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Works by Sophocles
Pages of Ajax

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Seek some fit place for his hollow grave,
Which men's memories evermore shall praise,
As he lies there mouldering at rest.
Look yonder, where the child and wife of Ajax
Are hastening hither in good time to tend
The funeral rites of his unhappy corpse.
My child, come hither. Stand near and lay thy hand
As a suppliant on thy father who begat thee.
And kneel imploringly with locks of hair
Held in thy hand-mine, and hers, and last thine-
The suppliant's treasure. But if any Greek
By violence should tear thee from this corpse,
For that crime from the land may he be cast
Unburied, and his whole race from the root
Cut off, even as I sever this lock.
There, take it, boy, and keep it. Let none seek
To move thee; but still kneel there and cling fast.
And you, like men, no women, by his side
Stand and defend him till I come again,
When I have dug his grave, though all forbid.
(TEUCER goes out.)
CHORUS (singing)

strophe 1

When will this agony draw to a close?
When will it cease, the last of our years of exile?
Years that bring me labour accurst of hurtling spears,
Woe that hath no respite or end,
But wide-spread over the plains of Troy
Works sorrow and shame for Hellas' sons.

antistrophe 1

Would he had vanished away from the earth,
Rapt to the skies, or sunk to devouring Hades,
He who first revealed to the Greeks the use of arms
Leagued in fierce confederate war!
Ah, toils eternally breeding toils!
Yea, he was the fiend who wrought man's ruin.

strophe 2

The wretch accurst, what were his gifts?
Neither the glad, festival wreath,
Nor the divine, mirth-giving wine-cup;
No music of flutes, soothing and sweet:
Slumber by night, blissful and calm,
None he bequeathed us.
And love's joys, alas! love did he banish from me.
Here couching alone neglected,
With hair by unceasing dews drenched evermore, we curse
Thy shores, O cruel Ilium.

antistrophe 2

Erewhile against terror by night,
javelin or sword, firm was our trust:
He was our shield, valiant Ajax.
But now a malign demon of fate
Claims him. Alas! When, when again
Shall joy befall me?

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