ANALYSIS: In no other Greek play does character count for so much. The young warrior says that he is the son of Achilles and that he does not know Philoctetes, who replies that he must indeed be vile if no word of him reached the Greeks. Without Philoctetes and his bow and arrows, given to him by the god Heracles, Neoptolemus will not be able to conquer Troy. He gives him back his bow and arrows, and Odysseus reappears and again tells Philoctetes he will be going to Troy. The island is deserted, and there are no houses or ships to be found. He tries to inspect the issue and Athena watches Odysseus looking for the truth. Refusal and abuse from Philoctetes. Neoptolemus takes the bow and arrows and promises not to let another soul touch them. Neoptolemus identifies it by the stained bandages drying in the sun, the leaf-stuffed mattress, and the crude wooden cup he finds. Struggling with distance learning? Philoctetes, declaring Odysseus was faithless once and will be so again, implores Neoptolemus to take him home, as he first promised. Suddenly the wound in Philoctetes’ foot begins to pain him beyond endurance. Neoptolemus must convince Philoctetes he is telling the truth, Odysseus says, or all of Greece will suffer. 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 can no longer keep the pain of his wound hidden, and he begs Neoptolemus to cut off his foot with his sword. Plot Summary Philoctetes begs Neoptolemus not to leave him alone on the island, just as the sailor disguised as the merchant approaches. Philoctetes is thankful and claims he now considers Neoptolemus a friend, so he invites him into his cave. Neoptolemus approaches Philoctetes and manages to win over his confidence by faking hatred for Odysseus. Philoctetes is furious at the Greeks, particularly Odysseus, for marooning him on the uninhabited island. 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. The sailors advise Neoptolemus to leave with the bow while the exhausted man sleeps. A prophet has foreseen that the Greeks will need Philoctetes and his bow (given to him by Heracles before his… 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. The war-weary Greeks send a contingent to get Philoctetes to Troy, but it's a difficult task. The Philoctetes does not open with its main character, because at the start of the play, no dialogue is possible for him. 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 begs for a sword to kill himself. Odysseus tells Neoptolemus that he is mad and reminds him that the entire Greek army will come after him if he betrays them. 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 asks permission to hold the mighty bow while Philoctetes prepares to leave the island. Philoctetes's situation is immensely pitiable, and Odysseus is certainly in his "pre-trials and tribulations humbling experience" stage. When Philoctetes awakens, Neoptolemus reveals to him that he came to take the warrior to fight against Troy. Neoptolemus can’t be swayed, however, and Odysseus places his hand on his sword. His incurable wound suppurates, bleeds, pains, and causes him great grief, and he holds the Greeks responsible for his misery. Philoctetes contains examples of:. 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 play raises important points about ends justifying the means. The chorus of sailors reports that they hear the painful approach of Philoctetes. Odysseus departs with Neoptolemus, who has the bow. Philoctetes asks Neoptolemus to stay with him until his pain subsides. mean to a nation on the brink of war? 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. Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. There is debate over whether the play depicts virtue triumphant or, rather, portrays a young woman incurably twisted by years of hatred and resentment. Odysseus abandons Philoctetes on the barren island of Lemnos after the warrior is bitten on the foot by a snake while preparing to make a sacrifice at the shrine on the island of Chrysa. Philoctetes, heeding the voice of the immortal, willingly leaves Lemnos to fulfill his destiny. 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. Philoctetes Summary. Neoptolemus agrees, and Philoctetes hands him the bow and arrows. Neoptolemus draws his own sword, but instead of fighting him, Odysseus goes back to tell the army of Neoptolemus’s traitorous decision. (including. About Sophocles: Philoctetes. En route to Troy he was Odysseus and Diomedes have boarded another ship for Lemnos, because Helenus said the war can’t be won without Philoctetes either. 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. With his painful wound, he wants Neoptolemus to stay nearby. After the death of Achilles, his armour was decided to be handed over to Odysseus rather than Ajax the higher. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”. As Odysseus planned, a sailor disguised as a trader comes to help Neoptolemus in tricking Philoctetes. Neoptolemus tells Philoctetes why he hates Odysseus: Location: 1/4 of play: Summary. