The opening of the play begins by stating that the armor of Achilles will go to one of the men in the army. Both Odysseus and Ajax are men that have proved themselves throughout the war as being strong and courageous. It is left to Agamemnon and Menelaus, the leaders of the army, to choose who would receive the armor. When Odysseus is picked to have the honor of having Achilles’s armor, Ajax goes into a jealous rage. He believes he was the better of the two and that one that should be picked.
As Ajax’s anger builds, his mind starts to darken. He thinks about killing the men in the army with Menelaus, Agamemnon and Odysseus at the top of his list. As Ajax is contemplating these thoughts, Athena the god of wisdom begins to play with his mind. To save the army and protect her champion Odysseus, Athena causes Ajax to see the cattle and herds as men. Through the night he starts slaying and capturing animals believing that they were actually people. Ajax keeps a few animals tied up with the intention of torturing them before he murders them. These animals that he keeps are ones he believes to be the three he most hates.
As morning breaks news gets out as to what Ajax had done. The spell cast onto him by Athena lifts and Ajax is upset by what he has done. He speaks about how going after weak animals means nothing and gives foreshadowing as to his future actions. While this goes on the chorus and his wife Tecmessa beg him to live and do what is right.
1. Do you believe it is wrong for the Greek gods to interfere? Why or why not?
2. What do you think brought on Ajax's anger? Pride, jealousy, both, or something else?