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By Sophocles

Translated by Thomas Francklin

London, Printed for R. Francklin [1759]

Dramatis Personae

ULYSSES, King of Ithaca
NEOPTOLEMUS, son of Achilles
PHILOCTETES, son of Poeas and Companion of HERCULES
CHORUS, composed of the companions of ULYSSES and NEOPTOLEMUS

A lonely region on the shore of Lemnos, before a steep cliff in which is the entrance to PHILOCTETES' cave. ULYSSES, NEOPTOLEMUS and an attendant enter.
ULYSSES At length, my noble friend, thou bravest son Of a brave father- father of us all, The great Achilles- we have reached the shore Of sea-girt Lemnos, desert and forlorn, Where never tread of human step is seen, Or voice of mortal heard, save his alone, Poor Philoctetes, Poeas' wretched son, Whom here I left; for such were my commands From Grecia's chiefs, when by his fatal wound Oppressed, his groans and execrations dreadful Alarmed our hosts, our sacred rites profaned, And interrupted holy sacrifice. But why should I repeat the tale? The time Admits not of delay. We must not linger, Lest he discover our arrival here, And all our purposed fraud to draw him hence Be ineffectual. Lend me then thy aid. Surveying round thee, canst thou see a rock With double entrance- to the sun's warm rays In winter open, and in summer's heat Giving free passage to the welcome breeze? A little to the left there is a fountain Of living water, where, if yet he breathes, He slakes his thirst. If aught thou seest of this Inform me; so shall each to each impart Counsel most fit, and serve our common cause. NEOPTOLEMUS (leaving ULYSSES a little behind him) If I mistake not, I behold a cave, E'en such as thou describst. ULYSSES Dost thou? which way? NEOPTOLEMUS Yonder it is; but no path leading thither, Or trace of human footstep. ULYSSES In his cell A chance but he hath lain down to rest: Look if he hath not. NEOPTOLEMUS (advancing to the cave) Not a creature there. ULYSSES Nor food, nor mark of household preparation? NEOPTOLEMUS A rustic bed of scattered leaves. ULYSSES What more? NEOPTOLEMUS A wooden bowl, the work of some rude hand, With a few sticks for fuel. ULYSSES This is all His little treasure here. NEOPTOLEMUS Unhappy man! Some linen for his wounds. ULYSSES This must be then His place of habitation; far from hence He cannot roam; distempered as he is, It were impossible. He is but gone A little way for needful food, or herb Of power to 'suage and mitigate his pain, Wherefore despatch this servant to some place Of observation, whence he may espy His every motion, lest he rush upon us. There's not a Grecian whom his soul so much Could wish to crush beneath him as Ulysses. (He makes a signal to the Attendant. who retires.) NEOPTOLEMUS He's gone to guard each avenue; and now, If thou hast aught of moment to impart Touching our purpose, say it; I attend. ULYSSES Son of Achilles, mark me well! Remember, What we are doing not on strength alone, Or courage, but oil conduct will depend; Therefore if aught uncommon be proposed, Strange to thy ears and adverse to thy nature, Reflect that 'tis thy duty to comply, And act conjunctive with me. NEOPTOLEMUS Well, what is it? ULYSSES We must deceive this Philoctetes; that Will be thy task. When he shall ask thee who And what thou art, Achilles'son reply- Thus far within the verge of truth, no more. Add that resentment fired thee to forsake The Grecian fleet, and seek thy native soil, Unkindly used by those who long with vows Had sought thy aid to humble haughty Troy, And when thou cam'st, ungrateful as they were. The arms of great Achilles, thy just right, Gave to Ulysses. Here thy bitter taunts And sharp invectives liberally bestow On me. Say what thou wilt, I shall forgive, And Greece will not forgive thee if thou dost not; For against Troy thy efforts are all vain Without his arrows. Safely thou mayst hold Friendship and converse with him, but I cannot. Thou wert not with us when the war began, Nor bound by solemn oath to join our host, As I was; me he knows, and if he find That I am with thee, we are both undone. They must be ours then, these all-conquering arms; Remember that. I know thy noble nature Abhors the thought of treachery or fraud. But what a glorious prize is victory! Therefore be bold; we will be just hereafter. Give to deceit and me a little portion Of one short day, and for thy future life Be called the holiest, worthiest, best of men. NEOPTOLEMUS What but to hear alarms my conscious soul, Son of Laertes, I shall never practise. I was not born to flatter or betray; Nor I, nor he- the voice of fame reports- Who gave me birth. What open arms can do Behold me prompt to act, but ne'er to fraud Will I descend. Sure we can more than match In strength a foe thus lame and impotent. I came to be a helpmate to thee, not A base betrayer; and, O king! believe me, Rather, much rather would I fall by virtue Than rise by guilt to certain victory. ULYSSES O noble youth! and worthy of thy sire! When I like thee was young, like thee of strength And courage boastful, little did I deem Of human policy; but long experience Hath taught me, son, 'tis not the powerful arm, But soft enchanting tongue that governs all. NEOPTOLEMUS And thou wouldst have me tell an odious falsehood? ULYSSES He must be gained by fraud. NEOPTOLEMUS By fraud? And why Not by persuasion? ULYSSES He'll not listen to it; And force were vainer still. NEOPTOLEMUS What mighty power Hath he to boast? ULYSSES His arrows winged with death Inevitable. NEOPTOLEMUS Then it were not safe E'en to approach him. ULYSSES No; unless by fraud He be secured. NEOPTOLEMUS And thinkst thou 'tis not base To tell a lie then? ULYSSES Not if on that lie Depends our safety. NEOPTOLEMUS Who shall dare to tell it Without a blush? ULYSSES We need not blush at aught That may promote our interest and success. NEOPTOLEMUS But where's the interest that should bias me? Come he or not to Troy, imports it aught To Neoptolemus? ULYSSES Troy cannot fall Without his arrows. NEOPTOLEMUS Saidst thou not that I Was destined to destroy her? ULYSSES Without them Naught canst thou do, and they without thee nothing. NEOPTOLEMUS Then I must have them. ULYSSES When thou hast, remember A double prize awaits thee. NEOPTOLEMUS What, Ulysses? ULYSSES The glorious names of valiant and of wise. NEOPTOLEMUS Away! I'll do it. Thoughts of guilt or shame No more appal me. ULYSSES Wilt thou do it then? Wilt thou remember what I told thee of? NEOPTOLEMUS Depend on 't; I have promised- that's sufficient. ULYSSES Here then remain thou; I must not be seen. If thou stay long, I'll send a faithful spy, Who in a sailor's habit well disguised May pass unknown; of him, from time to time, What best may suit our purpose thou shalt know. I'll to the ship. Farewell! and may the god Who brought us here, the fraudful Mercury, And great Minerva, guardian of our country, And ever kind to me, protect us still! (ULYSSES goes out as the CHORUS enters. The following lines are chanted responsively between NEOPTOLEMUS and the CHORUS.) CHORUS (strophe 1) Master, instruct us, strangers as we are, What we may utter, what we must conceal. Doubtless the man we seek will entertain Suspicion of us; how are we to act? To those alone belongs the art to rule Who bear the sceptre from the hand of Jove; To thee of right devolves the power supreme, From thy great ancestors delivered down; Speak then, our royal lord, and we obey. NEOPTOLEMUS (systema 1) If you would penetrate yon deep recess To seek the cave where Philoctetes lies, Go forward; but remember to return When the poor wanderer comes this way, prepared To aid our purpose here if need require. CHORUS (antistrophe 1) O king! we ever meant to fix our eyes On thee, and wait attentive to thy will; But, tell us, in what part is he concealed? 