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Works by Sophocles
Pages of Ajax

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Pervert judgment against another man.
But the irresistible fierce-eyed goddess, even
As I was arming my right hand to slay them,
Foiled me, smiting me with a maddening plague,
So that I stained my hand butchering these cattle.
Thus my foes mock me, escaped beyond my reach,
Through no goodwill of mine: but if a god
Thwart vengeance, even the base may escape the nobler.
And what should I now do, who manifestly
To Heaven am hateful; whom the Greeks abhor,
Whom every Trojan hates, and this whole land?
Shall I desert the beached ships, and abandoning
The Atreidae, sail home o'er the Aegean sea?
With what face shall I appear before my father
Telamon? How will he find heart to look
On me, stripped of my championship in war,
That mighty crown of fame that once was his?
No, that I dare not. Shall I then assault
Troy's fortress, and alone against them all
Achieve some glorious exploit and then die?
No, I might gratify the Atreidae thus.
That must not be. Some scheme let me devise
Which may prove to my aged sire that I,
His son, at least by nature am no coward.
For 'tis base for a man to crave long life
Who endures never-varying misery.
What joy can be in day that follows day,
Bringing us close then snatching us from death?
As of no worth would I esteem that man
Who warms himself with unsubstantial hopes.
Nobly to live, or else nobly to die
Befits proud birth. There is no more to say.
The word thou hast uttered, Ajax, none shall call
Bastard, but the true offspring of thy soul.
Yet pause. Let those who love thee overrule
Thy resolution. Put such thoughts aside.
O my lord Ajax, of all human ills
Greatest is fortune's wayward tyranny.
Of a free father was I born the child,
One rich and great as any Phrygian else.
Now am I a slave; for so the gods, or rather
Thy warrior's hand, would have it. Therefore since
I am thy bedfellow, I wish thee well,
And I entreat thee by domestic Zeus,
And by the embraces that have made me thine,
Doom me not to the cruel taunts of those
Who hate thee, left a bond-slave in strange hands.
For shouldst thou perish and forsake me in death,
That very day assuredly I to
Shall be seized by the Argives, with thy son
To endure henceforth the portion of a slave.
Then one of my new masters with barbed words
Shall wound me scoffing: "See the concubine
Of Ajax, who was mightiest of the host,
What servile tasks are hers who lived so daintily!"
Thus will men speak, embittering my hard lot,
But words of shame for thee and for thy race.
Nay, piety forbid thee to forsake
Thy father in his drear old age-thy mother
With her sad weight of years, who many a time
Prays to the gods that thou come home alive.
And pity, O king, thy son, who without thee

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