Tragedy Reading Group: Sophocles’ Philoctetes
The latest in the series of live discussions on ancient Greek dramas is on Sophocles’ Philoctetes. Amongst the themes in the conversation were:
- How Philoctetes became injured and why he was left on the island
- Coming-of-age and initiation for Neoptolemus
- Why Odysseus lies — is he the villain? Is it for the good of the army?
- Whether Athenian society was questioning the roles and characters of the epic heroes
- The theme of choice, and what kind of return to life and light awaits Philoctetes
- The role of Neoptolemus and Philoctetes together
- The bow of Heracles, and Heracles as an immortalized hero
- What does the cave signify?
You can find translations of the play online here:
- Richard Jebb, 1898 on Perseus
- Robert Torrance on Perseus
- Ian Johnston
- Christopher Webber 1989 – verse and prose
Picture credit: Marble Slab with the Recall of Philoctetes, Wikimedia Commons