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Ajax the Lesser raping Cassandra

Ajax ("Ancient Greek: Αἴας Aias) was a "Greek mythological hero, son of "Oileus, the king of "Locris. He was called the "lesser" or "Locrian" Ajax,[1] to distinguish him from "Ajax the Great, son of "Telamon. He was the leader of the "Locrian contingent during the "Trojan War. He is a significant figure in "Homer's "Iliad and is also mentioned in the "Odyssey,[2] in "Virgil's "Aeneid and in "Euripides' "The Trojan Women. In "Etruscan legend, he was known as Aivas Vilates.

Ajax's mother's name was "Eriopis. According to "Strabo, he was born in Naryx in "Locris,[3] where "Ovid calls him Narycius Heroes.[4] According to the Iliad,[5] he led his "Locrians in forty ships against "Troy.[6] He is described as one of the great heroes among the Greeks. In battle, he wore a "linen "cuirass (λινοθώραξ), was brave and intrepid, especially skilled in throwing the spear and, next to "Achilles, the swiftest of all the Greeks.[7][8]

In the funeral games at the "pyre of "Patroclus, he contended with "Odysseus and "Antilochus for the prize in the footrace; but "Athena, who was hostile towards him and favored Odysseus, made him stumble and fall, so that he won only the second prize.[9] On his return from Troy, his vessel was wrecked on the Whirling Rocks (Γυραὶ πέτραι), but he escaped upon a rock through the assistance of "Poseidon. He would have been saved in spite of Athena, but he then audaciously declared that he would escape the dangers of the sea in defiance of the immortals. Offended by this presumption, Poseidon split the rock with his "trident and Ajax was swallowed up by the sea.[10]

In later traditions, this Ajax is called a son of Oileus and the "nymph Rhene and is also mentioned among the suitors of Helen.[11][12] After the taking of Troy, he rushed into the temple of Athena, where "Cassandra had taken refuge, and was embracing the statue of the goddess in "supplication. Ajax violently dragged her away to the other captives.[13][14][15][16] According to some writers, he raped Cassandra inside the temple.[17][18][19] Odysseus called for Ajax's death by stoning for this crime, but Ajax saved himself by claiming innocence with an oath to Athena, clutching her statue in supplication.[20]



Ajax in Troy drags "Cassandra from "Palladium before eyes of "Priam, Roman mural from the "Casa del Menandro, "Pompeii

Since Ajax dragged a supplicant from her temple, Athena had cause to be indignant. According to the "Bibliotheca, no one was aware that Ajax had raped Cassandra until "Calchas, the Greek seer, warned the Greeks that Athena was furious at the treatment of her priestess and she would destroy the Greek ships if they didn't kill him immediately. Despite this, Ajax managed to hide in the altar of a deity where the Greeks, fearing divine retribution should they kill him and destroy the altar, allowed him to live. When the Greeks left without killing Ajax, despite their sacrifices, Athena became so angry that she persuaded "Zeus to send a storm that sank many of their ships.

Poseidon killing Ajax the Lesser

When Ajax finally left Troy during the "Returns from Troy, Athena hit his ship with a thunderbolt, but Ajax still survived with some of his men, managing to cling onto a rock. He boasted that even the gods could not kill him and "Poseidon, upon hearing this, split the rock with his trident, causing Ajax to eventually drown. [8] "Thetis buried him when the corpse washed up on Myconos.[21] Other versions depict a different death for Ajax, showing him dying when on his voyage home. In these versions, when Ajax came to the Capharean Rocks on the coast of "Euboea, his ship was wrecked in a fierce storm, he himself was lifted up in a whirlwind and impaled with a flash of rapid fire from Athena in his chest, and his body thrust upon sharp rocks, which afterwards were called the rocks of Ajax.[16][22]

After his death, his spirit dwelt in the island of "Leuce.[23] The "Opuntian Locrians worshiped Ajax as their national hero, and so great was their faith in him that when they drew up their army in battle, they always left one place open for him, believing that, although invisible to them, he was fighting for and among them.[23][24] The story of Ajax was frequently made use of by ancient poets and artists, and the hero who appears on some Locrian coins with the helmet, shield, and sword is probably this Ajax.[25]

Other accounts of his death are offered by "Philostratus and the "scholiast on "Lycophron.[26][27]


"Ajax and "Cassandra by Solomon J. Solomon (1886). In the collection of the "Art Gallery of Ballarat in "Victoria, Australia[28]

The abduction of Cassandra by Ajax was frequently represented in "Greek works of art, such as the chest of "Cypselus described by "Pausanias and in extant works.[29][8]


  1. ^ "Homer, "Iliad ii. 527
  2. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Ajax (2)", in Smith, William, "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston: "Little, Brown and Company, pp. 87–88 
  3. ^ "Strabo, ix. p. 425
  4. ^ "Ovid, "Metamorphoses xiv. 468
  5. ^ Homer, Iliad ii. 527, &c.
  6. ^ "Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 97 gives the number of ships as twenty
  7. ^ Homer, Iliad xiv. 520, &c., xxiii. 789, &c.
  8. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  9. ^ Homer, Iliad (xxiii. 754), &c.
  10. ^ Homer, "Odyssey iv. 499, &c.
  11. ^ Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 81, 97
  12. ^ "Bibliotheca iii. 10. § 8
  13. ^ "Virgil, "Aeneid ii. 403
  14. ^ "Euripides, Troad. 70, &c.
  15. ^ Dict. Cret. v. 12
  16. ^ a b Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 116
  17. ^ "Tryphiodorus, 635
  18. ^ "Quintus Smyrnaeus, xiii. 422
  19. ^ "Lycophron, 360, with the "Scholion
  20. ^ "Pausanias, Description of Greece x. 26. § 1, 31. § 1
  21. ^ Apollodore, R. Scott Smith, Stephen Trzaskoma, and Hygin. Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology, Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2007. 84-85. "5.24-6.6."
  22. ^ comp. Virgil, "Aeneid i. 40, &c., xi. 260
  23. ^ a b "Pausanias, Description of Greece iii. 19. § 13
  24. ^ "Conon Narrations 18
  25. ^ Théodore Edme Mionnet, No. 570, &c.
  26. ^ "Philostratus, Her. viii. 3
  27. ^ "Scholiast on "Lycophron l. c.
  28. ^ "Solomon Joseph Solomon RA PRBA (1860-1927)". 2007-05-17. 
  29. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece v. 17


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