Ag. If you went mad and wrought your own destruction, Ajax, in default of that you designed for us all, why put the blame on Odysseus? Why would you not vouchsafe him a look or a word, when he came to consult Tiresias that day? you stalked past your old comrade in arms as if he was beneath your notice.
Aj. Had I not good reason? My madness lies at the door of my solitary rival for the arms.
Ag. Did you expect to be unopposed, and carry it over us all without a contest?
Aj. Surely, in such a matter. The armour was mine by natural right, seeing I was Achilles's cousin. The rest of you, his undoubted superiors, refused to compete, recognizing my claim. It was the son of Laertes, he that I had rescued scores of times when he would have been cut to pieces by the Phrygians, who set up for a better man and a stronger claimant than I.
Ag. Blame Thetis, then, my good sir; it was she who, instead of delivering the inheritance to the next of kin, brought the arms and left the ownership an open question.
Aj. No, no; the guilt was in claiming them--alone, I mean.
Ag. Surely, Ajax, a mere man may be forgiven the sin of coveting honour--that sweetest bait for which each one of us adventured; nay, and he outdid you there, if a Trojan verdict counts.
Aj. Who inspired that verdict 1? I know, but about the Gods we may not speak. Let that pass; but cease to hate Odysseus? ’tis not in my power, Agamemnon, though Athene's self should require it of me.
154:1 Athene is meant. The allusion is to Homer, Od. xi. 547, a passage upon the contest for the arms of Achilles, in which Odysseus states that 'The judges were the sons of the Trojans, and Pallas Athene.'