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. newly-whetted on the iron-devouring stone; and finally I have planted it with scrupulous care, so that it should prove most kind to me by a speedy death. Yes, we are well equipped. And so, O Zeus, be the first to aid me, as is proper.
  2. It is no large prize that I ask you to award me. Send on my behalf some messenger with news of my downfall to Teucer, so that he may be the first to raise me once I have fallen on this sword and made it newly-wet, and so that I am not first spotted by some enemy
  3. and cast out and exposed as prey to the dogs and birds. For this much, Zeus, I appeal to you. I call also on Hermes, guide to the underworld, to lay me softly to sleep with one quick, struggle-free leap, when I have broken open my side on this sword.
  4. And I call for help to the eternal maidens who eternally attend to all sufferings among mortals, the dread, far-striding Erinyes, asking them to learn how my miserable life is destroyed by the Atreidae.
  5. And may they seize those wicked men with most wicked destruction, just as they see me fall slain by my own hand, so slain by their own kin may they perish at the hand of their best-loved offspring. Come, you swift and punishing Erinyes, devour all the assembled army and spare nothing!
  6. And you, Helios, whose chariot-wheels climb the steep sky, when you see the land of my fathers, draw in your rein spread with gold and tell my disasters and my fate to my aged father and to the unhappy woman who nursed me.
  7. Poor mother! Indeed, I think, when she hears this news, she will sing a song of loud wailing throughout the entire city. But it is not for me to weep in vain like this. No, the deed must quickly have its beginning. O Death, Death, come now and lay your eyes on me!
  8. And yet I will meet you also in that other world and there address you. But you, beam of the present bright day, I salute you and the Sun in his chariot for the last time and never again. O light! O sacred soil
  9. of my own Salamis, firm seat of my father’s hearth! O famous Athens, and your race kindred to mine! And you, springs and rivers of this land—and you plains of Troy I salute you also—farewell, you who have nurtured me! This is the last word that Ajax speaks to you.
  10. The rest he will tell to the shades in Hades.
    First Semichorus
    1. Toil follows toil yielding toil! Where, where have I not trudged? And still no place can say that I have shared its secret.
    2. Listen! A sudden thud!
    Second Semichorus
    1. We made it, we shipmates of your voyage.
    Semichorus 1
    1. What news, then?
    Semichorus 2
    1. All the westward flank of the ships has been scoured for tracks.
    Semichorus 1
    1. And did you find anything?
    Semichorus 2
    1. Only an abundance of toil. There was nothing more to see.
    Semichorus 1
    1. Neither, as a matter of fact, has the man been seen along the path that faces the shafts of the morning sun.
    Chorus
    1. Who, then, can guide me? What toiling
    2. fisherman, busy about his sleepless hunt, what nymph of the Olympian heights or of the streams that flow toward