Ajax the Lesser, alternately known as Locrian Ajax, was a character in Greek mythology. He appeared in Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid and Euripides' The Trojan Women. As one of the heroes of the Trojan War, he incurred the wrath of the goddess Athena after he raped a Trojan princess in her temple, resulting in his death.

Biography

According to various sources, Ajax was the son of the king of Locris. He was a suitor of Helen of Sparta, and promised to defend her marriage to whatever man she chose. However, this forced him to go and fight in the Trojan War after Paris eloped with her. Apart from the hero Achilles, he was the greatest soldier of all the Greeks.

In the funeral games at the pyre of Patroclus, Ajax contended with Odysseus and Antilochus for the prize in the footrace; but Athena, who was hostile towards him and favoured Odysseus, made him stumble and fall.

During the fall of Troy, Ajax rushed into the temple of Athena, where Cassandra had taken refuge, and dragged her out before raping her. The Greeks called for his death for this heinous crime, but he saved himself by (ironically) taking refuge at the altar of Athena. When Ajax was not killed, Zeus sent a storm that destroyed much of the Greek fleet. Ajax's ship was sunk, but the god Poseidon took pity on him and saved him. However, Ajax was arrogant enough to proclaim that he had survived in spite of the Gods and Poseidon, offended by this, allowed him to drown.

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