'Tis fit we know the place, lest unobserved He rush upon us. Which way doth it lie? Seest thou his footsteps leading from the cave, Or hither bent? NEOPTOLEMUS (advancing towards the cave, systema 2) Behold the double door Of his poor dwelling, and the flinty bed. CHORUS And whither is its wretched master gone? NEOPTOLEMUS Doubtless in search of food, and not far off, For such his manner is; accustomed here, So fame reports, to pierce with winged arrows His savage prey for daily sustenance, His wound still painful, and no hope of cure. CHORUS (strophe 2) Alas! I pity him. Without a friend, Without a fellow-sufferer, left alone, Deprived of all the mutual joys that flow From sweet society- distempered too! How can he bear it? O unhappy race Of mortal man! doomed to an endless round Of sorrows, and immeasurable woe! (antistrophe 2) Second to none in fair nobility Was Philoctetes, of illustrious race; Yet here he lies, from every human aid Far off removed, in dreadful solitude, And mingles with the wild and savage herd; With them in famine and in misery Consumes his days, and weeps their common fate, Unheeded, save when babbling echo mourns In bitterest notes responsive to his woe. NEOPTOLEMUS (systema 3) And yet I wonder not; for if aright I judge, from angry heaven the sentence came, And Chrysa was the cruel source of all; Nor doth this sad disease inflict him still Incurable, without assenting gods? For so they have decreed, lest Troy should fall Beneath his arrows ere the' appointed time Of its destruction come. CHORUS (strophe 3) No more, my son! NEOPTOLEMUS What sayst thou? CHORUS Sure I heard a dismal groan Of some afflicted wretch. NEOPTOLEMUS Which way? CHORUS E'en now I hear it, and the sound as of some step Slow-moving this way. He is not far from us. His plaints are louder now. (antistrophe 3) Prepare, my son! NEOPTOLEMUS For what? CHORUS New troubles; for behold he comes! Not like the shepherd with his rural pipe And cheerful song, but groaning heavily. Either his wounded foot against some thorn Hath struck, and pains him sorely, or perchance He hath espied from far some ship attempting To enter this inhospitable port, And hence his cries to save it from destruction. (PHILOCTETES enters, clad in rags. He moves with difficulty and is obviously suffering pain from his injured foot.) PHILOCTETES Say, welcome strangers, what disastrous fate Led you to this inhospitable shore, Nor haven safe, nor habitation fit Affording ever? Of what clime, what race? Who are ye? Speak! If I may trust that garb, Familiar once to me, ye are of Greece, My much-loved country. Let me hear the sound Of your long wished-for voices. Do not look With horror on me, but in kind compassion Pity a wretch deserted and forlorn In this sad place. Oh! if ye come as friends, Speak then, and answer- hold some converse with me, For this at least from man to man is due. NEOPTOLEMUS Know, stranger, first what most thou seemst to wish; We are of Greece. PHILOCTETES Oh! happiness to hear! After so many years of dreadful silence, How welcome was that sound! Oh! tell me, son, What chance, what purpose, who conducted thee? What brought thee thither, what propitious gale? Who art thou? Tell me all- inform me quickly. NEOPTOLEMUS Native of Scyros, hither I return; My name is Neoptolemus, the son Of brave Achilles. I have told thee all. PHILOCTETES Dear is thy country, and thy father dear To me, thou darling of old Lycomede; But tell me in what fleet, and whence thou cam'st. NEOPTOLEMUS From Troy. PHILOCTETES From Troy? I think thou wert not with us When first our fleet sailed forth. NEOPTOLEMUS Wert thou then there? Or knowst thou aught of that great enterprise? PHILOCTETES Know you not then the man whom you behold? NEOPTOLEMUS How should I know whom I had never seen? PHILOCTETES Have you ne'er heard of me, nor of my name? Hath my sad story never reached your ear? NEOPTOLEMUS Never. PHILOCTETES Alas! how hateful to the gods, How very poor a wretch must I be then, That Greece should never hear of woes like mine! But they who sent me hither, they concealed them, And smile triumphant, whilst my cruel wounds Grow deeper still. O, sprung from great Achilles! Behold before thee Poeas' wretched son, With whom, a chance but thou hast heard, remain The dreadful arrows of renowned Alcides, E'en the unhappy Philoctetes- him Whom the Atreidae and the vile Ulysses Inhuman left, distempered as I was By the envenomed serpent's deep-felt wound. Soon as they saw that, with long toil oppressed, Sleep had o'ertaken me on the hollow rock, There did they leave me when from Chrysa's shore They bent their fatal course; a little food And these few rags were all they would bestow. Such one day be their fate! Alas! my son, How dreadful, thinkst thou, was that waking to me, When from my sleep I rose and saw them not! How did I weep! and mourn my wretched state! When not a ship remained of all the fleet That brought me here- no kind companion left To minister or needful food or balm To my sad wounds. On every side I looked, And nothing saw but woe; of that indeed Measure too full. For day succeeded day, And still no comfort came; myself alone Could to myself the means of life afford, In this poor grotto. On my bow I lived: The winged dove, which my sharp arrow slew, With pain I brought into my little hut, And feasted there; then from the broken ice I slaked my thirst, or crept into the wood For useful fuel; from the stricken flint I drew the latent spark, that warms me still And still revives. This with my humble roof Preserve me, son. But, oh! my wounds remain. Thou seest an island desolate and waste; No friendly port nor hopes of gain to tempt, Nor host to welcome in the traveller; Few seek the wild inhospitable shore. By adverse winds, sometimes th' unwilling guests, As well thou mayst suppose, were hither driven; But when they came, they only pitied me, Gave me a little food, or better garb To shield me from the cold; in vain I prayed That they would bear me to my native soil, For none would listen. Here for ten long years Have I remained, whilst misery and famine Keep fresh my wounds, and double my misfortune. This have th' Atreidae and Ulysses done, And may the gods with equal woes repay them! LEADER OF THE CHORUS O, son of Poeas! well might those, who came And saw thee thus, in kind compassion weep; I too must pity thee- I can no more. NEOPTOLEMUS I can bear witness to thee, for I know By sad experience what th' Atreidae are, And what Ulysses. PHILOCTETES Hast thou suffered then? And dost thou hate them too? NEOPTOLEMUS Oh! that these hands Could vindicate my wrongs! Mycenae then And Sparta should confess that Scyros boasts Of sons as brave and valiant as their own. PHILOCTETES O noble youth! But wherefore cam'st thou hither? Whence this resentment? NEOPTOLEMUS I will tell thee all, If I can bear to tell it. Know then, soon As great Achilles died- PHILOCTETES Oh, stay, my son! Is then Achilles dead? NEOPTOLEMUS He is, and not By mortal hand, but by Apollo's shaft Fell glorious. PHILOCTETES Oh! most worthy of each other, The slayer and the slain! Permit me, son, To mourn his fate, ere I attend to thine. NEOPTOLEMUS Alas! thou needst not weep for others' woes, Thou hast enough already of thy own. PHILOCTETES 'Tis very true; and therefore to thy tale. NEOPTOLEMUS Thus then it was. Soon as Achilles died, Phoenix, the guardian of his tender years, Instant sailed forth, and sought me out at Scyros; With him the wary chief Ulysses came. They told me then (or true or false I know not), My father dead, by me, and me alone Proud Troy must fall. I yielded to their prayers; I hoped to see at least the dear remains Of him whom living I had long in vain Wished to behold. Safe at Sigeum's port Soon we arrived. In crowds the numerous host Thronged to embrace me, called the gods to witness In me once more they saw their loved Achilles To life restored; but he, alas! was gone. I shed the duteous tear, then sought my friends Th' Atreidae friends I thought 'em!