Philoctetes

Sophocles

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.

  1. Hush,boy!
Neoptolemus
  1. What is it?
Chorus
  1. I heard a sudden thud, one that might naturally come from a man worn by pain. From there it came, I think—or there.
  2. It strikes, strikes hard on my ear, the sure sound of someone creeping along his way as if tortured. I cannot miss that grievous cry of a man hard-pressed, even from afar—its tone is too clear.
Chorus
  1. But listen, son—
Neoptolemus
  1. To what? Tell me.
Chorus
  1. To my latest thoughts. For he is not far from his home, but nearby. And not with music of the flute, like a shepherd pasturing his flocks, does he come,—
  2. no—but crying out a far-sounding howl as he stumbles, perhaps, from tortuous pain, or as he scans the haven unvisited by any ship. His cries are loud, and terrible.
Enter Philoctetes, on the spectators’ right.
Philoctetes
  1. O strangers!
  2. Who can you be, and from what country, that you have put into this harborless and desolate land? What would I rightly say is your city or your ancestry? The fashion of your equipment is Greek, and most welcome to my
  3. sight; but it would please me to hear your voices. And do not shrink from me in fear, or be frightened by my savage looks. No, pity one so wretched and so lonely, a castaway, so friendless and so miserable. Speak to me, if indeed you have come as friends.
  4. Oh, answer! It is not right that I be disappointed by you in this request, at least, nor you by me.
Neoptolemus
  1. Well, know first, stranger, that we are Greeks, since you desire to learn this.
Philoctetes
  1. O cherished sound! Ah, that I should truly be
  2. greeted by such a man, after so long a time! What need, young man, has made you land here and brought you to this spot? What business? What wind so kind? Speak, tell me all, so that I may know who you are.
Neoptolemus
  1. My birthplace is the island Scyros, and I am sailing
  2. homeward. I am the son of Achilles, by name Neoptolemus. Now you know everything.
Philoctetes
  1. O son of a father I loved, and of soil I cherished! Ward of aged Lycomedes, on what mission have you touched this shore? From where are you sailing?
Neoptolemus
  1. Well, since you ask, it is from Ilium that I am now guiding my ship.
Philoctetes
  1. What? You were certainly not our shipmate at the beginning of the expedition there.