Consedere duces et vulgi stante corona
surgit ad hos clipei dominus septemplicis Aiax ,
utque erat inpatiens irae , Sigeia torvo
litora respexit classemque in litore vultu
intendensque manus ' agimus , pro Iuppiter ! ' inquit
' ante rates causam , et mecum confertur Ulixes !
at non Hectoreis dubitavit cedere flammis ,
quas ego sustinui , quas hac a classe fugavi .
tutius est igitur fictis contendere verbis ,
quam pugnare manu , sed nec mihi dicere promptum ,
nec facere est isti : quantumque ego Marte feroci
inque acie valeo , tantum valet iste loquendo .
nec memoranda tamen vobis mea facta , Pelasgi ,
esse reor : vidistis enim ; sua narret Ulixes ,
quae sine teste gerit , quorum nox conscia sola est !
praemia magna peti fateor ; sed demit honorem
aemulus : Aiaci non est tenuisse superbum ,
sit licet hoc ingens , quicquid speravit Ulixes ;
iste tulit pretium iam nunc temptaminis huius ,
quod , cum victus erit , mecum certasse feretur .
' Atque ego , si virtus in me dubitabilis esset ,
nobilitate potens essem , Telamone creatus ,
moenia qui forti Troiana sub Hercule cepit
litoraque intravit Pagasaea Colcha carina ;
Aeacus huic pater est , qui iura silentibus illic
reddit , ubi Aeoliden saxum grave Sisyphon urget ;
Aeacon agnoscit summus prolemque fatetur
Iuppiter esse suam : sic a Iove tertius Aiax .
nec tamen haec series in causam prosit , Achivi ,
si mihi cum magno non est communis Achille :
frater erat , fraterna peto ! quid sanguine cretus
Sisyphio furtisque et fraude simillimus illi
inseris Aeacidis alienae nomina gentis ?
' An quod in arma prior nulloque sub indice veni ,
arma neganda mihi , potiorque videbitur ille ,
ultima qui cepit detractavitque furore
militiam ficto , donec sollertior isto
sed sibi inutilior timidi commenta retexit
Naupliades animi vitataque traxit ad arma ?
optima num sumat , quia sumere noluit ulla :
nos inhonorati et donis patruelibus orbi ,
obtulimus quia nos ad prima pericula , simus ?
' Atque utinam aut verus furor ille , aut creditus esset ,
nec comes hic Phrygias umquam venisset ad arces
hortator scelerum ! non te , Poeantia proles ,
expositum Lemnos nostro cum crimine haberet !
qui nunc , ut memorant , silvestribus abditus antris
saxa moves gemitu Laertiadaeque precaris ,
quae meruit , quae , si di sunt , non vana precaris .
et nunc ille eadem nobis iuratus in arma ,
heu ! pars una ducum , quo successore sagittae
Herculis utuntur , fractus morboque fameque
velaturque aliturque avibus , volucresque petendo
debita Troianis exercet spicula fatis .
ille tamen vivit , quia non comitavit Ulixem ;
mallet et infelix Palamedes esse relictus ,
[ viveret aut certe letum sine crimine haberet ]
quem male convicti nimium memor iste furoris
prodere rem Danaam finxit fictumque probavit
crimen et ostendit , quod iam praefoderat , aurum .
ergo aut exilio vires subduxit Achivis ,
aut nece : sic pugnat , sic est metuendus Ulixes !
' Qui licet eloquio fidum quoque Nestora vincat ,
haut tamen efficiet , desertum ut Nestora crimen
esse rear nullum ; qui cum inploraret Ulixem
vulnere tardus equi fessusque senilibus annis ,
proditus a socio est ; non haec mihi crimina fingi
scit bene Tydides , qui nomine saepe vocatum
corripuit trepidoque fugam exprobravit amico .
aspiciunt oculis superi mortalia iustis !
en eget auxilio , qui non tulit , utque reliquit ,
sic linquendus erat : legem sibi dixerat ipse .
conclamat socios : adsum videoque trementem
pallentemque metu et trepidantem morte futura ;
opposui molem clipei texique iacentem
servavique animam ( minimum est hoc laudis ) inertem .
si perstas certare , locum redeamus in illum :
redde hostem vulnusque tuum solitumque timorem
post clipeumque late et mecum contende sub illo !
at postquam eripui , cui standi vulnera vires
non dederant , nullo tardatus vulnere fugit .
' Hector adest secumque deos in proelia ducit ,
quaque ruit , non tu tantum terreris , Ulixe ,
sed fortes etiam : tantum trahit ille timoris .
hunc ego sanguineae successu caedis ovantem
eminus ingenti resupinum pondere fudi ,
hunc ego poscentem , cum quo concurreret , unus
sustinui : sortemque meam vovistis , Achivi ,
et vestrae valuere preces . si quaeritis huius
fortunam pugnae , non sum superatus ab illo .
ecce ferunt Troes ferrumque ignesque Iovemque
in Danaas classes : ubi nunc facundus Ulixes ?
nempe ego mille meo protexi pectore puppes ,
spem vestri reditus : date pro tot navibus arma .