-claimed the arms Of my dead father, and what else remained His late possession: when- O cruel words! And wretched I to hear them- thus they answered: "Son of Achilles, thou in vain demandst Those arms already to Ulysses given; The rest be thine." I wept. "And is it thus," Indignant I replied, "ye dare to give My right away?" "Know, boy," Ulysses cried, "That right was mine. and therefore they bestowed The boon on me: me who preserved the arms, And him who bore them too." With anger fired At this proud speech, I threatened all that rage Could dictate to me if he not returned them. Stung with my words, yet calm, he answered me: "Thou wert not with us; thou wert in a place Where thou shouldst not have been; and since thou meanst To brave us thus, know, thou shalt never bear Those arms with thee to Scyros; 'tis resolved." Thus injured, thus deprived of all I held Most precious, by the worst of men, I left The hateful place, and seek my native soil. Nor do I blame so much the proud Ulysses As his base masters- army, city, all Depend on those who rule. When men grow vile The guilt is theirs who taught them to be wicked. I've told thee all, and him who hates the Atreidae I hold a friend to me and to the gods. CHORUS (singing) O Earth! thou mother of great Jove, Embracing all with universal love, Author benign of every good, Through whom Pactolus rolls his golden flood! To thee, whom in thy rapid car Fierce lions draw, I rose and made my prayer- To thee I made my sorrows known, When from Achilles' injured son Th' Atreidae gave the prize, that fatal day When proud Ulysses bore his arms away. PHILOCTETES I wonder not, my friend, to see you here, And I believe the tale; for well I know The man who wronged you, know the base Ulysses Falsehood and fraud dwell on his lips, and nought That's just or good can be expected from him. But strange it is to me that, Ajax present, He dare attempt it. NEOPTOLEMUS Ajax is no more; Had he been living, I had ne'er been spoiled Thus of my right. PHILOCTETES Is he then dead? NEOPTOLEMUS He is. PHILOCTETES Alas! the son of Tydeus, and that slave, Sold by his father Sisyphus, they live, Unworthy as they are. NEOPTOLEMUS Alas! they do, And flourish still. PHILOCTETES My old and worthy friend The Pylian sage, how is he? He could see Their arts, and would have given them better counsels. NEOPTOLEMUS Weighed down with grief he lives, but most unhappy, Weeps his lost son, his dear Antilochus. PHILOCTETES O double woe! whom I could most have wished To live and to be happy, those to perish! Ulysses to survive! It should not be. NEOPTOLEMUS Oh! 'tis a subtle foe; but deepest plans May sometimes fail. PHILOCTETES Where was Patroclus then, Thy father's dearest friend? NEOPTOLEMUS He too was dead. In war, alas- so fate ordains it ever- The coward 'scapes, the brave and virtuous fall. PHILOCTETES It is too true; and now thou talkst of cowards, Where is that worthless wretch, of readiest tongue, Subtle and voluble? NEOPTOLEMUS Ulysses? PHILOCTETES No; Thersites, ever talking, never heard. NEOPTOLEMUS I have not seen him, but I hear he lives. PHILOCTETES I did not doubt it: evil never dies; The gods take care of that. If aught there be Fraudful and vile, 'tis safe; the good and just Perish unpitied by them. Wherefore is it? When gods do ill, why should we worship them? NEOPTOLEMUS Since thus it is, since virtue is oppressed, And vice triumphant, who deserve to live Are doomed to perish, and the guilty reign. Henceforth, O son of Poeas! far from Troy And the Atreidae will I live remote. I would not see the man I cannot love. My barren Scyros shall afford me refuge, And home- felt joys delight my future days. So, fare thee well, and may th' indulgent gods Heal thy sad wound, and grant thee every wish Thy soul can form! Once more, farewell! I go, The first propitious gale. PHILOCTETES What! now, my son? So soon? NEOPTOLEMUS Immediately; the time demands We should be near, and ready to depart. PHILOCTETES Now, by the memory of thy honoured sire, By thy loved mother, by whate'er remains On earth most dear to thee, oh! hear me now, Thy suppliant! Do not, do not thus forsake me, Alone, oppressed, deserted, as thou seest, In this sad place. I shall, I know it must, be A burthen to thee. But, oh! bear it kindly; For ever doth the noble mind abhor Th' ungenerous deed, and loves humanity; Disgrace attends thee if thou dost forsake me, If not, immortal fame rewards thy goodness. Thou mayst convey me safe to Oeta's shores In one short day; I'll trouble you no longer. Hide me in any part where I may least Molest you. Hear me! By the guardian god Of the poor suppliant, all- protecting Jove, I beg. Behold me at thy feet, infirm, And wretched as I am, I clasp thy knees. Leave me not here then, where there is no mark Of human footstep- take me to thy home! Or to Euboea's port, to Oeta, thence Short is the way to Trachin, or the banks Of Spercheius' gentle stream, to meet my father, If yet he lives; for, oh! I begged him oft By those who hither came, to fetch me hence- Or is he dead, or they neglectful bent Their hasty course to their own native soil. Be thou my better guide! Pity and save The poor and wretched. Think, my son, how frail And full of danger is the state of man- Now prosperous, now adverse. Who feels no ills Should therefore fear them; and when fortune smiles Be doubly cautious, lest destruction come Remorseless on him, and he fall unpitied. CHORUS (singing) Oh, pity him, my lord, for bitterest woes And trials most severe he hath recounted; Far be such sad distress from those I love! Oh! if thou hat'st the base Atreidae, now Revenge thee on them, serve their deadliest foe; Bear the poor suppliant to his native soil; So shalt thou bless thy friend, and 'scape the wrath Of the just gods, who still protect the wretched. NEOPTOLEMUS Your proffered kindness, friends, may cost you dear; When you shall feel his dreadful malady Oppress you sore, you will repent it. LEADER OF THE CHORUS Never Shall that reproach be ours. NEOPTOLEMUS In generous pity Of the afflicted thus to be o'ercome Were most disgraceful to me; he shall go. May the kind gods speed our departure hence, And guide our vessels to the wished-for shore! PHILOCTETES O happy hour! O kindest, best of men! And you my dearest friends! how shall I thank you? What shall I do to show my grateful heart? Let us be gone! But, oh! permit me first To take a last farewell of my poor hut, Where I so long have lived. Perhaps you'll say I must have had a noble mind to bear it. The very sight to any eyes but mine Were horrible, but sad necessity At length prevailed, and made it pleasing to me. LEADER One from our ship, my lord, and with him comes A stranger. Stop a moment till we hear Their business with us. (The Spy enters, dressed as a merchant. He is accompanied by one of NEOPTOLEMUS'men.) SPY Son of great Achilles, Know, chance alone hath brought me hither, driven By adverse winds to where thy vessels lay, As home I sailed from Troy. There did I meet This my companion, who informed me where Thou mightst be found. Hence to pursue my course And not to tell thee what concerns thee near Had been ungenerous, thou perhaps meantime Of Greece and of her counsels naught suspecting, Counsels against thee not by threats alone Or words enforced, but now in execution. NEOPTOLEMUS Now by my virtue, stranger, for thy news I am much bound to thee, and will repay Thy service. Tell me what the Greeks