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. in their place he should have been announced as dead?
Neoptolemus
  1. The man is a clever wrestler. But even clever schemes, Philoctetes, are often blocked.
Philoctetes
  1. Now, by the gods, tell me—where was Patroclus when you needed him, he whom your father loved beyond all others?
Neoptolemus
  1. He, too, was dead. And in a brief maxim I would teach you this: War takes no evil man by choice, but always the good men.
Philoctetes
  1. I will attest to that, and with that very truth in mind, I will ask you how fares a man of little worth, but sharp of tongue and clever.
Neoptolemus
  1. Surely the man of whom you ask is no one but Odysseus?
Philoctetes
  1. I did not mean him; there was one Thersites, who could never be content to speak once and briefly, even though no one wanted him to speak at all. Do you know if he is alive?
Neoptolemus
  1. I never saw him, but I heard that he is still alive.
Philoctetes
  1. He would be—no evil thing has ever been known to perish. No, the gods take excellent care of their kind. They find a strange joy in turning back from Hades all things criminal
  2. and crooked, while they are always dispatching the just and the good from life. How am I to regard these doings? How can I praise them, when in the very act of praising the ways of the gods, I find that the gods are evil?
Neoptolemus
  1. I, at least, son of Oetean Poeas, will be on my guard hereafter against Ilium
  2. and the Atreids, and look on them only from afar. And where the worse man is stronger than the good, where nobility goes to ruin and the vile man dominates—among such men I will never make my friends. No, rocky Scyros shall suffice for me
  3. from now on to make me delight in my home. Now to my ship! And you, son of Poeas, farewell—as best you can, farewell! May the gods free you of your disease, just as you wish! But we must be going, so that we
  4. may set sail whenever the god permits our voyage.
Philoctetes
  1. Are you setting out already, son?
Neoptolemus
  1. Yes, since opportunity bids us watch near our ship for a fair wind, rather than from afar.
Philoctetes
  1. Now by your father and by your mother, son, by all that you cherish at home—
  2. I solemnly supplicate you, do not leave me alone like this, helpless amid these miseries in which I live, so harsh as you see, and so numerous as I have said! Consider me a small side-task. Great is
  3. your disgust, well I know, at such a cargo. Yet bear with it all the same—to noble minds baseness is hateful, and a good deed is glorious. If you forsake this task, you will have a stain on your honor; but if you perform it, boy, you will win the prize of highest honor—if I return alive to Oeta’s soil.
  4. Come, the trouble will not last one full day. Endure it, take me and throw me where you will—in the hold, the prow, the stern, wherever I will least annoy my shipmates. Say yes, by the great god of suppliants, son;