Submit things you'd like to see here. Don't submit things from the movie Troy. Just don't.
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of Priam and Hecuba, the king and queen of Troy. Cassandra was the most beautiful of Priam’s daughters, and the god Apollo fell in love with her. Apollo promised Cassandra the gift of prophecy if she would agree to give herself to him. Cassandra accepted Apollo’s gift but then refiised his advances. Apollo was furious, but he could not take back the powers he had given her. Instead he cursed her, proclaiming that although she would be able to tell the future accurately, no one would believe her. [x]
Ajax, from Sophocle’s Ajax, (translation: E.F Watling, editor: Betty Radice)
Ajax’s nature is what this tragedy is all about. The beauty of it, however lies in the context it is presented. Ajax’s heroic ethos seems out of place with a world that has learned to take life as it is and rejoice in its simple pleasures.
Tecmessa’s entreaty, however charming in its rationality, cannot compel a hero like Ajax to “stoop” to worldly concerns. And so the rest of the world, Tecmessa’s fragile family within it, will have to experience the gravitational pull of this dying star that is Ajax, and survive.
Circe the Temptress by Charles Hermans, 1881
A kylix (wine cup) with a representation of Tecmessa covering the body of the dead Ajax, attributed to the Brygos Painter , from Greece, Athens, about 490 B.C. now at the Getty Museum.
Mythology Meme - Six Nymphs/Muses: Calypso [2/6]
"One of Oceanides sea nymphs, Calypso was the daughter of the Titan god Atlas and her mother was Tethys. Her name is related to the Greek word καλύπτω, which means “to conceal” and she symbolized the forces that divert men from their goals. She detained the hero Odysseus for many years during his wanderings after the fall of Troy."
Tecmessa, from Sophocle’s Ajax, (translation: E.F Watling, editor: Betty Radice)
Tecmessa’s reasonable and relatable monologue is backed here by the Chorus.
CHORUS: O Ajax, can you not pity her, as I do? Can you not say she is right?
Take note however, that choruses are almost always a “disempowered” group of people (young women, prisoners of war, the elderly, subjects of heroes). This was done when the chorus should not be physically or morally able by narrative to thwart or aid the tragic heroes in their decisions by ways of physical force or political power.
Tragic heroes have a destiny that is out of place with human moderation and exceeds human scale. Tecmessa here starts with the theme of a grieving family- a very human subject. The little son that will lose the protection of the father, the consort that will face harassment, the parents, whose joy in being survived by their son will be lost.
These are valid reasons for grief within a family in ancient thought and the chorus repeats and expands the theme of Ajax’s grieving family in the next στάσιμο (the choral part). The heroic temper always has grave consequences in the lives of the non-heroes.
Perhaps in Tecmessa’s monologue we can see echoes of the institution of “παλλακεία” (concubinage), which we will discuss at a later point. Tecmessa and Ajax live together as husband and wife, but they are not bound by marriage. Should Ajax die without making arrangements for her and their son’s safety nothing protects them from mistreatment. And there is no one to demand reparations on their part if harm is done to them.
A woman who would agree to become a concubine in ancient Athens, would usually be a free woman with no dowry, a woman with no relatives and no means to support herself. Being a παλλακίς would protect her from harassment by law, but it is safe to assume that should the man who supported her died without making arrangements for her and their family that she would find herself in dire circumstances.
Tecmessa’s last appeal to Ajax is to his impeccable, noble character. And it seems to be the only thing that finally resonates with him.
Athena with her (and my) two favourite heroes in the Trojan War (from the Greek side, of course): Diomedes and Odysseus
I love how badass they are, each one on their own way :P