have done. SPY A fleet already sails to fetch thee back, Conducted by old Phoenix, and the sons Of valiant Theseus. NEOPTOLEMUS Come they then to force me? Or am I to be won by their persuasion? SPY I know not that; you have what I could learn. NEOPTOLEMUS And did the' Atreidae send them? SPY Sent they are, And will be with you soon. NEOPTOLEMUS But wherefore then Came not Ulysses? Did his courage fail? SPY He, ere I left the camp, with Diomede On some important embassy sailed forth In search- NEOPTOLEMUS Of whom? SPY There was a man- but stay, Who is thy friend here, tell me, but speak softly. NEOPTOLEMUS (whispering to him) The famous Philoctetes. SPY Ha! begone then! Ask me no more- away, immediately! PHILOCTETES What do these dark mysterious whispers mean? Concern they me, my son? NEOPTOLEMUS I know not what He means to say, but I would have him speak Boldly before us all, whate'er it be. SPY Do not betray me to the Grecian host, Nor make me speak what I would fain conceal. I am but poor- they have befriended me. NEOPTOLEMUS In me thou seest an enemy confest To the Atreidae. This is my best friend Because he hates them too; if thou art mine, Hide nothing then. SPY Consider first. NEOPTOLEMUS I have. SPY The blame will be on you. NEOPTOLEMUS Why, let it be: But speak, I charge thee. SPY Since I must then, know, In solemn league combined, the bold Ulysses And gallant Diomede have sworn by force Or by persuasion to bring back thy friend: The Grecians heard Laertes' son declare His purpose; far more resolute he seemed Than Diomede, and surer of success. NEOPTOLEMUS But why the' Atreidae, after so long time, Again should wish to see this wretched exile, Whence this desire? Came it from th' angry gods To punish thus their inhumanity? SPY I can inform you; for perhaps from Greece Of late you have not heard. There was a prophet, Son of old Priam, Helenus by name, Hlim, in his midnight walks, the wily chief Ulysses, curse of every tongue, espied; Took him. and led him captive. to the Creeks A welcome spoil. Much he foretold to all, And added last that Troy should never fall Till Philoctetes from this isle returned. Ulysses heard, and instant promise gave To fetch him hence; he hoped by gentle means To gain him; those successless, force at last Could but compel him. He would go, he cried, And if he failed his head should pay th' forfeit. I've told thee all, and warn thee to be gone, Thou and thy friend, if thou wouldst wish to save him. PHILOCTETES And does the traitor think he can persuade me? As well might he persuade me to return From death to life, as his base father did. SPY Of that know not: I must to my ship. Farewell, and may the gods protect you both! (The Spy departs.) PHILOCTETES Lead me- expose me to the Grecian host! And could the insolent Ulysses hope With his soft flatteries e'er to conquer me? No! Sooner would I listen to the voice Of that fell serpent, whose envenomed tongue Hath lamed me thus. But what is there he dare not Or say or do? I know he will be here E'en now, depend on't. Therefore, let's away! Quick let the sea divide us from Ulysses. Let us be gone; for well-timed expedition, The task performed, brings safety and repose. NEOPTOLEMUS Soon as the wind permits us we embark, But now 'tis adverse. PHILOCTETES Every wind is fair When we are flying from misfortune. NEOPTOLEMUS True; And 'tis against them too. PHILOCTETES Alas! no storms Can drive back fraud and rapine from their prey. NEOPTOLEMUS I'm ready. Take what may be necessary, And follow me. PHILOCTETES I want not much. NEOPTOLEMUS Perhaps My ship will furnish you. PHILOCTETES There is a plant Which to my wound gives some relief; I must Have that. NEOPTOLEMUS Is there aught else? PHILOCTETES Alas! my bow I had forgot. I must not lose that treasure. (PHILOCTETES steps into the cave, and brings out his bow and arrows.) NEOPTOLEMUS Are these the famous arrows then? PHILOCTETES They are. NEOPTOLEMUS And may I be permitted to behold, To touch, to pay my adoration to them? PHILOCTETES In these, my son, in everything that's mine Thou hast a right, NEOPTOLEMUS But if it be a crime, I would not; otherwise- PHILOCTETES Oh! thou art full Of piety; in thee it is no crime; In thee, my friend, by whom alone I look Once more with pleasure on the radiant sun- By whom I live- who giv'st me to return To my dear father, to my friends, my country: Sunk as I was beneath my foes, once more I rise to triumph o'er them by thy aid: Behold them, touch them, but return them to me, And boast that virtue which on thee alone Bestowed such honour. Virtue made them mine. I can deny thee nothing: he, whose heart Is grateful can alone deserve the name Of friend, to every treasure far superior. NEOPTOLEMUS Go in. PHILOCTETES Come with me; for my painful wound Requires thy friendly hand to help me onward. (They go into the cave.) CHORUS (singing, strophe 1) Since proud Ixion, doomed to feel The tortures of th' eternal wheel, Bound by the hand of angry Jove, Received the due rewards of impious love; Ne'er was distress so deep or woe so great As on the wretched Philoctetes wait; Who ever with the just and good, Guiltless of fraud and rapine, stood, And the fair paths of virtue still pursued; Alone on this inhospitable shore, Where waves for ever beat and tempests roar, How could he e'er or hope or comfort know, Or painful life support beneath such weight of woe? (antistrophe 1) Exposed to the inclement skies, Deserted and forlorn he lies, No friend or fellow-mourner there To soothe his sorrows and divide his care, Or seek the healing plant of power to 'suage His aching wound and mitigate its rage; But if perchance, awhile released From torturing pain, he sinks to rest, Awakened soon, and by sharp hunger prest, Compelled to wander forth in search of food, He crawls in anguish to the neighbouring wood; Even as the tottering infant in despair Who mourns an absent mother's kind supporting care. (strophe 2) The teeming earth, who mortals still supplies With every good, to him her seed denies; A stranger to the joy that flows From the kind aid which man on man bestows; Nor food, alas! to him was given, Save when his arrows pierced the birds of heaven; Nor e'er did Bacchus' heart-expanding bow! For ten long years relieve his cheerless soul; But glad was he his eager thirst to slake In the unwholesome pool, or ever-stagnant lake. (antistrophe 2) But now, behold the joyful captive freed; A fairer fate, and brighter days succeed: For he at last hath found a friend Of noblest race, to save and to defend, To guide him with protecting hand, And safe restore him to his native land; On Spercheius' flowery banks to join the throng Of Malian nymphs, and lead the choral song On Oeta's top, which saw Alcides rise, And from the flaming pile ascend his native skies. (NEOPTOLEMUS and PHILOCTETES enter from the cave. PHILOCTETES is suddenly seized with spasms of pain. He still holds in his hand the bow and arrows.) NEOPTOLEMUS Come, Philoctetes; why thus silent? Wherefore This sudden terror on thee? PHILOCTETES Oh! NEOPTOLEMUS Whence is it? PHILOCTETES Nothing, my son; go on! NEOPTOLEMUS Is it thy wound That pains thee thus? PHILOCTETES No; I am better now. O gods! NEOPTOLEMUS Why dost thou call thus on the gods? PHILOCTETES To smile propitious, and preserve us- Oh! NEOPTOLEMUS Thou art in misery. Tell me- wilt thou not? What is it? PHILOCTETES O my son! I can no longer Conceal it from thee. Oh! I die, I perish; By the great gods let me implore thee, now This moment, if thou hast a sword. oh! strike, Cut off this painful limb, and end my being! NEOPTOLEMUS What can this mean, that unexpected thus It should torment thee? PHILOCTETES Know you not, my son? NEOPTOLEMUS What is the cause? PHILOCTETES Can you not guess