Eurydice’s Return to Hades

Eurydice, a lyre’s song lives on
through Orpheus, who sings his love in pain.
And all because he could not wait, she’s gone,
dying not once in youth, but twice in vain.

A viper’s venom fell Eurydice, 
dragging her down to the nightmare of shades.
To Hell followed O to set his Bride free,
by song and tune, and sweet serenades. 

Persephone, so taken with his plea,
gave to Eurydice her life right then,
so long as Orpheus would guarantee
not to look back ‘til at home once again.

Yet he did glanced back, ignoring her decree,
and so came home without Eurydice.

The Rape of Lucretia 

Lucretia, though young, no less was a sage,
her rape by the King the subject of songs, 
the singing recalling her terrible rage,
defeating the Crown and righting its wrongs.

The rage in her loins spawned the birth of a plan,
to die at the hands of her father’s lone daughter, 
but before that dread day she summoned each man,
demanding the rapist who wrought her.

Each man took an oath—the royals must pay!
The oath-givers fought with those they commanded,
‘til they served up the Crown on a royal-free tray,
to Lucretia, as she had demanded
Thus, a new Roma conceived out of lust
grew to a polis, politically just.

Helen of Troy

She-Gods played Paris like a golden lyre,
each plucking his strings of desire with ease
until one such note set his loins on fire
and the flames of desire brought Troy to its knees.

Ghost Helen appeared as smoke in the rubble,
unaffected by the blaze she ignited, 
having bed both sides without any trouble,
oblivious to the war she incited.

From royal Greek Suitors she selected a mate,
binding all others in defense of the union.
So, when Paris seduced her, as was his fate,
blind Homer, the Poet, had something to chew on.

For lust and no more, great heroes are martyred, 
yet fair Helen wound up right where she started.

The Death of Dido

Look! The ashes of Carthage now smolder, 
royal remnants of love so one sided.
Did the Fates light the flames? ― Had he told her!
Venus appeared ― she MUST be abided.

Before the pyre of death was ignited,
her Highness learned of the trials of Troy,
about the wrongs the Aegean’s righted,
using the horse of Ulysses as ploy.

Goddess Juno drove Dido to madness,
keeping Aeneas from meeting his fate.
Poor Dido reaped all of the sadness,
as the Prince left to form a new state.

So Aeneas built Rome as was destined,
over the ashes of Dido, no question.


Medea’s explosive emotions
covered a spectrum wide, from love to hate,
focused on Jason—filled with devotion,
providing a way to win back his state.

Pelias, wrongful king in Thessaly,
usurped the throne in Jason’s loving Greece,
promising to return it,  as you will see,
in exchange for the precious Golden Fleece.

Medea helped steal it, killing her brother,
escaping her father with fleece in hand, 
on Jason’s word he’d marry no other.
So off they sailed to claim back his land.

But once they had children he left her bed
to wed Glauce, Princess of Corinth—instead.

A scorned and vengeful women, filled with rage,
she planned her next move—to do Jason harm.
Like a wild animal locked in a cage,
she murdered Glauce—and weathered the storm.

She was out of control, irrational,
making Jason pay for his wretched deeds.
But what could she do—more sensational?
She’d murder his children, life of her seeds.

No more need be said of this witch’s personas.
Could the Gods have been at fault once again,
as Euripides, Ovid and others have shown us? 
Or was Medea more forceful than men?

There’s much to learn from this tale today,
that women will fight to make their own way.

                  Oedipus Rex


The Gods degreed: King Laius of Thebes shall die,
at the very hands of a son no less,
and the prophecies of Gods never lie.
But can they be thwarted? ― That’s any one’s guess.

The Theban king, and Jocasta his wife,
the two made a pact, or so it seemed.   
They pierced the boy’s feet to end his new life,
then ordered a shepherd to finish the scheme.

But the very same shepherd refused to obey,
entrusting Oedipus, newborn and lame,
to the city of Corinth, a distance away,
where Polybos, its King, gave him his name.

Thus leaving the prophesy living and well,
and leaving Sophocles a tale to sell.

As a very young man, the prince was told
Corinthian blood never flowed through his veins,
yes, a prince he was, but not of that fold,
so to Delphi he headed where the oracle reins.

“Who are my parents?” he asked with great wonder.
“Is Polybos my father, or is there another?”
The oracle’s answer was something to ponder.
“You murder your father and sleep with your mother.”

That was as much as the oracle would sing,
but from what was said, the prince assumed more,
that his veins carried blood of Corinthian kings,
the rumors of his birth—merely folklore.

It was a tragic mistake, what Oedipus thought,
the needless suffering and deaths that it wrought.


Ironies of ironies, the prophesy grew
once the prince learned about it,
and ran far away after thinking he knew 
who his birth father was—refusing to doubt it.

He was born of Corinthian steel, 
not princely heir to a far away throne,
so believing the prophesy real,
he ran far from home, he traveled alone.

While avoiding Polybos, his “father”,
Oedipus invited death just the same 
by slaying a traveler ― yet never bothered
to ask the old traveler his name.

Sadly, because it was Laius he slaughtered,
he was destined to brother two daughters.


Not long after King Laius departed,
Sphinx made her home at the Theban front gate,
and her riddles got everything started 
when the prince answered rightly, according to fate.

Down dead went the Sphinx, opening the door
to Oedipus, who was crowned Theban king, 
who was handed the queen ― and problems galore.
The God’s only knew what the future would bring.

For a number of years Thebans lived without strife.
The royal house grew to six overall,
two sons exchanged a life for a life,
two daughters, one meek, the other stood tall.

This is the backend of Sophocles’ story
also the end of Thebes in its glory.


We see Oedipus years later, his city 
of Thebes ravaged by plague ― everything dead. 
Yet mighty Apollo showed no signs of pity,
laying blame at Thebes’ doorstep instead.  

“You must root out the murderous sin,”
the oracle at Delphi told Creon.
“The killer of Laius lies somewhere within
the borders of Thebes ― and nowhere beyond.”

Blind Teiresias, clairvoyant to Apollo,
chose Oedipus Rex as the sinner.
While his choice for the killer seemed hollow,
the clairvoyant was clearly the winner.

This was something the king would not believe,
insisting blind Teiresias take leave.


Consequences to hell, the truth never wanes
as Oedipus learned a fact from a lie, 
demanding the old shepherd begin to explain
how the son of Laius was never to die. 

The very same shepherd mentioned before
saw Oedipus beat down the king in disguise,
his blood running hot, enraged to the core,
the prince couldn’t hear the Gods or their cries.

The clarity of truth continued to last,
making it hopeless for the family to rise
in the shade of its incestuous past,
causing Jocasta to hang till she died.

All this Oedipus saw as it shut down his mind;
he stabbed out his eyes and forever went blind.

© 2010 Steve Shear