Ajax (Campbell Translation)
By: Sophocles (497 BC - 406 BC)
Ajax is a Greek tragedy written in the 5th century BC. The date of Ajax's first performance is unknown and may never be found, but most scholars regard it as an early work, c. 450 - 430 BC. It chronicles the fate of the warrior Ajax after the events of the Iliad, but before the end of the Trojan War. At the onset of the play, Ajax is enraged because Achilles' armor was awarded to Odysseus, rather than to him. He vows to kill the Greek leaders who disgraced him. Before he can enact his extraordinary revenge, though, he is tricked by the goddess Athena into believing that the sheep and cattle that were taken by the Achaeans as spoil are the Greek leaders. Much of the play shows the disintegration of Ajax in the face of this humiliation, leading ultimately to his suicide.