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The place
(iii) “Σαλαμίνιαι”.
of the “Σαλαμίνιαι” as the third play of this trilogy, and the nature of the subject, may be considered certain1. After the death of Ajax, Teucer returns to Salamis, bringing with him the child Eurysaces (confided to his care by Ajax); he is met with reproaches by his father, the aged and lonely Telamon, who blames him for the death of Ajax; and goes forth to found the new Salamis in Cyprus. With regard to the ‘Salaminian women’—the Chorus who gave the title to the play—it is well to remember that, when the protagonist of a Greek play is a man (as Teucer here), but the Chorus female, this regularly denotes that a woman has some important, though secondary, part in the action; as Creüsa, for example, in the Ion, where the Chorus is formed by her handmaids. The ‘Salaminian women’ stood (we may conjecture) in a like relation to Eriboea, the mother of Ajax. In the play of Sophocles the Salaminian sailors imagine the passionate grief with which she will hear the evil tidings of her son; and Ajax vividly expresses the same foreboding. Itis very possible (I think) that these passages were suggested by the prominent place which the laments of Eriboea and her handmaids held in the Salaminiae2. ‘The island of Ajax,’ as Aeschylus calls Salamis, had a cult of the hero, including an annual festival (“Αἰάντεια”); and an impressive conclusion would be given to the trilogy by Telamon decreeing honours to the memory of his son.

1 They were first recognised by Welcker: see Rhein. Mus. (1829) pp. 56 ff. It is known from Ar. Ran. 1041 that ‘lion-hearted Teucer’ figured prominently in some work of Aeschylus,—an allusion which can hardly refer to any subordinate part that he may have borne in the “Ὅπλων κρίσις” or the “Θρῇσσαι”. And, except the “Σαλαμίνιαι”, no lost play of Aeschylus is known by name in which Teucer could have been a principal person.

2 Both these passages in the Ajax have a noteworthy emphasis. (1) In the first, vv. 622—634, the Salaminian sailors dwell on Eriboea's grief, which they are merely predicting, at a length, and with a degree of detail, which arrest attention. (2) In vv. 850 f., Ajax, after briefly mentioning both his parents, goes on to speak of the manner in which his mother's sorrow will be manifested. The “Αἰάντεια” of Aeschylus was probably one of his earlier trilogies—written, perhaps, while the new lustre shed on Ajax by the victory at Salamis was still fresh. In that case, the lyric element in the “Σαλαμίνιαι” may have been very large, giving ample scope for “κομμοί” between Eriboea and the Chorus.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 1041
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