it? NEOPTOLEMUS No. PHILOCTETES Nor I. NEOPTOLEMUS That's stranger still. PHILOCTETES My son, my son NEOPTOLEMUS This new attack is terrible indeed! PHILOCTETES 'Tis inexpressible! Have pity on me! NEOPTOLEMUS What shall I do? PHILOCTETES Do not be terrified, And leave me. Its returns are regular, And like the traveller, when its appetite Is satisfied, it will depart. Oh! oh! NEOPTOLEMUS Thou art oppressed with ills on every side. Give me thy hand. Come, wilt thou lean upon me? PHILOCTETES No; but these arrows take; preserve 'em for me. A little while, till I grow better. Sleep Is coming on me, and my pains will cease. Let me be quiet. If meantime our foes Surprise thee, let nor force nor artifice Deprive thee of the great, the precious trust I have reposed in thee; that were ruin To thee, and to thy friend. NEOPTOLEMUS Be not afraid- No hands but mine shall touch them; give them to me. PHILOCTETES Receive them, son; and let it be thy prayer They bring not woes on thee, as they have done To me and to Alcides. (PHILOCTETES gives him the bow and arrows.) NEOPTOLEMUS May the gods Forbid it ever! May they guide our course And speed our prosperous sails! PHILOCTETES Alas! my son, I fear thy vows are vain. Behold my blood Flows from the wound? Oh how it pains me! Now It comes, it hastens! Do not, do not leave me! Oh! that Ulysses felt this racking torture, E'en to his inmost soul! Again it comes! O Agamemnon! Menelaus! why Should not you bear these pangs as I have done? O death! where art thou, death? so often called, Wilt thou not listen? wilt thou never come? Take thou the Lemnian fire, my generous friend, Do me the same kind office which I did For my Alcides. These are thy reward; He gave them to me. Thou alone deservest The great inheritance. What says my friend? What says my dear preserver? Oh! where art thou? NEOPTOLEMUS I mourn thy hapless fate. PHILOCTETES Be of good cheer, Quick my disorder comes, and goes as soon; I only beg thee not to leave me here. NEOPTOLEMUS Depend on 't, I will stay. PHILOCTETES Wilt thou indeed? NEOPTOLEMUS Trust me, I will. PHILOCTETES I need not bind thee to it By oath. NEOPTOLEMUS Oh, no! 'twere impious to forsake thee. PHILOCTETES Give me thy hand, and pledge thy faith. NEOPTOLEMUS I do. PHILOCTETES (pointing up to heaven) Thither, oh, thither lead! NEOPTOLEMUS What sayst thou? where? PHILOCTETES Above- NEOPTOLEMUS What, lost again? Why lookst thou thus On that bright circle? PHILOCTETES Let me, let me go! NEOPTOLEMUS (lays hold of him) Where wouldst thou go? PHILOCTETES Loose me. NEOPTOLEMUS I will not. PHILOCTETES Oh! You'll kill me, if you do not. NEOPTOLEMUS (lets him go) There, then; now Is thy mind better? PHILOCTETES Oh! receive me, earth! Receive a dying man. Here must I lie; For, oh! my pain's so great I cannot rise. (PHILOCTETES sinks down on the earth near the entrance of the cave.) NEOPTOLEMUS Sleep hath o'ertaken him. See, his head is lain On the cold earth; the balmy sweat thick drops From every limb, and from the broken vein Flows the warm blood; let us indulge his slumbers. CHORUS (singing) Sleep, thou patron of mankind, Great physician of the mind, Who dost nor pain nor sorrow know, Sweetest balm of every woe, Mildest sovereign, hear us now; Hear thy wretched suppliant's vow; His eyes in gentle slumbers close, And continue his repose; Hear thy wretched suppliant's vow, Great physician, hear us now. And now, my son, what best may suit thy purpose Consider well, and how we are to act. What more can we expect? The time is come; For better far is opportunity Seized at the lucky hour than all the counsels Which wisdom dictates or which craft inspires. NEOPTOLEMUS (chanting) He hears us not. But easy as it is To gain the prize, it would avail us nothing Were he not with us. Phoebus hath reserved For him alone the crown of victory; But thus to boast of what we could not do, And break our word, were most disgraceful to us. CHORUS (singing) The gods will guide us, fear it not, my son; But what thou sayst speak soft, for well thou knowst The sick man's sleep is short. He may awake And hear us; therefore let us hide our purpose. If then thou thinkst as he does- thou knowst whom- This is the hour. At such a time, my son, The wisest err. But mark me, the wind's fair, And Philoctetes sleeps, void of all help- Lame, impotent, unable to resist, He is as one among the dead. E'en now We'll take him with us. 'Twere an easy task. Leave it to me, my son. There is no danger. NEOPTOLEMUS No more! His eyes are open. See, he moves. PHILOCTETES (awaking) O fair returning light! beyond my hope; You too, my kind preservers! O my son! I could not think thou wouldst have stayed so long In kind compassion to thy friend. Alas! The Atreidae never would have acted thus. But noble is thy nature, and thy birth, And therefore little did my wretchedness, Nor from my wounds the noisome stench deter Thy generous heart. I have a little respite; Help me, my son I I'll try to rise; this weakness Will leave me soon, and then we'll go together. NEOPTOLEMUS I little thought to find thee thus restored. Trust me, I joy to see thee free from pain, And hear thee speak; the marks of death were on thee, Raise thyself up; thy friends here, if thou wilt, Shall carry thee, 'twill be no burthen to them If we request it. PHILOCTETES No; thy hand alone; I will not trouble them; 'twill be enough If they can bear with me and my distemper When we embark. NEOPTOLEMUS Well, be it so; but rise. PHILOCTETES (rising) Oh I never fear; I'll rise as well as ever. NEOPTOLEMUS (half to himself) How shall I act? PHILOCTETES What says my son? NEOPTOLEMUS Alas! I know not what to say; my doubtful mind- PHILOCTETES Talked you of doubts? You did not surely. NEOPTOLEMUS Aye, That's my misfortune. PHILOCTETES Is then my distress The cause at last you will not take me with you? NEOPTOLEMUS All is distress and misery when we act Against our nature and consent to ill. PHILOCTETES But sure to help a good man in misfortunes Is not against thy nature. NEOPTOLEMUS Men will call me A villain; that distracts me. PHILOCTETES Not for this; For what thou meanst to do thou mayst deserve it NEOPTOLEMUS What shall I do? Direct me, Jove! To hide What I should speak, and tell a base untruth Were double guilt. PHILOCTETES He purposes at last, I fear it much, to leave me. NEOPTOLEMUS Leave thee! No! But how to make thee go with pleasure hence, There I'm distressed. PHILOCTETES I understand thee not; What means my son? NEOPTOLEMUS I can no longer hide The dreadful secret from thee; thou art going To Troy, e'en to the Greeks, to the Atreidae. PHILOCTETES Alas! what sayest thou? NEOPTOLEMUS Do not weep, but hear me. PHILOCTETES What must I hear? what wilt thou do with me? NEOPTOLEMUS First set thee free; then carry thee, my friend, To conquer Troy. PHILOCTETES Is this indeed thy purpose? NEOPTOLEMUS This am I bound to do. PHILOCTETES Then am I lost, Undone, betrayed. Canst thou, my friend, do this? Give me my arms again. NEOPTOLEMUS It cannot be. I must obey the powers who sent me hither; justice enjoins- the common cause demands it, PHILOCTETES Thou worst of men, thou vile artificer Of fraud most infamous, what hast thou done? How have I been deceived? Dost thou not blush To look upon me, to behold me thus Beneath thy feet imploring? Base betrayer! To rob me of my bow, the means of life, The only means- give 'em, restore 'em to me! Do not take all Alas Alas! he hears me not, Nor deigns to speak, but casts an angry look That says I never shall be free again. O mountains, rivers, rocks, and savage herds! To you I speak- to you alone I now Must breathe my sorrows; you are wont to hear My sad complaints, and I will tell you all That I have suffered from Achilles' son, Who, bound