Sophocles, creator; Sophocles the plays and fragments with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose Part 4 The Philoctetes; Jebb, Richard Claverhouse, Sir, 1841-1905, editor, translator. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1898.
bow, now that you are made that man’s bound quarry! And you, who cannot think one healthy or one noble thought, how stealthily you have once more ambushed and trapped me, taking this boy for your screen, because he was a stranger to me. He is too good for your company, but worthy of mine,
since he had no thought but to execute his orders, and he already shows remorse for his own errors and for the wrongs done me. But your corrupt mind, always on the lookout from some position of ambush, trained him well—unsuited and unwilling though he was—
to be cunning in evil. And now, wretch, for me you plan bonds and passage from the very shore on which you had me flung away, friendless, abandoned, citiless, a corpse in the eyes of the living. Ah! Hades take you! Indeed I have often so prayed for you.
But, because the gods grant me nothing that is sweet, you remain alive and you laugh, while I live miserably among countless sufferings, mocked by you and by the sons of Atreus, the two generals whom you serve on this errand.
And yet you sailed with them only when brought under their yoke by trickery and compulsion. But me, when, to my utter ruin, I sailed of my own accord as their mate with seven ships, me they cast out of ship and honor, as you claim, while they say that it was your doing. And now, why would you take me? Why have me led away? For what purpose?
I am nothing, and, as far as you were concerned, I have long been dead. You creature abhorred by the gods, how is it that you no longer find me crippled and foul-smelling? How, if I sail with you, can you burn sacrifices to the gods, or make libations any more? That was your pretext for casting me away in the first place.
A cruel death for you!—and die you shall for your unjust treatment of me, if the gods care for justice. But I know that they do care for it, since you would never have made this voyage for one so miserable, unless some god-sent goad had driven you after me.
O, fatherland, and you watchful gods, bring your vengeance, bring your vengeance on them all after so long, if at all you pity me! Yes, my life merits pity. Yet if I were to see those men overthrown, I would believe that I had escaped my plague.
Bitter is the stranger, and bitter his words, Odysseus. They do not bend before the storm of his troubles.
I could say much in answer to his claims, if time allowed; but now I can say one thing only. What kind of man the occasion demands, that kind of man am I.
And accordingly, where the judgment at hand is of just and good men, you could find no man more pious than me. Victory, however, is my inborn desire in every field—save with regard to you. To you, in this case, I will gladly give way. Yes, release him, and lay not another finger upon him.
Let him stay here. We have no further need of you, now that we have these weapons. For Teucer is there among our forces, well-skilled in this craft, as am I, and I believe that I can master this bow in no way worse than you, and point it with no worse a hand.
So what need is there of you? Farewell! Enjoy your strolls on Lemnos! We must be going. And perhaps your onetime prize will bring me the honor which ought to have been your own.
Ah, no, what shall I do? Are you to shine before the Argives graced with my arms?
Argue with me no more. I am going.
Seed of Achilles, will you, too, grant me your voice no more, but leave without a word?
Come on! Do not look at him, kind and noble though you are. Do not obliterate our good fortune.
To the Chorus.Philoctetes
And will you also, friends, leave me so desolate and show me no pity?
The boy commands our ship. Whatever he says to you, that is our answer also.