Friday, July 16, 2010

Sophocles' Ajax and the BBB!

Hi all,

Finished reading Ajax and really enjoyed it! Shel and I also found our ultimate coffee shop the BBB, and yes it has chairs on it's ceilings just epic!!

This is a quick little summary of Ajax and what I found interesting.

Plot: The play basically starts off with Athena informing Odysseus about how Ajax slaughtered all the cattle thinking it was the Greek soldiers. This had happened because when Achilles died, his armour was awarded to Odysseus not Ajax who was the second best Achaen fighter and thus led to a humiliated Ajax. Later on, Ajax kills himself seeing death as the only solution.

Character rundowns-
Ajax: is undoubtedly known by the Greek audience members, he is a noble hero portrayed as such by Homer, where in the Iliad he was the next greatest Achaen fighter after Achilles and even a match for Hector with his helmet flashing. Sophocles presents the paradox between Ajax' life and death. There is a major contrast between his undoubted abilities and his painful and dishonourable death. Sophocles shows not just the madness and shameful death of the hero but the restoration of his character after his death. The play demonstrates why he falls and why he is honoured. The second half of the play demonstrates this notion, Sophocles displays that he is not like other men in that his virtues outweigh his faults and that he ultimately deserves the high regard in which he had been held. Ajax' character also establishes the rules which govern men in relation to the gods. Ajax is presented in three different ways as the commander where he is highly respected, the husband where he is loved and cherished by his wife and as the brother/comrade where he is the ideal version of both. His major flaw would be a lack of sophrosyne where he does not know his place, in the male dominated society that he resides in alongside the other soldiers. His overbearing pride results in him not being able to listen to reason or judge rightly.

Tecmessa: Her attempt to stop Ajax from ending his life for the sake of her and their child whilst it has similarities to book six of the Iliad, the inferior status of Tecmessa being a concubine and captive presents the restrictions which Athens imposed on women. Tecmessa's status as a slave and captive she is one of the only characters who has felt and endures it. Her situation can relate to that of Ajax, where his status now has been ruined.
Her status is also quite similar to that of Teucer, this is evident when Agamemnon says ' if you'd been born of a decent woman, I do believe, you'd be walking on air, though in fact you're a nobody'.

Flawed Hero: Ajax is a flawed hero. Whilst he has the bravery and the stamina of a hero, he is the sheer example of the Sophoclean notion of hubris and over bearing pride, resembling characters such as Creon in this regard. His lack of understanding and 'knowing his place' is what ultimately causes his downfall. Ajax' pride stands in the way of him understanding and accepting that the armour was awarded to Odysseus, instead it causes him to act abruptly. Ajax also, doesn't really understand the choice/fate conundrum. He believes that because he is a warrior, he seals his own fate and is in control of his own future however in actual fact humans and thus their fate's are in the god's hands. When Ajax declines the help of Athena, ultimately his own doom has been set in stone. There is no doubt that Ajax the greater as he is own is exactly that, great. However the problem is he does not acknowledge that heroism is not just focused on bravery in battle but a balance of understanding and that accepting another man's capability does not necessarily reduce or decline his own.

Odysseus: He is known as the smart and cunning, and is no surprise that Odysseus is the one who persuades Agamemnon to allow Ajax to have a proper burial. Odysseus understands Sophrosyne and Hubris and ultimately the way of the gods.

Overall I think the play was really really good, and just by reading it you can tell it had been written by Sophocles. When I was reading it, all I could think about was the quote that Sophocles said, ' he portrayed men as they ought to be, Euripides as they were'. The play constantly, particularly with the chorus teaches the audience how to be, how to act in certain situations. It morally instructs how to leave a pious and balanced life. There are constant snippets that you can find in the play, that are like mini moral lessons.

Also interesting fact I read about Sophocles was that he died reading Antigone aloud, sounds kind of cliche but if it's true that's very cute!

That's it for now!
xx And this is the ceiling of the BBB WIN!


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Yags said...

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