|Ajax Monologue by Sophocles|
- TECMESSA: You shall hear all that passed,
- Being sharers in the event. At dead of night,
- When the evening campfires no longer blazed,
- He grasped his two-edged weapon, and seemed bent
- To sally upon some errand, objectless.
- I, in surprise, said to him "What dost thou, Ajax?
- Why thus unsummoned either by the voice
- Of messengers, or any trumpet-call,
- Goest thou forth? Now the whole host is sleeping!"
- But briefly he replied and in cant phrase;
- "Woman, a woman should be seen, not heard."
- I held my tongue, and he rushed forth alone.
- What there befell him truly I cannot say;
- But he came in and brought, bound all together,
- Bulls, herdmen's dogs and fleecy spoil of sheep.
- Some he beheaded; of some, their heads bent upward,
- He cut the throats and clave the chins in twain,
- And some he bound and tortured, as if human,
- (Though it was cattle he fell on;) and at last
- Rushing out through the door he hurled up words
- To a phantom, some against Atridae, some
- About Ulysses, laughing loud and long
- At all the outrage he had wreaked on them;
- Then darting back into the hut, once more
- Hardly and by degrees he comes to reason;
- When looking on the chamber filled with havock
- He shrieked, and smote his head. Then he sat down,
- Flinging himself among the weltering wrack
- Of sheep that he had butchered, and clutched hold
- Upon his hair with his clenched fists. Since then,
- Most of the time he sat, uttering no sound;
- After, he threatened me--'twas terrible!
- If I disclosed not all that had befallen,
- And questioned me, what could have come to him.
- O friends, in fear, I told him the whole story,
- So far as I well knew it. Instantly
- He burst out crying lamentably--cries
- Such as I never heard from him before.
- For clamour of the kind, he ever taught,
- Belonged to base and pusillanimous spirits;
- Rather, suppressing all shrill outcries, he
- Would groan, low, like the rumbling of a bull.
- Now, prostrate under such adversity,
- He, without meat or drink, sits on the ground
- Among the beasts his edge has dealt on, dumb.
- And plain it is he meditates no good;
- That way, at least, his words and wailings tend.
- But O dear friends--for therefore was my errand-
- Come in and help us, if by any means
- You have the power; for such men as he
- Are conquered by the counsels of a friend.
Credits: Reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.