from palace interior, sleepily groping for armor.)

KASSANDRA (going to help): Running late as usual, Brother Sloth?

PARIS: Bearing sick tidings as usual, Sister Scaremonger?

KASSANDRA: No need to panic -- yet. I hear your father-in-law's with us for a change. Today we can't lose!

HELEN (joining them with a panicked look): Kassie, no!

PARIS (with a widening grin)Can't lose?

KASSANDRA: Not with Akhilles sidelined.

PARIS (his grin wider): Can't even possibly lose?...(Running to ramp) Hektor, open that gate! We're breaking out -- we're driving those Argives into the sea!

HELEN (moving onto terrace as ZEUS laughs): Me and my big beautiful mouth.

(HELEN touches unkissed lips as PARIS EXITS; he RE-ENTERS instantly -- manhandled up walkway by HEKTOR and DEIPHOBOS.)

DEIPHOBOS: Looytune we got for a brother. Can't take the strain --

HEKTOR: F***in useless. You're taking over Pretty Boy's command, Deiphobos.

PARIS: The hell you are! Dammit, Hektor, open that gate!

HEKTOR: Sure, ask the Greeks in, send invitations...(To HELEN) Put Aphrodite's gift to women back to bed.

PARIS: But today's our hot break!

DEIPHOBOS (to PARIS while eying HELEN): Yours is every day...(To HELEN) You can put me to bed anytime, Baby.

HELEN AND PARIS (together): In your dreams!

DEIPHOBOS (ducking KASSANDRA's punch with a leer): Nightly.

HERA (to ZEUS over scuffle below): An opportune time this'd be for an omen.

ZEUS: Omen you want, Gold-Throned Hera, omen you get.

KASSANDRA (looking up): Hey, look -- it's an eagle! And it's on our right --

PARIS: Zeus' go-ahead sign!...What'd I tell ya? God's on our side.

APHRODITE: Darlin, some of us always were! You might spare a teensy thought for Ares, Butcher of Men and Sacker of Towns, and for Aphrodite --

APOLLO (waving): And faithful Apollo, hard by your side . Look on me, Kassandra -- lo, t'is I.

KASSANDRA: Oh, hi.

HELEN: Make that gods on your side, Paris -- plural...(As PARIS EXITS with HEKTOR and DEIPHOBOS) And whatever you do, Hon, don't be a hero!

(ATHENA grins as warcries resume. APHRODITE grins as they stop.)

APHRODITE (sweetly): Sounds like a truce to me.

ATHENA: Can we maybe work in some war between truces?

APHRODITE: I thought we might go for the duel...(To ZEUS) For damage containment. Winner takes Helen, goods and all.

ZEUS (to glares from HERA and ATHENA): Duel was always an option.

APHRODITE: Brighten up, Gals, there'll be a barbeque. Loadsa fat thighs -- you can have mine, Hera...Then it's Paris versus Menelaus --

HELEN: Hey!

HERA: So who else should it be?

APOLLO: Lo, let these gallant rivals vie at archery.

HERA: Swords!

ATHENA: Spears!

APHRODITE: I had in mind sort of a song contest.

APOLLO (plucking lyre): Lyres, then.

ATHENA (climbing into ZEUS' lap): Long spears. To the death. Right, Daddy?

Black.

Scene Six

Same day, now with a multi-tiered air of festival...On apron is a beach party. Grilling sacrifices, ARGIVES and SLAVE GIRLS in tropical gear drink, nosh, watch MENELAUS throw spears, place bets with ODYSSEUS under "Menelaus 10 to 1" sign and dance as MUSES sing, "If y'wanna be happy for th'resta your life, never make a pretty woman your wife"...On terrace, VENDORS hawk blobs and wine to TROJANS. Among TROJAN WOMEN in mourning black is HELEN, who sits morosely on steps by her bag on wheels, eyed by DEIPHOBOS. (NOTE: Not shown are Hektor and Agamemnon -- measuring ground on dueling field.)...Above, HERA's in usual robes and shaded by umbrella, but OTHER GODS sunbathe in swimwear. EROS plays with beach toys; APHRODITE lotions ARES; IRIS and HEBE serve drinks. ZEUS ENTERS singing "ugly wife" tune and gets dark looks from HERA.