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. He informs Philoctetes that Zeus made a decision. He kills Paris, the son of Priam, and many other Trojans. Neoptolemus answers Philoctetes, who asks Neoptolemus who he is and why he comes. 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. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Odysseus reveals himself, and as the truth dawns upon Philoctetes, he is enraged and points his deadly arrow at Odysseus. When he begs on his knees not to be left alone again, the chorus expresses their willingness to take him with them. Our summaries and analyses are written by experts, and your questions are answered by real teachers. How to say Philoctetes in English? He ultimately agrees when Odysseus tells him that this is the only way to bring an end to the war. 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. 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. Neoptolemus orders the chorus to stay with Philoctetes as he goes with Odysseus back to the ship—still holding Philoctetes’s bow and arrows. Sophocles's play "Philoctetes" is an account of how Odysseus and Neoptolemus convince Philoctetes to return to the war. Go, leave me! The decision took by Agamemnon and Menelaus – the two Greek commanders infuriates Ajax. These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Their goal is to convince him to return with them to Troy because a seer has prophesied that only his bow and poisoned arrows, weapons that belonged to Hercules, can end the Trojan War. Philoctetes denounces the foul play and demands back the bow. Pronunciation of Philoctetes with 1 audio pronunciation, 1 meaning, 7 translations and more for Philoctetes. Like other classical Greek tragedies, Sophocles' Philoctetes is an extraordinarily timely and timeless play. Philoctetes was an archer hero in Greek mythology who played a major part in helping the Greeks win the Trojan War. He claims to be a wine trader on his way back from Troy, and he has heard word concerning Neoptolemus. Philoctetes is a play written by Sophocles around 409 BCE. Inside the cave, Philoctetes falls to the ground. The Aloner: Philoctetes has been left alone on an island for ten years, having to fend for himself despite his injury and only surviving due to his bow. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and a participant in the Trojan War. Going Obey your orders. Then Neoptolemus returns, followed by Odysseus; he decides to redress the wrong he did Philoctetes and to return the bow. The chapter focuses on each character in turn. Philoctetes is a play by Sophocles (Aeschylus and Euripides also each wrote a Philoctetes but theirs have not survived). It is time for Neoptolemus to “prove his worth” and assist the Greeks by tricking Philoctetes. His wound grew worse and because he is alone on the island he has to use all his energy to remain alive. 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. Electra’s triumph is thus complete. Philoctetes, however, with his invincible bow, once the property of Herakles, becomes indispensable to the Greeks in their war against Troy. 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. Philoctetes swears that he will defend the country with his bow. When Philoctetes wakes later, he is shocked that Neoptolemus has really stayed by his side. The Iliad Context Important information about Homer's background, historical events that influenced The Iliad, and the main ideas within the work. Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. He would rather take Philoctetes’s bow by force, but Odysseus claims that won’t be possible. 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 … He hands the bow to Neoptolemus and writhes on the ground until the abscess bursts and the blood flows. He is told that Ajax is also dead. To the ships, my friends; away! The men can hear the sounds of crying, and Philoctetes approaches. The Sophocles tragedy of abandonment and betrayal re-envisioned through the story of an African asylum seeker in Athens, Greece. 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. Philoctetes is certain that Odysseus is alive, and this fact Neoptolemus confirms. Instant downloads of all 1386 LitChart PDFs Moreover, he's had ten years to let the hatred against Greeks take deep root in his heart. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. The invulnerable armour had been made for Achilles by the god Hephaestus, and the recipient would thus receive recognition as the greatest after Achilles. PHILOCTETES I'll hear no more. 