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AJAX by Sophocles, Part 09


AJAX
Why is his coming then so long delayed?

TECMESSA calling
My son, thy father calls thee.-Bring him thither
Whichever of you is guiding the child's steps.

AJAX
Is the man coming? Has he heard thy call?

TECMESSA
See, he is here already with the child.
An attendant enters, leading the child, EURYSACES.

AJAX
Lift him up, lift him hither. He will not shrink
In terror at sight of yonder new-spilt blood,
If he be rightly mine, his father's son.
Early must he be broken to his sire's
Stern rugged code, and grow like-natured with him.
O son, mayst thou prove happier than thy father,
In all else like him, and thou'lt prove not base.
Yet even now might I envy thee herein,
That of these woes thou hast no sense at all.
For the life that is unconscious is most sweet-
Until we learn what joy and sorrow are.
But that once learnt, then midst thy father's foes
Thou must show what thou art, and of what breed.
Till then be nurtured on soft airs, cherishing
Thy tender life, and be thy mother's joy.
None of the Greeks, I know, will do thee wrong
With cruel outrage, even though I be gone.
So trusty a guardian will I leave thee, Teucer,
Who will not stint his loving care, though now
He is gone far away, in chase of foes.
But you, my warriors, comrades in seafaring,
On you too I impose this task of love;
And fail not to announce my will to Teucer,
That to my home he take the child and show him
To Telamon and my mother Eriboea,
That henceforth he may comfort their old age.
And charge him that no game-steward make my arms
A prize for the Greeks-nor he who ruined me.
But this take thou, my son Eurysaces;
Hold it and wield it by its firm-stitched thong,
This sevenfold spear-proof shield, whence comes thy name.
But else with me my arms shall be interred.
Speaking now to TECMESSA
Come, take the child hence quickly, and bolt the doors:
And let there be no weeping and lamenting
Before the hut. Women love tears too well.
Close quickly. It is not for a skilful leech
To drone charms o'er a wound that craves the knife.

LEADER
I am fearful, listening to this eager mood.
The sharp edge of thy tongue, I like it not.

TECMESSA
O my lord Ajax, what art thou purposing?

AJAX
Question me not. To be discreet is best.

TECMESSA
Ah me, heavy is my heart. Now by thy child,
By the gods, I entreat, forsake us not.

AJAX
Vex me no further. Know'st thou not that I
To the gods owe no duty any more?

TECMESSA
Utter no proud words.

AJAX
Speak to those who listen.

TECMESSA
Wilt thou not heed?

AJAX
Too much thou hast spoken already.

TECMESSA
Yes, through my fears, O king.

AJAX
Close the doors quickly.

 

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