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Sophocles: Philoktetes (Focus Classical Library) [Paperback]

By Seth L. Schein (Translator)
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Item description for Sophocles: Philoktetes (Focus Classical Library) by Seth L. Schein...

This is an English translation of Sophocles' tragedy of Philoctetes, an archer who had been abandoned on Lemnos by the rest of the Greek fleet while on the way to Troy. Focus Classical Library provides close translations with notes and essays to provide access to understanding Greek culture.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.
Pages   126
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 7.2" Height: 0.26"
Weight:   0.38 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2003
Publisher   Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.
ISBN  1585100862  
ISBN13  9781585100866  

Availability  0 units.

More About Seth L. Schein

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Seth L. Schein is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis. He works mainly on Homeric epic and Attic tragedy, and his interests include literary theory and its history, classical receptions, translation, gender and interpretation, and the literary representation of history and of social institutions and values.

Seth L. Schein has an academic affiliation as follows - University of California, Davis.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics > Greek
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Drama > Playwrights, A-Z > ( S ) > Sophocles
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General

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Sophocles on the citizen's responsibility to the state  Jul 6, 2004
"Philoktetes" takes place near the climax of the Trojan War. The title character has the great bow of Hercules, given by the demi-god on his pyre to Philoktetes's father. A member of the Achaean expedition that sailed to Troy, Philoktetes was making an altar on an island along the way when he was bitten by a snake. His cries of pain were so great that he was abandoned by his shipments, under the orders of Odysseus, and marooned on the deserted island of Lemnos. Alone and crippled, Philoktetes used the great bow to survive for the ten years the Achaeans have been fighting against Troy. During that time his hatred against the Achaeans in general, and Odysseus in particular, has grown.

Meanwhile, back at Troy, Odysseus and the other Achaean chieftains have learned from an oracle that Troy will fall only with the help of Philoktetes and his bow (a juicy tidbit it certainly would have been nice to have known eight or nine years earlier). Odysseus and Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, are sent to bring Philoktetes and his bow back to the war. Of course, Odysseus dare not show himself to Philoktetes and sends Neoptolemus to do the dirty work. Neoptolemus gains the confidences of the crippled man by lying about taking him home. During one of his agonizing spasms of pain, Philoktetes gives his bow to Neoptolemus. Regretting having lied to this helpless cripple, Philoktetes returns the bow and admits all, begging him to come to Troy of his own free will. Philoktetes refuses and when Odysseus shows his face and threatens to use force to achieve their goal, he finds himself facing a very angry archer.

In "Philoktetes" Sophocles clearly deals with the balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of society. But this is also a play about citizenship and the need for the idealism of youth to be give way to the responsibilities of adulthood. In fact, this lesson is learned both by Philoktetes, who is taught by the shade of Hercules who appears to resolve the tenses conclusion, and Neoptolemus, who finds his duties at odds with his idealized conception of heroism based upon his father. Although this is a lesser known myth and play, "Philoktetes" does raise some issues worth considering in the classroom by contemporary students.

"Philoktetes" is similar to other plays by Sophocles, which deal with the conflict between the individual and society, although this is a rare instance where Odysseus appears in good light in one of his plays; usually he is presented as a corrupter of innocence (remember, the Greeks considered the hero of Homer's epic poem to be more of a pirate than a true hero), but here he is but a spokesperson for the interests of the state. Final Note: We know of lost plays about "Philoktetes" written by both Aeschylus and Euripides. Certainly it would have been interesting to have these to compare and contrast with this play by Sophocles, just as we have with the "Electra" tragedies.


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