Ajax In The Peloponnesian War

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In the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Pericles argues that actions which are not informed by reasoned talk, speeches, dialogue, or deliberation are not actions worth taking and will ultimately lead to the downfall of Athens. Sophocles’ Ajax is, in some ways, a challenge to Pericles’ claim. Ajax the character is the practical “man of action,” the brave and heroic warrior, whose authority is not rooted in lofty speeches or thoughtful dialogue, but rather in combat, where he always comes out the victor. However, Sophocles opens the play just as the Trojan War has ended, and Achilles arms have been awarded to Odysseus by a tribunal, thus reducing Ajax to a man of words and speeches as he spends most of the play lamenting his situation and condition, often in the form of soliloquys, before taking his own life by falling on his sword. Just as one war has ended, Ajax is thrown…show more content…
He has always pursued traditional goals familiar to Homer’s world and to many places in ours: help friends, harm enemies, earn honor for success in battle. Enraged by the tribunal’s failure to acknowledge his supreme martial skill, Ajax tries to murder all of the Greek leaders. After regaining his senses, Ajax makes this speech, which has the effect of misleading listeners into thinking that Ajax intends to soften and accept the tribunal’s decision, yet he claims that the Greek leaders are aiming to be more powerful than they should be. Ajax says “In future, then, we’ll know to yield to the gods / And learn how to revere the sons of Atreus” (666-667). For self-preservation, Ajax says that one should revere the gods and yield to the Greek leaders, but Ajax emphasizes the power-grabbing by reversing the verbs “yield”, and “revere.” Ajax realizes that the Greek kings, Agamemnon and Menelaus, are the ones who have power over the group consensus, and are therefore the ones responsible for handing the armor to

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