John Flaxman, Ajax defending the Greek Ships against the Trojans
John Flaxman, Ajax defending the Greek Ships against the Trojans

This is part 1 of 2. Part 2 is here.

Τῶν υἷας ἀερσιμάχας
ταχύν τ’ Ἀχιλλέα
εὐειδέος τ’ Ἐριβοίας
παῖδ’ ὑπέρθυμον βοάσω
Αἴαντα σακεσφόρον ἥρω,
ὅστ’ ἐπὶ πρύμνᾳ σταθεὶς
ἔσχεν θρασυκάρδιον ὁρ-
μαίνοντα νᾶας
θεσπεσίῳ πυρὶ καῦσαι
Ἕκτορα χαλκοκορυστάν,
ὁππότε Πηλεΐδας
τραχεῖαν ἐν στήθεσσι μᾶνιν

ὠρίνατο, Δαρδανίδας
τ’ ἔλυσεν ἄτας·
οἳ πρὶν μὲν πολύπυργον
Ἰλίου θαητὸν ἄστυ
οὐ λεῖπον, ἀτυζόμενοι δέ
πτᾶσσον ὀξεῖαν μάχαν,
εὖτ’ ἐν πεδίῳ κλονέων
μαίνοιτ’ Ἀχιλλεύς,
λαοφόνον δόρυ σείον·
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ πολέμοιο
λῆξεν ἰοστεφάνου
Νηρῆϊδος ἀτρόμητος υὶός,

ὥστ’ ἐν κυανανθέϊ θυμὸν ἀνέρων
πόντῳ Βορέας ὑπὸ κύ-
μασιν δαΐζει,
νυκτὸς ἀντάσας ἀνατελλομένας,
λῆξεν δὲ σὺν φαεσιμβρότῳ
Ἀοῖ, στόρεσεν δέ τε πόντον
οὐρία· Νότου δὲ κόλπωσαν πνοᾷ
ἱστίον ἁρπαλέως τ’ ἄ-
ελπτον ἐξίκοντο χέρσον·
(Bacchylides, Epin. 13.100-132)

Of their battle-shouldering sons I shall shout aloud, swift Achilles and the high-spirited child of fair Eriboea, Ajax, shield-bearing hero, who stood on the stern and kept off bold-hearted bronze-helmeted Hector as he strove to burn the ships anger (in his breast) and freed the Dardanids from their bewilderment: previously they would not leave from the marvellous (many-towered) city of Ilium, but in bewilderment cowered in fear of the keen fighting, whenever Achilles went on his furious rampage in the plain, brandishing his murderous spear; but when the fearless son of the violet-crowned Nereid* ceased from the fight,—as on a dark-blossoming sea Boreas rends men’s hearts with the billows, coming face to face with them as night rises up, but ceases on the arrival of Dawn who gives light to mortals, and a gentle breeze levels the sea, and they belly out their sail before the south wind’s breath and eagerly reach the dry land which they had despaired of seeing again;…

* Thetis, mother of Achilles.

(tr. David A. Campbell, with his note)


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