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This sight is truly most painful to me of all that my eyes have seen. [995] And the journey truly loathsome to my heart above all other journeys is this one that I have just now made while pursuing and scouting out your footsteps, dearest Ajax, once I learned of your fate! For a swift rumor about you, as if sent from some god, passed throughout all the Greek army, telling that you were dead and gone. [1000] I heard the rumor while still far away from you, and I groaned quietly in sadness. But now that I see its truth, my heart is utterly shattered! Oh, god!

Come, uncover him; let me see the worst.The corpse of Ajax is uncovered.

O face painful to look upon and full of cruel boldness, [1005] what a full crop of sorrows you have sown for me in your death! Where can I go? What people will receive me, when I have failed to help you in your troubles? No doubt Telamon, your father and mine, will likely greet me with a smile and kind words, [1010] when I return without you. Yes, of course he will—a man who, even when enjoying good fortune, tends not to smile more brightly than before! What will a man like him leave unsaid? What insult will he forego against “the bastard offspring of his spear's war-prize,” against your “cowardly, unmanly betrayer,” dear Ajax, [1015] or better yet, your “treacherous betrayer” with designs to govern your domain and your house after your death? So will he insult me; he is a man quick to anger, severe in old age, and his rage seeks quarrels without cause. And in the end I shall be thrust out of our land, and cast off, [1020] branded by his taunts as a slave instead of a freeman. These are my prospects at home. At Troy, on the other hand, my enemies are many, while I have few things to help me. All this have I gained from your death! Ah, me, what shall I do? How shall I draw your poor corpse [1025] off the sharp tooth of this gleaming sword, the murderer who, it seems, made you breathe your last? Now do you see how in time Hector, though dead, was to destroy you?

By the gods, note the fortune of this mortal pair. [1030] First Hector with the very warrior's belt given to him by Ajax was lashed to the chariot-rail and shredded without end, until his life fled with his breath. Now Ajax here had this gift from Hector, and by this he has perished in his deadly fall. Was it not the Fury who forged this blade, [1035] was not that belt the product of Hades, the grim artificer? I, for my part, would affirm that these happenings and all happenings ever are designed by the gods for men. But if there is anyone in whose judgment my words are unacceptable, let him cherish his own thoughts, as I do mine.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 58
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 858
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