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. have had some cause for anger arising out of an alliance of spears, and taken vengeance for the outrage by contrivance shrouded in night?
Chorus
  1. For never of your own heart alone, son of Telamon, would you have gone so far down the sinister path
  2. as to fall upon the flocks. When the gods send madness, it cannot but reach its target, but may Zeus and Phoebus avert the evil rumor of the Greeks! And if it is the great kings who slander you with their furtive stories,
  3. or if it is he born of the abject line of Sisyphus, do not, my king, do not win me an evil name by keeping your face still hidden in the tent by the sea.
Chorus
  1. Come now, up from your seat, wherever you are settled in this long-lived pause from battle
  2. and are making the flame of disaster blaze up to the sky! The violent insolence of your enemies rushes fearlessly about in the breezy glens, while the tongues of all the army cackle out a load of grief.
  3. For me, sorrow stands firmly planted.
Enter Tecmessa.
Tecmessa
  1. Mates of the ship of Ajax, offspring of the race that springs from the Erechtheids, the soil’s sons, cries of grief are the portion of us who care from afar for the house of Telamon.
  2. Ajax, our terrible, mighty lord of untamed power, now lies plagued by a turbid storm of disease.
Chorus
  1. And what is the heavy change from the fortune of yesterday which this night has produced?
  2. Daughter of Teleutas the Phrygian, speak, since for you his spear-won mate bold Ajax maintains his love, so that with some knowledge you could suggest an explanation.
Tecmessa
  1. Oh, how am I to tell a tale too terrible for words?
  2. Grave as death is the suffering which you will hear. By madness our glorious Ajax was seized in the night, and he has been subjected to utter disgrace. All this you may see inside his dwelling—butchered victims bathed in blood,
  3. sacrifices of no hand but his.
Chorus
  1. What report of the fiery warrior have you revealed to us, unbearable, nor yet escapable—
  2. a report which the great Danaans propound, which their powerful storytelling spreads! Ah, me, I shudder at the future’s advancing step. In public view the man will die
  3. because the dark sword in his frenzied hand massacred the herds and the horse-guiding herdsmen.
Tecmessa
  1. Ah! Then it was from there, from there that he came to me with his captive flock!
  2. Of part, he cut the throats on the floor inside; some, striking their sides, he tore asunder. Then he caught up two white-footed rams and sheared off the head of one and its tongue-tip, and flung them away;
  3. the other he bound upright to a pillar, and seizing a heavy strap from a horse’s harness he flogged it with a whistling, doubled lash, while he cursed it with awful imprecations which a god, and no mortal, had taught him.