εἰς δὲ ναυτικὰ σκάφη … τάφρων ὕπερ. The situation described here does not exactly correspond with anything in the Iliad. Ajax, indeed, distinguishes himself in repulsing the Trojans after they have come over the wall, and on one occasion wounds their leader Hector ( Il. 14. 409 ff.); but this happens before any ship has been set on fire. The supreme crisis in this part of the Iliad is the moment when the Trojans set fire to the ship of Protesilaüs (16. 122); but just then Ajax is driven back (“χάζετο δ᾽ ἐκ βελέων” ib.); it is Patroclus who, urged by Achilles, then comes to the front, and finally beats back the foe. Nor has the Iliad directly furnished the picture of Hector ‘leaping high’ over the trench. Sophocles may have had some other source, epic or lyric. But it seems equally possible that he wrote from a general recollection of the Iliad, without caring whether he reproduced its details. Indeed, two verses of the Iliad might alone have sufficed to suggest the picture which he has drawn,—that which says of Ajax, “Τρῶας ἄμυνε νεῶν, ὅστις φέροι ἀκάματον πῦρ” (15. 731),—and the verse which describes Hector leading the Trojans from the Greek wall towards the ships,—“ᾗ ῤ̔ ὅ γ᾽ ὁ λυσσώδης φλογὶ εἴκελος ἡγεμονεύει” (13. 53).
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