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Ajax   


No longer flared, he took a two-edged sword,
And fain would sally upon an empty quest.
But I rebuked him, saying: "What doest thou,
Ajax? Why thus uncalled wouldst thou go forth?
No messenger has summoned thee, no trumpet
Roused thee. Nay, the whole camp is sleeping still."
But curtly he replied in well-worn phrase:
"Woman, silence is the grace of woman."
Thus schooled, I yielded; and he rushed out alone.
What passed outside the tent, I cannot tell.
But in he came, driving lashed together
Bulls, and shepherd dogs, and fleecy prey.
Some he beheaded, the wrenched-back throats of some
He slit, or cleft their chines; others he bound
And tortured, as though men they were, not beasts.
Last, darting through the doors, as to some phantom
He tossed words, now against the Atreidae, now
Taunting Odysseus, piling up huge jeers
Of how he had gone and wreaked his scorn upon them.
Soon he rushed back within the tent, where slowly
And hardly to his reason he returned.
And gazing round on the room filled with havoc,
He struck his head and cried out; then amidst
The wrecks of slaughtered sheep a wreck he fell,
And sat clutching his hair with tight-clenched nails.
There first for a long while he crouched speechless;
Then did he threaten me with fearful threats,
If I revealed not all that had befallen him,
Asking what meant the plight wherein he lay.
And I, friends, terror-stricken, told him all
That had been done, so far as I had knowledge.
Forthwith he broke forth into bitter wailing,
Such as I ne'er had heard from him before
For always had he held that such laments
Befitted cowards only, and low-souled men:
But uttering no shrill cries, he would express
His grief in low groans, as of a moaning bull.
But now prostrate beneath so great a woe,
Not tasting food nor drink, he sits among
The sword-slain beasts, motionless where he sank.
And plainly he meditates some baleful deed,
For so portend his words and lamentations.
But, O friends!-'twas for this cause I came forth-
Enter and help, if help at all you can:
For by friends' words men so bestead are won.
LEADER
Child of Teleutas, fearful are thy tidings,
That our prince has been maddened by his griefs.
AJAX (within)
Alas! Woe, woe!
TECMESSA
Soon, I fear, worse will follow. Heard you not?
'Twas Ajax. Oh, how dreadful was that cry.
AJAX
Alas! Woe, woe!
LEADER
He seems either still frenzied, or else grieving
For his past frenzies, now he sees their work.
AJAX
Alas! My son, my son!
TECMESSA
Woe's me! Eurysaces, 'tis for thee he calls.
What can he purpose?-Where art thou?-Ah, woe!
AJAX

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