Characters Discussed

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 567

Ajax

Illustration of PDF document

Download Ajax Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Ajax (AY-jaks), the son of Telamon and, excepting Achilles, the strongest and bravest of the Greeks who fought to win Troy. After Achilles was killed, his armor was claimed both by Ajax and by Odysseus; on the testimony of Trojan prisoners that Odysseus had been the more formidable foe, the Greeks awarded the coveted armor to him. Enraged and envious, Ajax left his tent by night, stealthily, to kill not only Odysseus but Agamemnon and Menelaus as well. The goddess Athena cast a madness upon him so that, thinking them Greek leaders, he massacred the flocks and herds. The play begins when Ajax is at the height of his delirium. After the fit has passed, he is seen to be immoderate and proud, but at the same time he commands sympathy not only because of his greatness of spirit but also because he has been, however deservedly, the victim of Athena’s terrible wrath. His magnificent sense of personal honor demands that his scheme be eradicated by suicide, an action he carries out in spite of the pleas of Tecmessa and the Chorus. He is a man of such colossal inner strength, nobility, and self-sufficiency that he is not only alienated from his fellow men but also brought into conflict with the gods themselves.

Odysseus

Odysseus (oh-DIH-see-uhs), a resourceful leader of the Greeks at Troy. Ingenious in action and skillful in speech, he is a foil to Ajax. Whereas Ajax is the type of the hero, Odysseus is the type of the enlightened, reasonable man. Although he is an enemy of Ajax, he is horrified when Athena shows him the hero insanely torturing the animals. After the suicide of Ajax, Odysseus persuades Agamemnon to let Teucer give his corpse an honorable burial and, having befriended Teucer, nobly offers to assist at the funeral. While Ajax was alive, he and Odysseus had been at cross purposes, but after Ajax’s death, Odysseus justly pays tribute of respect to the dead hero’s greatness.

Teucer

Teucer (TEW-sur), an archer, the son of Telamon and a captive princess. He is a half brother of Ajax. He is absent on a raid during Ajax’s madness and subsequent suicide. On his return to the Greek camp, he is first taunted by enemies of Ajax because of his brother’s shame and then warned by Calchas, the seer, that Ajax’s safety depends on his remaining within his tent for the rest of the day. By the time Teucer reaches Ajax’s tent, the hero has left for the scene where his suicide occurs. There is evidently a deep measure of trust and devotion between the brothers. Defying both Menelaus and Agamemnon, Teucer insists that Ajax be buried properly.

Tecmessa

Tecmessa (tehk-MEE-sah), a captive, the devoted concubine of Ajax and mother of his son Eurysaces.

Menelaus

Menelaus (mehn-eh-LAY-uhs), the king of Sparta and the deserted husband of Helen. He is pictured as blustering and pusillanimous, eager to defame his dead enemy Ajax by forbidding burial and leaving his body to scavengers.

Agamemnon

Agamemnon (ah-geh-MEHM-non), the commander in chief of the Greek forces and brother of Menelaus. When he denies permission to bury Ajax, Teucer defies him. He at last permits the funeral, quite ungraciously, after the intervention of Odysseus.

Eurysaces

Eurysaces (ew-RIH-seh-seez), the young son of Ajax and Tecmessa, who receives his father’s great shield from Ajax’s own hand.

Ajax

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 127

Ajax
A courageous Greek warrior, Ajax feels that he has been disrespected when he is passed over for the shield of Achilles. In his grief and disappointment he tries to sneak into the tents of the other Greek warriors and slay them. Casting a spell, Athena causes him to think that he has captured Odysseus and that he will torture him, but in reality he has killed sheep and cattle. When the spell wears off and he...

(The entire section contains 1254 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Ajax study guide. You'll get access to all of the Ajax content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Scene Summaries
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Critical Essays
  • Quotes
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Previous

Themes

Next

Analysis

Explore Study Guides