Philoktetes

Philoktetes : A New Translation

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The soldier Philoktetes - with a festering, god-given wound in his foot - has been abandoned on the desolate island of Lemnos by the Greeks under Odysseus. They couldn't stand the stench, nor his screams of pain. That was ten years ago. Since then, they've learned they can't take Troy without Philoktetes and the bow given to him by Herakles - nor without Neoptolemos, son of the dead hero Achilles. Yet Philoktetes would rather kill Osysseus than return to Troy. It's up to Neoptolemos, persuaded by the crafty Odysseus, to trick Philoktetes into returning. Odysseus, an opportunistic character representing the Greek army, will use any means necessary to carry out his mission. Philoktetes and Neoptolemos, however, are constantly at sea: shifting and re-shifting amidst mixed feelings, deceptions, suspicions, and qualms as they struggle with themselves and their obscurely evolving relationship. Fate, free will, and the sacredness of the social bond are all challenged and re-assessed in this tale torn from the midst of the Trojan War.
Robert Bagg's phenomenal translation of Sophocles' classic "Philoktetes" achieves an accurate but idiomatic rendering of the Greek original, suited for reading, teaching, or performing, that is sure to strike a chord with contemporary audiences, this is Sophocles for a new generation.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 134 x 200 x 12mm | 117.93g
  • HarperPerennial
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0062132164
  • 9780062132161
  • 2,114,295

Back cover copy

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.
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About Sophocles

James Scully has published 11 books of poetry, and three book-length translations. His first book of poems, The Marches, won the Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and fellowships from the NEA and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.
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Rating details

2,128 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 31% (670)
4 33% (704)
3 28% (594)
2 7% (141)
1 1% (19)
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