After the death of Achilles, the Greeks award his prized armour to Odysseus rather than Ajax. Overcome by shame at this dishonour, Ajax repays the insult with bloody vengeance.

Sophocles’ Ajax contrasts the archaic man to the classical man. Noble, proud, and vengeful, Ajax embodies the Indo-European warrior-aristocrat, just as the cunning, clever, and silver-tongued Odysseus embodies the new man of Greece. Sophocles’ work is second to none in holding up the shame culture that so characterizes traditional social orders.