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. Neoptolemus tries to convince Philoctetes to go to Troy anyway and tells him his wound will be healed there, but Philoctetes still refuses. Before they can leave, Herakles, from whom Philoctetes inherited the bow, appears on the rocks above the cave. They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. I need help understanding what types of rhetoric are used in Philoctetes and how these are in conflict with one another. Philoctetes agrees to do so. PHILOCTETES Think you I'll e'er return To hateful Troy? Neoptolemus refuses, for the bow is useless without Philoctetes. Both Neoptolemus and Philoctetes agree to go to Troy, and Heracles disappears. PHILOCTETES stops them By protecting Jove, Who hears the suppliant's prayer, do not forsake me! Trojan War literature focuses on events related to the Trojan War, an epic battle between the Greeks and Trojans that ancient people believed was fought during the 12th or 13th century BCE but is now largely regarded as myth. Philoctetes is a play written by Sophocles around 409 BCE. Philoctetes refuses (“it is not the past I fear but the future”), and it seems that Neoptolemos will take him back to Greece; at this point Herakles appears, promising healing for Philoctetes and success for the Greeks. 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. Our, “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. After Neoptolemus agrees, Philoctetes praises the day that brings them together and declares himself bound in friendship to the young warrior for all time. 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. He slaughters the cattle and this news goes to Odysseus. This chapter explores Sophocles' Philoctetes, the most morally complex of all of his extant tragedies. It results in a malodorous, festering wound, and he is left alone with his weapons on the uninhabited island of Lemnos. This is the same island where Odysseus and a fleet of Greek sailors abandoned Philoctetes, the famous Greek archer and son of Poeas, nine years earlier on their way to Troy to fight the Trojan War. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! 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. He asserts that he intends to sail for home. The play commences with Odysseus, along with Neoptolemus, arriving by sea at the island of Lemnos. Odysseus arrives on the island of Lemnos with Neoptolemus, the son of the late hero Achilles. Philoctetes Summary. LitCharts Teacher Editions. The island is deserted, and there are no houses or ships to be found. He thanks him profusely, and Neoptolemus begins to cry. When he remains adamant, Odysseus and Neoptolemus leave, taking with them the bow. This study guide uses the translation of Sophocles’ play by Peter Meineck. 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. He is an expert archer, and his poisoned arrows kill unfailingly. A river of “murky” blood flows from the wound on Philoctetes’s foot as he passes out. Word Count: 1010. 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 . 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. ; 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. He asks the men who they are and what they are doing on Lemnos. 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. Log in here. 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… He is cured. Odysseus coaxes Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, to use deception and get Philoctetes to agree to come with them. From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. Neoptolemus is repulsed by the idea of treachery and initially refuses. 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. Third stasimon, 1081-1217. When Neoptolemus insists on keeping the bow, Philoctetes, enraged and despairing, curses such treachery and declares that he will starve without his weapon. 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. When Philoctetes again refuses, Neoptolemus, in spite of the return of Odysseus, gives back the bow. Suddenly, Heracles appears from the sky, bearing a message from Zeus. 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 swears that he will never go with his most hated enemy, and the disguised trader returns to his ship. The story takes place during the Trojan War (after the events of the Iliad, and before the Trojan Horse). 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 states that the fabled armor of Achilles is with Odysseus even though, by birthright, it should be with him—the son of Achilles. CHORUS That we shall Most gladly. Therefore, he decides to kill the three and Goddess Athena intervenes. Philoctetes draw back the bow, but Neoptolemus begs him not to shoot. Philoctetes Philoctetes should return to the Greek army where he will be healed. Neoptolemus stresses his determination never to return to Troy. Philoctetes bids Lemnos goodbye, and the chorus prays for their safe passage to Troy. He is then forced to keep Philoctetes from killing Odysseus. She mystifies the mind of the great warrior and he believes the camp cattle to be the Greek warriors. 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. CHORUS We would advise thee to it. Philoctetes, the Acheans greatest archer in the Trojan war is abandoned on an island for ten years because of a stinking snake bite. Neoptolemus reassures him that he will let Philoctetes on the ship, only Philoctetes won’t like where they are headed. Suddenly, Odysseus appears and tells Philoctetes that he is going to Troy, like it or not. Odysseus again runs away, and Philoctetes tells Neoptolemus that he is a good man. 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