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. I will hold you accountable.
Neoptolemus
  1. Do so, but speak.
Merchant
  1. I will. It is after this man that those two whom I named to you, Diomedes and forceful Odysseus, are sailing. They are oath-bound to retrieve him, either by winning words or by overpowering might.
  2. And all the Achaeans heard this clearly from the mouth Odysseus, for his confidence of success in this action was higher than his comrade’s.
Neoptolemus
  1. And for the sake of what did the Atreids after so long a time turn their thoughts so urgently towards this man,
  2. whom they were long since keeping an outcast? What was the desire that came over them, or what force? What avenging spirit sent by the gods to exact payment for evil deeds?
Merchant
  1. I will inform you of all that, since it seems that you have not heard. There was a seer of noble birth,
  2. a son of Priam, called Helenus, whom that man, out on a solitary night raid—that deceitful Odysseus, whose repute is all shame and dishonor—captured. Leading him back in bonds, he displayed him publicly to the Achaeans as his glorious prey.
  3. Helenus then prophesied for them whatever matter they asked, and, pertaining to Troy, he foretold that they would never sack its towers, unless by winning words they should bring Philoctetes here from the island where he now dwells. And, as soon as he heard the seer prophecy this, Laertes’ son
  4. immediately promised that he would bring the man and show him to the Achaeans. He thought it most likely that he would get him willingly, but, if unwilling, then by force, and he added that, were he to fail in this, whoever wished it might sever his head.
  5. You have heard everything, boy, and I advise speed for you, and for any man for whom you care.
Philoctetes
  1. Alas! Has he, the utter plague, sworn to fetch me back to the Achaeans by persuasion? For if that were to happen, I could be persuaded, when dead, to come back up
  2. from Hades into the light, as his father did!
Merchant
  1. I know nothing about that. But for my part I must return to ship, while for you I pray that god may help you in every possible way.Exit Merchant.
Philoctetes
  1. Now is it not astounding, boy, that Odysseus would ever have expected by means of soft words
  2. to lead me from his ship and show me in the middle of the Greeks? No! I would sooner listen to that greatest and worst of my enemies, the viper which made me crippled as I am! But there is nothing that he would not say or dare. And now I know that he is coming here.
  3. Come, son, let us be moving, so that a wide sea may part us from the ship of Odysseus. Let us go! Good speed in good season brings sleep and rest when toil is finished.
Neoptolemus
  1. Then as soon as the wind is not at our prow,
  2. we will sail. At present it blows against us.
Philoctetes
  1. The sailing is always fair, when you flee trouble.