Odysseus Quotes in Philoctetes
Now, Neoptolemus, true-born son of Achilles,
Greatest of all the Greeks, it was here that I once
Put ashore the Malian, Poeas’ son, Philoctetes,
Acting upon the orders of my superiors.
The gnawing wound in his foot was oozing with pus.
We couldn’t pour a libation or offer sacrifice
Undisturbed. His animal shouts and yells
Were constantly filling the camp with sounds of ill omen.
That story needn’t detain us now, however.
This isn’t the moment for long discussion.
Now let me explain why you can safely meet
This man and secure his trust, when I can not.
You didn’t sail with the main expedition. You weren’t
Committed by oath or forced into taking part.
But every one of these charges applies to me.
If he sights me while the bow’s in his own possession,
I’m finished and you’ll be finished for being with me.
Those weapons can’t be resisted. Our task must be
To contrive a way for you to steal them from him.
I know, my boy, it isn’t part of your nature
To tell untruths or resort to double-dealing.
But victory’s a prize worth gaining. Bring yourself
To do it. We’ll prove our honesty later on.
Now, for a few hours, put yourself in my hands
And forgo your scruples. Then, for the rest of time,
Be called the most god-fearing man in the world!
I’m here because the two Greek generals, backed
By Odysseus, shamefully flung me ashore, alone
And abandoned, to waste away with a raging wound.
Struck down by the savage bite of a deadly snake.
With that for company, son, they marooned me here
And left me to rot on my own. (The fleet had sailed
From the isle of Chryse, and this was their first port of call.)
Then once, to their joy, they’d seen me asleep on the shore
After a stormy passage, they laid me inside
A rocky cave and left, tossing me out
A few beggarly rags, with a small amount of available
Food to keep me alive and avoid pollution.
Now, my boy, let me tell you about the island.
No sailor will ever land here, if he can help it.
There’s nowhere safe he can anchor his ship, no port
In which he can trade for profit or find a welcome.
No sensible man would steer a course for this place.
He might, perhaps, put in because he is forced to—
It happens now and again in a long lifetime.
Such people, when they arrive, my boy, will say
They’re sorry for me. They might feel sorry enough
To give me a scrap of food or something to wear.
But when I raise the question of taking me home,
Nobody wants to do it.
You are not bad, I’m sure. But wicked men
Have taught you this base behavior. Leave it to others
And sail. But first return my weapons to me.
So why are you taking me now and carting me off?
What for? I’m nothing to you. I’ve long been dead.
How, you bane of the gods, am I no longer
A stinking cripple? How, if I come on board,
Will you burn your victims or go on pouring libations?
That was your specious pretext for throwing me out.
Perish the lot of you! Perish you surely will
For the injuries done to me, if the gods have any
Concern for justice. I know they have. You’d never
Have crossed the sea in quest of a mouldering wretch,
Unless some spur from heaven were goading you on.
True men always will plead their causes justly.
Yet once they’ve spoken, they say no more.
Curb their spite and withdraw their sting.
Our young master was chosen.
Under Odysseus’ orders he came.
Helping friends and doing his public duty.
Odysseus: Please tell me why you’re coming back!
What’s all this frantic haste for, man?
Neoptolemus: To undo the wrongs that I did before.
Odysseus: I don’t understand. What wrong have you done?
Neoptolemus: I listened to you and the whole Greek army.
Odysseus: What wicked action did that entail?
Neoptolemus: Guile and deceit to entrap a man.
Odysseus: For god’s sake, whom? What crazy idea . . .
Neoptolemus: Not crazy at all. To give Philoctetes . . .
Odysseus: What do you mean to do? I’m frightened.
Neoptolemus: To restore this bow I stole to its proper . . .
Odysseus: What! Are you going to give it back?
Neoptolemus: Yes, it was shameful and wrong to take it.
Odysseus: For heaven’s sake, are you joking with me?
Neoptolemus: If telling the truth is a joke, I am.
Odysseus: Look here, Neoptolemus! What do you mean?
Neoptolemus: Have I got to repeat it three times over?
Odysseus: I wish I needn’t have heard it once.
Neoptolemus: Well, it’s all that I have to say.
Odysseus: Be careful! You may quite well be prevented.
Neoptolemus: Tell me, Odysseus, who will prevent me?
Odysseus: The whole Greek army, myself included.
Neoptolemus: A foolish remark for a clever man!
Odysseus: Your words and actions are no less foolish.
Neoptolemus: I’d rather my actions were right than wise.