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. He (or his father, Poeas) had been bequeathed the bow and arrows of the Greek hero Heracles in return for lighting his funeral pyre; Philoctetes thus became a notable archer. Neoptolemus answers Philoctetes, who asks Neoptolemus who he is and why he comes. Word Count: 1010. 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). Neoptolemus must convince Philoctetes he is telling the truth, Odysseus says, or all of Greece will suffer. Philoctetes, Greek legendary hero who played a decisive part in the final stages of the Trojan War. Philoctetes's situation is immensely pitiable, and Odysseus is certainly in his "pre-trials and tribulations humbling experience" stage. 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 orders the chorus to stay with Philoctetes as he goes with Odysseus back to the ship—still holding Philoctetes’s bow and arrows. 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. Odysseus departs with Neoptolemus, who has the bow. The play raises important points about ends justifying the means. Therefore, he decides to kill the three and Goddess Athena intervenes. As Odysseus planned, a sailor disguised as a trader comes to help Neoptolemus in tricking Philoctetes. Deception is the only way, Odysseus says, and he reminds Neoptolemus that all of Greece will regard him as a cunning hero if he manages to convince Philoctetes to come to Troy. Neoptolemus approaches Philoctetes and manages to win over his confidence by faking hatred for Odysseus. Neoptolemus calls to Philoctetes and tells him to come out of his cave. With his painful wound, he wants Neoptolemus to stay nearby. Odysseus arrives on the island of Lemnos with Neoptolemus, the son of the late hero Achilles. Without Philoctetes and his bow and arrows, given to him by the god Heracles, Neoptolemus will not be able to conquer Troy. Neoptolemus refuses, for the bow is useless without Philoctetes. From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. Philoctetes, declaring that their grief is equal, wonders also why Ajax allows these injustices. 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 tells Odysseus that he must “undo the wrongs” he committed in listening to Odysseus and the Greek army and says he must give the bow and arrows back to Philoctetes. Philoctetes’s arrows never miss their mark, and he will kill Neoptolemus instantly. He kills Paris, the son of Priam, and many other Trojans. 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. Philoctetes is certain that Odysseus is alive, and this fact Neoptolemus confirms. ©2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. ANALYSIS: In no other Greek play does character count for so much. En route to Troy he was 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. The chapter focuses on each character in turn. 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 … Struggling with distance learning? 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. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. 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 … Neoptolemus, however, is afraid that the Greeks will attack his country in retaliation. 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. mean to a nation on the brink of war? 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 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. Neoptolemus stresses his determination never to return to Troy. Before they can leave, Herakles, from whom Philoctetes inherited the bow, appears on the rocks above the cave. It was first performed at the City Dionysia in 409 BC, where it was awarded the first prize. Meanwhile, Neoptolemus again tries to persuade Philoctetes to join them. Imploring their pity, he tells them not to fear him, although he became a savage through solitude and great suffering. Odysseus, it is argued, is more a reflection of his Homeric prototype than a villainous sophist. Go, leave me! 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. The story takes place during the Trojan War (after the events of the Iliad, and before the Trojan Horse). 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. Landing for the second time on Lemnos, Odysseus describes the cave in which Philoctetes lives. 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. Log in here. She mystifies the mind of the great warrior and he believes the camp cattle to be the Greek warriors. Suddenly, Odysseus appears and tells Philoctetes that he is going to Troy, like it or not. 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. Pronunciation of Philoctetes with 1 audio pronunciation, 1 meaning, 7 translations and more for Philoctetes. CHORUS We would advise thee to it. Neoptolemus states that the fabled armor of Achilles is with Odysseus even though, by birthright, it should be with him—the son of Achilles. Philoctetes bids Lemnos goodbye, and the chorus prays for their safe passage to Troy. Philoctetes was an archer hero in Greek mythology who played a major part in helping the Greeks win the Trojan War. When Neoptolemus insists on keeping the bow, Philoctetes, enraged and despairing, curses such treachery and declares that he will starve without his weapon. Neoptolemus identifies it by the stained bandages drying in the sun, the leaf-stuffed mattress, and the crude wooden cup he finds. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. He slaughters the cattle and this news goes to Odysseus. Neoptolemus tells Philoctetes why he hates Odysseus: Location: 1/4 of play: Summary. When Philoctetes wakes later, he is shocked that Neoptolemus has really stayed by his side. He hands the bow to Neoptolemus and writhes on the ground until the abscess bursts and the blood flows. ; 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. 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. Philoctetes was a play by the Greek playwright Sophocles. Philoctetes, the Acheans greatest archer in the Trojan war is abandoned on an island for ten years because of a stinking snake bite. Also, with Neoptolemus, he will kill Paris and take Troy. The background of the play is that Philoctetes is the owner of the fabled bow and arrows of Hercules. They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. 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. I need help understanding what types of rhetoric are used in Philoctetes and how these are in conflict with one another. Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. 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. 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. Once in Troy, Philoctetes will be cured of his painful wound, and he will kill Paris with his bow and arrows, bringing an end to the Trojan War. The men can hear the sounds of crying, and Philoctetes approaches. LitCharts Teacher Editions. This chapter explores Sophocles' Philoctetes, the most morally complex of all of his extant tragedies. It is time for Neoptolemus to “prove his worth” and assist the Greeks by tricking Philoctetes. Neoptolemus is disgusted by this deception, but wily Odysseus pleads necessity and promises him honor and glory. Philoctetes is thankful and claims he now considers Neoptolemus a friend, so he invites him into his cave. The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of. He is then forced to keep Philoctetes from killing Odysseus. Suddenly the wound in Philoctetes’ foot begins to pain him beyond endurance. The Iliad Context Important information about Homer's background, historical events that influenced The Iliad, and the main ideas within the work. Philoctetes, heeding the voice of the immortal, willingly leaves Lemnos to fulfill his destiny. The Philoctetes does not open with its main character, because at the start of the play, no dialogue is possible for him. A river of “murky” blood flows from the wound on Philoctetes’s foot as he passes out. 