HERA (as ZEUS sheds robe to reveal loud swimtrunks): Oy vey.

(ZEUS thunders. APHRODITE sheds coverup to reveal gold bikini.)

APHRODITE: No rain, huh, Zeusy? I really needta catch some rays...(Tossing wrap at ATHENA) I'd wrap up if I were you. Another century, you'll be a crinkled wreck...(Lying on chaise with reflector by face) Ambrosia punch, please, Iris.

(As IRIS quickly brings uniced drink to APHRODITE, ZEUS' personal cup-bearer GANYMEDE ENTERS with snowy drink.)

APHRODITE (joined by OTHER GODS, crying): Ooh, you got snow! I want snow!

GANYMEDE (snippy ON EXIT as GODS clamor): I serve only The Omnipotent.

(IRIS sighs toward distant mountaintop and puts on heavy coat.)

APHRODITE (as IRIS EXITS): Hey, Helios, hold it there, Sunshine; angle's perfect! ...Aeolus, be a sugarplum; puff that nasty little cloud away. And stick around.

HELEN (to APHRODITE): Like two really great guys are about to duel over me, and all you can think about's your suntan! APHRODITE: Sorry, brava. You're the woman of the hour, and glory's being heaped upon your husbands, too. Must be a tremendous satisfaction to you.

HELEN: Satisfaction! To have men dying on my account?

APHRODITE (over laughter of IMMORTALS): This is not exactly new news.

HELEN: These are the fathers of my children!

ZEUS (offended): Think the Elysian Fields don't have V.I.P. quarters?

HELEN: Pop, I know it's nice there. Kastor sent the brochure Special-Dolphin.

HERA: He remember the free drink coupons?

APHRODITE (shouting off): Where's my drink, Iris?

HELEN (choked up): They're both scared of the dark.

APHRODITE: It's just dim, kinda moody; undergloom's an overstatement, trust me.

(Shivering, IRIS ENTERS with snowballs and evidently considers throwing them but puts them into drinks. APHRODITE secretly signs "okay" to HELEN, who gives her a "huh?" look, then sees DEIPHOBOS near.)

HELEN (rising): Keep away from me, Deiphobos; I've got a restraining order on you.

DEIPHOBOS: Nothin's restrainin me if Paris bites it; you're mine...I'll even marry ya.

HELEN: Huge thrill, but I'm not short of husbands.

(Seeing hourglasses empty, HAROLD and ODYSSEUS AS HERALDS blast trumpets together -- painfully out of tune. APOLLO ENTERS, holding ears. As he plucks lyre, KASSANDRA hums note.)


HERA (to APOLLO as trumpets tune): A nice girl you should find yourself and settle down, Apollo. Whaddaya see in that trashmouth Kassandra?

APHRODITE: He only goes for emotionally unavailable women, White-Armed Hera.

HERA: A good girl you could also use, Ares.

ARES (his admiring gaze on APHRODITE as he lotions her): For what?

(Tuned trumpets blast as, armored, MENELAUS EXITS with ARGIVES and SLAVES to dueling field. TROJANS look for their hero. Not there. KASSANDRA EXITS into palace -- RE-ENTERING with PARIS in pajamas. HELEN starts down stairs but is barred by DEIPHOBOS.)

KASSANDRA (gathering armor for PARIS): Ma, where's his cuirass?

HECUBA: I took it to polish, but I put it back.

DEIPHOBOS (calling genially from rampart, still holding HELEN back): Take mine.

HELEN (suspicious): Take Lycaon's!

(KASSANDRA adjusts cuirass, fastens it on PARIS' chest and adds panther skin, sword in shoulder harness and plumed helmet, then follows PARIS to terrace, toting shield and spears she hones as he bows to cheers. Eyes turn to HELEN, so DEIPHOBOS must let her join PARIS in a group hug with PRIAM and HEKUBA, who wipes away a tear.)

HEKUBA: My Paris in a duel -- I never thought I'd live to see the day.

PRIAM: I always knew he had it in him. Someplace. Not taking the boys?

