Ajax

Sophocles

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.

  1. And what did he do that harmed you?
Agamemnon
  1. He declares that he will not leave this corpse without due burial, but will entomb it in spite of me.
Odysseus
  1. Then may a friend speak the truth, and still remain your helpmate no less than before?
Agamemnon
  1. Speak. Otherwise I would be less than sane, since I count you my greatest friend among all the Greeks.
Odysseus
  1. Listen, then. In the name of the gods, do not let yourself so ruthlessly cast this man out unburied. Do not in any way let the violence of your hatred overcome you
  2. so much that you trample justice under foot. To me, too, this man was once the most hostile enemy in the army from the day on which I beat him for possession of Achilles’ arms. Yet for all that he was hostile towards me, I would not dishonor him in return or refuse to admit
  3. that in all our Greek force at Troy he was, in my view, the best and bravest, excepting Achilles. It would not be just, then, that he should be dishonored by you. It is not he, but the laws given by the gods that you would damage. When a good man is dead, there is no justice
  4. in doing him harm, not even if you hate him.
Agamemnon
  1. You, Odysseus—do you champion him against me in this battle?
Odysseus
  1. I do, though I did hate him, when it was honorable for me to hate.
Agamemnon
  1. But should you not also trample him now that he is dead?
Odysseus
  1. Do not take delight, son of Atreus, in that superiority which brings no honor.
Agamemnon
  1. Reverence, I tell you, is not easily practiced by the autocrat.
Odysseus
  1. But it is easy to grant dispensations to friends when they advise well.
Agamemnon
  1. A good man should listen to those in charge.
Odysseus
  1. Stop! Your power is victorious when you surrender to your friends.
Agamemnon
  1. Remember to what sort of man you show this kindness!
Odysseus
  1. The man was once my enemy, yes, but he was also noble.
Agamemnon
  1. Why do you do this? Why do you so respect an enemy’s corpse?
Odysseus
  1. I yield to his excellence much more than his hostility.