ROUND #1 CHALLENGE Knemon from Old Cantankerous

"You should have left me down there, you two. Down at the bottom of the well. Now that I am up here, alive, now that you’ve saved me, I must face up to the horrible state I’m in. You should have let me die down there. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean anything bad by it but I am a stubborn old man. No one will ever change me. I cannot change! 

Perhaps I was wrong on this one thing though and that is that I always believed that man is his own boss; that he can manage things all on his own and needs no one else’s help. Perhaps I was wrong on that matter but now, now that I’ve seen for myself that life is short and that it can end very abruptly I’ve learnt my lesson. I’ve learnt that I was wrong. The shortness of life and its ability to end so suddenly is a fact that I have never before understood.

That’s how far off the rails I was, by Hephaistos! I use to think that everyone’s life, with all the trickery and villainy that is thrown upon it from every quarter, well I never thought that there could be a man anywhere in the world who could honestly be good and helpful to his fellow man!

It was that fault in my thinking that had made me so hard, so difficult a man to deal with.

But now Gorgias has taught me this lesson and he has corrected this fault in my thinking. This is a lesson that comes from a noble and generous heart. And I say this because this is the man who, even though I have never allowed him to even knock on my door, let alone give him a hand with anything, a man I have never greeted, never ever said a kind word to him, he has saved my life!"

About Old Cantankerous/The Dyskolos:  The show takes place in the Attic countryside of the village of Phyle, at the shrine of the god Pan and the Nymphs. It begins with Pan telling the tale of how the misanthropic Knemon has forced his wife, Myrrhine, and stepson, Gorgias, to leave him and live in poverty. Knemon kept his daughter and his housekeeper. Feeling sorry for the girl, Pan decides to make a rich, young Athenian named Sostratus fall in love with Knemon's daughter. He causes them to meet, they fall in love instantly, but the girl tells Sostratus that her father will not consent to her marrying anyone who is not like her father. Sostratus thus begins hard labor in the fields, hoping to make a good impression on Knemon; unfortunately Knemon does not come to see him. In a series of comic episodes, Knemon's housekeeper accidentally drops a bucket and then a digging implement down a deep well, and Knemon falls in while attempting to retrieve them. He is rescued by Gorgias and Sostratus. Knemon is touched by their action and admits that he has been wrong to be so hateful. He adopts Gorgias and gives him legal power over his daughter. Gorgias grants permission for his stepsister's marriage to Sostratus and Gorgias marries Knemon's sister. Everyone is happy and celebrates in the festivals.

About Menander:

Menander (c. 342-290 BC), is the chief representative of what is known as Greek New Comedy. In 1958, Dyskolos ('Old Cantankerous') was discovered, becoming the only work ofMenander’s found almost entirely intact. His writings seem to have been extremely popular throughout the Greek-speaking world: hundreds of quotations from his plays are preserved in a variety of literary sources. Menander was a skillful constructor of plots, an imaginative deviser of situations, and a master of variety and suspense; his comedies focused on ordinary people and timeless lessons about everyday life and relationships. It is likely that Menander was one of the first playwrights to use the “love at first sight” trope that is still commonly used today.

Looking for a pronunciation guide for Hephaestus? Click here!  

© 2020 Milburn Stone Theatre at Cecil College

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