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Ajax   


Hath learnt to repent his proud feuds,
And lay aside anger against the Atreidae.
(A MESSENGER enters.)
MESSENGER
My friends, these tiding I would tell you first:
Teucer is present, from the Mysian heights
But now returned, and in the central camp
By all the Greeks at once is being reviled.
As he drew near they knew him from afar,
Then gathering around him one and all
With taunts assailed him from this side and that,
Calling him kinsman of that maniac,
That plotter against the host, saying that nought
Should save him; stoned and mangled he must die.
And so they had come to such a pitch that swords
Plucked from their sheaths stood naked in men's hands.
Yet when the strife ran highest, it was stayed
By words from the elders and so reconciled.
But where is Ajax? I must speak with him.
He whom it most concerns must be told all.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
He is not within, but has just now gone forth
With a new purpose yoked to a new mood.
MESSENGER
Alas! Alas!
Then too late on this errand was I sped
By him who sent me; or I have proved too slow.
LEADER
What urgent need has been neglected here?
MESSENGER
Teucer forbade that Ajax should go forth
Outside his hut, till he himself should come.
LEADER
Well, he is gone. To wisest purpose now
His mind is turned, to appease heaven's wrath.
MESSENGER
These words of thine are filled with utter folly,
If there was truth in Calchas' prophecy.
LEADER
What prophecy? And what know you of this thing?
MESSENGER
Thus much I know, for by chance I was present.
Leaving the circle of consulting chiefs
Where sat the Atreidae, Calchas went aside,
And with kind purpose grasping Teucer's hand
Enjoined him that by every artifice
He should restrain Ajax within his tents
This whole day, and not leave him to himself,
If he wished ever to behold him alive.
For on this day alone, such were his words,
Would the wrath of divine Athena vex him.
For the overweening and unprofitable
Fall crushed by heaven-sent calamities
(So the seer spoke), whene'er one born a man
Has conceived thoughts too high for man's estate:
And this man, when he first set forth from home,
Showed himself foolish, when his father spoke to him
Wisely: "My son, seek victory by the spear;
But seek it always with the help of heaven."
Then boastfully and witlessly he answered:
"Father, with heaven's help a mere man of nought
Might win victory: but I, albeit without
Their aid, trust to achieve a victor's glory."
Such was his proud vaunt. Then a second time

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