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. So much he boasted. Then once again in answer to divine Athena—at a time when she was urging him forward and telling him to turn a deadly hand against the enemy—he answered her with words terrible and blasphemous, Queen, stand beside the other Greeks; where Ajax stands, battle will never break our line. It was by such words, you must know, that he won for himself the intolerable anger of the goddess since his thoughts were too high for man. But if he survives this day, perhaps with the god’s help we may find means to save him.
  2. With those words the seer finished, and at once Teucer rose from his seat and sent me with these orders for you to follow. But if I have been cheated of success, Ajax does not live. Otherwise Calchas has no skill.
Chorus
  1. Poor Tecmessa, born to misery,
  2. come out and see this man and his news. The razor lies close at our throat, poised to cut off all joy.
    Tecmessa
    1. Why do you stir me from my place of rest, when I have just found peace from those relentless troubles?
    Chorus
    1. Listen to this man, and
    2. hear the news of Ajax that he has brought us—news at which I felt sudden grief.
    Tecmessa
    1. Oh, no, what is your news, man? Surely we are not ruined?
    Messenger
    1. I have no clue of your condition, but know only that, if Ajax is away, I have little hope for him.
    Tecmessa
    1. But he is away, so I am in agony to know what you mean.
    Messenger
    1. Teucer strictly commands that you keep Ajax under shelter of his tent and not allow him to go out alone.
    Tecmessa
    1. But where is Teucer? And why these orders?
    Messenger
    1. He has just now returned, and he suspects that such a departure carries death for Ajax.
    Tecmessa
    1. Oh, misery! From whom can he have learned this?
    Messenger
    1. From Thestor’s son, the prophet. His prophecy applies to today, when the issue is one of life or death for Ajax.
    Tecmessa
    1. Ah, me! My friends, protect me from the doom threatened by fate! Hurry, some of you, to speed Teucer’s coming;
    2. let others go to the westward bays, and others to the eastward, and there seek the man’s disastrous path. I see now that I have been deceived by my husband and cast out of the favor that I once had with him. Ah, my child, what shall I do? I must not sit idle.
    3. I too will go as far as my strength will carry me. Move, let us be quick, this is no time to sit still, if we wish to save a man who is eager for death.
    Chorus
    1. I am ready to help, and I will show it in more than word. Speed of action and speed of foot will follow together.
    Ajax
    1. The sacrificial killer stands planted in the way that will cut most deeply—if I have the leisure for even this much reflection. First, it is the gift of Hector, that enemy-friend who was most hateful to me and most hostile to my sight; next, it is fixed in enemy soil, the land of Troy,