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. he abused in their bonds as though they were men, though falling only upon cattle. At last he darted out through the door, and dragged up words to speak to some shadow—now against the Atreidae, now about Odysseus—with many a mocking boast of all the abuse that in vengeance he had fully repaid them during his raid.
  2. After that he rushed back again into the house, and somehow by slow, painful steps he regained his reason. And as he scanned the room full of his disastrous madness, he struck his head and howled; he fell down, a wreck amid the wrecked corpses of the slaughtered sheep, and there he sat
  3. with clenched nails tightly clutching his hair. At first, and for a long while, he sat without a sound. But then he threatened me with those dreadful threats, if I did not declare all that had happened, and he demanded to know what on earth was the business he found himself in.
  4. And in my fear, friends, I told him all that had been done, as far as I knew it for certain. But he immediately groaned mournful groans, such as I had never heard from him before. For he had always taught that such wailing
  5. was for cowardly and low-hearted men. He used to grieve quietly without the sound of loud weeping, but instead moaned low like a bull. And now, prostrate in such miserable fortune, tasting no food, no drink,
  6. the man sits idly where he has fallen in the middle of the iron-slain cattle. And plainly he plans to do something terrible. Somehow his words and his laments say as much. Ah, my friends—for it was my errand to ask you this—come in and help him, if in any way you can.
  7. Men of his kind can be won over by the words of friends.
Chorus
  1. Tecmessa, daughter of Teleutas, terrible is your news that our lord has been possessed by his sorrows.
    Ajax
    1. Oh! Ah, me! Ah, me!
    Tecmessa
    1. Soon there will be more sorrow, it seems. Did you not hear
    2. Ajax, did you not hear his resounding howl?
    Ajax
    1. Oh! Ah, me! Ah, me!
    Chorus
    1. The man seems to be sick, or else to be still pained by the disease which was recently with him, since he sees its traces.
    Ajax
    1. Oh my son, my son!
    Tecmessa
    1. Ah, miserable me! Eurysaces, it is for you he calls! What can his purpose be? Where are you? I am miserable!
    Ajax
    1. Teucer! Where is Teucer? Will his raid last for ever? While I perish?
    Chorus
    1. He seems to be sane—open the door!
    2. Perhaps merely at the sight of me he will come to a more respectable mood.
    Tecmessa
    1. There, it is open. Now you can look on this man’s deeds, and his true condition.
    Ajax is discovered sitting amidst the slaughtered cattle.
    Ajax
    1. Ah, good sailors, you alone of my friends