Synopses & Reviews
One of the most celebrated plays of ancient Athens in a vivid and dynamic new translation by award-winning poet James Scully
Fate, free will, and the sacredness of the social bond are all challenged and reassessed in this tale torn from the midst of the Trojan War.
The soldier Philoktetes was abandoned with a festering, god-inflicted foot wound on the desolate island of Lemnos by the Greeks under Odysseus, who could no longer stand the stench or the soldier's screams of pain. Now, ten years later, the Greeks realize they will never take Troy without Philoktetes and the bow given to him by Herakles. But Philoktetes refuses to rejoin the Greek army, vowing to kill his enemy Odysseus instead—so Neoptolemos, son of the slain hero Achilles, is dispatched to trick Philoktetes into returning. Philoktetes and Neoptolemos, however, are constantly at sea, their minds shifting and re-shifting amid mixed feelings, deceptions, suspicions, and qualms as they struggle with themselves and their strangely evolving relationship.
James Scully's remarkable translation of Sophocles' classic Philoktetes achieves an accurate yet accessibly idiomatic rendering of the Greek original, suited for reading, teaching, or performing. This is Sophocles for a new generation, certain to strike a powerful chord with contemporary audiences everywhere.
Among the most celebrated plays of ancient Athens, Philoketes is one of seven surviving dramas by the great Greek playwright, Sophocles, now available from Harper Perennial in a vivid and dynamic new translation by award-winning poet James Scully. A powerful tale born out of the blood and chaos of the Trojan War, Philoketes tells the story of a wounded soldier exiled by Odysseus, and the devastating consequences of the abandoned warriors dangerously conflicted emotions when his former commander realizes Troy will not fall without Philoktetes and attempts to recruit him once more. This is Sophocles, vibrant and alive, for a new generation.