Plot Summary Neoptolemus stresses his determination never to return to Troy. ; Angst: Philoctetes goes through a lot of it. Philoctetes bids Lemnos goodbye, and the chorus prays for their safe passage to Troy. Like other classical Greek tragedies, Sophocles' Philoctetes is an extraordinarily timely and timeless play. Third stasimon, 1081-1217. the soul of Philoctetes, when you speak with him, 55 and when he asks you who you are and whence you come, then tell him truthfully you are Achilles' son, but sailing home, deserting from the Argive naval force and nurturing a deep felt enmity in that the men, who prayed … He hands the bow to Neoptolemus and writhes on the ground until the abscess bursts and the blood flows. Struggling with distance learning? Neoptolemus draws his own sword, but instead of fighting him, Odysseus goes back to tell the army of Neoptolemus’s traitorous decision. The background of the play is that Philoctetes is the owner of the fabled bow and arrows of Hercules. As Odysseus planned, a sailor disguised as a trader comes to help Neoptolemus in tricking Philoctetes. Philoctetes is a play by Sophocles (Aeschylus and Euripides also each wrote a Philoctetes but theirs have not survived). Imploring their pity, he tells them not to fear him, although he became a savage through solitude and great suffering. Neoptolemus’s loyalties are divided between duty and compassion, but before he decides on the course to pursue, Odysseus arrives and demands that Philoctetes accompany them. According to Eugenia Tzitzilaki, the director of the New Workshop Theater's newest production, this particular Greek play is all about making the correct choice. It was first performed at the City Dionysia in 409 BC, where it was awarded the first prize. Neoptolemus cannot take Philoctetes home to Greece, as both men are needed to win the war in Troy. A prophet has foreseen that the Greeks will need Philoctetes and his bow (given to him by Heracles before his death) in order to defeat the Trojans. ©2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. He is an expert archer, and his poisoned arrows kill unfailingly. Neoptolemus calls to Philoctetes and tells him to come out of his cave. They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. In the play Electra is seen passing through the whole range of human emotions—from passionate love to cruel hatred, from numb despair to wild joy. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! He is cured. Philoctetes's situation is immensely pitiable, and Odysseus is certainly in his "pre-trials and tribulations humbling experience" stage. He says, hoping to persuade Philoctetes to go quickly on board, that Odysseus is pursuing him in order to compel him to rejoin the Greek army, for Helenus, Priam’s son, prophesied that Philoctetes is the one man who will defeat Troy. He shoots birds with his great bow, and, in order that he might drink in winter, he is forced to build a fire to melt the ice. When he remains adamant, Odysseus and Neoptolemus leave, taking with them the bow. He gives him back his bow and arrows, and Odysseus reappears and again tells Philoctetes he will be going to Troy. When Heracles was near his death (the subject of another play by Sophocles - The Trachiniae), he wished to be burned on a funeral pyre while still alive.No one but Philoctetes would light the fire, and in return for this favor Heracles gives him his bow. Philoctetes takes place during the final year of the Trojan War and explores themes of friendship, trauma, deception versus morality, fate, and the individual versus the collective. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. Instructed by Odysseus, Neoptolemus is to lure Philoctetes on board with his bow by declaring that he, too, hates Odysseus because the king deprived him of the weapons of his father, Achilles. Philoctetes angered the goddess Chryse when he trespassed on her shrine, and he will not agree to go to Troy with his bow and arrows until the gods decide it is time. Odysseus arrives, and tries to persuade Philoctetes to come with them to Troy. Philoctetes swears that he will never go with his most hated enemy, and the disguised trader returns to his ship. Philoctetes, Greek legendary hero who played a decisive part in the final stages of the Trojan War. Philoctetes should return to the Greek army where he will be healed. The gods have ordered Philoctetes’s suffering, Neoptolemus says. He claims to be a wine trader on his way back from Troy, and he has heard word concerning Neoptolemus. Philoctetes, heeding the voice of the immortal, willingly leaves Lemnos to fulfill his destiny. When Philoctetes wakes later, he is shocked that Neoptolemus has really stayed by his side. But there is no time now for long stories, Odysseus tells Neoptolemus, and he needs Neoptolemus’s help. Without Philoctetes and his bow and arrows, given to him by the god Heracles, Neoptolemus will not be able to conquer Troy. Philoctetes refuses to go. The Trojan War has dragged for ten years, and according to a prophecy by Helenus, a Trojan mystic, the war can be won by the Greeks only if they employ Philoctetes, who possesses the bow and poison-tipped arrows of Hercules. The play commences with Odysseus, along with Neoptolemus, arriving by