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The Ajax DilemmaJustice, Fairness, and Rewards$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199768615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199768615.001.0001

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(p.98) Compassion
The Ajax Dilemma

Paul Woodruff

Oxford University Press

This chapter first distinguishes between clemency, pity, and compassion. It then discusses how Tecmessa and Odysseus both feel compassion for Ajax and how they use it in different ways. Odysseus's compassion holds him back from action upon seeing Ajax in his rage. Tecmessa's compassion rises from her ability to recognize the feelings of others. Because of her compassion, she understands Ajax's feelings along with those of the commanders. She realizes that only justice—and not compassion—may be considered a reason for giving her husband the armor. The chapter also considers how laws often come into conflict with compassion.

Keywords:   compassion, Ajax, Odyssesus, Tecmessa, clemency, pity, law, justice

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