ἆρ᾽ ὧδ᾽ ἄριστος ἐξ ἀριστέοιν δυοῖν
βλαστὼν ἂν αἰσχύνοιμι τοὺς πρὸς αἵματος ,
οὓς νῦν σὺ τοιοῖσδ᾽ ἐν πόνοισι κειμένους
ὠθεῖς ἀθάπτους , οὐδ᾽ ἐπαισχύνει λέγων ;
εὖ νυν τόδ᾽ ἴσθι , τοῦτον εἰ βαλεῖτέ που ,
βαλεῖτε χἠμᾶς τρεῖς ὁμοῦ συγκειμένους .
ἐπεὶ καλόν μοι τοῦδ᾽ ὑπερπονουμένῳ
θανεῖν προδήλως μᾶλλον ἢ τῆς σῆς ὑπὲρ
γυναικός , ἢ τοῦ σοῦ γ᾽ ὁμαίμονος λέγω ;
πρὸς ταῦθ᾽ ὅρα μὴ τοὐμόν , ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ σόν :
ὡς εἴ με πημανεῖς τι , βουλήσει ποτὲ
καὶ δειλὸς εἶναι μᾶλλον ἢ ' ν ἐμοὶ θρασύς .
ἄναξ , Ὀδυσσεῦ , καιρὸν ἴσθ᾽ ἐληλυθώς ,
εἰ μὴ ξυνάψων , ἀλλὰ συλλύσων πάρει .
τί δ᾽ ἔστιν , ἄνδρες ; τηλόθεν γὰρ ᾐσθόμην
βοὴν Ἀτρειδῶν τῷδ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀλκίμῳ νεκρῷ .
οὐ γὰρ κλύοντές ἐσμεν αἰσχίστους λόγους ,
ἄναξ Ὀδυσσεῦ , τοῦδ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἀνδρὸς ἀρτίως ;
ποίους ; ἐγὼ γὰρ ἀνδρὶ συγγνώμην ἔχω
κλύοντι φλαῦρα συμβαλεῖν ἔπη κακά .
ἤκουσεν αἰσχρά : δρῶν γὰρ ἦν τοιαῦτά με .
τί γάρ σ᾽ ἔδρασεν , ὥστε καὶ βλάβην ἔχειν ;
οὔ φησ᾽ ἐάσειν τόνδε τὸν νεκρὸν ταφῆς
ἄμοιρον , ἀλλὰ πρὸς βίαν θάψειν ἐμοῦ .
ἔξεστιν οὖν εἰπόντι τἀληθῆ φίλῳ
σοὶ μηδὲν ἧσσον ἢ πάρος ξυνηρετεῖν ;
εἴπ᾽ : ἦ γὰρ εἴην οὐκ ἂν εὖ φρονῶν , ἐπεὶ
φίλον σ᾽ ἐγὼ μέγιστον Ἀργείων νέμω .
ἄκουέ νυν . τὸν ἄνδρα τόνδε πρὸς θεῶν
μὴ τλῇς ἄθαπτον ὧδ᾽ ἀναλγήτως βαλεῖν :
μηδ᾽ ἡ βία σε μηδαμῶς νικησάτω
τοσόνδε μισεῖν ὥστε τὴν δίκην πατεῖν .
κἀμοὶ γὰρ ἦν ποθ᾽ οὗτος ἔχθιστος στρατοῦ ,
ἐξ οὗ ' κράτησα τῶν Ἀχιλλείων ὅπλων ,
ἀλλ᾽ αὐτὸν ἔμπας ὄντ᾽ ἐγὼ τοιόνδ᾽ ἐμοὶ
οὐκ ἀντατιμάσαιμ᾽ ἄν , ὥστε μὴ λέγειν
ἕν᾽ ἄνδρ᾽ ἰδεῖν ἄριστον Ἀργείων , ὅσοι
Τροίαν ἀφικόμεσθα , πλὴν Ἀχιλλέως .
ὥστ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἐνδίκως γ᾽ ἀτιμάζοιτό σοι :
οὐ γάρ τι τοῦτον , ἀλλὰ τοὺς θεῶν νόμους
φθείροις ἄν . ἄνδρα δ᾽ οὐ δίκαιον , εἰ θάνοι ,
βλάπτειν τὸν ἐσθλόν , οὐδ᾽ ἐὰν μισῶν κυρῇς .
σὺ ταῦτ᾽ , Ὀδυσσεῦ , τοῦδ᾽ ὑπερμαχεῖς ἐμοί ;
ἔγωγ᾽ : ἐμίσουν δ᾽ , ἡνίκ᾽ ἦν μισεῖν καλόν .
οὐ γὰρ θανόντι καὶ προσεμβῆναί σε χρή ;
μὴ χαῖρ᾽ , Ἀτρείδη , κέρδεσιν τοῖς μὴ καλοῖς .
τόν τοι τύραννον εὐσεβεῖν οὐ ῥᾴδιον .
ἀλλ᾽ εὖ λέγουσι τοῖς φίλοις τιμὰς νέμειν .
