Cicero Called Him Ulysses, but Loved Him All the Same: Fragments from Accius’ Ajax

Cicero de Officiis III.97 (=Accius fr. 109-114, Amorum Iudicium)

We probably should not be surprised if Cicero favors Odysseus…

“What indeed do you think Odysseus would have heard if he had continued in that lie? Even when he had accomplished the greatest feats in War, he still heard these kinds of things from Ajax:

‘You all know that he was the only man to break
The sworn oath which he was the first to take
He began to pretend he was insane to avoid fighting.
If the wisdom of observant Palamedes
Had not perceived this criminal audacity
Law would have foundered with its sacred trust.”

[98] Quid enim auditurum putas fuisse Ulixem, si in illa simulatione perseverasset? Qui cum maximas res gesserit in bello, tamen haec audiat ab Aiace:

“Cuius ipse princeps iuris iurandi fuit,
Quod omnes scitis, solus neglexit fidem.
Furere adsimulare, ne coiret, institit.
Quod ni Palamedi perspicax prudentia
Istius percepset malitiosam audaciam
Fide sacratae ius perpetuo falleret.”

Elsewhere (Charisius, G.L. I. 283, 30) the fragments have Ajax getting a little sarcastic.

“Oh, I saw you, Odysseus, knock down Hector with a stone.
I saw you protect the Greek fleet with your shield,
All while I quaked and plead for a shameful flight!”

Vidi te, Ulixes, saxo sternentem Hectora
Vidi tegentem clipeo classem Doricam;
Ego tunc udendam trepidus hortabar fugam.

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