sea at the island of Lemnos. He is told that Ajax is also dead. Going Obey your orders. The decision took by Agamemnon and Menelaus – the two Greek commanders infuriates Ajax. The story takes place during the Trojan War (after the events of the Iliad, and before the Trojan Horse). Neoptolemus orders the chorus to stay with Philoctetes as he goes with Odysseus back to the ship—still holding Philoctetes’s bow and arrows. CHORUS That we shall Most gladly. His incurable wound suppurates, bleeds, pains, and causes him great grief, and he holds the Greeks responsible for his misery. Philoctetes swears that he will defend the country with his bow. Word Count: 530. There is debate over whether the play depicts virtue triumphant or, rather, portrays a young woman incurably twisted by years of hatred and resentment. Philoctetes denounces the foul play and demands back the bow. Philoctetes’ sense of abandonment and his search for meaning in his suffering still speaks to us today, and the play poses tough questions regarding the doctor/patient relationship, questions about the subjectivity of pain and the difficulty of pain management, the long-term challenges of caring for the chronically ill and the ethical boundaries of medical practice. Odysseus arrives on the island of Lemnos with Neoptolemus, the son of the late hero Achilles. The play begins with the arrival of Odysseus, a Greek warrior, and Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, at the island of Lemnos where they are seeking out Philoctetes, the greatest of Greek archers. The Chorus are left by Neoptolemus to look after Philoctetes until they sail. Odysseus has ordered a ship to retrieve Neoptolemus and bring him back to Troy, because the prophet Helenus has claimed that the war cannot be won without him. Philoctetes appears in Seamus Heaney's play The Cure at Troy, a "version" of Sophocles' Philoctetes. Odysseus and Diomedes have boarded another ship for Lemnos, because Helenus said the war can’t be won without Philoctetes either. Philoctetes is a fantastic play by Sophocles that explores themes of trauma/suffering, and making the morally correct decisions. He informs Philoctetes that Zeus made a decision. The chapter focuses on each character in turn. Neoptolemus says that the Greeks will kill him if he does, but Philoctetes promises to keep him safe with his unerring bow and arrows, so Neoptolemus agrees to sail Philoctetes home to Greece. Philoctetes Summary. When Philoctetes again refuses, Neoptolemus, in spite of the return of Odysseus, gives back the bow. PHILOCTETES stops them By protecting Jove, Who hears the suppliant's prayer, do not forsake me! No one comes to the island unless they are forced, Philoctetes says, and he begs the men not to be scared by his “wild appearance,” as he is but a “miserable wretch” with no one to look after him. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. Prior to the beginning of the play, there has been a struggle between Odysseus and Ajax over who should receive the armour of the Greek warrior-hero Achilles after his death. He is then forced to keep Philoctetes from killing Odysseus. The men can hear the sounds of crying, and Philoctetes approaches. They left him with little to keep him alive, Philoctetes says, and he is sure that their shared hatred for Odysseus means that he can trust Neoptolemus. Philoctetes was a play by the Greek playwright Sophocles. We are thankful for their contributions and encourage you to make your own. His wound grew worse and because he is alone on the island he has to use all his energy to remain alive. While Odysseus believes the ends do justify the means, especially when an individual's sense of honor is at stake, Neoptolemus would rather lose honorably than win through deceit. Neoptolemus refuses, for the bow is useless without Philoctetes. Landing for the second time on Lemnos, Odysseus describes the cave in which Philoctetes lives. He can no longer keep the pain of his wound hidden, and he begs Neoptolemus to cut off his foot with his sword. Although the play is named for Philoctetes, Neoptolemus is truly the central character of this play, which is a study in evolving moral character (Hawkins, 1999). Sophocles' play recounts an episode from the Trojan War, in which the wily Odysseus and Achilles' son Neoptolemus travel to a remote island to persuade Philoctetes to come with them to Troy. He slaughters the cattle and this news goes to Odysseus. The island is deserted, and there are no houses or ships to be found. Philoctetes , or Philocthetes, according to Greek mythology, was the son of Poeas, king of Meliboea in Thessaly, and Demonassa. ANALYSIS: In no other Greek play does character count for so much. I need help understanding what types of rhetoric are used in Philoctetes and how these are in conflict with one another. ; Because Destiny Says So: Philoctetes has to go back to Troy, and Neoptolemus has to go there to begin with because a prophecy says that's the only way to take Troy. It results in a malodorous, festering wound, and he is left alone with his weapons on the uninhabited island of Lemnos. After hearing of the death of other friends, Philoctetes agrees with Neoptolemus that war inevitably kills the good men but only occasionally and by chance kills the bad. Neoptolemus is repulsed by the idea of treachery and initially refuses. