Volume 23, Issue 2, Spring 2019
Arlene W. Saxonhouse
Reflections on Voice and Logos in Sophocles’s Ajax, Aristotle and Plato
I consider Sophocles’s tragedy the Ajax against the backdrop of Pericles’s invocation of silence about and from women, Pericles’s citizenship law of 451BCE and Aristotle’s understanding of the human being as a political animal possessing logos. I argue that in the actions and speeches of the play there is a questioning of the exclusion of women and bastards from political deliberation. A study of the language of the play reveals that Tecmessa, Ajax’s concubine, and Teucer, his bastard half-brother, exercise logos while the Homeric hero Ajax consistently resorts to the sort of sounds used by animals that give voice (phonê) to pain. The dismissal of the speech of women and those from the lower ranks of society proves detrimental to the lives of those who choose to silence them.