Put Women Back In The Story and Power: The Lioness’ Funeral
I’m at University of Illinois this week, working with their theatre department on a play I wrote, in collaboration with some other wonderful women artists (Barbara Pitts McAdams, Lisa Chess and Jacqui Dugal). The play is a bit of an absurd fantasia featuring six historical-literary queens rewriting their stories in a spa located on a fold of time in a dark matter universe engineered by their physicist spa attendants.
With women’s stories on my mind, this fable filtered to the surface of my consciousness again, but from a new angle. The moral has always seemed to be about sucking up to power, a theme that resonates in these amoral Roger Stonian times. What strikes me at this moment is the fate of the females.
The lion’s wife died. Everyone came running ASAP, to acquit themselves toward his highness. They offered all the words of consolation, which only increased the affliction. The lion alerted his domain that the funeral ceremony would be on such and such a day, at such and such location. His provosts would direct the ceremony and arrange the attendees. They would take note of who had come.
The royal abandoned himself to his wailing. His den reverberated. Lions have no other temple. Hearing his example, his entourage roared in their manner.
I define a court as this: a country where the people, be they sad, happy, ready for anything or indifferent, are whatever pleases the king. Or, if they can’t actually be so, they try to seem so; chameleon people, monkeys for their master. You could say that one spirit animates a thousand bodies. That’s where you see that people are nothing but marionettes.
To get back to the business at hand … the stag did not shed a tear. How could he do that? This death avenged him. The queen had, some time ago, strangled his wife and son. In short, he wasn’t crying. A flatterer tattled to the king, and even said he’d seen the stag laugh.
As Solomon said, the rage of a king is terrible, especially that of the lion. But the stag wasn’t familiar with that old story.
The monarch said: You puny forest creature. You laugh! You don’t follow the example of the keening voices. We will not touch your profane limbs with our sacred claws. Come, wolves. Avenge…