by solemn oath to bear me hence To my dear native soil, now sails for Troy. The perjured wretch first gave his plighted hand, Then stole the sacred arrows of my friend, The son of Jove, the great Alcides; those He means to show the Greeks, to snatch me hence And boast his prize, as if poor Philoctetes, This empty shade, were worthy of his arm. Had I been what I was, he ne'er had thus Subdued me, and e'en now to fraud alone He owes the conquest. I have been betrayed! Give me my arms again, and be thyself Once more. Oh, speak! Thou wilt not? Then I'm lost. O my poor hut! again I come to thee Naked and destitute of food; once more Receive me, here to die; for now, no longer Shall my swift arrow reach the flying prey, Or on the mountains pierce the wandering herd: I shall myself afford a banquet now To those I used to feed on- they the hunters, And I their easy prey; so shall the blood Which I so oft have shed be paid by mine; And all this too from him whom once I deemed Stranger to fraud nor capable of ill; And yet I will not curse thee till I know Whether thou still retainst thy horrid purpose, Or dost repent thee of it; if thou dost not, Destruction wait thee! LEADER OF THE CHORUS We attend your pleasure, My royal lord, we must be gone; determine To leave, or take him with us. NEOPTOLEMUS His distress Doth move me much. Trust me, I long have felt Compassion for him. PHILOCTETES Oh then by the gods Pity me now, my son, nor let mankind Reproach thee for a fraud so base. NEOPTOLEMUS Alas! What shall I do? Would I were still at Scyros! For I am most unhappy. PHILOCTETES O my son! Thou art not base by nature, but misguided By those who are, to deeds unworthy of thee. Turn then thy fraud on them who best deserve it; Restore my arms, and leave me. NEOPTOLEMUS Speak, my friends, What's to be done? (ULYSSES enters suddenly.) ULYSSES Ah! dost thou hesitate? Traitor, be gone! Give me the arms. PHILOCTETES Ah me! Ulysses here? ULYSSES Aye! 'tis Ulysses' self That stands before thee. PHILOCTETES Then I'm lost, betrayed! This was the cruel spoiler. ULYSSES Doubt it not. 'Twas I; I do confess it. PHILOCTETES (to NEOPTOLEMUS) O my son! Give me them back. ULYSSES It must not be; with them Thyself must go, or we shall drag thee hence. PHILOCTETES And will they force me? O thou daring villain! ULYSSES They will, unless thou dost consent to go. PHILOCTETES Wilt thou, O Lemnos! wilt thou, mighty Vulcan! With thy all-conquering fire, permit me thus To be torn from thee? ULYSSES Know, great Jove himself Doth here preside. He hath decreed thy fate; I but perform his will. PHILOCTETES Detested wretch, Mak'st thou the gods a cover for thy crime? Do they teach falsehood? ULYSSES No, they taught me truth, And therefore, hence- that way thy journey lies. (Pointing to the sea) PHILOCTETES It doth not. ULYSSES But I say it must be so. PHILOCTETES And Philoctetes then was born a slave! I did not know it, ULYSSES No; I mean to place thee E'en with the noblest, e'en with those by whom Proud Troy must perish. PHILOCTETES Never will I go, Befall what may, whilst this deep cave is open To bury all my sorrows. ULYSSES What wouldst do? PHILOCTETES Here throw me down, dash out my desperate brains Against this rock, and sprinkle it with my blood. ULYSSES (to the CHORUS) Seize, and prevent him! (They seize him.) PHILOCTETES Manacled! O hands! How helpless are you now! those arms, which once Protected, thus torn from you! (To ULYSSES) Thou abandoned, Thou shameless wretch! from whom nor truth nor justice, Naught that becomes the generous mind, can flow, How hast thou used me! how betrayed! Suborned This stranger, this poor youth, who, worthier far To be my friend than thine, was only here Thy instrument; he knew not what he did, And now, thou seest, repents him of the crime Which brought such guilt on him, such woes on me. But thy foul soul, which from its dark recess Trembling looks forth, beheld him void of art, Unwilling as he was, instructed him, And made him soon a master in deceit. I am thy prisoner now; e'en now thou meanst To drag me hence, from this unhappy shore, Where first thy malice left me, a poor exile, Deserted, friendless, and though living, dead To all mankind. Perish the vile betrayer! Oh! I have cursed thee often, but the gods Will never bear the prayers of Philoctetes. Life and its joys are thine, whilst I, unhappy, Am but the scorn of thee, and the Atreidae, Thy haughty masters. Fraud and force compelled thee, Or thou hadst never sailed with them to Troy. I lent my willing aid; with seven brave ships I ploughed the main to serve them. In return They cast me forth, disgraced me, left me here. Thou sayst they did it; they impute the crime To thee. And what will you do with me now? And whither must I go? What end, what purpose Could urge thee to it? I am nothing, lost And dead already. Wherefore- tell me, wherefore?- Am I not still the same detested burthen, Loathsome and lame? Again must Philoctetes Disturb your holy rites? If I am with you How can you make libations? That was once Your vile pretence for inhumanity. Oh! may you perish for the deed! The gods Will grant it sure, if justice be their care And that it is I know. You had not left Your native soil to seek a wretch like me Had not some impulse from the powers above, Spite of yourselves, ordained it. O my country! And you, O gods! who look upon this deed, Punish, in pity to me, punish all The guilty band! Could I behold them perish, My wounds were nothing; that would heal them all. LEADER (to ULYSSES) Observe, my lord, what bitterness of soul His words express; he bends not to misfortune, But seems to brave it. ULYSSES I could answer him, Were this a time for words; but now, no more Than this- I act as best befits our purpose. Where virtue, truth, and justice are required Ulysses yields to none; I was not born To be o'ercome, and yet submit to thee. Let him remain. Thy arrows shall suffice; We want thee not! Teucer can draw thy bow As well as thou; myself with equal strength Can aim the deadly shaft, with equal skill. What could thy presence do? Let Lemnos keep thee. Farewell! perhaps the honours once designed For thee may be reserved to grace Ulysses. PHILOCTETES Alas! shall Greece then see my deadliest foe Adorned with arms which I alone should bear? ULYSSES No more! I must be gone. PHILOCTETES (to NEOPTOLEMUS) Son of Achilles, Thou wilt not leave me too? I must not lose Thy converse, thy assistance. ULYSSES (to NEOPTOLEMUS) Look not on him; Away, I charge thee! 'Twould be fatal to us. PHILOCTETES (to the CHORUS) Will you forsake me, friends? Dwells no compassion Within your breasts for me? LEADER (pointing to NEOPTOLEMUS) He is our master; We speak and act but as his will directs. NEOPTOLEMUS I know be will upbraid me for this weakness, But 'tis my nature, and I must consent, Since Philoctetes asks it. Stay you with him, Till to the gods our pious prayers we offer, And all things are prepared for our departure; Perhaps, meantime, to better thoughts his mind May turn relenting. We must go. Remember, When we shall call you, follow instantly. (NEOPTOLEMUS, still with the bow in his hands, goes out with ULYSSES. The lines in the following scene between PHILOCTETES and the CHORUS are chanted responsively.) PHILOCTETES O my poor hut! and is it then decreed Again I come to thee to part no more, To end my wretched days in this sad cave, The scene of all my woes? For whither now Can I betake me? Who will feed, support, Or cherish Philoctetes? Not a hope Remains for me. Oh! that th' impetuous storms Would bear me with them to some distant clime! For I must perish here. CHORUS Unhappy man! Thou hast provoked thy fate; thyself alone Art to thyself a foe, to scorn the good, Which wisdom bids thee