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A discourse on "The Opponent," a play by the Kollossae dramatist Straton.


Bravery is a topic often broached by the Kollossae in both fiction and popular culture: for instance, courage is a favorite topic of Master Onesimos of the Lykeios, Idylla's academy of theology. Onesimos is a feared debater and often utilizes the topic in discussions where he explains courage as the result of power. As I see it, playwright Straton's "The Opponent" appears to be an examination of courage, as well, through a simple parable. According to the playwright, courage is not a result of power, but the means to it. He seems to question the usefulness of strength if one lacks the bravery to use it.

The protagonist of "The Opponent" is Theron, who wages a war against a cunning antagonist called Taruk, a Niskaru Tyrant. As a Mairu, Theron is a savage, whose cares begin and end with battle, though he has moments of ingenuity that connect him to the Kollassae of today.

At the climax of "The Opponent" we see Theron's village in flames, decimated by Taruk, though not without a price: the Mairu appear to have beaten their aggressor. Taruk is surrounded, and, apparently, defeated, as the village leader stands over the Niskaru with a club leveled at the Tyrant's skull. Unfortunately, Taruk has a final spell to cast, and with a click of his mandibles his form dissolves as he possesses one of the villagers, the wife of the village leader.

In that moment, it seems the Mairu are utterly defeated. No one dares attack the wife of the village leader, and the night air fills with the shrill laughter of the possessed woman — laughter that turns to a cry of pain and terror as Theron strikes her down with a club of his own. Instantly The Niskaru leaps into the body of a new host, and instantly Theron strikes him down. The vicious cycle continues until Theron is finally possessed, when he is the last Mairu standing. "I have you now," Taruk gloats, speaking with Theron's voice. But in reply, Theron raises his club, and readies to smash his own face. Taruk flees from the Mairu's body in terror, taking coporeal form once more, and runs for a nearby river. Theron gives chase, and drowns the demon in the very river he sought to escape by.

In the epilogue, we learn that the only two of the villagers are fatally wounded by Theron's hand, and the rest will recover. It is obvious that Theron's Mairu tendencies have saved the village. The play closes with an unspoken question: could a Kollassae do the same?