The Return of Philoktetes (page 635)

Chapter 16, The Trojan War

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Lesches, Ilias Mikra (Little Iliad) Argumentum – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, p. 74, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987.

Kypria Argumentum – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, p. 39, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987.

Homer, Iliad 6.76

the son of Priam, Helenus, far the best of augurs  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad 2.721-25

But Philoctetes lay suffering grievous pains in an island, even in sacred Lemnos, where the sons of the Achaeans had left him in anguish with an evil wound from a deadly water-snake. There he lay suffering; [720] yet full soon were the Argives beside their ships to bethink them of king Philoctetes.  Greek Text

Pindar, Pythian 1.50-55

But now he has gone to battle in the manner of Philoctetes; and under compulsion even a haughty man fawned on him for his friendship. They say that the god-like heroes went to bring from Lemnos that man afflicted with a wound, the archer son of Poeas, who sacked the city of Priam and brought an end to the toils of the Danaans; [55] he went with a weak body, but it was fatedGreek Text

Scholia at Pindar, Pythian 1.100 – Scholia vetera in Pindari carmina, Vol. 2, pp. 18-19, ed. A.B Drachman. Leipzig 1903.

The Greeks summoned Philoktetes from Lemnos because of Helenos’ prophesy; for it had been decreed that without the bow of Herakles Ilios would not be taken.  (Transl. E. Bianchelli)  Greek Text

Bakchylides fr 7 SM – Bacchylidis Carmina cum fragmentis, p. 87, ed. B. Snell and H. Maehler. Leipzig 1970.

See translation above

Dion of Prusa, Orationes 52Dionis Prusaensis quem vocant Chrysostomum quae extant omnia, vol. 2, pp. 104-9, ed. J. de Arnim. Berlin 1896.

On Aeschylus and Sophocles and Euripides or The Bow of Philoctetes

Having risen about the first hour of the day, both on account of the feeble state of my health and also on account of the air, which was rather chilly because of the early hour and very much like autumn, though it was mid-summer, I made my toilet and performed my devotions. I next got into my carriage and made the round of the race-course several times, my team moving along as gently and comfortably as possible. After that I took a stroll and then rested a bit. Next, after a rub-down and bath and a light breakfast,​ I fell to reading certain tragedies.

[2] These tragedies were the work of topmost artists, I may say, Aeschylus and Sophocles and Euripides, all dealing with the same theme, which was the theft — or should I say the seizure? — of the bow of Philoctetes. However that may be, Philoctetes was portrayed as being deprived of his weapons by Odysseus and as being carried off to Troy along with them, for the most part willingly, though in some measure also yielding to the persuasion of necessity, since he had been deprived of the weapons which furnished him with not only a living on his island, but courage in his sore affliction, and at the same time fame.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Dion of Prusa, Orationes 59Dionis Prusaensis quem vocant Chrysostomum quae extant omnia, vol. 2, pp. 131-34, ed. J. de Arnim. Berlin 1896.


Odysseus. I fear ’twill prove that my allies were rash when they conceived of me the thought that I, in sooth, am best and wisest of the Greeks. And yet what kind of wisdom and prudence may this be which makes a man to toil beyond the others to gain the salvation and the victory of the group, seeing that, were he deemed to be but one among the throng, ’twere his to share these blessings with the best?​ Ah well, no doubt ’tis difficult to find a thing so proud, so jealous of honour, as man is born to be. For ’tis the prominent, those who dare to undertake more labours than the rest, I dare say, whom we all do view with wonder and regard as truly men.

[2] This thirst for glory is what leads even me to bear unnumbered woes and live a life of toil beyond all other men, accepting ever fresh peril, fearing to mar the glory won by earlier achievements.​ So now a task most hazardous and hard brings me to Lemnos here, that Philoctetes and the bow of Heracles I may bear off for my allies. For the one most gifted in prophecy of all the Phrygians,​ Helenus Priam’s son, when by good fortune taken captive, disclosed that without these the city never could be seized.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, February 2023

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