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. Yes, for fear that somehow the poor child would get in your way, and die.
Ajax
  1. Yes, that would have been truly worthy of my destiny.
Tecmessa
  1. Well, at least I took care to avert that disaster.
Ajax
  1. I approve of your action and of your foresight.
Tecmessa
  1. How, then, can I serve you, as things stand now?
Ajax
  1. Let me speak to him and see him face to face.
Tecmessa
  1. Oh, yes—he is close by, watched by our servants.
Ajax
  1. Then why is his presence delayed?
Tecmessa
  1. My child, your father calls you. Bring him here, servant, whichever of you is guiding his steps.
Ajax
  1. Is the man coming? Or has he missed your call?
Tecmessa
  1. Here now one of the servants approaches with him.
    Ajax
    1. Lift him; lift him up here. Doubtless he will not shrink to look on this newly-shed blood, if he is indeed my true-born son and heir to his father’s manners. But he must at once be broken into his father’s harsh ways and moulded to the likeness of my nature.
    2. Ah, son, may you prove luckier than your father, but in all else like him. Then you would not prove base. Yet even now I may well envy you on this account, that you have no perception of these evils about us. Yes, life is sweetest when one lacks sense, for lack of sensation is a painless evil
    3. that is, until one learns to know joy or pain. But when you come to that knowledge, then you must be sure to prove among your father’s enemies of what mettle and of what lineage you are. Meanwhile feed on light breezes, and nurse your tender life for your mother’s joy.
    4. There is no Greek—I know it for certain—who will do violence to you with hard outrages, even when you are without me. So trusty is the guard, Teucer himself, whom I will leave at your gates. He will not falter in his care for you, although now he walks a far path, busied with the hunt of enemies.
    5. O my warriors, my seafaring comrades! On you as on him, I lay this shared task of love: give my command to Teucer! Let him take this child to my home and set him before the face of Telamon, and of my mother, Eriboea,
    6. so that he may become the comfort of their age into eternity until they come to the deep hollows of the god below. And order him that no commissioners of games, nor he who is my destroyer, should make my arms a prize for the Greeks. No, you take this for my sake, Son, my broad shield from which you have your name.
    7. Hold it and wield it by the sturdy thong, this sevenfold, spear-proof shield! But the rest of my arms shall be my gravemates.
    8. Come, take the child right away, shut tight the doors and make no laments before the house.
    9. God, what a weepy thing is woman. Quick, close the house! It is not for a skilful doctor to moan incantations over a wound that craves the knife.