Sophocles, Fragments of Known Plays

LCL 483: 12-13

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ὡς ὢν ἄπαις τε κἀγύναιξ κἀνέστιος

Choeroboscus on Theodosius, Canones 1, 289, 24 Hilgard


οἴνῳ παρ᾿ ἡμῖν Ἁχελῷος ἆρα νᾷ

Lexicon Messanense 280 v 22 Σοφοκλῆς Ἀθάμαντι (Rabe: ἀθανατ[.(.)] codd.)

παρ᾿ Headlam: γὰρ codd.


The post-Homeric epic Iliou Persis (see also Alcaeus fr. 298 and Euripides’ Trojan Women 69 f) described how during the sack of Troy Ajax the son of Oileus violated Cassandra in the temple of Athena, pulling down the image of the goddess as he did so. Ajax took refuge at the altar of the very goddess he had offended, and so escaped immediate danger. Polygnotus in his famous picture of the sack of Troy showed Ajax at the altar swearing an oath. This was presumably an assertatory oath, in which many of his friends joined him. Odysseus wished the Greeks to stone Ajax; he cannot have cared about the fate of Cassandra, but will have been aware of the danger arising from the offence given to Athena. If he had had his way disaster would have been averted, but the Greeks foolishly spared Ajax. While they were sailing home, Poseidon at the request of Athena raised a tremendous storm. According to one account, Ajax perished near the rocks of Caphereus, at the southeastern point of Euboea;


Fragments of Known Plays


As being without child or wife or hearth . . .


So Achelousa runs with wine in our place.

Ajax The Locrian

according to another, in the neighbourhood of Mykonos, where the Gyraean rocks are located. According to the Odyssey (4, 499 f) Poseidon allowed him to make his way to a rock, and would have spared him in spite of Athena. But Ajax then boasted that he had escaped in spite of the gods, so that Poseidon split the rock with his trident and he was drowned. Another story, followed by Virgil, Aen. 1, 39 f, was that Athena sank his ship with a thunderbolt, and when he defied her from a rock threw a second bolt at him and killed him.

Neither the crime of Ajax nor his death can have been depicted on the stage. The testimonia and fragments throw little light upon the plot; but it seems likely that the debate as to what the Greeks were to do about the sacrilege played an important part. One imagines a kind of trial, with Odysseus arguing that Ajax should be punished, and Ajax defending himself. Fr. 10b contains the beginnings of the lines of a dialogue between Ajax and

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.sophocles-fragments_known_plays.1996