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The myth of the death of Ajax in Greek poetry up to Sophocles, with special reference to Pindar and Sophocles

Haviaras, Nicolaos; (1994) The myth of the death of Ajax in Greek poetry up to Sophocles, with special reference to Pindar and Sophocles. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

It is not surprising that Ajax's horrible death, given his glorious mythological origins and connections, as well as his association with Athens and his cult there, attracted many poets from Homer to Sophocles. The picture of the Iliadic Ajax is almost flawless, though a few peculiarities seem to "predict" his committing suicide after the judgement of the Achillean arms. The account of his death in the Nekyia of the Odyssey does not offer a great deal of information, but it can be related with the scanty material of the Epic Cycle. The relevant fragments come from the Aethiopis, the Little Iliad and the Sack of Troy, and can give us a basis for a reconstruction of the versions—especially that of the Aethiopis. Main matters of concern are the question of how the award was decided and what followed the decision. Aeschylus' dramatization of the myth in a lost trilogy appears to depart from the Epic Cycle and may have been crucial for its later presentation by Sophocles. In the three Pindaric odes where Ajax appears as a mythological exemplum (I.4, N.7, N.8), the contrast between him and Odysseus is conspicuous. Sophocles in the Ajax presents facts and other characters in a way that functions in favour of the main hero, and is engaged in a subtle "dialogue" with the earlier literary sources. Thus he eventually manages to convey Ajax's greatness and to make his burial indispensable. As a further sample of Sophocles' dramatic art, there are sufficient clues in the play which undermine Odysseus' role, so that it can be read in a manner less appreciative than most scholars have held.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The myth of the death of Ajax in Greek poetry up to Sophocles, with special reference to Pindar and Sophocles
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10098668
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