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Looking at Ajax

Cover of book "Looking for Ajax"
edited by David Stuttard
Bloomsbury
May 2019

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 the 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, integrity and 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 12 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, staging and characterization, 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 easily accessible English translation.

Alyson Melzer contributed a chapter to this edited volume entitled, "The Sounds of Ajax's Grief".