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Title: Telamonian Ajax : a study of his reception in Archaic and Classical Greece
Author: Bocksberger, Sophie Marianne
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 973X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis is a systematic study of the representations of Telamonian Ajax in archaic and classical Greece. Its aim is to trace, examine, and understand how and why the constitutive elements of his myth evolved in the way they did in the long chain of its receptions. Particular attention is paid to the historical, socio-cultural and performative contexts of the literary works and visual representations I analyse as well as to the audience for which these were produced. The study is divided into three parts, each of which reflects a different reality in which Ajax has been received (different with respect to time, place, or literary genre). Artistic representations of the hero, as well as his religious dimension and political valence, are consistently taken into account throughout the thesis. The first part - Ajax from Salamis - focuses on epic poetry, and thus investigates the Panhellenic significance of the hero (rather than his reception in a particular place). It treats the entire corpus of early Greek hexameter poetry that has come down to us in written form as the reception of a common oral tradition which each poem has adapted for its own purpose. I establish that in the larger tradition of the Trojan War, Ajax was a hero characterised by his gift of invulnerability. Because of this power, he is the figure who protects his companions - dead or alive - par excellence. However, this ability probably also led him to become over-confident, and, accordingly, to reject Athena's support on the battlefield. Hence, the goddess's hostility towards him, which she demonstrated by making him lose the reward of apioteia (Achilles' arms). His defeat made Ajax so angry that he became mad and committed suicide. I also show how this traditional Ajax has been adapted to fit into the Iliad's own aesthetics. The second part - Ajax in Aegina - concentrates on the reception of Ajax in the victory odes of Pindar and Bacchylides for Aeginetan patrons. I argue that in the first part of the fifth century, Ajax becomes a figure imbued with a strong political dimension (especially with regard to the relationship between Athens and Aegina). Accordingly, I show how the presence of Ajax in Pindar's and Bacchylides' poems is often politically charged, and significant within the historical context. I discuss the influence this had on his representation. Finally, the third part moves to Athens, as I consider Ajax's reception during three distinct periods: the sixth century, the first half of the fifth century, and finally the rest of the classical period. I equally insist on the political dimension of the figure. I demonstrate that his figure undergoes a shift of paradigm in the early fifth century, which deeply affects his representation. By following in the footsteps of Ajax, this study prompts a series of reflections and comments on each of the works in which the hero features as well as on the relationship of these works to the historical context in which they were produced.
Supervisor: Budelmann, Felix Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mythology ; Greek ; in literature ; Epic poetry ; Greek--Appreciation ; Classical literature--Appreciation