The Trojan War has been raging for nine long years.
Desperate for victory and a return home, the Greeks have been told by a seer that there is only one way to defeat Troy: the great archer Philoctetes and his magical bow must be returned from exile.
The Greek army had abandoned Philoctetes years earlier on the remote island of Lemnos after he was bitten by a snake and afflicted by a mysterious illness on the way to Troy. Now, it falls to Odysseus and the young officer Neoptolemus to travel back to Lemnos and trick Philoctetes into joining the battle against the Trojans. But when Neoptolemus confronts his quarry, he finds his task more difficult than anticipated.
Sophocles' play is a timeless story of deception, loyalty and betrayal. This vital and accessible new translation by Brian Doeries brings it powerfully to life.
Sophocles, the Greek tragic dramatist, was born at Colonus near Athens about 496 B.C. Although hopelessness and misfortune plague the characters in his great plays, Sophocles's own life was a long, prosperous one. He was from a good family, well educated, handsome, wealthy, healthy, and highly respected by his fellow Athenians. His first dramatic production, in 468, won the prize over Aeschylus's. He wrote two dozen more plays before 450, by which date he had made important changes in the form of tragedy by adding a third speaking actor to the traditional two, by reducing the importance of the chorus, and by improving the stage scenery. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays; seven complete plays survive (plus half a light satyr play, some fragments, and ninety titles). Aristotle, in his Poetics, praised Sophocles above other tragedians and regarded his masterpiece, OEDIPUS THE KING, as a model for Greek tragedy. Sophocles's plays won more victories than the plays of either his older contemporary Aeschylus or the younger Euripides. The circumstances of his life, as well as his plays, suggest that Sophocles was conservative, and opposed to innovation in religion and politics. At eighty-three he was still active in the Athenian government. He died in 406 B.C. in Athens at the age of ninety.