“For when you speak, I no longer understand” (Soph. Aj. 1262): Unraveling of Communication and Dissolution of Binaries in the Finale of Sophocles’ Ajax

Asya Sigelman, Bryn Mawr College

Sophocles’ Ajax contains a notorious compositional crux: the hero dies mid-play, and the last third of the tragedy is occupied with drawn-out verbal arguments between opposing Achaean factions over the dead Ajax’ body.   This paper sheds new light on the play’s peculiar composition by examining how the unraveling of communication that takes place during these verbal arguments is related to the temporary dissolution of the core binaries of friend-enemy and Hellene-barbarian.