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Neoptolemus refuses but asks Philoctetes what he can reasonably do to help him. Neoptolemus recounts the story Odysseus has ordered him to tell, and Philoctetes in turn tells Neoptolemus that he was marooned on Lemnos by Odysseus and his men after he was bitten by a snake on the island of Chryse. The Sophocles tragedy of abandonment and betrayal re-envisioned through the story of an African asylum seeker in Athens, Greece. To the ships, my friends; away! Neoptolemus tries his best to convince Philoctetes to accompany him to Troy, but the latter agrees to sail with him only for a journey to Greece. Pronunciation of Philoctetes with 1 audio pronunciation, 1 meaning, 7 translations and more for Philoctetes. When he sets out along with the Greek army to fight in the Trojan War, he suffers a snakebite at the temple of the goddess Chryse. Odysseus, it is argued, is more a reflection of his Homeric prototype than a villainous sophist. CHORUS We would advise thee to it. When Philoctetes awakens, Neoptolemus reveals to him that he came to take the warrior to fight against Troy. John Jesurun wrote the Philoktetes-variations in 1993 on Ron Vawter 's request, it was the actor's last piece of work, considered his artistic testament, being performed while the actor was dying of AIDS . Already a member? The chorus of sailors reports that they hear the painful approach of Philoctetes. He asserts that he intends to sail for home. After Neoptolemus agrees, Philoctetes praises the day that brings them together and declares himself bound in friendship to the young warrior for all time. Philoctetes is thankful and claims he now considers Neoptolemus a friend, so he invites him into his cave. About Sophocles: Philoctetes. Philoctetes begs Neoptolemus not to leave him alone on the island, just as the sailor disguised as the merchant approaches. Moreover, he's had ten years to let the hatred against Greeks take deep root in his heart. Sophocles' play recounts an episode from the Trojan War, in which the wily Odysseus and Achilles' son Neoptolemus travel to a remote island to persuade Philoctetes to come with them to Troy. Neoptolemus reassures him that he will let Philoctetes on the ship, only Philoctetes won’t like where they are headed. The Philoctetes Community Note includes chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author biography and quizzes written by community members like you. Neoptolemus approaches Philoctetes and manages to win over his confidence by faking hatred for Odysseus. Odysseus orders Neoptolemus to find Philoctetes and tell him that the Greeks had convinced him to go to Troy to fight, but he left angrily after Atreus’s sons gave Achilles’s arms to Odysseus. Both Neoptolemus and Philoctetes agree to go to Troy, and Heracles disappears. Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Inside the cave, Philoctetes falls to the ground. Odysseus tells Neoptolemus that he must find a way to steal Philoctetes’s bow and arrows and convince him to come to Troy, but Neoptolemus’s moral compass won’t allow him to behave in deceitful ways. Scene 1 (Lines 1 – 134) Odysseus arrives on the island of Lemnos with Neoptolemus, the son of the late hero Achilles. Odysseus heads back to the ship to keep hidden from Philoctetes, and the chorus, made up of a group of Greek sailors, asks Neoptolemus what they can do to help and lament the terrible pain Philoctetes is forced to live in. Philoctetes draw back the bow, but Neoptolemus begs him not to shoot. Meanwhile, Neoptolemus again tries to persuade Philoctetes to join them. She mystifies the mind of the great warrior and he believes the camp cattle to be the Greek warriors. Philoctetes asks Neoptolemus to stay with him until his pain subsides. Neoptolemus, answering as he was instructed, says that he, too, curses Odysseus, who deprived him of his rights and robbed him of his father’s arms. Sophocles’s Philoctetes is considered a piece of Trojan War literature, a genre which was sparked by Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad, written around the 8th century BCE. When he begs on his knees not to be left alone again, the chorus expresses their willingness to take him with them. It is time for Neoptolemus to “prove his worth” and assist the Greeks by tricking Philoctetes. Neoptolemus states that the fabled armor of Achilles is with Odysseus even though, by birthright, it should be with him—the son of Achilles. Electra’s triumph is thus complete. Set amid Europe's migrant crisis, Philoctetes explores his 'homeless home', pondering along the way the characteristics and origin of the elusive Greek national identity he is denied. Next. With his painful wound, he wants Neoptolemus to stay nearby. The Iliad Context Important information about Homer's background, historical events that influenced The Iliad, and the main ideas within the work. At this juncture, Hercules appears and tells them that if Philoctetes were to sail for Troy, then not only would he play an important role in a significant victory, he would also be cured. mean to a nation on the brink of war? Suddenly the wound in Philoctetes’ foot begins to pain him beyond endurance. The background of the play is that Philoctetes is the owner of the fabled bow and arrows of Hercules. In the background story of the play, during the Trojan war between Troy and Greece, the Greeks capture a Trojan seer who tells them they will need Philoctetes and Heracles' bow to win the war. