Ajax was a hero in Greek mythology, son of King Telamon of Salamis and Periboea. He played a pivotal role in the myth of the Trojan War. He is also known as Telamonian Ajax, Greater Ajax, or Ajax the Great, to be distinguished from Ajax the Lesser, son of Oileus.
During the Trojan War, Ajax was chosen to duel Hector, prince of Troy, a duel which lasted a whole day. Towards the end of the day, Zeus sent heralds to declare the duel a draw. The duelists exchanged gifts, showing the respect towards their opponent; Ajax gave a purple sash to Hector and received a sword. The two heroes duelled a second time later in the war, when the Trojans had almost reached the Greek ships. Ajax hurled a huge stone against Hector, almost killing him. More duels followed between the two, and in one duel, Ajax was defeated and was forced to flee. Hector managed to set one of the Greek ships on fire.
In the battles described above, Achilles was absent as a result of a dispute between him and Agamemnon, leader of the Achaeans. Ajax substituted Achilles in the battle, and he was also asked to speak to Achilles in order to change his mind. The great hero returned to fight again, only after the death of his best friend, Patroclus.
At the end of the Trojan War and after Achilles' death, Ajax along with Odysseus fought against the Trojans to retrieve the body of the hero. After burying him, the two wanted to claim Achilles' armour for themselves. During the competition, Ajax said that he should receive it for all of the great deeds that he performed during the war; Odysseus, better skilled at speaking, managed to convince the Greeks and was offered the armour. Ajax, angry at what had happened, deliberately fell on his own sword and died.
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