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. The tears came quick to my eyes as I sprang up in passionate anger and said in my bitterness, Madman! Have you dared give my arms to another man in my place, without asking me? But Odysseus—for he chanced to be at hand—said, Yes, boy, they awarded them as was just, since it was I who saved the arms and their master by my presence at the crucial moment. Then immediately, in my fury, I began to lash at him with every kind of insult
  2. and left not one unsaid, if he was indeed to rob me of my arms. At this point, stung by the abuse, though not given to anger, he answered,—You have not gone to where we have; instead you have been absent from where you were needed. And since your tongue is so arrogant, you will never sail back to Scyros with those arms in your possession. In that way rebuked, in that way insulted, I sail for home, deprived of what is my own by that worst offspring of a wicked line, Odysseus.
  3. And yet I do not blame him as much as I do those in power. For a city hangs wholly on its leaders, and so does an army, but when men shatter law and order, it is the lessons of their teachers that corrupt them. My tale is told in full. May he who hates the Atreids
  4. be as dear to the gods as he is to me!
Chorus
  1. Goddess of the hills, Earth all-nourishing, mother of Zeus himself, you through whose realm the great Pactolus
  2. rolls golden sands! There, there also, dread Mother, I called upon your name, when all the insults of the Atreids landed upon this man, when they handed over his father’s armor, that sublime marvel,
  3. to the son of Laertes. Hear it, blessed queen, who rides on bull-slaughtering lions!
Philoctetes
  1. It seems that you have come to me, friends, well commended by a grief that matches my own.
  2. Your story is in harmony with mine, so that I can recognize the work of the Atreids and of Odysseus. For well I know that he would put his tongue to any base tale and to any mischief-making, if thereby he could hope to accomplish something criminal in the end.
  3. No, that is not at all a wonder to me, but rather that the elder Ajax, if he was there, could bear to see this.
Neoptolemus
  1. Ah, friend, he was no longer alive—I would never have been plundered like that while he lived.
Philoctetes
  1. What do you say? Is he, too, dead and gone?
Neoptolemus
  1. Think of him as of one who sees the sun’s light no more.
Philoctetes
  1. Oh, no! But the son of Tydeus, and Sisyphus’ offspring that was bought by Laertes—they will not die, since they do not deserve to live!
Neoptolemus
  1. No, indeed, be sure of it. On the contrary, they prosper now
  2. —yes, and greatly—in the Argive army.
Philoctetes
  1. And what of my brave old friend, Nestor of Pylos—is he not alive? He often checked the crimes of those two, if not others, by his sage counsels.
Neoptolemus
  1. He has his own troubles now, since Antilochus,
  2. the son that was at his side, left him for Hades.
Philoctetes
  1. Ah, me! These two, again, whom you have named, are men of whose death I had least wished to hear. Gods! What are we to look for, when these men have died, but Odysseus here again lives, when