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 have heard a rumor, but never seen with my eyes, how the man who once approached the bed of Zeus was bound upon a
  2. swift wheel by the almighty son of Cronus. But of no other mortal do I know, either by hearsay or by sight, that has encountered a doom so repugnant as this of Philoctetes. For though he had wronged no one by force or thievery,
  3. but conducted himself fairly towards the fair, he was left to perish so undeservedly. I truly marvel how—how in the world—as he listened in solitude to the breakers rushing around him,
  4. he kept his hold upon a life so full of grief.
Chorus
  1. Here, he alone was his own neighbor, powerless to walk, with no one in the land to be his companion while he suffered—no one to whom he could cry out a lament that would be answered
  2. for the plague that gnawed his flesh and drained his blood—no one to lull with healing herbs gathered from the nourishing earth the burning blood which oozed from the ulcers of his
  3. envenomed foot, whenever the torment attacked him. Instead he would then creep this way or that, stumbling like a child without his kind nurse, to any place from where his needs
  4. might be supplied, whenever the devouring anguish withdrew.
Chorus
  1. For food he did not gather the fruit of holy Earth, nor anything else that we mortals feed on by our labor,
  2. except when on occasion he obtained food to ease his hunger by means of feathered shafts from his swift-striking bow. Ah, joyless was his life, who for ten years never knew the delight of wine,
  3. but ever directed his path towards any stagnant pool that he could find as he gazed around him.
Chorus
  1. But now, after those troubles, he will attain happiness and heartiness in the end
  2. because of his meeting with this son of a noble race, who after the fullness of many months carries him aboard our sea-crossing hull to his ancestral home,
  3. the haunt of Malian nymphs, and to the banks of the Spercheius in that very land where, above Oeta’s heights, the hero of the brazen shield approached the gods, illuminated by his father’s divine fire.
Neoptolemus
  1. Please, come on. Why so silent with no apparent cause? And why are you paralyzed?
Philoctetes
  1. Ai, ai!
Neoptolemus
  1. What is the matter?
Philoctetes
  1. Nothing serious—go on, son.
Neoptolemus
  1. Are you in pain from the disease that frequents you?
Philoctetes
  1. No, indeed no. I think it is better now.—Gods, oh!