Ajax the Great was one of the most epic heroes from Greek mythology. He was known for his strength, bravery, and determination. He is best known for his fight against the Trojans.
Ajax was a champion of the people and fought for justice and honor. He is a hero that everyone can admire and learn from.
Before the War
Ajax was the son of Telamon and grandson of Aeacus and the cousin of Achilles.
He was described as fearless, strong, and powerful but also with a very high level of combat intelligence. Ajax commands his army wielding a huge shield made of seven cowhides with a layer of bronze.
Most notably, Ajax is not wounded in any of the battles described in the Iliad, and he is the only principal character on either side who does not receive substantial assistance from any of the gods.
He was trained by the centaur Chiron, who had also trained Achilles.
The Trojan War
Agamemnon asks other Greek heroes to accompany him in the quest to get Helen back. Among them are Ajax, Achilles, Nestor and ODYSSEUS.
They travel throughout the Greek world among a fleet of more than 1,000 ships, crossing vast stretches of ocean from the Aegean Sea all the way to Asia Minor—all in an effort to siege the city of Troy and to bring Helen back to her first husband.
Ajax played a pivotal role in the Trojan War. He was one of the Greek soldiers who entered the city of Troy using the Trojan Horse. He fought bravely against the Trojans and was a major contributor to the Greek victory.
Hector, Priam’s son, proposed single combat to the opposing Achaean heroes in an attempt to finish the Trojan War after it had stretched into its tenth year.
This was not the first time he had made such a suggestion; years earlier, he had coerced Paris into fighting Menelaus for the same purpose.
Ajax the Great was selected to battle Hector after lots were drawn amongst the Achaean heroes. The fight started at daybreak and went on until nightfall.
Though Ajax and Hector were evenly matched, the fighting eventually stopped when heralds called for a ceasefire. As tokens of their respect for each other, they exchanged gifts.
Ajax gave Hector a sword belt and Hector gifted Ajax with a sword.
While Achilles was away, the attacking Trojans had great success and were able to damage many of the beached ships belonging to the Achaeans. Ajax was one of few defenders who stepped in to try to prevent further destruction. In doing so, he met Hector on the battlefield once again.
Ajax strategically threw a large stone and knocked him unconscious.
Hector was aided by Apollo and recovered soon thereafter. In the next battle, it is Ajax who becomes disarmed and is forced into retreat.
Patroclus, wearing Achilles’ armour, enters the battlefield to help Ajax. Although he kills many enemies, Patroclus is ultimately killed by Hector who steals Achilles’ armour.
If not for Ajax the Great and Ajax the Lesser, the body of Patroclus would have been desecrated.
After Achilles is killed by Paris, with some help from Apollo, Ajax and Odysseus become the heroes who have to fight against the Trojans in order to get his body back. They bury him with one of his close friends, Patroclus.
Ajax, with his great shield and spear, manages to recover the body of Achilles and carry it back to the ships. Odysseus fights off the Trojans while Ajax makes his escape.
After the burial, Achilles’ armor which had been forged by Hephaestus on Mount Olympus – is up for grabs. The Greeks have a competition to see who fought the hardest and deserves it. Ajax steps up, claiming that his strength and fighting skills earned him the right to possess the magical armor.
However, with the help of Athena, Odysseus’ eloquence wins the council over and they granted him the armor.
Ajax was so distraught that he killed himself by plunging his sword, gifted to him by Hector, into his own chest.
Ajax the Great was cremated, and his ashes placed in a golden urn. His tomb was constructed at Rhoiteion, upon the Troad.
Telamon, the father of Ajax was not content with this burial. When Teucer came back from war without his half-brother’s body or armor, Telamon refused to see him and banished him from Salamis.
When Odysseus visits Hades and begs the soul of Ajax to speak with him.
However, Ajax is still resentful after their old quarrel he refuses to speak with him and descends silently back into the darkness of Erebus.
Facts about Ajax
- He was the son of Telamon and grandson of Aeacus.
- Ajax was a student of Chiron the Centaur and was trained in the art of war.
- Ajax was often compared to Achilles and was said to be second only to him in strength and bravery.
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