A monologue from the play by Sophocles
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.
PHILOCTETES: O thou fire!
Thou universal horror! Masterpiece
Abominable, of monstrous villainy!
What hast thou done to me? How hast thou cheated me!
Art not ashamed, O rogue, to look at me
Thy supplicant, me thy petitioner?
Thou has robbed me of my life, taking my bow.
Give it back, I beg thee! Give it back, I pray!
By our father’s gods, son, do not take my life!
Woe’s me! he does not even answer me!
He means to keep it–see, he turns away!
You bays, you promontories, O you haunts
Of mountain brutes, O cliffs precipitous,
To you–for other hearers I have none–
Present, my old familiars, I appeal;
See how Achilles’ son is wronging me!
Swearing to take me home, to Troy he drags me;
And pledging his right hand, he has obtained–
Relic of Jove-born Heracles–my bow,
Meaning in the Argives’ sight to flourish it;
Like some strong prisoner, by force he drags me,
And knows not he is killing a dead man,
A vapour’s shadow, an unsubstantial shade!
For in full strength he never had captured me,
Since even thus he had not, save by guile;
But now, unhappy, I have been deceived.
What must I do? Nay, give it back to me;
Nay, even yet, be thy true self once more;
What say’st thou? Thou art dumb! I am lost, unhappy!
O double-portalled frontal of the rock,
Back, once again, I come and enter thee,
Bare, without means of life; but I shall starve
Here, in the fields alone; not killing now
Winged bird, or silvan quarry, with my bow,
But I myself, wretched, when I am dead,
Yielding a meal to things on which I fed.
Creatures I chased before will now chase me;
And I shall pay for bloodshed with my blood,
By practice of a seeming innocent!
O may’st thou perish!–not yet, until I know
Whether thou wilt repent, and change thy purpose;
But if thou wilt not, evil be thine end!