Philoctetes

by

Sophocles

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Merchant/Sailor Character Analysis

This character is a Greek sailor and a member of Odysseus’s crew. The sailor disguises himself as a wine merchant on his way back from Troy, in order to further Odysseus’s deceptive plan to steal Philoctetes’s bow and arrows and convince him to come to Troy. Disguised as the merchant, the sailor tells Philoctetes and Neoptolemus that Odysseus is on his way to Lemnos to take Philoctetes to Troy, because the prophet Helenus has prophesized that the Trojan War will only be won by both Philoctetes and Neoptolemus. The sailor, or merchant, is another example of deception in Philoctetes, which Sophocles implies is immoral, even in instances of war.
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Merchant/Sailor Character Timeline in Philoctetes

The timeline below shows where the character Merchant/Sailor appears in Philoctetes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1 (Lines 1 – 134)
Deception, Ethics, and War Theme Icon
...Odysseus will return to the ship, but he will send a sailor disguised as a merchant to tell Neoptolemus and Philoctetes an “elaborate tale.” After the merchant tells his story, Odysseus... (full context)
Scene 2 (Lines 219 – 675)
Disability and Discrimination Theme Icon
...goodbye. Suddenly, they are approached by two Greek sailors, and one is disguised as a merchant(full context)
Deception, Ethics, and War Theme Icon
The merchant tells Neoptolemus that he is a trader of wine headed from Troy to his home,... (full context)
Disability and Discrimination Theme Icon
Neoptolemus tells the merchant that the man is Philoctetes, the famous archer, and the merchant tells Neoptolemus he must... (full context)
Deception, Ethics, and War Theme Icon
The merchant tells Neoptolemus and Philoctetes that the Greeks had recently captured Helenus, the prophet and son... (full context)