PHILOCTETES by Sophocles, Part 11
I could answer him,
Were this a time for words; but now, no more
Than this- I act as best befits our purpose.
Where virtue, truth, and justice are required
Ulysses yields to none; I was not born
To be o'ercome, and yet submit to thee.
Let him remain. Thy arrows shall suffice;
We want thee not! Teucer can draw thy bow
As well as thou; myself with equal strength
Can aim the deadly shaft, with equal skill.
What could thy presence do? Let Lemnos keep thee.
Farewell! perhaps the honours once designed
For thee may be reserved to grace Ulysses.
Alas! shall Greece then see my deadliest foe
Adorned with arms which I alone should bear?
No more! I must be gone.
PHILOCTETES to NEOPTOLEMUS
Son of Achilles,
Thou wilt not leave me too? I must not lose
Thy converse, thy assistance.
ULYSSES to NEOPTOLEMUS
Look not on him;
Away, I charge thee! 'Twould be fatal to us.
PHILOCTETES to the CHORUS
Will you forsake me, friends? Dwells no compassion
Within your breasts for me?
LEADER pointing to NEOPTOLEMUS
He is our master;
We speak and act but as his will directs.
I know be will upbraid me for this weakness, NEOPTOLEMUS, still with the bow in his hands, goes out with ULYSSES. The lines in the following scene between PHILOCTETES and the CHORUS are chanted responsively.
But 'tis my nature, and I must consent,
Since Philoctetes asks it. Stay you with him,
Till to the gods our pious prayers we offer,
And all things are prepared for our departure;
Perhaps, meantime, to better thoughts his mind
May turn relenting. We must go. Remember,
When we shall call you, follow instantly.
O my poor hut! and is it then decreed
Again I come to thee to part no more,
To end my wretched days in this sad cave,
The scene of all my woes? For whither now
Can I betake me? Who will feed, support,
Or cherish Philoctetes? Not a hope
Remains for me. Oh! that th' impetuous storms
Would bear me with them to some distant clime!
For I must perish here.
Thou hast provoked thy fate; thyself alone
Art to thyself a foe, to scorn the good,
Which wisdom bids thee take, and choose misfortune.
Wretch that I am, to perish here alone!
Oh! I shall see the face of man no more,
Nor shall my arrows pierce their winged prey,
And bring me sustenance! Such vile delusions
Used to betray me! Oh! that pains like those
I feel might reach the author of my woes!
The gods decreed it; we are not to blame.
Heap not thy curses therefore on the guiltless,
But take our friendship.
PHILOCTETES pointing to the sea-shore
I behold him there;
E'en now I see him laughing me to scorn
On yonder shore, and in his hands the darts
He waves triumphant, which no arms but these
Had ever borne. O my dear glorious treasure!
Hadst thou a mind to feel th' indignity,
How wouldst thou grieve to change thy noble master,
The friend of great Alcides, for a wretch
So vile, so base, so impious as Ulysses!
justice will ever rule the good man's tongue,
Nor from his lips reproach and bitterness
Invidious flow. Ulysses, by the voice
Of Greece appointed, only sought a friend
To join the common cause, and serve his country.
Hear me, ye winged inhabitants of air,
And you, who on these mountains love to feed,
My savage prey, whom once I could pursue;
Fearful no more of Philoctetes, fly
This hollow rock- I cannot hurt you now;
You need not dread to enter here. Alas!
You now may come, and in your turn regale
On these poor limbs, when I shall be no more.
Where can I hope for food? or who can breathe
This vital air, when life-preserving earth
No longer will assist him?
By the gods!
Let me entreat thee, if thou dost regard
Our master, and thy friend, come to him now,
Whilst thou mayst 'scape this sad calamity;
Who but thyself would choose to be unhappy
That could prevent it?
Oh! you have brought back
Once more the sad remembrance of my griefs;
Why, why, my friends, would you afflict me thus?
Afflict thee- how?
Think you I'll e'er return
To hateful Troy?
We would advise thee to it.
I'll hear no more. Go, leave me!
That we shall Going
Most gladly. To the ships, my friends; away!
Obey your orders.
PHILOCTETES stops them
By protecting Jove,
Who hears the suppliant's prayer, do not forsake me!
Be calm then.
O my friends! will you then stay?
Do, by the gods I beg you.
Why that groan?
Alas! I die. My wound, my wound! Hereafter
What can I do? You will not leave me! Hear-
What canst thou say we do not know already?