κλύειν τὸν ἐσθλὸν ἄνδρα χρὴ τῶν ἐν τέλει .
παῦσαι : κρατεῖς τοι τῶν φίλων νικώμενος .
μέμνησ᾽ ὁποίῳ φωτὶ τὴν χάριν δίδως .
I , thus noble born of two nobles , should I bring shame onto those of my blood , we being laid into such labors , those whom you now throw out unburied , are you not ashamed speaking ? Well now know of this , if you throw out this body somewhere , you will throw out us all the same , we three lying together . Since it is good for me to die toiling much on behalf of this , in a place of sight , rather than over your woman , or really your brother ' s should I say ? Because of this consider not mine , but also yours . Thus if you undo me at all , you will wish someday to be very cowardly rather than bold to me .
Lord Odysseus , know that in due time you have come , if not to be engaging , but to help by untangling .
What is it , men ? For from afar I heard the shouting of the Atridae about this strong corpse .
Indeed , for have we not been hearing most shameful words , Lord Odysseus , from this exact man ?
What kind ? For I could bear lenience for a man to have joined with bad words having heard indifferent words .
He did hear shameful words : for he was doing such things to me .
For what thing did he do to you , in order to bring damage ?
He intends to not allow this body to be without burial , but to honor it in defiance to me .
So is it possible for a friend having spoken truthfully and for naught no lesser than before to be your friend ?
You should speak : For otherwise I would not be well minded , since I consider you the best friend out of the Argives .
Listen now : Before the gods , do not dare to throw out this man in this way , unburied , without pain . Nor shall force at all conquer you , so that your long hatred causes you to treat on custom . For this man was once to me most hated of the army , from when I became the master of the arms of Achilles . But though he was like that to me I would not treat him with dishonor , in order to not say he was the best man I saw among the Argives , of us who came to Troy , except for Achilles . Thus he would not be justly dishonored at least by you . For not him , but the laws of the gods you would destroy . It is not just to harm a good man , if he dies , even if you happen to be hating him .
You , like this , Odysseus , for him you fight against me ?
I do . I hated him at the time when to hate was appropriate .
For you proclaim you should not tread on him having died ?
Do not rejoice , son of Atreus , in gains that are not noble .
It is not easy to live as a tyrant .
But they say one should deal out to friends the due honor .
The noble man should listen to those who execute .
Stop : You rule , even with your friends prevailing .
Remember what sort of man you give your grace .
Since I am nobly born and my parents
are both noble , too , how could I disgrace
my own flesh and blood ? Ajax is lying here ,
overcome by all his troubles , and you—
aren’t you ashamed to say you’ll toss him out
without a burial ? Well , think of this—
if you just throw him out , along with him
you’ll be casting off three more as well .
It’s a finer thing for men to see me die
while labouring hard on his behalf
than fighting for your woman—or should I say
your brother’s wife ? Given what I’ve said ,
don’t think about my safety ; look to your own .
For if you make things difficult for me ,
you’re going to wish you had been more afraid
and not so bold when you confronted me .
Lord Odysseus , you’ve come just in time ,
if you’re here to calm things , not make them worse .
My friends , what’s going on ? From a long way off
I heard the sons of Atreus shouting out
over this brave man’s body .
Lord Odysseus ,
we have had to listen for far too long
to the most shameful language from this man .
Is that not reason enough ?
Well , let’s see—
I could forgive a man who had been listening
to someone else who was abusing him
and who then joined in a war of insults .
I did insult him , because his actions
were a direct affront to me .
What did he do to injure you ?
He says he will not let
this corpse remain without a burial .
He’ll set it in a grave , no matter what I do .
Well , may someone who’s a friend of yours
speak his mind and still remain a colleague
the way he was before ?
You should speak out .
I would scarcely be thinking properly
if I said no . Among the Argives
I consider you my greatest friend .
Then listen . In deference to the gods
don’t be so unyielding you throw Ajax out
without a burial . You should not let
that spirit of violence at any time
seize control of you , not to the extent
that you then trample justice underfoot .
This man became my greatest enemy
in all our army on that very day
I beat him for the armour of Achilles .
But for all the man’s hostility to me ,
I would not disgrace him . Nor would I deny
that in my view he was the finest warrior
among the Argive men who came to Troy ,
after Achilles . So if you dishonour him ,
you would be unjust . It would not harm him ,
but you’d be contravening all those laws
the gods established . When a good man dies ,
it is not right to harm him , even though
he may be someone you hate .
you mean you’re arguing against me ,
on his behalf ?
Yes , that’s what I mean .
I did hate him , when it was all right to hate .
Why would you not walk all over him ,
now that he’s dead ?
Son of Atreus ,
do not take pleasure in advantages
which are dishonourable .
A mighty king
does not show reverence all that easily .
But he can give out honourable rewards
to friends when they advise him prudently .
A good man should obey those in command .
Why not concede ? You’ll still be in control ,
although you let your friends prevail against you .
Just remember the kind of man he was ,
the one for whom you want to do this favour .