Ajax the Great

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As seen in Amazons!

Son of Telamon

  Ajax is one of two prominent warriors confusingly named Ajax on the Achaean side of the Trojan War. Together, the pair of Ajaxes are called the Aiantes. This Ajax was distinguished from the other Ajax as Telamonian Ajax because he was the son of Telamon, or as Ajax the Great because of his massive size and great strength.   Great Ajax was a first cousin to Achilles, and would seem the natural choice to inherit the "Best of the Achaeans" title should a stray arrow strike a certain sensitive heel.   In the Penthesileiad, now that Patroclus is dead, Ajax is the character who spends the most time by Achilles's side.  
Telamonian Ajax Portrait
 

Family

  Ajax's father, Telamon, was an Argonaut and participated in hunting the Calydonian Boar. Telamon and his brother, Peleus, were banished from their home kingdom of Aegina and became companions of Heracles on his successful invasion of Troy. Upon their return, Telamon settled in Salamis while Peleus settled in Phthia.   Telamon brought a princess of Troy back to Hellas with him as a war prize. Hesione, a sister to Priam, became the mother of Ajax's half-brother, Teucer. Ajax himself was the son of Telamon's first wife, Periboea, after Heracles interceded with Zeus on behalf of the childless couple. As Periboea was the only child of the King of Salamis, the throne passed to Telamon upon the king's death.   Meanwhile in Phthia, Ajax's Uncle Peleus married a Nereid goddess and gave Ajax a cousin named Achilles. As the grandsons of King Aecus of Aegina, Great Ajax and Achilles are sometimes referred to as the Aecids.  

Appearance

  Great Ajax's most prominent feature is his great size and musculature. Also, he's a great guy, beloved by his comrades, and would likely be called "great" even if there weren't another Ajax hanging around.  

Personality

  In several places in Homer's Iliad, Ajax is a counselor to Agamemnon, a respected antagonist of Hector's, and an inspiration to the other Achaean warriors. He rallies the troops to fight, leads them by example, and when Patroclus is slain, Hector is at the center of Achaean efforts to secure the body and the borrowed armor of Achilles.   In the Penthesileiad, Ajax provides comfort and support to Achilles at the tomb of Patroclus and again with a strong arm against the Trojan supporters of Penthesiliea's Amazon companions. He is a good friend and through his connection to others, hopes to make a name for himself. In fact, he probably wouldn't be able to live with himself if anything ever happened to alienate him from the affections of his Achaean comrades.  

Fighting Style

  Great Ajax has the strength to overpower most opponents, including Hector, but really shines when fighting on the defense. He often uses his strength to carry a massive eight-layered hide and bronze shield large enough to not only protect himself, but to provide cover for his half-brother, Teucer, who is a formidable bowman.  

In the Mythoversal Penthesileiad

  Ajax is a member of the embassy that tries to retrieve Achilles from the Tomb of Patroclus, but his efforts are interrupted in "Be Like Thersites" in Amazons! by Thersites and in "The Embassy at the Tomb" in Amazons! by Odysseus.   Although not the best at giving speeches, Ajax excels at action, and chooses in "Home" in Amazons! to empathize with Achilles and spend whatever time is necessary in order to bring his cousin back around to himself.  
hr crossed spears
 

In the Epic Cycle

  In Homer's Iliad, Great Ajax was a counselor to Agamemnon, leader of the forces from Salamis, and among the most formidable of the Achaean warriors. In Achilles's absence, Ajax is the Achaean choice to fight in single combat against Hector. He injures Hector, and injures him again in a future encounter.   Ajax appears in the first five books of the Posthomerica of Quintus of Smyrna.  
After the death of Achilles, the Achaeans hold a series of competitions to determine who will inherit all of the dead hero's possessions, including the armor and shield crafted by Haephestos. Against everyone's expectation, Ajax loses this competition to Odysseus and goes mad as a result. Unable to ever recover his reputation, Ajax does himself in with Hector's sword.

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Rage! (Iliad I)

Mythology of Origin
Greek/Roman
Home Realm
Hellas
Greek Name
Αἴας (one who mourns)
Parents


Cover image: "Jupiter Pluvius" (1819) by Joseph Gandy (1771-1843)

Comments

Author's Notes

Sage gfishbone

Greg R. Fishbone
       
Greg R. Fishbone, Author in Residence at Mythoversal.

 
  There are two main things Ajax does in the Penthesileiad, he mourns for his dead friends and he kills a bunch of enemies. He does both of these things with Achilles at his side. Ajax is shown to be Achilles's most supportive ally, carrying his emotional baggage, and being present in his time of mourning for Patroclus. Perhaps this will become important in a future book.   How do you think I did in developing this character? Let me know in the comments!


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