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[543] οἴη δ᾽. Transl. ‘Alone of them all, the soul of Ajax son of Telamon stood aloof, enraged because of the victory which I won over him, when defending my right at the ships about the arms of Achilles. His ladymother put them up for a [prize], and the sons of the Trojans gave the sentence, and Pallas Athena.’ The action of the Iliad ends before the death of Achilles, which is however alluded to in several passages, such as Il.22. 358; 21.278. In Od.24. 46 foll. there is a more circumstantial allusion to the arrival of his mother Thetis, to the hero's burial, and the funeral games appointed in his honour. At this point the story is taken up by the Cyclic epics. In the “Αἰθιοπίς” of Arctinus there is the description of a fierce fight round the corpse of Achilles, who had fallen at the Scaean gates either by the hand of Paris guided by Apollo, or by the arrows of Apollo himself. Ajax bears away the corpse on his shoulders, while Odysseus keeps the Trojans at bay. To the prizes at the funeral games (alluded to in Od.24) Thetis adds the possession of the arms of her son, to be granted to the doughtiest hero among the Greeks. Only Ajax and Odysseus compete for the “ἀριστεῖα”. But Agamemnon and the chieftains cannot decide between their rival claims; so, on Nestor's advice, the question is referred to the Trojan captives, as to which of the two heroes had done the Trojans most harm. They answer, ‘Odysseus;’ and Ajax, in the bitterness of his disappointment, falls upon his sword. Lesches, in his “μικρὰ Ἰλιάς”, reproduces the story with new details. In order to learn the views of the Trojans on the merits of the two heroes, spies are sent to listen at the walls of Troy. They hear two maidens talking; one of whom would give the prize for valour to Ajax, for his gallantry in carrying off the corpse of Achilles, “Αἴας μὲν γὰρ ἄειρε καὶ ἔκφερε δηιοτῆτος

ἥρω Πηλείδην, οὐδ᾽ ἤθελε δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς”. But her fellow, whose mind Athena had influenced, answered her, “ἀντεῖπεν Ἀθηνᾶς προνοίᾳ, ‘Πῶς τάδ᾽ ἐφωνήσω; πῶς οὐ κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπες
ψεῦδος;’ . . καί κε γυνὴ φέροι ἄχθος, ἐπεί κεν ἀνὴρ ἐπιθείη”,
ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἂν μαχέσαιτο”. (See Scholl. Aristoph. Eqq.1056.) Neither of the Cyclics represent the Atridae as umpires in the matter; but Pindar, Pind. Nem.7. 20 foll.; 8. 23 foll.; Isthm. 3. 53 foll.; 5. (6.) 27 foll., implies that there was some treachery at work in the decision, and Ajax himself, in the representation of him by Sophocles, distinctly states that view ( Soph. Aj.445, etc.).

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 1056
    • Homer, Iliad, 21.278
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.358
    • Homer, Odyssey, 24
    • Homer, Odyssey, 24.46
    • Pindar, Nemean, 7
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 445
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