Ghosts and Empty Shadows

Sophokles’ Ajax, 121-126

“I know nothing more—but I pity him
Now that he suffers, even if he hates me,
Since this evil ruin has him bound.
Really, I am looking more at his fate than my own.
For I see that those of us alive are nothing
More than ghosts or empty shadows.”

ἐγὼ μὲν οὐδέν᾿ οἶδ᾿· ἐποικτίρω δέ νιν
δύστηνον ἔμπας, καίπερ ὄντα δυσμενῆ,
ὁθούνεκ᾿ ἄτῃ συγκατέζευκται κακῇ,
οὐδὲν τὸ τούτου μᾶλλον ἢ τοὐμὸν σκοπῶν.
ὁρῶ γὰρ ἡμᾶς οὐδὲν ὄντας ἄλλο πλὴν
εἴδωλ᾿ ὅσοιπερ ζῶμεν ἢ κούφην σκιάν.

158-159

“Small people without the help of the great
Are certainly shaky defense for a wall”

καίτοι σμικροὶ μεγάλων χωρὶς
σφαλερὸν πύργου ῥῦμα πέλονται·

162-3

“But it is not possible to teach fools
Correct judgments about these things.”

ἀλλ᾿ οὐ δυνατὸν τοὺς ἀνοήτους
τούτων γνώμας προδιδάσκειν

205-206

“Now the great, terrible man of destructive power
Ajax lies sickened in
A foul storm.”

νῦν γὰρ ὁ δεινὸς μέγας ὠμοκρατὴς
Αἴας θολερῷ
κεῖται χειμῶνι νοσήσας.

260-262

“For recognizing your own suffering
When no one else has brought it about
Lays out great grief too.”

τὸ γὰρ ἐσλεύσσειν οἰκεῖα πάθη,
μηδενὸς ἄλλου παραπράξαντος,
μεγάλας ὀδύνας ὑποτείνει.

265-3

“If you had the choice, would you
Cause your friends pain while you enjoyed pleasure?
Or be a partner in grief, to share with your friends?”

πότερα δ᾿ ἄν, εἰ νέμοι τις αἵρεσιν, λάβοις,
φίλους ἀνιῶν αὐτὸς ἡδονὰς ἔχειν,
ἢ κοινὸς ἐν κοινοῖσι λυπεῖσθαι ξυνών;

File:Ulysse et Ajax détail.jpg
Ajax and Ulysses

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