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Translated by John Tipton
Written in the fifth century B.C., Sophocles’ tragedy concerns the shame and death of Ajax, a Greek who had won fame for his prodigious strength in the Trojan War. A brutal farewell to the valor and values of the heroic world, the play moves through a series of reversals: old allies become enemies, honor becomes disgrace, and divine power becomes temporal authority.
Formally terse, this translation conveys the force and urgency of Sophocles’ Greek. Indeed, as Tipton suggests in his afterword, the tragedy has renewed relevance for our times: “Ajax demands our attention, not only for its clear-eyed account of the bitter aftermath of victory but also for its treatment of unscrupulous politics.”
“. . . everywhere in this translation there is the sense that Tipton, surely, in part, because of the unique formal constraints he has placed upon himself, has looked closely into rather than simply at Sophocles’ Greek, has locked eyebrows with the old Aegean dramatist.” —Stanley Lombardo, from the Foreword