David Stuttard


Ajax is perhaps the earliest of Sophocles’ tragedies, yet the issues at its heart remain profoundly resonant today. Set in the Greek encampment during the siege of Troy, it traces not just rthe story of a respected war hero’s mental breakdown but (like Sophocles’ Antigone) the treatment of an enemy’s remains and the management of his memory. Pitting the fate of the individual against not just his own community but the cosmic world of the divine, it explores questions of loyalty and power, compassion and control, integrityand political expediency – and ultimately what it is to be human, In Antiquity the fate of Ajax fascinated writers and artists alike. Today it has assumed a new importance with Sophocles’ play being used to help treat military veterans suffering from PTSD.

This collection of twelve essays by leading academics from across the UK, US and Ireland draws together many of the themes explored in Ajax, from how Sophocles exploits audiences’ awareness of mythology and visual arts, to questions of politics and religion, stagins and characterisation, changing perceptions of the heroic, and the therapeutic use to which the play is put today, The essays are accompanied by David Stuttard’s introduction and performer-friendly, accurate and esaily accessible English translation.

Bloomsbury Academic ISBN 978-1-350-07230-5 First published 2019

Reviews include

Stuttard’s latest addition to Bloomsbury’s growing ‘Looking at’ series offers twelve detailed and thought-provoking essays that analyse elements of what remains one of the most underappreciated Sophoclean tragedies. The volume ends with an engaging translation of the play by Stuttard… [and] offers a fresh and insightful take on some very well-trodden themes in the play. Overall, Looking at Ajax presents a detailed introduction to Sophocles’ play that will benefit students and scholars alike. Owen Rees, Bryn Mawr Classical Review