PARIS: We thought it might be too much for them.

HEKUBA (unconvinced): Well, you know best.

MENELAUS, OFF (through bullhorn): Hope you're p-p-packed, H-Helen!

HELEN (to PARIS): It isn't too late to call things off.

DEIPHOBOS (from rampart): Hektor and A.G. finished measuring out the ground.

HELEN: I could just go now -- couldn't stand t'have you die because I was willful.

PRIAM: You were driven. Stop beating yourself up.

DEIPHOBOS: Now they're casting the lots. First throw goes to -- Paris!

PARIS (with another graceful bow to cheers): Moi?

(HELEN worries when ATHENA EXITS sneakily above. HAROLD trumpets and EXITS with HECUBA, PRIAM and TROJANS via ramp. PARIS takes weapons from KASSANDRA as they move to exit.)

DEIPHOBOS (catching up): It's too dangerous for Helen down there... (As PARIS and KASSANDRA share look of reluctant agreement) I'll watch her n'the kids.

KASSANDRA (after a beat): Watch yourself or you'll answer to me.

PARIS (as HELEN combs his hair and brushes speck off panther skin): It'll be fine.

HELEN: It can't be.

PARIS: You still love him?

HELEN: They all have -- qualities..Hermione needs him, like the boys n'I need you.

(PARIS and HELEN kiss, then he waves to APHRODITE, who signs "thumbs up." PARIS EXITS with KASSANDRA.)

DEIPHOBOS (on throne as HELEN turns back): C'mon, try it on for size.

HELEN: I won't sit in Ma's throne.

DEIPHOBOS: Who's talking thrones?

HAROLD (PEEKING ON over cheers and boos, off, and above): Paris hurled truly! (As HELEN gasps) But the stout round shield of Menelaus didn't break through.

DEIPHOBOS (flexing muscles): Pity Paris doesn't have my upper body strength.

HELEN (as ATHENA ENTERS above, spewing fluid from chest): Athena blocked.

APOLLO APHRODITE, ARES and APOLLO: Fie! No fair, blocking!

HERA (with a grin, tossing her a towel): Ichor you've got all over you. Don't drip.

HAROLD (PEEKING ON as cheers and boos sound, off, and above) Menelaus hurled truly and the stout round shield of Paris did break through! So did his cuirass and he's cut...(As HELEN rushes toward him) But he swerved!

DEIPHOBOS, HERA and ATHENA (as HELEN halts): No fair, swerving!

HAROLD (PEEKING ON): Now Menelaus is going after Paris with his sword!

HELEN, APHRODITE, ARES AND APOLLO: No fair, swords!

(APHRODITE EXITS with sun reflector and quickly RE-ENTERS with it on her head, dented. HAROLD PEEKS ON again.)

HELEN (before HAROLD can speak): Menelaus broke his sword on Paris' helmet...(As ATHENA strangles APHRODITE with robe sash) Now he's choking Paris with the strap, right?...(Racing to rampart as DEIPHOBOS chases) Ga-ahds, it's really happening! Save him!

APHRODITE (gasping): Save him?! (As ARES frees her by grabbing ATHENA) Sea mist, Poseidon! Aeolus! Heavy mist!

(Black robe falling open to show glossy white gown, HELEN reaches rampart and, just as APHRODITE opens her top, DEIPHOBOS rips HELEN's. HELEN and APHRODITE face dueling field -- stone-quiet.)

HAROLD (PEEKING ON warily): The helmet strap broke, in case you haven't heard. And there's a funny mist rolling in; it's turning --

HELEN (aside, facing front, as HAROLD and DEIPHOBOS freeze, gaping): Gold. Happens whenever the veil between worlds thins.

APHRODITE (on exit to HELEN): Hold it, Darlin.

(APHRODITE EXITS and quickly RE-ENTERS via ramp, disguised as an old spinning-woman. HELEN turns to see her and does a double-take, then closes her robe and spins back to rampart.)

HELEN (looking down): Ga-ahds, where is he?

APHRODITE (dragging HELEN down steps): Back in that fragrant well-made bed of yours, mad with desire...If I were you, I'd hurry.

