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Sisyphus Character Analysis

Sisyphus is the king of Ephyra and, according to Philoctetes, the biological father of Odysseus. Per some versions of the myth of Odysseus, Sisyphus seduced Anticlea, Odysseus’s mother, before she married Laertes, Odysseus’s recognized father. Sisyphus is known for his deception and even escaped Hades, or the underworld, by persuading Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, to let him return to earth to haunt his wife. Sisyphus represents deception in Sophocles’s play, and Philoctetes refers to him multiple times, calling Odysseus “a cheat like Sisyphus.”
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Sisyphus Character Timeline in Philoctetes

The timeline below shows where the character Sisyphus appears in Philoctetes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 2 (Lines 219 – 675)
Deception, Ethics, and War Theme Icon
...was not there to protest. “I’m sorry,” Philoctetes says of Ajax’s death. “But Diomedes and Sisyphus’ / Spawn, whom Laertes bought, will never / Die. They should not have been born!”    (full context)
Scene 4 (Lines 1219 – 1407)
Deception, Ethics, and War Theme Icon
...a big game, but they are really cowards. Neoptolemus, however, is not “a cheat like Sisyphus.” Like his father, Achilles, Neoptolemus is a hero, Philoctetes says. (full context)