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WP's - well, Giraudoux's - No War in Troy


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What remains...

Example of diplomacy - I suppose it will be rather familiar to you, if you follow the daily news. It's an extract of Jean Giraudoux's famous drama The Trojan War will not take place (Tiger At The Gates; original La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu), France 1935(!). The play is just brilliant.

Ulysses One of the privileges of the great is to witness catastrophes from a terrace.

[2nd act, 13th scene]

Situation: The Trojan prince Paris has kidnapped queen Helen. The Greeks under Ulysses want to fetch back her, their ships are intending to land in Troy. The Trojan War is imminent.
Persons: Hector, the Trojan warlord, does not want to have a war. Busiris, an international legate and expert of international law, should judge the legal position.

(I'm sure one will find the complete text in the Internet.)


2nd act, 5th scene


Busiris My verdict, dear princes, after checking the case at the scene of action and subsequent hearing of witnesses is: the Greeks are responsible of a three time violation of the regulations of the international law against the Trojans. Permitting them the landing would mean to give up the legal title of being the insulted one, which guarantees you the sympathy of the whole world in this conflict.

Hector Explain it deeper.

Busiris First they have hoisted their flag at the fore topgallant spar and not at the upper topgallant spar. A warship, princes and dear colleagues, hoist its pennant at the fore gallant yard only as reply to the salute of a cattle transporting ship. Facing a town and its inhabitants it is the offence at all. By the way there is a leading case. Last year the Greeks have hoisted their flag at the fore gallant yard during sailing into the harbor of Ophea. Ophea has declared the war.

Hector And what has happened?

Busiris Ophea was defeated. There are no Ophea and Opheans further more.

[... Horrible.]

Busiris The extermination of a people does not affect its international moral position in any kind.

Hector Go on.

Busiris Second the Greek fleet has come into your waters grouped in the so- called frontal formation. On our latest congress it was applied for putting this into the section of the so called defensive-offensive measures. I succeeded in adjudging it the truly status of an offensive-defensive measure, so it directly is a veiled kind of the sea front, which is a veiled kind of the blockade, which means it is a violation of first degree. There is a leading case, too. Five years ago the Greek ships have created the frontal formation anchoring near Magnesia. Magnesia has declared the war within the same hour.

Hector Has it won the war?

Busiris It has lost it. No single piece of its walls exists further on. But my section of law does exist.

Hector Come to a conclusion.

Busiris The third violation is less serious. One of the Greek triremes has maliciously landed without permission. Its commander Ajax, the most brutal and dissolute one of the Greeks, is climbing up to the town abusing and reviling, shouting that he will kill Paris. Concerning the approach of international laws this violation might be ignored. Because it is a violation not committed in the prescribed manner.

Hector [...] Our town is not at all in the opinion to be offended by the Greeks.
So you will offer a judgement at once which will permit our senate a declaration that our visitors have made no violation, [...] therefore we are able to welcome them as guests and pay honor to them.


Busiris That doesn't meet the facts, Hector.

Hector My dear Busiris, we all know here that the jurisprudence is the most powerful school of imagination. Never a poet has more free-lance interpreted nature than a jurist reality.

Busiris The senate has asked me for a judgement, I have given it.

Hector And I, I ask you for an interpretation, that's much more juridical.

Busiris It is against my conscience.

Hector Your conscience has seen perishing Ophea, has seen perishing Magnesia and does it await the ruin of Troy without sorrow?


Find a truth that is saving us. If the right isn't an armor for the innocent ones, for what is it for? [...] Just to mention the case is very simple; if you won't find this truth we'll keep you here as long as the war will last.

Busiris Say what?

[... In war the right is imprisoned. Well, then one just may lock up a jurist...]

Busiris However, there are legal remedies.

Hector Well, I've been sure about it.

Busiris Concerning the first violation, isn't it possible, for example in some seas framed by fruitful regions, to interpret the salute of a cattle transporting ship as a mark of respect of the sea force towards the agriculture?

Hector That's logic, indeed. It would be, to say it in one word, sea's salute to the earth.

Busiris Whereby one has to take into account that a cargo of cattle can be a cargo of bulls as well. In this case the mark of respect would even border to a compliment.

Hector You've got me. We're right so far.

Busiris On the other hand the frontal formation can be interpreted as both, a wish to meet someone and as a provocation. Women who want to have children present themselves from the front and not from the side.

Hector A decisive argument.

Busiris The more as the Greek ships carry huge nymphs as figurehead. One can say: the fact that not ships as units of seafaring but nymphs as symbol of fertility came to meet the Trojans is exactly the opposite of an offence. A woman coming up to you nude with open arms isn't a threat but an offer. An offer to negotiate, of course, ...

Hector And so our honor is intact, [...] and you, [...] hurry to the harbor's commander with the order bringing Ulysses ashore immediately.



Extra extract, because it's making fun: 1st act, 4th scene, persons: Hector, Paris, Cassandra.


Hector What about the kidnapping? Willing? Or forced?

Paris But you know the women just as good as I. They will only agree, if one uses force. But then with enthusiasm.

Hector Was it on horseback? And by remaining horse dung in front of her window? You know that's the sign of seducers.

Paris Should this be an interrogation?

Hector It is an interrogation. At least just try to give precise answers. So have you neither brought disgrace over the nuptial bed nor the Greek ground?

Paris No, I haven't. Just a little bit over the Greek sea: She was about to take a bath...


Hector Haven't you covered the columns of the palace with insulting inscriptions and drawings, as it's your style? Weren't you the first shouting a word to the echo which now sounds in the ears of the cheated husband from all sides?

Paris No, I wasn't. Menelaus stood naked at the beach. He was engaged to free his big toe from a crab. He looked after my boat as if the wind would carry away his robes.

Hector With an angry face?

Paris The face of a king who is pinched by a crab never has been shining with joy.

Hector Were there no other spectators?

Paris My sailors.

Hector Splendid!

Paris Why splendid? What do mean by it?

Hector I say: splendid, because you have committed nothing that wouldn't be to compensate. Because she was naked neither one single of her robes nor her things were outraged. Only her body. That's of little importance. I know the Greeks. They will turn the accident of this little Greek queen to a highly honorable divine adventure for her. The sea has swallowed up her a little bit, and after some months she appears again with the most innocent face.

Cassandra We'll guarantee for her face.



2nd act, 14th scene


Cassandra The Trojan poet is dead... The Greek poet has the ear of the world.



End of the song:
In the Army now - ohhh!





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