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.
You destroying fire, you utter monster, you hateful masterpiece of astounding wickedness! What treachery you have done to me! How thoroughly you have deceived me! And are you, you wretch, unashamed to look at me,
the suppliant who turned to you for mercy? In taking my bow, you have robbed me of my life. Return it, I beg you, return it, I pray you, son! By the gods of your fathers, do not rob me of my life! Ah, me! He speaks to me no more.
He looks away, as if he will never give it up! O you inlets and headlands, you wild creatures of the hills who have shared my life, and you jagged cliffs, to you—for you alone hear me—to you my accustomed companions,
I bewail the treacherous treatment I have received from the son of Achilles. Although he swore to take me to my home, it is to Troy that he takes me. Although he gave me his right hand in pledge of his word, he has taken my bow, the sacred bow, once belonging to Zeus’s son Heracles, and he keeps it, and wants to show it to the Argives as his own.
By force he drags me away, as if he had captured a strong man, and does not see that he is cutting down a corpse, the shadow of smoke, a mere phantom. In my strength he could not have taken me—no!—nor even in my present condition, save by deceit. But now, because of my rotten fate, I have been tricked. What should I do?
Wait, give it back! Now, at least, recover your true self! What do you say? Silence! I am nothing! Double-gated cave, back, back again I return to you, but now stripped and lacking the means to live. Yes, in that chamber I will wither away alone,
bringing down with that bow no winged bird, no beast that roams the hills. Rather I myself shall die in misery, and supply a feast for those who fed me, becoming the prey of those on whom I preyed. Ah, in requital for blood my own blood will flow,
shed at the hands of a man who seemed all unknowing of evil! May destruction seize you!—but no, not yet, not before I learn whether you will change your mind. But if not, may you die a cruel death!
What shall we do? It rests with you, my king, whether we now sail, or move forward to answer his pleas.
A startling pity for him has come upon me—and not now for the first time, but long ago.
Show mercy, boy, for the love of the gods, and do not give men cause to reproach you for having cheated me.
Ah, no, what shall I do? I wish I had never left
Scyros, so pained am I by these doings.
You are not in and of yourself wicked, but you seem to have come to me after learning the shameless lessons of wicked masters. Now leave such behavior to others, whom it suits, and sail from here—once you have given me back my weapons.
What shall we do, friends?
Enter Odysseus with several armed attendants.Odysseus
Traitor, what are you doing? Come back here and surrender that bow to me!
Who is that? Do I hear Odysseus?
Yes, Odysseus, be sure of it. Here I am before your eyes.
Ah, me, I am sold, destroyed! It was he, then, who entrapped me and robbed me of my arms.