take, and choose misfortune. PHILOCTETES Wretch that I am, to perish here alone! Oh! I shall see the face of man no more, Nor shall my arrows pierce their winged prey, And bring me sustenance! Such vile delusions Used to betray me! Oh! that pains like those I feel might reach the author of my woes! CHORUS The gods decreed it; we are not to blame. Heap not thy curses therefore on the guiltless, But take our friendship. PHILOCTETES (pointing to the sea-shore) I behold him there; E'en now I see him laughing me to scorn On yonder shore, and in his hands the darts He waves triumphant, which no arms but these Had ever borne. O my dear glorious treasure! Hadst thou a mind to feel th' indignity, How wouldst thou grieve to change thy noble master, The friend of great Alcides, for a wretch So vile, so base, so impious as Ulysses! CHORUS justice will ever rule the good man's tongue, Nor from his lips reproach and bitterness Invidious flow. Ulysses, by the voice Of Greece appointed, only sought a friend To join the common cause, and serve his country. PHILOCTETES Hear me, ye winged inhabitants of air, And you, who on these mountains love to feed, My savage prey, whom once I could pursue; Fearful no more of Philoctetes, fly This hollow rock- I cannot hurt you now; You need not dread to enter here. Alas! You now may come, and in your turn regale On these poor limbs, when I shall be no more. Where can I hope for food? or who can breathe This vital air, when life-preserving earth No longer will assist him? CHORUS By the gods! Let me entreat thee, if thou dost regard Our master, and thy friend, come to him now, Whilst thou mayst 'scape this sad calamity; Who but thyself would choose to be unhappy That could prevent it? PHILOCTETES Oh! you have brought back Once more the sad remembrance of my griefs; Why, why, my friends, would you afflict me thus? CHORUS Afflict thee- how? PHILOCTETES Think you I'll e'er return To hateful Troy? CHORUS We would advise thee to it. PHILOCTETES I'll hear no more. Go, leave me! CHORUS That we shall Most gladly. To the ships, my friends; away! (Going) Obey your orders. PHILOCTETES (stops them) By protecting Jove, Who hears the suppliant's prayer, do not forsake me! CHORUS (returning) Be calm then. PHILOCTETES O my friends! will you then stay? Do, by the gods I beg you. CHORUS Why that groan? PHILOCTETES Alas! I die. My wound, my wound! Hereafter What can I do? You will not leave me! Hear- CHORUS What canst thou say we do not know already? PHILOCTETES O'erwhelmed by such a storm of griefs as I am, You should not thus resent a madman's frenzy. CHORUS Comply then and be happy. PHILOCTETES Never, never! Be sure of that. Tho' thunder-bearing Jove Should with his lightnings blast me, would I go? No! Let Troy perish, perish all the host Who sent me here to die; but, O my friends! Grant me this last request. CHORUS What is it? Speak. PHILOCTETES A sword, a dart, some instrument of death. CHORUS What wouldst thou do? PHILOCTETES I'd hack off every limb. Death, my soul longs for death. CHORUS But wherefore is it? PHILOCTETES I'll seek my father. CHORUS Whither? PHILOCTETES In the tomb; There he must be. O Scyros! O my country! How could I bear to see thee as I am- I who had left thy sacred shores to aid The hateful sons of Greece? O misery! (He goes into the cave.) LEADER OF THE CHORUS (speaking) Ere now we should have taken thee to our ships, But that advancing this way I behold Ulysses, and with him Achilles' son. (NEOPTOLEMUS enters still carrying the bow; he is followed closely by ULYSSES.) ULYSSES Why this return? Wherefore this haste? NEOPTOLEMUS I come To purge me of my crimes. ULYSSES Indeed! What crimes? NEOPTOLEMUS My blind obedience to the Grecian host And to thy counsels. ULYSSES Hast thou practised aught Base or unworthy of thee? NEOPTOLEMUS Yes; by art And vile deceit betrayed th' unhappy. ULYSSES Whom? Alas! what mean you? NEOPTOLEMUS Nothing. But the son Of Poeas- ULYSSES Ha! what wouldst thou do? My heart Misgives me. NEOPTOLEMUS I have ta'en his arms, and now- ULYSSES Thou wouldst restore them! Speak! Is that thy purpose? Almighty Jove! NEOPTOLEMUS Unjustly should I keep Another's right? ULYSSES Now, by the gods, thou meanest To mock me! Dost thou not? NEOPTOLEMUS If to speak truth Be mockery. ULYSSES And does Achilles' son Say this to me? NEOPTOLEMUS Why force me to repeat My words so often to thee? ULYSSES Once to hear them Is once indeed too much. NEOPTOLEMUS Doubt then no more, For I have told thee all. ULYSSES There are, remember, There are who may prevent thee. NEOPTOLEMUS Who shall dare To thwart my purpose? ULYSSES All the Grecian host, And with them, I. NEOPTOLEMUS Wise as thou art, Ulysses, Thou talkst most idly. ULYSSES Wisdom is not thine Either in word or deed. NEOPTOLEMUS Know, to be just Is better far than to be wise. ULYSSES But where, Where is the justice, thus unauthorized, To give a treasure back thou ow'st to me, And to my counsels? NEOPTOLEMUS I have done a wrong, And I will try to make atonement for it. ULYSSES Dost thou not fear the power of Greece? NEOPTOLEMUS I fear Nor Greece nor thee, when I am doing right. ULYSSES 'Tis not with Troy then we contend. but thee- NEOPTOLEMUS I know not that. ULYSSES Seest thou this hand? behold, It grasps my sword. NEOPTOLEMUS Mine is alike prepared, Nor seeks delay. ULYSSES But I will let thee go; Greece shall know all thy guilt, and shall revenge it. (ULYSSES departs.) NEOPTOLEMUS 'Twas well determined; always be as wise As now thou art, and thou mayst live in safety. (He approaches the cave and calls.) Ho! son of Poeas! Philoctetes, leave Thy rocky habitation, and come forth. PHILOCTETES (from the cave) What noise was that? Who calls on Philoctetes? (He comes out.) Alas! what would you, strangers? Are you come To heap fresh miseries on me? NEOPTOLEMUS Be of comfort, And bear the tidings which I bring. PHILOCTETES I dare not; Thy flattering tongue hath betrayed me. NEOPTOLEMUS And is there then no room for penitence? PHILOCTETES Such were thy words, when, seemingly sincere, Yet meaning ill, thou stolst my arms away. NEOPTOLEMUS But now it is not so. I only came To know if thou art resolute to stay, Or sail with us. PHILOCTETES No more of that; 'tis vain And useless all. NEOPTOLEMUS Art thou then fixed? PHILOCTETES I am; It is impossible to say how firmly. NEOPTOLEMUS I thought I could have moved thee, but I've done. PHILOCTETES 'Tis well thou hast; thy labour had been vain; For never could my soul esteem the man Who robbed me of my dearest, best possession, And now would have me listen to his counsels- Unworthy offspring of the best of men! Perish th' Atreidae! perish first Ulysses! Perish thyself! NEOPTOLEMUS Withhold thy imprecations, And take thy arrows back. PHILOCTETES A second time Wouldst thou deceive me? NEOPTOLEMUS By th' almighty power Of sacred Jove I swear. PHILOCTETES O joyful sound! If thou sayst truly. NEOPTOLEMUS Let my actions speak. Stretch forth thy hand, and take thy arms again. (As NEOPTOLEMUS gives the bow and arrows to PHILOCTETES, ULYSSES suddenly enters.) ULYSSES Witness ye gods! Here, in the name of Greece And the Atreidae, I forbid it. PHILOCTETES Ha! What voice is that? Ulysses'? ULYSSES Aye, 'tis I- I who perforce will carry thee to Troy Spite of Achilles' son. PHILOCTETES (He aims an arrow directly at ULYSSES.) Not if I aim This shaft aright. NEOPTOLEMUS (laying hold of him) Now, by the gods, I beg thee Stop thy rash hand! PHILOCTETES Let go my arm. NEOPTOLEMUS I will not. PHILOCTETES Shall I not slay my enemy? NEOPTOLEMUS Oh, no! 