As seen in
Son of Telamon
Ajax is one of two prominent warriors confusingly named Ajax on the Achaean side of the Trojan War. This Ajax was distinguished from the other Ajax as Telamonian Ajax because he was the son of Telamon, or as Big Ajax (aka Ajax the Great) because of his massive size and great strength.
Big 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 Amazons at Troy, now that Patroclus is dead, Ajax is the character who spends the most time by Achilles’s side.
Big 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 Big Ajax’s half-brother, Teucer. Big 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, Big Ajax’s Uncle Peleus married a Nereid goddess and gave Big Ajax a cousin named Achilles.
Big Ajax’s most prominent feature is his great size and musculature. Also, he’s beloved by his comrades and would likely be called “Great Ajax” even if there weren’t another Ajax hanging around.
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.
His weakness comes in public speaking, in which he often gets tongue-tied or loses focus.
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.
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 3. "Far From the Best" in Amazons! by Thersites and in 9. "The Embassy at the Tomb" in Amazons! by Odysseus.
Although not the best at giving speeches, Ajax excels at action, and chooses in 12. "Home" in Amazons! to empathize with Achilles and spend whatever time is necessary in order to bring his cousin back around to himself.
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.
As the grandsons of King Aecus of Aegina, Great Ajax and Achilles are sometimes referred to as the Aecids.
Together with Little Ajax, the pair of Ajaxes together are sometimes called the Ajantes.
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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!