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[7] But afterwards he came to his senses and slew also himself.1 And Agamemnon forbade his body to be burnt; and he alone of all who fell at Ilium is buried, in a coffin.2 His grave is at Rhoeteum.

1 These events were narrated in the Little Iliad of Lesches. See Proclus in Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, ed. G. Kinkel, p. 36; compare Aristot. Poet. 1459b 4ff.. The contest between Ajax and Ulysses for the arms of Achilles was also related in the Aethiopis of Arctinus. See Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, ed. G. Kinkel, p. 34. It was known to Hom. Od. 11.542ff., who tells us that the Trojans and Pallas Athena acted as judges and awarded the arms to Ulysses. A Scholiast on Hom. Od. 11.547 informs us that Agamemnon, unwilling to undertake the invidious duty of deciding between the two competitors, referred the dispute to the decision of the Trojan prisoners, inquiring of them which of the two heroes had done most harm to the Trojans. The prisoners decided that Ulysses was the man, and the arms were therefore awarded to him. According to another account, which was adopted by the author of the Little Iliad, the Greeks on the advice of Nestor sent spies to the walls of Troy to overhear the Trojans discussing the respective merits of the two champions. They heard two girls debating the question, and thinking that she who gave the preference to Ulysses reasoned the better, they decided accordingly. See Scholiast on Aristoph. Kn. 1056. According to Pind. N. 8.26(45)ff., it was the Greeks who by secret votes decided in favour of Ulysses. The subject was treated by Aeschylus in a lost play called The Decision of the Arms. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 57ff. The madness and suicide of Ajax, consequent on his disappointment at not being awarded the arms, are the theme of Sophocles's extant tragedy Ajax. As to the contest for the arms, see further Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica v.121ff.; Tzetzes, Posthomerica 481ff.; Zenobius, Cent. i.43; Hyginus, Fab. 107; Ov. Met. 12.620-628, xiii.1-398. Quintus Smyrnaeus and Tzetzes agree in representing the Trojan captives as the judges in the dispute, while Ovid speaks of the Greek chiefs sitting in judgment and deciding in favour of Ulysses. According to Zenobius, Cent. i.43, Ajax in his frenzy scourged two rams, believing that he was scourging Agamemnon and Menelaus. This account is based on the description of the frenzy of Ajax in Soph. Aj. 97-110, Soph. Aj. 237-244).

2 Similarly the author of the Little Iliad said that the body of Ajax was not burned, but placed in a coffin “on account of the wrath of the king.” See Eustathius on Hom. Il. ii.557, p. 285. Philostratus tells us that the body was laid in the earth by direction of the seer Calchas, “because suicides may not lawfully receive the burial by fire” (Philostratus, Her. xiii.7). This was probably the true reason for the tradition that the corpse was not cremated in the usual way. For the ghosts of suicides appear to be commonly dreaded; hence unusual modes of disposing of their bodies are adopted in order to render their spirits powerless for mischief. For example, the Baganda of Central Africa, who commonly bury their dead in the earth, burn the bodies of suicides on waste land or at crossroads in order to destroy the ghosts; for they believe that if the ghost of a suicide is not thus destroyed, it will tempt other people to imitate its example. As an additional precaution everyone who passed the place where the body of a suicide had been burnt threw some grass or a few sticks on the spot, “so as to prevent the ghost from catching him, in case it had not been destroyed.” For the same reason, if a man took his life by hanging himself on a tree, the tree was torn up by the roots and burned with the body; if he had killed himself in a house, the house was pulled down and the materials consumed with fire; for “people feared to live in a house in which a suicide had taken place, lest they too should be tempted to commit the same crime.” See J. Roscoe, The Baganda (London, 1911), pp. 20ff., 289. Similar customs prevailed among the Banyoro, a neighbouring nation of Central Africa. “It was said to be necessary to destroy a tree upon which a person had hanged himself and to burn down a house in which a person had committed suicide, otherwise they would be a danger to people in general and would influence them to commit suicide.” See J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu (Cambridge, 1915), pp. 24ff. (where, however, the burning of the body is not expressly mentioned). In like manner the Hos of Togoland, in West Africa, are much afraid of the ghost of a suicide. They believe that the ghost of a man who has hanged himself will torment the first person who sees the body. Hence when the relations of such a man approach the corpse they protect themselves against the ghost by wearing magical cords and smearing their faces with a magical powder. The tree on which a man hanged himself is cut down, and the branch on which he tied the fatal noose is lopped off. To this branch the corpse is then tied and dragged ruthlessly through the woods, over stones and through thorny bushes, to the place where “men of blood,” that is, all who die a violent death, are buried. There they dig a shallow grave in great haste and throw the body in. Having done so they run home; for they say that the ghosts of “men of blood” fling stones at such as do not retreat fast enough, and that he who is struck by one of these stones must die. The houses of such men are broken down and burnt. A suicide is believed to defile the land and to prevent rain from falling. Hence the district where a man has killed himself must be purified by a sacrifice offered to the Earth-god. See J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme (Berlin, 1906), pp. 272, 274, 276ff. 756, 758. As to the special treatment of the bodies of suicides, see R. Lasch, “Die Behandlung der Leiche des Selbstmorders,” Globus, lxxvi. (Brunswick, 1899, pp. 63-66). In the Ajax of Sophocles the rites of burial are at first refused, but afterwards conceded, to the dead body of Ajax; and though these ceremonies are not described, we may assume that they included the burning of the corpse on a pyre. This variation from what appears to be the usual tradition may have been introduced by Sophocles out of deference to the religious feelings of the Athenians, who worshipped Ajax as a hero, and who would have been shocked to think of his remains being denied the ordinary funeral honours. See Jebb's Introduction to his edition of the Ajax(Cambridge, 1896), pp. xxix.ff. As to the worship of Ajax at Athens, see Paus. 1.35.3; Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum ii. 467-471; Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 717, vol. ii. p. 370. From these inscriptions we learn that the Athenian youths used to sail across every year to Salamis and there sacrifice to Ajax.

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