(APHRODITE and HELEN EXIT as MEN begin to rouse, puzzled.)

MENELAUS, OFF: Wh-where'd he go?...Sp-speak up, P-Paris! Wh-where are you?

HERA and ATHENA: No fair, hiding!

HERA (howling): In this travesty you conspired, O Son of Kronos of the Crooked Ways and getting more like Daddy every day!...(As ZEUS shrugs) All Aeolus can do is blow, but Marshaller of the Clouds you are and you marshalled!

ATHENA: Menelaus wins by default!

ZEUS (slyly): So he takes Helen and a pile a'gold, but the city survives.

HERA (after reflection): A draw we'll hafta call it. Athena mixed in, too...Okay she mixes in again? This truce we need broken by th'losers.

(At ZEUS' nod, ATHENA EXITS. DEIPHOBOS and HAROLD also EXIT down ramp. GODS rise to watch -- except All-Knowing ZEUS and HERA, who also knows this time. Mist thins rapidly.)

WARRIORS, OFF: What the --? We had a truce here! Who hit him? Get him!!

APOLLO (modest): Lo, I heard the prayer of Pandarus. Menelaus is shot.

APHRODITE (ENTERING above, snarly): Athena blocked.

AGAMEMNON, OFF (as MENELAUS ENTERS, staggers onto apron): If your end has come, my brother, how bitterly I shall lament you!

MENELAUS (checking): B-bounced off my b-belt...(To sky) B-blessed Athena!

ATHENA (PEEKING ON apron): Over here, Dude..

AGAMEMNON, OFF: Take five; you can't die or the boys'll head for Akhaia...Diomedes, get th'lead out! Fight like your dad did for Seven-Gated Thebes --

MENELAUS (shouting, off): W-we're the ones who c-c-captured Thebes!

AGAMEMNON, OFF: My error.

ATHENA (PEEKING ON apron to shout up): Y'see Antilochus drill Echepolus' head?...(As HERA cheers) And Simoisius -- Ajax just got him in the chest.

ARES (kissing APHRODITE 'bye): I'm outa here.

APOLLO (as ARES EXITS) Drive on, Trojan charioteers! Argives are not made of stone or iron. And still Akhilles is not fighting; he is sulking by the ships!

HERA: Here comes Odysseus -- he got Democoon! In one temple n'out the other!

APOLLO (cheering): Lo, Prince Antiphus hath smote Leucas -- right where it hurts.

HERA: Aw, Diores and Peiros went down...What's Heph up to out there?

APHRODITE: Wrapping Idaeus in night, looks like, so Diomedes can't nail him...(Calling) Yay, Hephy!...Ares, whereya goin with Athena?...A break! Not now!

(To warcries,MENELAUS EXITS. PARIS and HELEN ENTER megaron, looking f***ed out, and pause to polish his armor.)

HAROLD (PEEKING ON): We just lost Odius, Phaestus, Scamandrius, Phereclus --

HELEN (to PARIS): Phereclus built those cute ships of yours, didn't he?

HAROLD: Hektor said tell you Diomedes is running riot...He got Astynous, Abas, Hypeiron, Polyeidus, Zanthus, Thoon, your brothers Chromius and Echemmon --

HELEN: Better pitch in. Like y'know how Diomedes gets.

APHRODITE (calling down): Aeneas, Darlin, go get Pandarus to shoot that badass!

AENEAS, OFF: He just felled Pandarus, Mom!...(As HERA cheers): We keep hitting all their top guys, but they don't drop!...(After a scream) Gotta run...Yow!

APHRODITE (enraged): Ares! Get up from that riverbank and stop the bully now! He's attacking my Aeneas!...(Calling, off) Poor Baby, come to Mommy!

(APHRODITE AND APOLLO EXIT.)

APHRODITE, OFF: Eek, he cut my wrist! Apollo, catch Aeneas!

(APHRODITE ENTERS, holding her wrist, and climbs into ZEUS' lap.)

APHRODITE (to ZEUS): Look, that miserable son of Tyndeus is charging at Apollo!

APOLLO, OFF: Do not aspire to be the equal of the gods -- give way!...(PEEKING ON) Lo, that was a close one.