'Twould cast dishonour on us both. (ULYSSES hastily departs.) PHILOCTETES Thou knowst, These Grecian chiefs are loud pretending boasters, Brave but in tongue, and cowards in the field. NEOPTOLEMUS I know it; but remember, I restored Thy arrows to thee, and thou hast no cause For rage or for complaint against thy friend. PHILOCTETES I own thy goodness. Thou hast shown thyself Worthy thy birth; no son of Sisyphus, But of Achilles, who on earth preserved A fame unspotted, and amongst the dead Still shines superior, an illustrious shade. NEOPTOLEMUS Joyful I thank thee for a father's praise, And for my own; but listen to my words, And mark me well. Misfortunes, which the gods Inflict on mortals, they perforce must bear: But when, oppressed by voluntary woes, They make themselves unhappy, they deserve not Our pity or our pardon. Such art thou. Thy savage soul, impatient of advice, Rejects the wholesome counsel of thy friend, And treats him like a foe; but I will speak, Jove be my witness! Therefore hear my words, And grave them in thy heart. The dire disease Thou long hast suffered is from angry heaven, Which thus afflicts thee for thy rash approach To the fell serpent, which on Chrysa's shore Watched o'er the sacred treasures. Know beside, That whilst the sun in yonder east shall rise, Or in the west decline, distempered still Thou ever shalt remain, unless to Troy Thy willing mind transport thee. There the sons Of Aesculapius shall restore thee- there By my assistance shalt thou conquer Troy. I know it well; for that prophetic sage, The Trojan captive Helenus, foretold It should be so. "Proud Troy (he added then) This very year must fall; if not, my life Shall answer for the falsehood." Therefore yield. Thus to be deemed the first of Grecians, thus By Poeas' favourite sons to be restored, And thus marked out the conqueror of Troy, Is sure distinguished happiness. PHILOCTETES O life! Detested, why wilt thou still keep me here? Why not dismiss me to the tomb! Alas! What can I do? How can I disbelieve My generous friend? I must consent, and yet Can I do this, and look upon the sun? Can I behold my friends- will they forgive, Will they associate with me after this? And you, ye heavenly orbs that roll around me, How will ye bear to see me linked with those Who have destroyed me, e'en the sons of Atreus, E'en with Ulysses, source of all my woes? My sufferings past I could forget; but oh! I dread the woes to come; for well I know When once the mind's corrupted it brings forth Unnumbered crimes, and ills to ills succeed. It moves my wonder much that thou, my friend, Shouldst thus advise me, whom it ill becomes To think of Troy. I rather had believed Thou wouldst have sent me far, far off from those Who have defrauded thee of thy just right, And gave thy arms away. Are these the men Whom thou wouldst serve? whom thou wouldst thus compel me To save and to defend? It must not be. Remember, O my son! the solemn oath Thou gav'st to bear me to my native soil. Do this, my friend, remain thyself at Scyros, And leave these wretches to be wretched still. Thus shalt thou merit double thanks, from me And from thy father; nor by succour given To vile betrayers prove thyself as vile. NEOPTOLEMUS Thou sayst most truly. Yet confide in heaven, Trust to thy friend, and leave this hated place. PHILOCTETES Leave it! For whom? For Troy and the Atreidae? These wounds forbid it. NEOPTOLEMUS They shall all be healed, Where I will carry thee. PHILOCTETES An idle tale Thou tellst me. surely; dost thou not? NEOPTOLEMUS I speak What best may serve us both. PHILOCTETES But, speaking thus, Dost thou not fear the' offended gods? NEOPTOLEMUS Why fear them? Can I offend the gods by doing good? PHILOCTETES What good? To whom? To me or to the' Atreidae? NEOPTOLEMUS I am thy friend, and therefore would persuade thee. PHILOCTETES And therefore give me to my foes. NEOPTOLEMUS Alas! Let not misfortunes thus transport thy soul To rage and bitterness. PHILOCTETES Thou wouldst destroy me. NEOPTOLEMUS Thou knowst me not. PHILOCTETES I know th' Atreidae well, Who left me here. NEOPTOLEMUS They did; yet they perhaps, E'en they, O Philoctetes! may preserve thee. PHILOCTETES I never will to Troy. NEOPTOLEMUS What's to be done? Since I can ne'er persuade thee, I submit; Live on in misery. PHILOCTETES Then let me suffer; Suffer I must; but, oh! perform thy promise; Think on thy plighted faith, and guard me home Instant, my friend, nor ever call back Troy To my remembrance; I have felt enough From Troy already. NEOPTOLEMUS Let us go; prepare! PHILOCTETES O glorious sound! NEOPTOLEMUS Bear thyself up. PHILOCTETES I will, If possible. NEOPTOLEMUS But how shall I escape The wrath of Greece? PHILOCTETES Oh! think not of it. NEOPTOLEMUS What If they should waste my kingdom? PHILOCTETES I'll be there. NEOPTOLEMUS Alas! what canst thou do? PHILOCTETES And with these arrows Of my Alcides- NEOPTOLEMUS Ha! What sayst thou? PHILOCTETES Drive Thy foes before me. Not a Greek shall dare Approach thy borders. NEOPTOLEMUS If thou wilt do this, Salute the earth, and instant hence. Away! (HERCULES appears from above, and speaks as he moves forward.) HERCULES Stay, son of Poeas! Lo to thee 'tis given Once more to see and hear thy loved Alcides, Who for thy sake hath left yon heavenly mansions, And comes to tell thee the decrees of Jove; To turn thee from the paths thou meanst to tread, And guide thy footsteps right. Therefore attend. Thou knowst what toils, what labours I endured, Ere I by virtue gained immortal fame; Thou too like me by toils must rise to glory- Thou too must suffer, ere thou canst be happy; Hence with thy friend to Troy, where honour calls, Where health awaits thee- where, by virtue raised To highest rank, and leader of the war, Paris, its hateful author, shalt thou slay, Lay waste proud Troy, and send thy trophies home, Thy valour's due reward, to glad thy sire On Oeta's top. The gifts which Greece bestows Must thou reserve to grace my funeral pile, And be a monument to after-ages Of these all-conquering arms. Son of Achilles (Turning to NEOPTOLEMUS, For now to thee I speak,) remember this, Without his aid thou canst not conquer Troy, Nor Philoctetes without thee succeed; Go then, and, like two lions in the field Roaming for prey, guard ye each other well; My Aesculapius will I send e'en now To heal thy wounds-Then go, and conquer Troy; But when you lay the vanquished city waste. Be careful that you venerate the gods; For far above all other gifts doth Jove, Th' almighty father, hold true piety: Whether we live or die, that still survives Beyond the reach of fate, and is immortal. PHILOCTETES (chanting) Once more to let me hear that wished-for voice, To see thee after so long time, was bliss I could not hope for. Oh! I will obey Thy great commands most willingly. NEOPTOLEMUS (chanting) And I. HERCULES (chanting) Delay not then. For lo! a prosperous wind Swells in thy sail. The time invites. Adieu! (HERCULES disappears above.) PHILOCTETES (chanting) I will but pay my salutations here, And instantly depart. To thee, my cave, Where I so long have dwelt, I bid farewell! And you, ye nymphs, who on the watery plains Deign to reside, farewell! Farewell the noise Of beating waves, which I so oft have heard From the rough sea, which by the black winds driven O'erwhelmed me, shivering. Oft th' Hermaean mount Echoed my plaintive voice, by wintry storms Afflicted, and returned me groan for groan. Now, ye fresh fountains, each Lycaean spring, I leave you now. Alas! I little thought To leave you ever. And thou sea-girt isle, Lemnos, farewell! Permit me to depart By thee unblamed, and with a prosperous gale To go where fate demands, where kindest friends By counsel urge me, where all-powerful Jove In his unerring wisdom hath decreed. CHORUS (chanting) Let us be gone, and to the ocean nymphs Our humble prayers prefer, that they would all Propitious smile, and grant us safe return. THE END