Ajax Questions and Answers
by Sophocles

Start Your Free Trial

How does Sophocles explore heroism in the play Ajax?

Expert Answers info

Adam Mangum eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write237 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

It's an open question whether Sophocles is exploring the theme of heroism in this play. Unlike the present, in Hellenic Greece theater was an art and activity closely interwoven with religious life. An individual play was more a ritual enactment of some cultural value than an entertainment. In effect, a play in which a fundamental belief is questioned or explored, as is now common, was extremely rare.

In the context of the Homeric era, in which the play is set, the definition of a hero was simple: a hero is one who values honor above life. A warrior can only gain honor through engaging in combat, and only a warrior possessing the greatest courage, fighting prowess, and physical ability, in addition to the highest social rank, could be considered heroic. Without question, Ajax would qualify, as second only to Achilles among the Greeks as a warrior. However, in his petty overreaching for the armor of the slain Achilles and subsequent livestock butchery, he dishonors himself. Only by...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 714 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

JOHN THORBURN eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write608 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences






check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question