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Sophocles Index


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AJAX by Sophocles, Part 14


TECMESSA
None must behold him. I will shroud him wholly
In this enfolding mantle; for no man
Who loved him could endure to see him thus
Through nostrils and through red gash spouting up
The darkened blood from his self-stricken wound.
Ah me, what shall I do? What friend shall lift thee?
Where is Teucer? Timely indeed would he now come,
To compose duly his slain brother's corpse.
O hapless Ajax, who wast once so great,
Now even thy foes might dare to mourn thy fall.

CHORUS chanting
antistrophe

'Twas fate's will, alas, 'twas fate then for thou
Stubborn of soul at length to work out a dark
Doom of ineffable miseries. Such the dire
Fury of passionate hate
I heard thee utter fierce of mood
Railing at Atreus' sons
Night by night, day by day.
Verily then it was the sequence of woes
First began, when as the prize of worth
Fatally was proclaimed the golden panoply.

TECMESSA
Alas, woe, woe!

CHORUS chanting
A loyal grief pierces thy heart, I know.

TECMESSA
Alas, woe, woe!

CHORUS chanting
Woman, I marvel not that thou shouldst wail
And wail again, reft of a friend so dear.

TECMESSA
'Tis thine to surmise, mine to feel, too surely.

CHORUS chanting
'Tis even so.

TECMESSA
Ah, my child, to what bondage are we come,
Seeing what cruel taskmasters will be ours.

CHORUS chanting
Ah me, at what dost thou hint?
What ruthless, unspeakable wrong
From the Atreidae fearest thou?
But may heaven avert that woe!

TECMESSA
Ne'er had it come to this save by heaven's will.

CHORUS chanting
Yes, too great to be borne this heaven-sent burden.

TECMESSA
Yet such the woe which the dread child of Zeus,
Pallas, has gendered for Odysseus' sake.

CHORUS chanting
Doubtless the much-enduring hero in his dark spy's soul exults mockingly,
And laughs with mighty laughter at these agonies
Of a frenzied spirit. Shame! Shame!
Sharers in glee at the tale are the royal Atreidae.

TECMESSA
Well, let them mock and glory in his ruin.
Perchance, though while he lived they wished not for him,
They yet shall wail him dead, when the spear fails them.
Men of ill judgment oft ignore the good
That lies within their hands, till they have lost it.
More to their grief he died than to their joy,
And to his own content. All his desire
He now has won, that death for which he longed.
Why then should they deride him? 'Tis the gods
Must answer for his death, not these men, no.
Then let Odysseus mock him with empty taunts.
Ajax is no more with them; but has gone,
Leaving to me despair and lamentation.

TEUCER from without
Alas, woe, woe!

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Keep silence! Is it Teucer's voice I hear
Lifting a dirge over this tragic sight?
TEUCER enters.

TEUCER
O brother Ajax, to mine eyes most dear,
Can it be thou hast fared as rumour tells?

 

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