APHRODITE (to APOLLO): Where's Aeneas?

HERA (pointing down): Clobbered.

APOLLO (as APHRODITE sobs): Phantom stand-in; he's at the temple being healed.

HERA: No fair, phantoms!

APHRODITE (to APOLLO): Darlin, willya wake the Brazen War-god?

(APOLLO nods and EXITS again.)

HERA (shouting as lights dim): What's this?...(To ZEUS) Again you marshalled!

APHRODITE: Neat! Trojans know the neighborhood lots better than the Greeks.

HERA (to sky) Clouds, ungather -- scram!

ZEUS (laughing: Y'lack the touch, Hera.

(ATHENA ENTERS, shoves APHRODITE off ZEUS' lap and sits.)

ATHENA: So give us the blow-by-blow, Daddy.

ZEUS (tuning into All-Knowingness): Aeneas is back in action.

HERA: Nobody thinks that's a little strange, maybe?

ZEUS: Who can see but me?...Aeneas n'Hektor are kickin ass; Ares is with 'em...Almighty Me -- my grandson Tlepolemus has fallen to my son Sarpedon, and Sarpedon's hurt, too...Athena, what do you think you can do in the dark?

(ATHENA EXITS to battle again. APHRODITE takes ZEUS' lap.)

ZEUS (after a beat): She sure got Odysseus riled -- seven kills in nothing flat.

APHRODITE: How's Sarpedon?

ZEUS: Fainted under an oak tree, but he'll make it...Hektor just nailed six Argives.

HERA (EXITING with menace): Another rest, my Ares needs.

APHRODITE (squealing at huge thudding sound): Poseidon, no! Not the big one!

ZEUS: Ares fell. Big boy.

ARES, OFF (over loudest warcries yet): Diomedes has gone wild again. Willya stop that kill-crazy Athena?

ZEUS (thundering): Enough!...(As silence falls) Clouds to attention -- up and out!

(Visibility returns. HERA, ATHENA and APOLLO ENTER cowed. In megaron, HELEN and PARIS are caught in intimate pose as HEKTOR and DEIPHOBOS ENTER via ramp. PARIS rises.)

PARIS: Uh, Helen was just urging me to return to the front.

HEKTOR: Speed it up...(To HELEN) You join the girls at temple. They're taking their best dresses as offerings.

HELEN (helping PARIS arm): Flash clothes? But Auntie A's already backing us.

APHRODITE: No sh**...(Holding wound) I shed ichor -- actual ichor.

HELEN (believing she gets it): Oh, you mean -- they're for Apollo. He'd be pleased, but he's always been on our side.

APOLLO (pouting): It never hurts to say thank you.

DEIPHOBOS: They're to pacify Athena. She's supposed to be into embroidery.

HELEN: On your face...Have it your way, but I warnya -- she won't be interested.

APOLLO (glaring at ATHENA as warcries surge): Lo, this wicked strife must cease.

ATHENA (checking hour glass): We could squeeze in another duel.

HEKTOR (fired up by warcries): Man, we gotta get back out there!

ATHENA (rising, to APOLLO): He's revved. How about it?

APOLLO (weakly moving to leave with ATHENA): So challenge somebody, Hektor.

(ATHENA and APOLLO EXIT, as do HEKTOR, DEIPHOBOS and PARIS.)

HEKTOR (ON EXIT with PARIS): Think I may show you a real duel.

DEIPHOBOS (ON EXIT): That crap earlier, it still embarrasses me to think about it.

HELEN (shouting after them): It wasn't his fault the Queen of Rapture hid him in a magic mist and brought him home. Paris didn't ask her to!

HERA (firmly): A draw this one'll be also, I'm assuming...(Taking our flask as ZEUS nods) So an oath we'll drink on it. Any a'my pet towns y'wanna crush, I won't stand in your way. N'vice versa. (Giving flask to ZEUS after her gulp) Swear it.

(ZEUS holds his nose and swigs.)

HELEN: Pop, how can you do this to me?

ZEUS (as HERA EXITS with flask): Somebody waves that stuff in your face, you're susceptible. Talk about Water from Hell.

HELEN: You're pissed off at our team about Tlepolemus.

