of Mount Olympus..|..Greek
Greek warrior who helped the Greeks defeat the Trojans.
Supreme military strategist who designed the Trojan horse, a ruse that
enabled the Greeks to win the Trojan War.
Goddess of wisdom and war.
Menelaus Greek generals in the Trojan War.
Concubine of Ajax.
Child of Ajax and Tecmessa
Half-brother of Ajax.
of Action: About 3,200 years ago in recorded history's infancy, when
humankind's imagination peopled the known world with great heroes and villains
and nature reflected the mood of the gods inhabiting the mountaintops,
the seas, the forests, and the unseen worlds above and below.
of Action: City of Troy and surrounding plains in northwestern Anatolia,
a region in Asia Minor that is part of modern-day Turkey. Anatolia is west
of Greece (across the Aegean Sea) and north of Egypt (across the Mediterranean
as the Play Opens: Before the tent of Ajax at Troy as the sun rises.
Troy: In archeological digs between 1870 and 1890, Heinrich Schleimann
proved that the ancient city of Troy was a fact, not a myth, as many had
thought. However, the story of the Trojan War was a mixture of fact, legend,
Background and Plot Summary
Michael J. Cummings...©
the end of the Trojan War, Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors,
lies dead after a Trojan arrow guided by Apollo mortally wounds him. Ajax,
the second-greatest Greek warrior in battlefield prowess because of his
colossal size and strength, expects to receive the prize of prizes: Achilles'
armor, which was made by the blacksmith god Hephaestus (Vulcan in
Roman mythology). But the Greek generals Agamemnon and Menelaus award it
instead to the brilliant strategist Odysseus (Ulysses in Roman mythology),
the man who would later design a gigantic wooden horse, an engine of war
in the guise of a gift, that ultimately resulted in the downfall of Troy.
then becomes so enraged that he plots the murder of Odysseus, Agamemnon,
and Menelaus at night. However, the meddling Athena, goddess of wisdom
and war, decides to thwart Ajax's plan. She has always sided with the Odysseus,
her favorite Greek warrior. Like her, he favors guile to overcome his enemies.
Moreover, he honors her as no other goddess. To save him from Ajax, she
casts a spell of insanity upon the giant. In a frenzy, he mistakes sheep
for his intended victims, slaughters them, and takes captives he plans
picks up the thread of the story when Ajax, still reeling from Athena's
spell, is in his tent at Troy. His friends from Salamis enter with his
concubine, a Phrygian princess, Tecmessa. As Ajax comes to his senses,
he feels deep humiliation, believing that he has ruined his reputation
as a warrior and disgraced his family in Salamis. Before the chorus, he
recites a catalogue of his woes. He wants to die. Tecmessa and the Salamanians
try to assuage his terrible grief. When he addresses them, he seemingly
alleviates their fears. However, he then leaves the tent with the sword
of Hector (the dead Trojan hero) and falls upon it, killing himself. Although
Agamemon and Menelaus decree a humiliating post-mortem punishment for Ajax--to
leave him lie unburried as carrion for animals--Odysses persaudes them
of Work: Ajax is a stage play, a tragedy that recounts the events
leading up to the death of Ajax the Great, one of the Greek heroes of the
Written: Probably about 444 B.C.
Ajax Was: Ajax (Aias, in transliterations based on the
original Greek) was the son of Telamon, King of Salamis. A warrior of enormous
stature and courage, Ajax was second only in strength and bravado to Achilles
on the Greek side in the Trojan War, according to Homer's Iliad.
Homer and other storytellers often refer to Ajax as Ajax the Great
or as the Telamonian Ajax to distinquish him from another Ajax who
was the son of Ileus (or Oileus), King of Locris. The latter Ajax, who
also fought for the Greeks in the Trojan War, was known as Ajax the
Less (Aias the Less), or the Locrian Ajax.
of Sophoclean Tragedy: (1) It is based on events that already took
place and with which the audience is familiar. (2) The protagonist is a
person of noble stature. (3) The protagonist has a weakness and, because
of it, becomes isolated and suffers a downfall. (4) Because the protagonist's
fall is not entirely his or her own fault, the audience may end up pitying
him or her. (5) The fallen protagonist gains self-knowledge. He has a deeper
insight into himself and understands his weakness. (6) The audience undergoes
a purging of emotions, after experiencing pity, fear, shock and other strong
feelings. The people go away feeling better. (7) The drama usually unfolds
in one place in a short period of time, usually about a day.
of the Chorus : The chorus generally had the following roles in the
plays of Sophocles: (1) to explain the action, (2) To interpret the
action in relation to the law of the state and the law of the Olympian
gods, (3) to foreshadow the future, (4) to To serve as actor actor in the
play, (5) To sing and/or dance, and (6) to give the author's views.
In some ways, the chorus is like the narrator of a modern film or like
the background music accompanying the action of the film. In addition,
it is like text on the film screen that provides background information
or identifies the time and place of the action.
as a Character Flaw: Great pride, such as that of Oedipus (Oedipus
Rex) or Creon (Antigone), is referred to as hybris or hubris.
Between Tragedy and Comedy: A tragedy focuses on a great and noble
character; a comedy usually does not. Also, in a comedy, the author usually
pokes fun at the characters. Finally, a comedy does not end tragically.
and conceit cause the downfall of a great warrior. Even though Ajax
is treated unjustly, it is his own great pride that ultimately brings him
to ruin. Pride was considered a grave sin by the ancient Greeks because
it placed too much emphasis on individual will, thereby downplaying the
will of the state and endangering the community as a whole. Because pride
makes people unwilling to accept wise counsel, they act rashly and make
is more powerful than brute force. In the end, it was the genius of Odysseus
that overcame the Trojans, not the physical prowess of Ajax. Consequently,
the Greek generals awarded the armor of Achilles to Odysseus instead of