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HesperosStudies in Ancient Greek Poetry Presented to M. L. West on his Seventieth Birthday$
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P. J. Finglass, C. Collard, and N. J. Richardson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199285686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199285686.001.0001

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‘Darkness, my Light’: Enigmatic Ajax

‘Darkness, my Light’: Enigmatic Ajax

(p.228) 16 ‘Darkness, my Light’: Enigmatic Ajax

S. J. Instone

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores one dimension of the play, Ajax. The oddities of the play revolve around two central themes — life and death — or, more particularly, the value of being alive and the value of being dead. The cohesion of the play becomes more apparent, and some of the oddities mentioned less odd, if one sees Sophocles' depiction of Ajax as intending to suggest that a certain type of life is no better than death and that in some circumstances death can create a sort of ‘life’. Seen in this light, the apparently sharp distinction between life and death becomes less sharp, and Ajax's death becomes less of a dividing point in the play. The chapter shows how the text both of the Ajax and of other plays of Sophocles draws attention to this blurring of life and death.

Keywords:   Ajax, narrative hypothesis, life, death, Sophocles

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