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Sophocles: Ajax (Cambridge Translations from…

Sophocles: Ajax (Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama) (edition 2001)

by Sophocles (Author), Shomit Dutta (Editor)

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2682167,036 (3.75)17
"Brought boldly to life by Herbert Golder and Richard Pevear's translation and contextualized by Herbert Golder's eloquent introduction, this early Sophoclean tragedy tells the story of the Homeric hero better known as Ajax, who was second only to Achilles among the Greek warriors. In Greek tradition, Aias figures as the archaic warrior who dies in shame after his betrayal by the Greeks. Sophocles turns tradition inside out, portraying Aias' suicide not as a disgrace but as heroism. He endows Aias' suicide with a meaning radically different from previous versions of the Aias myth - Aias is not the hero whom time has passed by, but rather the man who steps beyond time. Most previous versions and interpretations have equivocated over Sophocles' bold vision. This edition of Aias translates precisely that transformation of the hero from the bygone figure to the man who transcends time."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
Title:Sophocles: Ajax (Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama)
Authors:Sophocles (Author)
Other authors:Shomit Dutta (Editor)
Info:Cambridge University Press (2001), Edition: 3, 122 pages
Collections:Your library

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Ajax [in translation] by Sophocles



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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This was a great play! You enter the internal landscape of Ajax, all that he is thinking, feeling, and concerning him. The plays is expertly written and there is much to admire within its poetic prose. You also see the undaunted harshness of Melanus and the feel the tragedy of Ajax as it pushes itself onto other characters. Overall, an impressive play!

4 stars! ( )
  DanielSTJ | Jan 14, 2020 |
Another Greek play about the Trojan War, this time from the point of view of Aias, a hero who has a dispute with Odysseus over the armor of Agamemnon. Like most Greek drama, this play raises questions of life, death, and fate. It is not as compelling as some of the other plays in the Trojan War group of works, but it is difficult to tell if that is the play or the translation, which modernized the language somewhat. It did have the benefit of being one with which I was much less familiar, so it was at least new territory for me. Overall, a mixed experience. ( )
  Devil_llama | Aug 20, 2016 |
On the 9th of March 2012 an American patrol was travelling through Afghanistan when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Of the occupants two were severely injured (I believe they lost limbs). Two days later, on the 11th March 2012, one of the soldiers that had escaped injury took up an assault rifle, left the camp, and proceeded to slaughter 16 Afghani civilians from two villages. This event hit the media like a storm, and as of the writing of this commentary, the soldier is up on charges and has made the statement that he cannot remember anything of the incident itself. The question that you may be asking is, what has this got to do with a play written 2500 years ago? My answer is quite a lot actually. In fact this recent incident in Afghanistan is almost identical to the plot of the Ajax (with the exception that the soldier did not kill himself whereas Ajax did).
When I first picked up this book last night I was thinking that I would just read this play, which I quite like, and comment on it like I have been doing with the other Greek plays that I have read recently. However, my mind had already been triggered by some books that I have ordered from the US that discuss mental illnesses, particularly PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that appeared in Ancient Greek literature. A friend of mine at work has read one of them and speaks very highly of the scholarship that is involved in it. Another book that I have picked up deals with PTSD as it appears in Heracles by Euripides. However, I have noticed that there seems to be a lack of literature relating to a similar condition arising in the Ajax.
The story of Ajax is that Ajax is a commander in the Trojan War and after Paris killed Achilles, there was a competition over who would get armour - Odysseus won. However it turns out that Odysseus (surprise, surprise) cheated and that Ajax should have got the armour instead. Ajax then descends into a fit of madness and begins to slaughter the Greeks' cattle, believing them to be the Greeks themselves. Upon discovering the truth, he descends into depression and finishes off by killing himself. There is more to the play than that, particularly when Odysseus then steps up afterwards and defends Ajax's honour against Menelaus and Agamemnon.
The events of the play show elements of psychosis and major depressive disorder leading to suicidal ideation (you can tell I work in personal injury). The depressive elements are very clear, particularly when it is Ajax's honour that has been destroyed. As the saying goes, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a moment to destroy it. Ajax's fit of madness destroyed his reputation in minutes. However we note that with the exception of Odysseus, there is absolutely no sympathy for Ajax from any of the other commanders. As far as they are concerned he has betrayed them and his people. Ajax sees himself having no friends: the Trojans hate him and the Greeks hate him, and despite his mother and brother loving him, his guilt pervades him to the point that he has no choice but to fall onto his sword.
Now, as I read through the English translation (with the Greek being on the opposite page) I noticed Ajax's illness being mentioned numerous times. I flicked my eyes over to the Greek, located the word, and indeed the word is Greek for illness. The play clearly demonstrates a recognition of mental illness being a legitimate sickness, and this was 2500 years before Freud. Further, as we look into other Greek literature, particularly Plato, we discover that there were systems in place that were designed to assist people suffering from mental illness: this being called the Therapy of the Soul. It appears that not only did the Greeks recognise mental illness, but also recognised the need and a system in an attempt to cure it.
However, if we consider this play and Heracles we notice that the Greeks seemed to believe that the origin of mental illness was divine. This is not necessarily limited to the Greeks though since we see episodes of psychosis in the Bible and a recognition that demonic forces can be behind it. The main incident that I refer to is the story of Legion, where a man was banished to the wastelands because he was possessed by a legion of demons, and Jesus comes along, cures him, and casts the demons into a herd of pigs. In Greek tragedy, mental illness comes about from the gods fogging the mind of the victim. Athena fogs Ajax's mind in an attempt to prevent him from killing Odysseus, and Madness descends upon Herakles since he had completed his tasks, and the prohibition from harming him had been lifted.
This is why I love to study the ancients. It is not because of my love of antiquity, but because it is clear that they were much more intelligent and switched on than we give them credit for. In Shakespeare's time, while there was a recognition of mental illness (King Lear suffers from a Major Depressive Disorder while Hamlet shows elements of psychosis, despite the fact that he is faking it). However, it is accepted and unchangeable. We see no attempt by Shakespeare to attempt to address it though there are elements looking at their underlying causes. However we cannot forget that, with the exception of King Lear, the other madnesses that come to mind (Titus Andronicus and Hamlet) the madness is faked. ( )
  David.Alfred.Sarkies | Jan 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a straightforward and vigorous modern translation of Sophocles' great play. Daly's translation never gets bogged down with archaisms or a false sense of formality. Truthfully, anything that brings this play to a wider audience is to be commended. The book lacks scene divisions and notes, so it may not be appropriate for classroom use. It's a welcome addition to the library of translations of Sophocles' plays. ( )
  wrmjr66 | Mar 13, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found that this text would work excellently for high school or undergraduates. It provides a reasonable modern translation that presents the text in a slightly new way that I think may be more accessible to the younger set, or simply those who have not yet been exposed to the works of Sophocles. I can certainly appreciate that undertaking. It's no Norton Critical Edition, but that shouldn't deter an interested reader from checking out the book. The story of Ajax is fascinating and often overlooked in mainstream circles--most high schools read about Oedipus, not Ajax. Daly's done a good job here for what I would call a specific audience. ( )
  sentimental13 | Oct 18, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sophoclesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Feldhūns, ĀbramsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jebb, Richard ClaverhouseEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lier, Bertus vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masqueray, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikmane, MāraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tipton, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watling, E.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A man can avenge nothing if the gods / aid his enemies. (Ajax: 27)
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This contains editions of Sophocles’ Ajax in translation only. Do not combine with editions with an ancient Greek text.
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