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Agamemnon. Ajax

Ag. If you went mad and wrought your own destruction, Ajax, in default of that you designed for us all, why put the blame on Odysseus? Why would you not vouchsafe him a look or a word, when he came to consult Tiresias that day? you stalked past your old comrade in arms as if he was beneath your notice.

Aj. Had I not good reason? My madness lies at the door of my solitary rival for the arms.

p. 154

Ag. Did you expect to be unopposed, and carry it over us all without a contest?

Aj. Surely, in such a matter. The armour was mine by natural right, seeing I was Achilles's cousin. The rest of you, his undoubted superiors, refused to compete, recognizing my claim. It was the son of Laertes, he that I had rescued scores of times when he would have been cut to pieces by the Phrygians, who set up for a better man and a stronger claimant than I.

Ag. Blame Thetis, then, my good sir; it was she who, instead of delivering the inheritance to the next of kin, brought the arms and left the ownership an open question.

Aj. No, no; the guilt was in claiming them--alone, I mean.

Ag. Surely, Ajax, a mere man may be forgiven the sin of coveting honour--that sweetest bait for which each one of us adventured; nay, and he outdid you there, if a Trojan verdict counts.

Aj. Who inspired that verdict 1? I know, but about the Gods we may not speak. Let that pass; but cease to hate Odysseus? ’tis not in my power, Agamemnon, though Athene's self should require it of me.



154:1 Athene is meant. The allusion is to Homer, Od. xi. 547, a passage upon the contest for the arms of Achilles, in which Odysseus states that 'The judges were the sons of the Trojans, and Pallas Athene.'

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