' Quodsi vera licet mihi dicere , quaeritur istis
quam mihi maior honos , coniunctaque gloria nostra est ,
atque Aiax armis , non Aiaci arma petuntur .
conferat his Ithacus Rhesum inbellemque Dolona
Priamidenque Helenum rapta cum Pallade captum :
luce nihil gestum , nihil est Diomede remoto ;
si semel ista datis meritis tam vilibus arma ,
dividite , et pars sit maior Diomedis in illis .
' Quo tamen haec Ithaco , qui clam , qui semper inermis
rem gerit et furtis incautum decipit hostem ?
ipse nitor galeae claro radiantis ab auro
insidias prodet manifestabitque latentem ;
sed neque Dulichius sub Achillis casside vertex
pondera tanta feret , nec non onerosa gravisque
Pelias hasta potest inbellibus esse lacertis ,
nec clipeus vasti caelatus imagine mundi
conveniet timidae nataeque ad furta sinistrae :
debilitaturum quid te petis , inprobe , munus ,
quod tibi si populi donaverit error Achivi ,
cur spolieris , erit , non , cur metuaris ab hoste ,
et fuga , qua sola cunctos , timidissime , vincis ,
tarda futura tibi est gestamina tanta trahenti ?
adde quod iste tuus , tam raro proelia passus ,
integer est clipeus ; nostro , qui tela ferendo
mille patet plagis , novus est successor habendus .
' Denique ( quid verbis opus est ? ) spectemur agendo !
arma viri fortis medios mittantur in hostes :
inde iubete peti et referentem ornate relatis . '
When the captains were seated , and the rank and file were standing , in a circle , around them , Ajax , master of the seven-layered shield , leapt up , and , fired with indignation , he looked back fiercely at the Sigean shore , and the ships beached on the shore , and , pointing to them , he said : ‘It is in front of these vessels I plead my cause , and Ulysses opposes me , by Jupiter ! Yet he did not hesitate to give way before Hector’s blazing torches , which I resisted , which I drove away from the boats . But then , it is less risky to battle using lying words , than to fight with fists , and I am not prompt to speak , as he is not to act . I am as powerful in the fierce conflicts of the battle , as that man is in talk . I do not think however that I need to mention my deeds to you , Pelasgians , since you have seen them : let Ulysses tell you of his that are conducted without witness , in which night is the only sharer ! I confess the prize I seek is great : but my rival detracts from the honour of it . There is nothing magnificent for Ajax in it , however great the thing is , if Ulysses has aspired to it . He has already won the prize in this contest , since when he is defeated he can say he fought it out with me .
As for me , if my courage were in doubt , my noble birth is a powerful argument , a son of Telamon , he who , under brave Hercules , captured the walls of Troy , and sailed in the ship from Pagasae , with the Argonauts , to Colchis . Telamon’s father was Aeacus , who judges there , among the silent dead , where Sisyphus , son of Aeolus rolls his heavy stone . Lofty Jupiter acknowledges Aeacus and confesses him to be his son : so Ajax is third in descent from Jove . Yet even this ancestry would not further my cause , if I did not share it with great Achilles . Our fathers , Peleus and Aeacus , were brothers : Achilles was my cousin , I ask for my cousin’s weapons ! Why are you , Ulysses , the son of Sisyphus , and similar to him in your capability for fraud and trickery , involving an alien race in the affairs of the Aeacidae ?
Are the arms denied me because I took up arms first , and without being rooted out , and shall he seem the better man who seized his weapons last , and shirked the fight with a pretence of madness , until Palamedes , son of Nauplius , the shrewder man , uncovered this cowardly spirit’s deceit , and dragged him to the weapons he shunned ? Shall he own all , who wanted none : shall I , who was the first to put myself at risk , be denied honour , and my cousin’s gifts ? If only his madness had been real , or been believed , and this exhorter to crime had never been our companion against the Phrygian fortresses ! Then Lemnos would not hold you , to our shame , Philoctetes , son of Poeas , of whom they say that , hidden in the woodland caves , you move the stones , now , with your laments , calling down on Laërtes’s son the curses that he deserves , and , if there are gods , do not curse in vain ! Now , alas , he who was sworn to the same conflict as ourselves , one of our captains , heir to Hercules’s arrows , weakened by sickness and hunger , clothed and fed by the birds , employs the arrows , that fate intended for Troy , in firing at birds ! Still , he is alive , because he did not accompany Ulysses further : luckless Palamedes would have preferred to be left behind also : he would have been alive , or at least have died an irreproachable death : that man there , remembering all too well the exposure of his own supposed madness , accused him of betraying the Greek cause , and uncovered gold , he had previously hidden , as evidence of the fabricated charge . So , by abandonment or death , he has drawn the strength of Achaea : that is how Ulysses fights , that is why he is to be feared !
