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Sophocles’ Ajax. Sophocles Circa 495-405 b.c. Floruit 468-405 b.c. 18 victories in Dionysia over 100 plays? Ajax - oldest surviving - c.455/443? Philoctetes.

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Presentation on theme: "Sophocles’ Ajax. Sophocles Circa 495-405 b.c. Floruit 468-405 b.c. 18 victories in Dionysia over 100 plays? Ajax - oldest surviving - c.455/443? Philoctetes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sophocles’ Ajax

2 Sophocles Circa 495-405 b.c. Floruit 468-405 b.c. 18 victories in Dionysia over 100 plays? Ajax - oldest surviving - c.455/443? Philoctetes - next to last - 409 b.c. - age 87 - 1st prize Trachiniae - date unknown

3 Sophocles at War Persian Wars 499- 449bc Battle of Salamis 480bc Sophocles as leader of celebratory paean Twice Elected Strategos Peloponnesian War 431- 404 bc Athenian Empire vs. Peloponnesian League, led by Sparta

4 Stuff of Tragedy Hero Cults Hero Tales as Tragic Subject Matter Sometimes Historical Subjects (Aeschylus’ Persae) Vehicle for Ethical & Religious Problems

5 Surviving Plays Ajax Trachiniae Philoctetes Electra The Theban Plays –Oedipus Rex –Oedipus in Colonus –Antigone

6 Dramatis Personae Ajax Teucer Tecmessa Eurysaces Atreidae Odysseus Athena Messenger Chorus of Salaminian Sailors

7 Telamon, Periboea & Hesione Telamon: Argonaut, Companion of Herakles, Father of Ajax & Teucer Periboea, mother of Ajax Hesione, sister of Priam, mother of Teucer

8 Second Best of the Achaeans Achilles Ajax Odysseus?

9 Hubris of Ajax My father, with gods' help a man of naught Might victory win; but I, I trust, shall grasp Without their aid that glory for myself. Athena’s Picture Removed Athena’s Help Rejected

10 Battlefield Prowess

11 Armor Dispute

12 Made by Hephaestus Patroclus Thetis

13 Choosing the Next Bravest Aeschylus’ Thracian Captives: Trojan Captives choose winner Sophocles’ Ajax: Atreidae’s decision

14 Pindar’s Ajax Lyric Poet Contemporary of Aeschylus, fl. C5th No murder plot, no madness, no sheep Snubbed Ajax commits suicide Ajax etymology –aietos - eagle (Pindar) –aiai - woe/agony (Soph.)

15 Divine Intervention Athena checks murderous Achilles Athena deceives murderous Ajax Slaughter & Torture of Sheep

16 Athena Sophocles: distance & separation between mortals and immortals immortal on stage only here in surviving plays Athena’s highest delight: triumph over a fallen enemy Odysseus Reluctant –Cp. Odyssey

17 Compassion of Odysseus? Fragility of Life & Happiness contrast between Odysseus’ prudence and Ajax's reckless passion

18 Shield of Ajax Shield for Son Eurysaces “Broad Shield” Little Concern for Tecmessa or even for Teucer

19 Teucer Will be exiled for Failure to Save or Avenge Ajax Hamo Thornycroft

20 Hector’s Sword Hector as guest-friend

21 Painful Prophecies Calchas “Bronze Man” 10 year war @ Troy Iphigeneia to Artemis Chryseis & Apollo’s plague Bow of Herakles from Philoctetes Wrath of Athena

22 Dead killing the Living…Again Juxtaposition of hope & death Sophoclean Reversal Pessismism: hope vs. result

23 Honoring the Dead Piety vs Revenge Ajax’s prayer Aristocratic honor ethic vs. more humane ethic of obligations to individuals

24 Sophoclean Elements broader debate rather than motivation of individual characters protagonists sacrifice everything for honor & values resolute, ready to die, stubborn in the face of persuasion isolated from, misunderstood by family & friends accused of recklessness + lack of realism death in solitude -- greatness not right or wrong, just expressions of greatness

25 Agamemnon & Odysseus discipline vs. respect for former honor of dead man Change of scene – from Ajax's tent to seashore - unusual Death/act of violence on stage - very unusual - breach of convention

26 Odysseus as peace-maker Return to piety - respect for gods' laws - bury dead Return to honor for Ajax - bravest after Achilles Greatness of Ajax weighs more than hatred Odysseus still sees fate of Ajax as mortal lot - O. too will need burial some day Chorus acknowledges value of O.'s wisdom Teucer reconciles with O. No reconciliation with Ajax - offer to aid in burial rejected --- Odyssey

27 Resolution Funeral honors + pyre at Troy Other tradition- bones + armor returned to Salamis Tomb in Salamis - hero-cult - honor for heroes - annual sacrifices by Athenians Subject-matter of tragedy --- importance of hero-cult in C6th Ajax - establishment of cult - honor of + for Ajax (no tomb=no cult)


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