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When we struck deserted country, there is a headland that lies beyond our territory, [1200] lying out towards what is at that point the Saronic gulf. There a great noise in the earth, like Zeus's thunder, roared heavily—it made one shudder to hear it. The horses pricked up their heads and ears to heaven, while we servants were taken with a violent fear [1205] at the thought where this voice came from. When we turned our eyes to the sea-beaten beach, we saw a wave, immense and uncanny, set fast in the sky, so great that my eye was robbed of the sight of Sciron's coast, and the Isthmus and Asclepius' cliff were hid from view. [1210] And then as the sea-surge made it swell and seeth up much foam all about, it came toward the shore where the chariot was. With its very swell and surge the wave put forth a bull, fierce and heaven-sent. [1215] With its bellowing the whole land was filled and gave back unearthly echoes, and as we looked on it the sight was too great for our eyes to bear. At once a terrible panic fell upon the horses. My master, who had lived long with the ways of horses, [1220] seized the reins in his hands and pulled them, letting his body hang backwards from the straps, like a sailor pulling an oar. But they took the fire-wrought bit in their teeth and carried him against his will, paying no heed to their captain's hand [1225] or the harness or the tight-glued chariot. If he held the helm and directed their course toward the softer ground, the bull appeared before him to turn them back, maddening the team with fear. [1230] But if they rushed with maddened senses into the rocks, it drew near and silently accompanied the chariot until it upset and overthrew the chariot, striking its wheel-rims on a rock. All was confounded: the wheels' naves [1235] and the axle-pins were leaping into the air, and the poor man himself, entangled in the reins, bound in a bond not easy to untie, was dragged along, smashing his head against the rocks and rending his flesh and uttering things dreadful to hear: [1240] ‘Stay, horses my mangers have nourished, do not blot me out! O wretched curse of my father! Who wishes to stand by the best of men and save his life?’

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 1116
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