Sophocles, Ajax

LCL 20: 146-147



ἐκ τῶνδε μέντοι τῶν τρόπων οὐκ ἄν ποτε κατάστασις γένοιτ᾿ ἂν οὐδενὸς νόμου, εἰ τοὺς δίκῃ νικῶντας ἐξωθήσομεν καὶ τοὺς ὄπισθεν ἐς τὸ πρόσθεν ἄξομεν. 1250ἀλλ᾿ εἰρκτέον τάδ᾿ ἐστίν· οὐ γὰρ οἱ πλατεῖς οὐδ᾿ εὐρύνωτοι φῶτες ἀσφαλέστατοι, ἀλλ᾿ οἱ φρονοῦντες εὖ κρατοῦσι πανταχοῦ. μέγας δὲ πλευρὰ βοῦς ὑπὸ σμικρᾶς ὅμως μάστιγος ὀρθὸς εἰς ὁδὸν πορεύεται. 1255καὶ σοὶ προσέρπον τοῦτ᾿ ἐγὼ τὸ φάρμακον ὁρῶ τάχ᾿, εἰ μὴ νοῦν κατακτήσῃ τινά· ὃς τἀνδρὸς οὐκέτ᾿ ὄντος, ἀλλ᾿ ἤδη σκιᾶς, θαρσῶν ὑβρίζεις κἀξελευθεροστομεῖς. οὐ σωφρονήσεις; οὐ μαθὼν ὃς εἶ φύσιν 1260ἄλλον τιν᾿ ἄξεις ἄνδρα δεῦρ᾿ ἐλεύθερον, ὅστις πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἀντὶ σοῦ λέξει τὰ σά; σοῦ γὰρ λέγοντος οὐκέτ᾿ ἂν μάθοιμ᾿ ἐγώ· τὴν βάρβαρον γὰρ γλῶσσαν οὐκ ἐπαΐω.


εἴθ᾿ ὑμὶν ἀμφοῖν νοῦς γένοιτο σωφρονεῖν· 1265τούτου γὰρ οὐδὲν σφῷν ἔχω λῷον φράσαι.


φεῦ, τοῦ θανόντος ὡς ταχεῖά τις βροτοῖς χάρις διαρρεῖ καὶ προδοῦσ᾿ ἁλίσκεται, εἰ σοῦ γ᾿ ὅδ᾿ ἁνὴρ οὐδ᾿ ἐπὶ σμικρὸν λόγον, Αἴας, ἔτ᾿ ἴσχει μνῆστιν, οὗ σὺ πολλάκις 1270τὴν σὴν προτείνων προὔκαμες ψυχὴν δορί· ἀλλ᾿ οἴχεται δὴ πάντα ταῦτ᾿ ἐρριμμένα.

  • 1257τἀνδρὸς Wecklein: ἀνδρὸς codd.
  • 1268σμικρὸν λόγον Reiske: -ων -ῶν Lrpa


behaviour is allowed, no law can be established, if we are to thrust aside those who have justly won and bring to the front those who were behind. No, we must put a stop to this! It is not stout and broad-shouldered men who are the most reliable, but it is men of good sense that everywhere prevail. A huge ox goes straight along the road, guided by a small goad. And I see this remedy in store for you, soon, if you do not acquire some sense; you who when the man is no more, but is already a ghost, confidently insult us with speech uncontrolled! Will you not get some sense? Will you not learn who you are and bring another man here who is a free man to speak for you instead of you yourself? I could not understand, were you the speaker, since I do not know the barbarian language.


I wish you could both have the wisdom to be sensible; I have nothing better than that to say to you.


Alas, how swiftly does gratitude to the dead flow away among men and how soon is it caught betraying them, if this man does not bear you in mind, Ajax, even to a small extent, this man whom you often protected, risking your own life! But all this is cast away and gone! You who just

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.sophocles-ajax.1994