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Enter the Chorus of Salaminian Sailors, followers of Ajax.

Chorus
Son of Telamon, you who hold [135] your throne on wave-washed Salamis near the open sea, when your fortune is fair, I rejoice with you. But whenever the stroke of Zeus, or the raging rumor of the Danaans with the clamor of their evil tongues attacks you, then I shrink with great fear and shudder in terror, [140] like the fluttering eye of the winged dove.

Just so with the passing of the night loud tumults oppressed us to our dishonor, telling how you visited the meadow wild with horses and destroyed [145] the cattle of the Greeks, their spoil, prizes of the spear which had not yet been shared, how you killed them with flashing iron.

Such are the whispered slanders that Odysseus moulds and breathes into the ears of all, [150] and he wins much belief. For now he tells tales concerning you that easily win belief, and each hearer rejoices with spiteful scorn at your burdens more than he who told.

Point your shaft at a noble spirit, [155] and you could not miss; but if a man were to speak such things against me, he would win no belief. It is on the powerful that envy creeps. Yet the small without the great are a teetering tower of defence. [160] For the lowly stand most upright and prosperous when allied with the great, and the great when served by less.

But foolish men cannot learn good precepts in these matters beforehand. It is men of this sort that subject you to tumult, and [165] we lack the power to repel these charges without you, O King. For when they have escaped your eye, they chatter like flocking birds. But, terrified by a mighty vulture, [170] perhaps, if you should appear, they would quickly cower without voice in silence.

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load focus Notes (Sir Richard C. Jebb, 1907)
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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 1013
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 680
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
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