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PHILOCTETES by Sophocles, Part 09


I little thought to find thee thus restored.
Trust me, I joy to see thee free from pain,
And hear thee speak; the marks of death were on thee,
Raise thyself up; thy friends here, if thou wilt,
Shall carry thee, 'twill be no burthen to them
If we request it.

No; thy hand alone;
I will not trouble them; 'twill be enough
If they can bear with me and my distemper
When we embark.

Well, be it so; but rise.

Oh I never fear; I'll rise as well as ever.

NEOPTOLEMUS half to himself
How shall I act?

What says my son?

I know not what to say; my doubtful mind-

Talked you of doubts? You did not surely.

That's my misfortune.

Is then my distress
The cause at last you will not take me with you?

All is distress and misery when we act
Against our nature and consent to ill.

But sure to help a good man in misfortunes
Is not against thy nature.

Men will call me
A villain; that distracts me.

Not for this;
For what thou meanst to do thou mayst deserve it

What shall I do? Direct me, Jove! To hide
What I should speak, and tell a base untruth
Were double guilt.

He purposes at last,
I fear it much, to leave me.

Leave thee! No!
But how to make thee go with pleasure hence,
There I'm distressed.

I understand thee not;
What means my son?

I can no longer hide
The dreadful secret from thee; thou art going
To Troy, e'en to the Greeks, to the Atreidae.

Alas! what sayest thou?

Do not weep, but hear me.

What must I hear? what wilt thou do with me?

First set thee free; then carry thee, my friend,
To conquer Troy.

Is this indeed thy purpose?

This am I bound to do.

Then am I lost,
Undone, betrayed. Canst thou, my friend, do this?
Give me my arms again.

It cannot be.
I must obey the powers who sent me hither; justice enjoins- the common cause demands it,

Thou worst of men, thou vile artificer
Of fraud most infamous, what hast thou done?
How have I been deceived? Dost thou not blush
To look upon me, to behold me thus
Beneath thy feet imploring? Base betrayer!
To rob me of my bow, the means of life,
The only means- give 'em, restore 'em to me!
Do not take all Alas Alas! he hears me not,
Nor deigns to speak, but casts an angry look
That says I never shall be free again.
O mountains, rivers, rocks, and savage herds!
To you I speak- to you alone I now
Must breathe my sorrows; you are wont to hear
My sad complaints, and I will tell you all
That I have suffered from Achilles' son,
Who, bound by solemn oath to bear me hence
To my dear native soil, now sails for Troy.
The perjured wretch first gave his plighted hand,
Then stole the sacred arrows of my friend,
The son of Jove, the great Alcides; those
He means to show the Greeks, to snatch me hence
And boast his prize, as if poor Philoctetes,
This empty shade, were worthy of his arm.
Had I been what I was, he ne'er had thus
Subdued me, and e'en now to fraud alone
He owes the conquest. I have been betrayed!
Give me my arms again, and be thyself
Once more. Oh, speak! Thou wilt not? Then I'm lost.
O my poor hut! again I come to thee
Naked and destitute of food; once more
Receive me, here to die; for now, no longer
Shall my swift arrow reach the flying prey,
Or on the mountains pierce the wandering herd:
I shall myself afford a banquet now
To those I used to feed on- they the hunters,
And I their easy prey; so shall the blood
Which I so oft have shed be paid by mine;
And all this too from him whom once I deemed
Stranger to fraud nor capable of ill;
And yet I will not curse thee till I know
Whether thou still retainst thy horrid purpose,
Or dost repent thee of it; if thou dost not,
Destruction wait thee!

We attend your pleasure,
My royal lord, we must be gone; determine
To leave, or take him with us.

His distress
Doth move me much. Trust me, I long have felt
Compassion for him.

Oh then by the gods
Pity me now, my son, nor let mankind
Reproach thee for a fraud so base.

What shall I do? Would I were still at Scyros!
For I am most unhappy.


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