"Ajax", perhaps the earlierst surviving tragedy of Sophocles, presents the downfall and disgrace of a great hero whose suicide leads to his rehabilitation through the enlightened magnaimity of one of his enemies. In the contrast between "Ajax" and "Odysseus", Sophocles explores the relationship between traditional heroic values and the newer values of his own age. The play is notable for its development of the idea of alternation in human affairs, that none can remain permanently happy or successful all his life. This edition attempts to show that Sophocles offers no easy answer to the question of why Ajax falls and no simple solution to the problem of how we ought to live as to avoid tragedy in our own lives. Instead, he leaves us with disturbing questions, not least as to the part played by the gods in Ajax' fall.
A. F. Garvie is Professor Emeritus of Greek in the University of Glasgow. He has written widely on Greek tragedy and edited Aeschylus: Choephori (Oxford, 1986), Homer: Odyssey VI-VIII (Cambridge, 1994) and Sophocles: Ajax (Warminster, 1998).