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. The time has come for each of us to veil his head and steal away on foot, or to sit and take on the swift yoke of rowing,
  2. giving her way to the sea-faring ship. So angry are the threats which the brother-kings, the sons of Atreus, speed against us! I fear to share in bitter death beneath an onslaught of stones,
  3. crushed at this man’s side, whom an untouchable fate holds in its grasp.
Tecmessa
  1. It grips him no longer. For like a southerly wind after it has started up sharply without bright lightning he grows calm. And now in his right mind he has new pain.
  2. To look on self-made suffering, when no other has had a hand in it—this induces sharp pains.
Chorus
  1. But if he has stopped his madness, I have good hope that all may yet be well, since the trouble is of less account once it has passed.
Tecmessa
  1. And which, if the choice were given you, would you choose—to distress your friends, and have joy yourself, or to share the grief of friends who grieve?
Chorus
  1. The twofold sorrow, lady, is certainly the greater evil.
Tecmessa
  1. Then we are ruined now, although the plague is past.
Chorus
  1. What do you mean? I do not understand what you say.
Tecmessa
  1. That man, while afflicted, found joy for himself in the dire fantasies that held him, though his presence distressed us who were sane. But now, since he has had pause and rest from the plague,
  2. he has been utterly subjected to lowly anguish, and we similarly grieve no less than before. Surely, then, these are two sorrows, instead of one?
Chorus
  1. Indeed, I agree, and so I fear that a blow sent by a god has hit him. How could it be otherwise, if his spirit is no lighter
  2. than when he was plagued, now that he is released?
Tecmessa
  1. This, you must know, is how matters stand.
Chorus
  1. In what way did the plague first swoop down on him? Tell us who share your pain how it happened.
Tecmessa
  1. You will hear all that took place, since you are involved.
  2. In the dead of night when the evening lamps were no longer aflame, he seized a two-edged sword and wanted to leave on an aimless foray. Then I admonished him and said, What are you doing, Ajax? Why do you set out unsummoned on this expedition,
  3. neither called by messenger, nor warned by trumpet? In fact the whole army is sleeping now. But he answered me curtly with that trite jingle: Woman, silence graces woman. And I, taking his meaning, desisted, but he rushed out alone.
  4. What happened out there, I cannot tell. But he came in with his captives hobbled together—bulls, herding dogs, and his fleecy quarry. Some he beheaded; of some he cut the twisted throat or broke the spine; others