ZEUS: I love Sarpedon just as much.

HELEN: Enough to make him kill his own nephew. My nephew, too -- Tlepolemus was also one of my suitors, y'know?

ZEUS: Sure.

HELEN: Like Rhodes is colossal, but I couldn't see marrying my nephew, y'know?

ZEUS: Sure.

HELEN: Wasn't an age thing -- his pop died way before I hatched; Herakles went back to Prometheus -- but, mad enough, Tlepolemus mighta called me Aunt Helen. He married Polly on the rebound; pal of mine from drill team, y'know?

ZEUS: Sure.

HELEN: Is that all you can say?...(After a beat) Okay, we both know you know. So about Paris -- he is your great-great-great-great grandson --

ZEUS: Kid, sometimes it's a Fate thing...I'm gonna lose a son before long.

HELEN: Not step-bro Sarpedon -- he's the best fighter we've got.

ZEUS: Tlepolemus was pretty hot stuff for the Argives, too. No Herakles but --

HELEN: Definitely your grandson.

ZEUS: You'll represent the family at the funerals.

HELEN: Pop, I can't show my face at those things anymore. The way folks look at me! Even Hektor won't let his kids play at our place lately. I'll send flowers.

ZEUS: What would your mama say to that?

HELEN: Really nice flowers...No 'mums, no carnations...(After a beat) Oh, okay.

Black.

Curtain Falls

Interlude

Outside curtain AGAMEMNON, MENELAUS and ODYSSEUS confer in torchlight, sitting around amphora. AGAMEMNON as ever, slugs wine. From dueling field, off, old KING NESTOR (another role for DIRECTOR/TYNDAREUS/PRIAM) ENTERS with burly AJAX (DIOMEDES/DEIPHOBOS in bushy beard), who wears Hektor's sword.

ARGIVES (jeering): Fine match, Ajax -- unbeatable hero.

AJAX: So Prince Hektor isn't beatable, either.

NESTOR: A pity you departed when the herald called time.
The duellers' reconciliation was sublime.

AGAMEMNON (as AJAX shows sword, scabbard and baldric): Parted chums, hm?

NESTOR: As is rightly done. Back in the old days --

AGAMEMNON: Nestor, hey -- no replays.

ODYSSEUS (admiring): What did y'swap for that?

AJAX: My belt!

ODYSSEUS: Some deal he dealt.

AJAX (with a shrug): Guy digs purple.

ODYSSEUS: Blends well with black and blue. We'll trounce him yet --

NESTOR (to AGAMEMNON): But now we need a truce.

MENELAUS: No! Not a-n-nother!

AGAMEMNON: My dear aggrieved brother,
we have cartloads to be buried and coast towns await pillage.

ODYSSEUS: Nope, we've hit every village. All the gold's bagged.

AGAMEMNON: And home-grown beauties?

ODYSSEUS: 'Fraid we're down to the hags, Ag.

NESTOR (inspecting apron with AJAX as sky brightens): During this interlude, we'll dig; place stakes.
Trench there; wall here -- in case they should draw near.

(Trumpeting, HAROLD ENTERS with white flag, his robe bloody to the knees.)

HAROLD: Wading in gore -- it's a horror! Care for a time-out?

AGAMEMNON (raising scepter): Sworn duly: truce -- by Hera and Zeus.

HAROLD: Now hear this offer -- gold for your coffers, all Helen brought here and more.
But she stays and you go.

MENELAUS (wrenching AGAMEMNON's hand off his mouth): N-no!

NESTOR (ushering HAROLD off): Truce is on, though.

AGAMEMNON (slugging wine in celebration as HAROLD EXITS): Bravo!

AJAX (picking up spade and shoving one at ODYSSEUS): Let's go --

ODYSSEUS (laying spade down quickly): Work before sacrifice?

NESTOR: Not at all nice. That's dicing with Fate!

ODYSSEUS (as ALL see AGAMEMNON finishing amphora contents): Just great.

AGAMEMNON (as OTHERS glare): Aw, let building begin; th'wine ship's due in from Lemnos
-- prob'ly tomorrow.

Black.



Fourth curtain's rising!