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Ajax   



(AJAX appears in the tent door, with a
blood-stained scourge in his hand.)


AJAX
Oh hail, Athena! Hail thou Zeus-born maid!
Nobly hast thou stood by me. Now will I crown thee
With trophies all of gold for this rich conquest.
ATHENA
Thy words are welcome. But now tell me this:
Hast thou dyed well thy sword in the Argive host?
AJAX
Such vaunt is mine. I disclaim not that glory.
ATHENA
Against the Atreidae didst thou arm thy hand?
AJAX
So that Ajax nevermore shall they insult.
ATHENA
The men are dead, if rightly I take thy meaning.
AJAX
Yes, dead. Now let them rob me of my arms.
ATHENA
'Tis well. And what then of Laertes' son?
In what plight does he stand? Or has he escaped thee?
AJAX
Wouldst thou know where is that accursed fox?
ATHENA
Even so-Odysseus, thine old adversary.
AJAX
Goddess, a most dear captive in my tent
He sits. I do not mean him to die yet.
ATHENA
Till thou hast done what, gained what further vantage?
AJAX
Till bound fast to a pillar beneath my roof-
ATHENA
What evil wilt thou inflict on the poor wretch?
AJAX
His back the scourge must crimson ere he dies.
ATHENA
Nay, do not torture so the wretched man.
AJAX
Athena, in all else will I do thy will;
But his shall be no other doom than this.
ATHENA
Thou then, since thy delight is to act thus,
Smite, spare not, abate nought of thy intent.
AJAX
To my work I return: and thus I charge thee,
As now, so always fight thou upon my side.
(AJAX goes back into the tent.)
ATHENA
Seest thou, Odysseus, how great the strength of gods?
Whom couldst thou find more prudent than this man,
Or whom in act more valiant, when need called?
ODYSSEUS
I know none nobler; and I pity him
In his misery, albeit he is my foe,
Since he is yoked fast to an evil doom.
My own lot I regard no less than his.
For I see well, nought else are we but mere
Phantoms, all we that live, mere fleeting shadows.
ATHENA
Warned therefore by his fate, never do thou

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