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Objects As ActorsProps and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy$
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Melissa Mueller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226312958

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226313009.001.0001

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Ajax’s Shield: Bridging Troy and Athens

Ajax’s Shield: Bridging Troy and Athens

(p.134) 5 Ajax’s Shield: Bridging Troy and Athens
Objects As Actors

Melissa Mueller

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5 returns to Sophocles’ Ajax for a closer look at how Ajax’s legendary status as the unparalleled defender of the Achaean troops in Homer is reshaped when he bequeaths his shield to his son, Eurysakes. As an artifact, the shield is carefully positioned in between the by-gone world of epic and Sophocles’ contemporary Athens. Its hybrid status—part-heroic, part-hoplite weapon—allows the weapon to bridge the distance between Ajax’s demise at the hands of Hector in Troy (see Chapter 1) and his reemergence as one of the ten eponymous heroes of Cleisthenes’ Athens. The object, it is argued, thus not only fills an important narrative gap in the hero’s biography, but reaches out (across the invisible fourth wall) to Sophocles’ audience, inviting them to see themselves as the beneficiaries of Ajax’s shield-based legacy as a defender par excellence.

Keywords:   Ajax, Ajax in Athens, Eurysakes, Eurysakeion, sakos, heptaboeion, hero cult

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