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qua . . . ferrum, ‘throughout its length,’ ‘up to the hilt.’ The other reading, qua patuit ferro (‘where he was exposed to the sword’), was explained by reference to the story that Ajax when a child was rendered invulnerable, except under the arms, by being wrapped by Hercules in his lion skin. But this is inconsistent with pectus. Sophocles makes Ajax fall upon his sword, which after his death still remains fixed in the ground (Ajax, 906), and the suicide is dictated by the shame of discovering that in his madness he has been slaughtering the flocks and herds of the Greek army.

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