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. be persuaded! I supplicate you at your knees, I am an infirm wretch, and lame! Do not leave me desolate like this, far from the paths of mankind! No, bring me safely to your own home, or to Euboea, Chalcodon’s seat;
  2. and from there it will be no long journey for me to Oeta and the Trachinian heights, and fair-flowing Spercheius, so that you may show me to my beloved father, though long I have feared that he may have departed me. For often
  3. did I summon him by means of those who came here, sending imploring prayers that he would himself send a ship and get me safely home. But either he is dead, or else, as I think is likely, my messengers thought my concerns of little account and hurried on their homeward voyage.
  4. Now, however, since in you I have found one who can be both an escort and a messenger, save me and show me mercy, keeping in mind that all human destiny is full of the fear and the danger that prosperity may be followed by its opposite. He who stands clear of trouble must beware of dangers,
  5. and when a man lives at ease, then it is that he must look most closely to his livelihood, lest it secretly suffer ruin.
Chorus
  1. Have pity, my king! He has told of a struggle with sufferings manifold and oppressive—may the like befall no friend of mine!
  2. And if, my king, you hate the hateful Atreids, then, turning their wrongdoing to this man’s gain,
  3. I would take him in your swift, well-rigged ship to the home for which he longs, and so escape the god’s just wrath.
Neoptolemus
  1. Though now as a casual spectator you are compliant,
  2. beware lest later, when filled with his disease by its constant company, you prove no longer constant to these sentiments.
Chorus
  1. That will not happen. You will never have just cause to rebuke me for that!
Neoptolemus
  1. Well, then, it would shame me if the stranger were to find
  2. me less ready than you are to toil for his good. Come, if it pleases you, let us sail. Let the man set out at once; our ship, for her part, will carry him, and will not refuse. Only may the gods give us safe passage from this land, and from here to whatever destination we choose!
Philoctetes
  1. O day of joy unsurpassed! Most delightful man, and you good sailors! If only I could show you in deeds what a true friend you have made in me! Let us be going, my son, when we two have made a solemn farewell to my homeless home inside, so that you may also learn
  2. by what means I sustained my life, and how stout of heart I was born. For I believe that the mere sight would have deterred any other man but me from enduring these sufferings. But I have been slowly schooled by necessity to endure misery.Neoptolemus is about to follow Philoctetes into the cave.
Chorus
  1. Wait, let us listen to the two men who are coming!
  2. One is a crewman of your ship, the other a stranger. Go in after you hear their report.
Enter the Merchant, on the spectators’ left, accompanied by a Sailor.
Merchant
  1. Son of Achilles, I asked my companion here, when he was guarding your ship with two others, to tell me where you might be found,
  2. since I have chanced upon you unexpectedly by the good fortune of coming to anchor off this very coast. With no great company I am homeward bound on my trader’s voyage from Ilium to Peparethus with its cluster-laden vines, but when I heard that the sailors
  3. were all of your crew, I resolved not to continue my voyage in silence, without first giving you my news and getting the due reward. You know nothing, I suspect, of your own affairs: the new designs the Greeks