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 did he get near us? Did he reach his goal?
Athena
  1. He was already at the double doors of the two generals.
Odysseus
  1. How, then, did he restrain his hand when it was eager for murder?
Athena
  1. It was I who prevented him, by casting over his eyes oppressive notions of his fatal joy, and I who turned his fury aside on the flocks of sheep and the confused droves guarded by herdsmen, the spoil which you had not yet divided.
  2. Then he fell upon them and kept cutting out a slaughter of many horned beasts as he split their spines in a circle around him. At one time he thought that he was killing the two Atreidae, holding them in his very hand; at another time it was this commander, and at another that one which he attacked. And I, while the man ran about in diseased frenzy,
  3. I kept urging him on, kept hurling him into the snares of doom. Soon, when he rested from this toil, he bound together the living oxen along with with all the sheep and brought them home, as though his quarry were men, not well-horned cattle. And now he abuses them, bound together, in the house. But to you also will I show this madness openly, so that when you have seen it you may proclaim it to all the Argives. Be of good courage and stand your ground, and do not regard the man as a cause of disaster for you. I will turn away the beams of his eyes
  4. and keep them from landing on your face.
  5. You there, you who bind back your captive’s arms, I am calling you, come here! I am calling Ajax! Come out in front of the house!
Odysseus
  1. What are you doing, Athena? Do not call him out.
Athena
  1. Hold your peace! Do not earn a reputation for cowardice!
Odysseus
  1. No, by the gods, let it content you that he stay inside.
Athena
  1. What is the danger? Was he not a man before?
Odysseus
  1. Yes, a man hostile to me in the past, and especially now.
Athena
  1. And is not the sweetest mockery the mockery of enemies?
Odysseus
  1. I am content that he stay within his tent.
Athena
  1. Do you fear to see a madman right before your eyes?
Odysseus
  1. I would not shrink from him in fear, if he were sane.
Athena
  1. But he will not see you now, even though you stand nearby.
Odysseus
  1. How could that be, if he still sees with the same eyes?
Athena
  1. I shall darken them, though their sight is keen.