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You will hear all that took place, since you are involved. [285] In the dead of night when the evening lamps were no longer aflame, he seized a two-edged sword and wanted to leave on an aimless foray. Then I admonished him and said, “What are you doing, Ajax? Why do you set out unsummoned on this expedition, [290] neither called by messenger, nor warned by trumpet? In fact the whole army is sleeping now.” But he answered me curtly with that trite jingle: “Woman, silence graces woman.” And I, taking his meaning, desisted, but he rushed out alone.

[295] What happened out there, I cannot tell. But he came in with his captives hobbled together—bulls, herding dogs, and his fleecy quarry. Some he beheaded; of some he cut the twisted throat or broke the spine; others [300] he abused in their bonds as though they were men, though falling only upon cattle. At last he darted out through the door, and dragged up words to speak to some shadow—now against the Atreidae, now about Odysseus—with many a mocking boast of all the abuse that in vengeance he had fully repaid them during his raid. [305] After that he rushed back again into the house, and somehow by slow, painful steps he regained his reason. And as he scanned the room full of his disastrous madness, he struck his head and howled; he fell down, a wreck amid the wrecked corpses of the slaughtered sheep, and there he sat [310] with clenched nails tightly clutching his hair. At first, and for a long while, he sat without a sound. But then he threatened me with those dreadful threats, if I did not declare all that had happened, and he demanded to know what on earth was the business he found himself in. [315] And in my fear, friends, I told him all that had been done, as far as I knew it for certain. But he immediately groaned mournful groans, such as I had never heard from him before. For he had always taught that such wailing [320] was for cowardly and low-hearted men. He used to grieve quietly without the sound of loud weeping, but instead moaned low like a bull.

And now, prostrate in such miserable fortune, tasting no food, no drink, [325] the man sits idly where he has fallen in the middle of the iron-slain cattle. And plainly he plans to do something terrible. Somehow his words and his laments say as much. Ah, my friends—for it was my errand to ask you this—come in and help him, if in any way you can. [330] Men of his kind can be won over by the words of friends.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 235
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek, Tenses
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