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Sophocles Index


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AJAX by Sophocles, Part 17


TEUCER
Shieldless, I would outmatch you panoplied.

MENELAUS
How terrible a courage dwells within your tongue!

TEUCER
He may be bold of heart whose side right favours.

MENELAUS
Is it right that my assassin should be honoured?

TEUCER
Assassin? How strange, if, though slain, you live!

MENELAUS
Heaven saved me: I was slain in his intent.

TEUCER
Do not dishonour then the gods who saved you.

MENELAUS
What, I rebel against the laws of heaven?
TEUCER,
Yes, if you come to rob the dead of burial.

MENELAUS
My own foes! How could I endure such wrong?

TEUCER
Did Ajax ever confront you as your foe?

MENELAUS
He loathed me, and I him, as well you know.

TEUCER
Because to defraud him you intrigued for votes.

MENELAUS
It was the judges cast him, and not I.

TEUCER
Much secret villainy you could make seem fair.

MENELAUS
That saying will bring someone into trouble.

TEUCER
Not greater trouble than we mean to inflict.

MENELAUS
My one last word: this man must not have burial.

TEUCER
Then hear my answer: burial he shall have.

MENELAUS
Once did I see a fellow bold of tongue,
Who had urged a crew to sail in time of storm;
Yet no voice had you found in him, when winds
Began to blow; but hidden beneath his cloak
The mariners might trample on him at will.
And so with you and your fierce railleries,
Perchance a great storm, though from a little cloud
Its breath proceed, shall quench your blatant outcry.

TEUCER
And I once saw a fellow filled with folly,
Who gloried scornfully in his neighbour's woes.
So it came to pass that someone like myself,
And of like mood, beholding him spoke thus.
"Man, act not wickedly towards the dead;
Or, if thou dost, be sure that thou wilt rue it."
Thus did he monish that infatuate man.
And lo! yonder I see him; and as I think,
He is none else but thou. Do I speak riddles?

MENELAUS
I go. It were disgrace should any know
I had fallen to chiding where I might chastise.

TEUCER
Begone then. For to me 'twere worst disgrace
That I should listen to a fool's idle blustering.
MENELAUS and his retinue depart.

CHORUS chanting
Soon mighty and fell will the strife be begun.
But speedily now, Teucer, I pray thee,
Seek some fit place for his hollow grave,
Which men's memories evermore shall praise,
As he lies there mouldering at rest.
TECMESSA enters with EURYSACES.

 

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