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. Beloved Ajax, brother whose face was so dear to me, have you truly fared as the mighty rumor says?
Chorus
  1. He is dead, Teucer. Take it as fact.
Teucer
  1. Then I am destroyed by my heavy fortune!
Chorus
  1. When things stand as they do—
Teucer
  1. Ah, misery, misery!
Chorus
  1. —you have cause to mourn.
Teucer
  1. O rash passion!
Chorus
  1. Yes, Teucer, far too rash.
Teucer
  1. Ah, misery—what about the man’s child? Where in all of Troy can I find him?
Chorus
  1. He is alone near the tent.
Teucer
  1. Then bring him here right away, so that we may prevent some enemy from snatching him away, as a hunter snatches a cub from a lioness and leaves her barren! Go quickly; give me your help! It is the habit of men everywhere to laugh in triumph over the dead when they are mere corpses on the ground.
Chorus
  1. Yes, while still alive, Teucer, Ajax ordered you to care for the child, just as you are in fact doing.
Teucer
  1. This sight is truly most painful to me of all that my eyes have seen.
  2. And the journey truly loathsome to my heart above all other journeys is this one that I have just now made while pursuing and scouting out your footsteps, dearest Ajax, once I learned of your fate! For a swift rumor about you, as if sent from some god, passed throughout all the Greek army, telling that you were dead and gone.
  3. I heard the rumor while still far away from you, and I groaned quietly in sadness. But now that I see its truth, my heart is utterly shattered! Oh, god! Come, uncover him; let me see the worst.The corpse of Ajax is uncovered. O face painful to look upon and full of cruel boldness,
  4. what a full crop of sorrows you have sown for me in your death! Where can I go? What people will receive me, when I have failed to help you in your troubles? No doubt Telamon, your father and mine, will likely greet me with a smile and kind words,
  5. when I return without you. Yes, of course he will—a man who, even when enjoying good fortune, tends not to smile more brightly than before! What will a man like him leave unsaid? What insult will he forego against the bastard offspring of his spear’s war-prize, against your cowardly, unmanly betrayer, dear Ajax,
  6. or better yet, your treacherous betrayer with designs to govern your domain and your house after your death? So will he insult me; he is a man quick to anger, severe in old age, and his rage seeks quarrels without cause. And in the end I shall be thrust out of our land, and cast off,
  7. branded by his taunts as a slave instead of a freeman. These are my prospects at home. At Troy, on the other hand, my enemies are many, while I have few things to help me. All this have I gained from your death! Ah, me, what shall I do? How shall I draw your poor corpse
  8. off the sharp tooth of this gleaming sword, the murderer who, it seems, made you breathe your last? Now do you see how in time Hector, though dead, was to destroy you? By the gods, note the fortune of this mortal pair.