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. “O strangers!” he exclaims, “Who can you be, and from what country, that you have put into this harborless and desolate land? The sailors advise Neoptolemus to leave with the bow while the exhausted man sleeps. He is an expert archer, and his poisoned arrows kill unfailingly. The gods have ordered Philoctetes’s suffering, Neoptolemus says. About Sophocles: Philoctetes. 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 , or Philocthetes, according to Greek mythology, was the son of Poeas, king of Meliboea in Thessaly, and Demonassa. The Chorus are left by Neoptolemus to look after Philoctetes until they sail. 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. This study guide uses the translation of Sophocles’ play by Peter Meineck. 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. 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. Philoctetes is furious at the Greeks, particularly Odysseus, for marooning him on the uninhabited island. 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. He begs for a sword to kill himself. 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. There is debate over whether the play depicts virtue triumphant or, rather, portrays a young woman incurably twisted by years of hatred and resentment. The island is deserted, and there are no houses or ships to be found. PHILOCTETES I'll hear no more. He asks who they are and whether they, too, are Greeks. 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. Besides, Neoptolemus promised to take him home, and he asks again that Neoptolemus fulfill his promise. 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… 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. The chorus of sailors assures Philoctetes that it would be best to fight on the side of the Greeks, but, out of pride, he is determined not to fight alongside the men who made him an outcast. It results in a malodorous, festering wound, and he is left alone with his weapons on the uninhabited island of Lemnos. When Neoptolemus agrees to obey, Odysseus leaves him. The island is deserted, and there are no houses or ships to be found. 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. 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. Our, “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. Instant downloads of all 1386 LitChart PDFs 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. Inside the cave, Philoctetes falls to the ground. A prophet has foreseen that the Greeks will need Philoctetes and his bow (given to him by Heracles before his… Neoptolemus refuses but asks Philoctetes what he can reasonably do to help him. Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. He asserts that he intends to sail for home. 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. He ultimately agrees when Odysseus tells him that this is the only way to bring an end to the war. 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. He is told that Ajax is also dead. We are thankful for their contributions and encourage you to make your own. Philoctetes swears that he will never go with his most hated enemy, and the disguised trader returns to his ship. Odysseus tells Neoptolemus that he is mad and reminds him that the entire Greek army will come after him if he betrays them. 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. Plot Summary Already a member? Philoctetes agrees to do so. Philoctetes Summary. He gives him back his bow and arrows, and Odysseus reappears and again tells Philoctetes he will be going to Troy. Moreover, he's had ten years to let the hatred against Greeks take deep root in his heart. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! The Sophocles tragedy of abandonment and betrayal re-envisioned through the story of an African asylum seeker in Athens, Greece. Philoctetes refuses to go. Word Count: 530. Odysseus coaxes Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, to use deception and get Philoctetes to agree to come with them. Directed by Katrin Kalketenidis. He would rather take Philoctetes’s bow by force, but Odysseus claims that won’t be possible. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”. 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. 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. 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. These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Neoptolemus tries to convince Philoctetes to go to Troy anyway and tells him his wound will be healed there, but Philoctetes still refuses. 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. Odysseus again runs away, and Philoctetes tells Neoptolemus that he is a good man. After a standoff between Odysseus and the Greeks on one side and Philoctetes on the other, Odysseus leaves the scene. (including. PHILOCTETES stops them By protecting Jove, Who hears the suppliant's prayer, do not forsake me! 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 decision took by Agamemnon and Menelaus – the two Greek commanders infuriates Ajax. Philoctetes should return to the Greek army where he will be healed. Neoptolemus draws his own sword, but instead of fighting him, Odysseus goes back to tell the army of Neoptolemus’s traitorous decision. After Neoptolemus agrees, Philoctetes praises the day that brings them together and declares himself bound in friendship to the young warrior for all time. Then Neoptolemus returns, followed by Odysseus; he decides to redress the wrong he did Philoctetes and to return the bow. 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 is repulsed by the idea of treachery and initially refuses. Refusal and abuse from Philoctetes. After the death of Achilles, his armour was decided to be handed over to Odysseus rather than Ajax the higher. Philoctetes is a fantastic play by Sophocles that explores themes of trauma/suffering, and making the morally correct decisions. ; Angst: Philoctetes goes through a lot of it. Philoctetes denounces the foul play and demands back the bow. He can no longer keep the pain of his wound hidden, and he begs Neoptolemus to cut off his foot with his sword. Background. Both Neoptolemus and Philoctetes agree to go to Troy, and Heracles disappears. 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. But there is no time now for long stories, Odysseus tells Neoptolemus, and he needs Neoptolemus’s help. Odysseus reveals himself, and as the truth dawns upon Philoctetes, he is enraged and points his deadly arrow at Odysseus. Going Obey your orders. When Philoctetes again refuses, Neoptolemus, in spite of the return of Odysseus, gives back the bow. Neoptolemus reassures him that he will let Philoctetes on the ship, only Philoctetes won’t like where they are headed. Philoctetes, however, with his invincible bow, once the property of Herakles, becomes indispensable to the Greeks in their war against Troy. He tries to inspect the issue and Athena watches Odysseus looking for the truth. His wound will be so again, implores Neoptolemus to take him home, as both men needed. 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