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PHILOCTETES by Sophocles, Part 12

PHILOCTETES

O'erwhelmed by such a storm of griefs as I am,
You should not thus resent a madman's frenzy.

CHORUS
Comply then and be happy.

PHILOCTETES
Never, never!
Be sure of that. Tho' thunder-bearing Jove
Should with his lightnings blast me, would I go?
No! Let Troy perish, perish all the host
Who sent me here to die; but, O my friends!
Grant me this last request.

CHORUS
What is it? Speak.

PHILOCTETES
A sword, a dart, some instrument of death.

CHORUS
What wouldst thou do?

PHILOCTETES
I'd hack off every limb.
Death, my soul longs for death.

CHORUS
But wherefore is it?

PHILOCTETES
I'll seek my father.

CHORUS
Whither?

PHILOCTETES
In the tomb;
There he must be. O Scyros! O my country!
How could I bear to see thee as I am-
I who had left thy sacred shores to aid
The hateful sons of Greece? O misery!
He goes into the cave.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS speaking
Ere now we should have taken thee to our ships,
But that advancing this way I behold
Ulysses, and with him Achilles' son.
NEOPTOLEMUS enters still carrying the bow; he is followed closely by ULYSSES.

ULYSSES
Why this return? Wherefore this haste?

NEOPTOLEMUS
I come
To purge me of my crimes.

ULYSSES
Indeed! What crimes?

NEOPTOLEMUS
My blind obedience to the Grecian host
And to thy counsels.

ULYSSES
Hast thou practised aught
Base or unworthy of thee?

NEOPTOLEMUS
Yes; by art
And vile deceit betrayed th' unhappy.

ULYSSES
Whom?
Alas! what mean you?

NEOPTOLEMUS
Nothing. But the son
Of Poeas-

ULYSSES
Ha! what wouldst thou do? My heart
Misgives me.

NEOPTOLEMUS
I have ta'en his arms, and now-

ULYSSES
Thou wouldst restore them! Speak! Is that thy purpose?
Almighty Jove!

NEOPTOLEMUS
Unjustly should I keep
Another's right?

ULYSSES
Now, by the gods, thou meanest
To mock me! Dost thou not?

NEOPTOLEMUS
If to speak truth
Be mockery.

ULYSSES
And does Achilles' son
Say this to me?

NEOPTOLEMUS
Why force me to repeat
My words so often to thee?

ULYSSES
Once to hear them
Is once indeed too much.

NEOPTOLEMUS
Doubt then no more,
For I have told thee all.

ULYSSES
There are, remember,
There are who may prevent thee.

NEOPTOLEMUS
Who shall dare
To thwart my purpose?

ULYSSES
All the Grecian host,
And with them, I.

NEOPTOLEMUS
Wise as thou art, Ulysses,
Thou talkst most idly.

ULYSSES
Wisdom is not thine
Either in word or deed.

NEOPTOLEMUS
Know, to be just
Is better far than to be wise.

ULYSSES
But where,
Where is the justice, thus unauthorized,
To give a treasure back thou ow'st to me,
And to my counsels?

NEOPTOLEMUS
I have done a wrong,
And I will try to make atonement for it.

ULYSSES
Dost thou not fear the power of Greece?

NEOPTOLEMUS
I fear
Nor Greece nor thee, when I am doing right.

ULYSSES
'Tis not with Troy then we contend. but thee-

NEOPTOLEMUS
I know not that.

ULYSSES
Seest thou this hand? behold,
It grasps my sword.

NEOPTOLEMUS
Mine is alike prepared,
Nor seeks delay.

ULYSSES
But I will let thee go;
Greece shall know all thy guilt, and shall revenge it.
ULYSSES departs.

 

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