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Ajax   


Then listen. For the gods' sake venture not
Thus ruthlessly to cast forth this man unburied:
And in no wise let violence compel thee
To such deep hate that thou shouldst tread down justice.
Once for me too this man was my worst foe,
From that hour when I won Achilles' arms;
Yet, though he was such towards me, I would not so
Repay him with dishonour as to deny
That of all Greeks who came to Troy, no hero
So valiant save Achilles have I seen.
So it is not just thou shouldst dishonour him.
Not him wouldst thou be wronging, but the laws
Of heaven. It is not righteousness to outrage
A brave man dead, not even though thou hate him.
AGAMEMNON
Thou, Odysseus, champion him thus against me?
ODYSSEUS
Yes; but I hated him while hate was honourable.
AGAMEMNON
Shouldst thou not also trample on him when dead?
ODYSSEUS
Atreides, glory not in dishonouring triumphs.
AGAMEMNON
'Tis hard for a king to act with piety.
ODYSSEUS
Yet not hard to respect a friend's wise counsel.
AGAMEMNON
A good man should obey those who bear rule.
ODYSSEUS
Relent. 'Tis no defeat to yield to friends.
AGAMEMNON
Reflect who it is to whom thou dost this grace.
ODYSSEUS
This man was once my foe, yet was he noble.
AGAMEMNON
Can it be thou wilt reverence a dead foe?
ODYSSEUS
His worth with me far outweighs enmity.
AGAMEMNON
Unstable of impulse are such men as thou.
ODYSSEUS
Many are friends now and hereafter foes.
AGAMEMNON
Do you then praise such friends as worth the winning?
ODYSSEUS
I am not wont to praise a stubborn soul.
AGAMEMNON
Cowards you would have us show ourselves this day.
ODYSSEUS
Not so, but just men before all the Greeks.
AGAMEMNON
You bid me then permit these funeral rites?
ODYSSEUS
Even so: for I myself shall come to this.
AGAMEMNON
Alike in all things each works for himself.
ODYSSEUS
And for whom should I work, if not myself?
AGAMEMNON
Let it be known then as your doing, not mine.
ODYSSEUS
So be it. At least you will have acted nobly.
AGAMEMNON
Nay, but of this be certain, that to thee

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