Though he be greater than Nestor , the true , in eloquence , I will never believe that his desertion of Nestor in battle was anything but a crime . When Nestor implored Ulysses’s help , weary as he was with old age , and slowed by a wound to his horse , he was abandoned by his companion . Diomede , son of Tydeus , is well aware that I am not inventing the charge : he called Ulysses repeatedly , by name , and reproached his cowardly friend for running away .
The gods look down , with the eyes of the just , at human dealings ! Look , he who gave no help needs it : and as he had abandoned Nestor , so he would have been abandoned : he himself had established his own precedent . He shouted to his companions . I approached , and saw him , trembling and pale , and shaking with fear of impending death . I thrust out the mass of my shield , and covered him as he lay there , and ( small cause for praise in that ) I saved his cowardly life . If you go through with this contest , let us revisit that spot : revisit the enemy , your wound , and your usual cowardice , hide behind my shield , and contend with me under it ! Yet , after I had snatched him up , he who was granted no strength to stand , because of his wounds , ran for it , not slowed by his wounds at all .
Hector approaches , and , with him , leads the gods to battle , and brave men as well as you are terrified , Ulysses , when he rushes onwards , such is the fear he brings . I felled him to the ground with a huge rock hurled from a distance , as he was exulting in the success of his bloodthirsty slaughter . When he challenged one warrior to meet him , I withstood him . You wished the lot would fall to me , Achaeans , and your prayers were answered . If you ask what the outcome of that conflict was I was not beaten by Hector . See , the Trojans bring fire and sword , and Jupiter himself , against the Greek ships : where now is the eloquent Ulysses ? Surely I , with my own breast , shielded the thousand ships , your hope of return : grant me the arms for all that fleet .
Yet , if I may speak the truth , the arms search for greater honour than I do , to be linked to my glory , and the arms seek out Ajax , not Ajax the arms . Let the Ithacan compare with these things his killing of Rhesus , and of cowardly Dolon , his taking captive Helenus , Priam’s son , and his theft of Pallas’s image , the Palladium nothing performed in daylight , nothing without Diomede present . If ever you grant the armour for such worthless service , divide it , and let Diomede have the greater share of it . Nevertheless why give them to the Ithacan , who carries things out secretly , and always unarmed , deceiving the unsuspecting enemy with his tricks ? The gleam of the helmet , radiant with shining gold , will reveal his scheming , and show where he hides . The Dulichian’s head beneath Achilles’s helmet , will not bear so great a weight , and the spear-shaft , from Pelion , cannot be anything but heavy and burdensome for his arm , unsuited to war , and the shield , with its engraved design of the vast world , will not be fit for that cowardly left hand born for stealing . Perverse man , why do you go after a prize that will cripple you , one that , if it is given you in error by the Achaean people , will be a reason for being despoiled by the enemy , not feared by them ? And running away , in which you surpass everyone , you master-coward , will turn out to be a slow game for you , if you are carrying such a weight . Add to that your shield that is rarely used in battle , and uninjured , and mine split in a thousand places from fending off spear-thrusts , that needs a new successor .
Finally ( what is the use of words ? ) let us be seen together in action ! Send out the brave hero’s arms into the middle of the enemy ranks : order them to be recovered from there , and let the retriever be equipped with what he retrieves . ’
Se sentaron los generales , y con el vulgo de pie , en corro ,
se levanta hacia éstos el dueño del escudo séptuple , Áyax ,
y cual estaba , incapaz de soportar su ira , del Sigeo a los litorales
con torvo rostro se volvió para mirar , y a la flota en ese litoral ,
y extendiendo las manos : «Tratamos , por Júpiter» , dice ,
«ante nuestros barcos esta causa , y conmigo se compara Ulises .
Mas no dudó en ceder de Héctor a las llamas ,
las cuales yo sostuve , las cuales de esta armada ahuyenté .
Más seguro es , así pues , con fingidas palabras contender
que luchar con la mano , pero ni para mí el hablar es fácil ,
ni actuar es para éste , y cuanto yo en el Marte feroz
y en la formación valgo , tanto vale este hablando .
Y tampoco que de recordar se hayan a vosotros mis hechos , Pelasgos ,
opino : pues los visteis . Los suyos narre Ulises ,
esos que sin testigo hace , de los que la noche cómplice sola es .
Que unas recompensas grandes se piden confieso , pero les quita honor
el rival . Para Áyax no es un orgullo poseer ,
aunque sea ello ingente , algo que ha esperado Ulises .
Éste ha conseguido su recompensa ya ahora , de la pretensión esta ,
porque , cuando vencido haya sido , conmigo que ha contendido se dirá .
«Y yo , si la virtud