|Ajax Monologue by Sophocles|
- TECMESSA: O my lord Ajax, in the ills of men
- There is none sorer than Necessity.
- I was the offspring of a sire free-born,
- Strong in his wealth, no Phrygian more than he;
- And now, I am a slave. So the Gods willed it,
- And thy right hand determined. Coming thus
- Unto thy bed, I am on thy side, now.
- And I beseech thee by our household Jove,
- And by thy couch, which thou didst share with me,
- Leave me not open to contemptuous talk
- From thy foes' tongues, bequeathing me to be
- Handmaid to some one! For the very day
- Thou diest, and dying puttest me away,
- Think how the Argives will lay violent hands
- On me who, with thy son, must thenceforth eat
- The bread of bondage! And some master then,
- In bitter language aiming taunts at me,
- Will word me--"Look at Ajax' concubine!
- His, who was once the mightiest of the host;
- What servitude, after such envied state,
- Is come on her!" Such things will some one say,
- And I shall be the sport of destiny,
- But thee and thine these sayings will bring to shame.
- O tremble, ere in sorrowful old age
- Thou leav'st thy father--leav'st thy mother, too,
- Who has seen so many years, and oft to Heaven
- Is praying for thy return in safety home!
- And pity, O king, thy son--if he, bereft
- Of childish nurture, must survive alone,
- Under unfriendly guardians--what sore trouble
- Is this which, by the death, thou wilt impart
- To him and me? For I no longer know
- To whom to look, save thee; my native land
- Thy spear destroyed; and yet another stroke
- Brought low my mother and my sire, to be
- Inhabitants of Hades with the dead.
- What home, then, could supply thy place to me?
- What wealth? All my existence is in thee.
- Have thou some care for me. Some mindfulness
- A man should surely keep, of any thing
- That pleased him once.
Credits: Reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.