Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 314
Ajax enters, alone. He puts his sword in the sand, hilt first, and asks Zeus to send messengers to inform his brother of his death. Ajax is afraid that his enemies will learn of his death first and his body will be desecrated. Ajax also asks that his death be avenged, and after expressing concern for his mother and father, Ajax falls upon his sword and commits suicide.
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The Chorus enters, looking for Ajax, but Tecmessa finds him and emits a loud wailing sound of grief. The Chorus and Tecmessa lament for Ajax’s life, now lost. Teucer enters and he, too, is grief-stricken at his brother’s death. Teucer orders that his nephew be brought so that he can be protected from Ajax’s enemies, who might seek to harm the child. Teucer expresses concern that their father will blame him for having allowed Ajax to die in such a manner.
Menelaus enters and orders that Ajax’s body be left to rot where it fell and that no honor be given to the warrior in death. Menelaus decrees that Ajax’s rotting body will serve as a lesson to any soldier who thinks to raise a hand against him. The Chorus warns that there must be respect for the dead, but Teucer interrupts in anger and reminds Menelaus that he had no authority over Ajax when he was alive and certainly not when he is dead. Teucer will bury his brother because the law of the gods demands it.
The argument between Teucer and Menelaus continues, with both men calling each other names and insulting one another. The conflict ends when Menelaus and his men leave. In a few moments, Tecmessa and her child enter for a final farewell with Ajax. Teucer leaves to dig a grave, but hurries back accompanied by Agamemnon. Agamemnon is angry and insults Teucer and Ajax.