Many stories are told in the Iliad of the exploits of Ajax, of his strength and prowess. Perhaps the best known is the incident of his struggle to protect the dead body of Patroclus from Hector, because it is at this time that Ajax utters his famous prayer for light. Zeus has enveloped the scene of battle with clouds and darkness, and Ajax exclaims:
Lord of earth and air! Oh, king! oh, father! hear my humble prayer! Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore; Give me to see and Ajax asks no more; If Greece must perish we thy will obey, But let us perish in the face of day.
This prayer is often quoted and alluded to in literature. In Longfellow's poem, The Goblet of Life, occurs the line, The prayer of Ajax was for light.