Sophocles, creator; Sophocles the plays and fragments with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose Part 7 The Ajax; Jebb, Richard Claverhouse, Sir, 1841-1905, editor, translator. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1893.
- In all else, Athena, I bid you take your pleasure, but he will pay this penalty and no other.
- Well, then, since it delights you to do so, put your arm to use; spare no portion of your plan.
- I go to my work. And I give you this commission: be always for me the close-standing ally that you have been for me today!
- Do you see, Odysseus, how great is the strength of the gods? Whom could you have found more prudent than this man,
- or better able to do what the situation demanded?
- I know of no one, but in his misery I pity him all the same, even though he hates me, because he is yoked beneath a ruinous delusion—I think of my own lot no less than his.
- For I see that all we who live are nothing more than phantoms or fleeting shadow.
- Therefore since you witness his fate, see that you yourself never utter an arrogant word against the gods, nor assume any swelling pride, if in the scales of fate you are weightier
- than another in strength of hand or in depth of ample wealth. For a day can press down all human things, and a day can raise them up. But the gods embrace men of sense and abhor the evil.
Enter the Chorus of Salaminian Sailors, followers of Ajax.
- Son of Telamon, you who hold
- your throne on wave-washed Salamis near the open sea, when your fortune is fair, I rejoice with you. But whenever the stroke of Zeus, or the raging rumor of the Danaans with the clamor of their evil tongues attacks you, then I shrink with great fear and shudder in terror,
- like the fluttering eye of the winged dove. Just so with the passing of the night loud tumults oppressed us to our dishonor, telling how you visited the meadow wild with horses and destroyed
- the cattle of the Greeks, their spoil, prizes of the spear which had not yet been shared, how you killed them with flashing iron. Such are the whispered slanders that Odysseus moulds and breathes into the ears of all,
- and he wins much belief. For now he tells tales concerning you that easily win belief, and each hearer rejoices with spiteful scorn at your burdens more than he who told. Point your shaft at a noble spirit,
- and you could not miss; but if a man were to speak such things against me, he would win no belief. It is on the powerful that envy creeps. Yet the small without the great are a teetering tower of defence.
- For the lowly stand most upright and prosperous when allied with the great, and the great when served by less. But foolish men cannot learn good precepts in these matters beforehand. It is men of this sort that subject you to tumult, and
- we lack the power to repel these charges without you, O King. For when they have escaped your eye, they chatter like flocking birds. But, terrified by a mighty vulture,
- perhaps, if you should appear, they would quickly cower without voice in silence.
- Was it Artemis ruler of bulls, Zeus’s daughter, that drove you, O powerful Rumor, O mother of my shame,
- drove you against the herds of all our people? Was she exacting retribution, perhaps, for a victory that had paid her no tribute, whether it was because she had been cheated of the glory of captured arms, or because a stag had been slain without gifts for recompense? Or can the bronze-cuirassed Lord of War