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. The sailors advise Neoptolemus to leave with the bow while the exhausted man sleeps. He has gone against his “true nature,” Neoptolemus says, and Philoctetes begins to worry that he won’t really be going on Neoptolemus’s ship. Odysseus coaxes Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, to use deception and get Philoctetes to agree to come with them. When Odysseus again leaves them, Neoptolemus reveals the whole of Helenus’s prophecy, which foretold that the wound would be cured when Philoctetes returns and that, together with Neoptolemus, he will conquer Troy. Philoctetes Summary. Suddenly, Heracles appears from the sky, bearing a message from Zeus. End of play Summary In the background story of the play, during the Trojan war between Troy and Greece, the Greeks capture a Trojan seer who tells them they will need Philoctetes … Philoctetes is certain that Odysseus is alive, and this fact Neoptolemus confirms. Log in here. Philoctetes, a Play About Doing the Right Thing During a War, at the New Workshop Theatre, March 13–17 What can a Greek drama written in 409 B.C. The war-weary Greeks send a contingent to get Philoctetes to Troy, but it's a difficult task. What would I rightly say is your city or your ancestry?” Philoctetes is glad to learn that the strangers are, in fact, Greeks, and even gladder to find out that their leader is the son of a man he lov… These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. He tries to inspect the issue and Athena watches Odysseus looking for the truth. A river of “murky” blood flows from the wound on Philoctetes’s foot as he passes out. Neoptolemus identifies it by the stained bandages drying in the sun, the leaf-stuffed mattress, and the crude wooden cup he finds. Our, “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. Philoctetes, declaring that their grief is equal, wonders also why Ajax allows these injustices. The play raises important points about ends justifying the means. PHILOCTETES Think you I'll e'er return To hateful Troy? Neoptolemus answers Philoctetes, who asks Neoptolemus who he is and why he comes. Also, with Neoptolemus, he will kill Paris and take Troy. He kills Paris, the son of Priam, and many other Trojans. Philoctetes, the Acheans greatest archer in the Trojan war is abandoned on an island for ten years because of a stinking snake bite. Having thus won over Philoctetes with his words and the offer of sailing back to Greece, Neoptolemus manages to hold the bow of Hercules in his hands. Suddenly, Odysseus appears and tells Philoctetes that he is going to Troy, like it or not. Odysseus reveals himself, and as the truth dawns upon Philoctetes, he is enraged and points his deadly arrow at Odysseus. Sophocles's play "Philoctetes" is an account of how Odysseus and Neoptolemus convince Philoctetes to return to the war. When Neoptolemus agrees to obey, Odysseus leaves him. Instant downloads of all 1386 LitChart PDFs He ultimately agrees when Odysseus tells him that this is the only way to bring an end to the war. Odysseus departs with Neoptolemus, who has the bow. He asks Neoptolemus to keep the bow and arrows safe until his acute attack of pain passes, but Neoptolemus must agree not to give them to Odysseus if he arrives while Philoctetes is delirious with pain. Go, leave me! This study guide uses the translation of Sophocles’ play by Peter Meineck. En route to Troy he was The Philoctetes does not open with its main character, because at the start of the play, no dialogue is possible for him. Only Neoptolemus can win Philoctetes’s trust, Odysseus says, because he was not part of the initial expedition to Troy that abandoned Philoctetes on the island. Background. Neoptolemus agrees against his better judgement, and Odysseus tells him he will soon send a sailor disguised as a merchant to further their plot, but otherwise, Neoptolemus is on his own. The wound never heals, and the smell that comes from it and the groans of suffering of Philoctetes are the reasons Odysseus gives for making him an outcast. He asks the men who they are and what they are doing on Lemnos. Philoctetes, however, with his invincible bow, once the property of Herakles, becomes indispensable to the Greeks in their war against Troy. From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. Philoctetes contains examples of:. He asks who they are and whether they, too, are Greeks. Philoctetes refuses to go to Troy for Odysseus, and he convinces Neoptolemus to take him home to Greece instead. Philoctetes’s arrows never miss their mark, and he will kill Neoptolemus instantly. He would rather take Philoctetes’s bow by force, but Odysseus claims that won’t be possible. He then says good-bye to Philoctetes, who implores them not to abandon him and to suffer for one day the inconvenience of having him on board the ship on which Neoptolemus is sailing. 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