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Then what are your orders?

You must cheat the mind of Philoctetes by means of a story [55] told as you converse with him. When he asks you who and from where you are, say that you are the son of Achilles—it is not in that detail that you will cheat him. But tell him you are sailing homeward, and have left the fleet of the Achaean warriors, after coming to hate them with unbounded hatred. [60] Give him this reason: when, with no other hope of taking Ilium, they had summoned you by their prayers to come from home, they judged you not worthy of the arms of Achilles, not worthy to receive them—even though you had come and were claiming them by right—but instead handed them over to Odysseus. Say what you [65] will of me—even the vilest of vile insults. You will not harm me at all by that. But if you fail to do as I say, you will inflict pain on all the Argives, for if that man's bow is not seized, you can never sack the realm of Dardanus. [70] And learn why your intercourse with him may be free from mistrust and danger, while mine cannot. You have sailed to Troy under no oath to any man, nor under any constraint. Neither did you have any part in the earlier expedition. I, however, can deny none of these things. Accordingly, if he [75] perceives me while he is still master of his bow, I am dead, and you, as my comrade, will share my doom. No, the thing for which we must devise a ruse is just this: how you may steal his invincible weapons. Well I know, my son, that by nature you are not apt [80] to utter or contrive such treachery. Yet knowing that victory is a sweet prize to gain, steel yourself to do it. Our honesty shall be displayed another time. Now, however, give yourself to me for one brief, shameless day, and then for the rest of time [85] may you be called the most righteous of all humankind.

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  • Commentary references to this page (5):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 556
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 1209
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 1248
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 57
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 589
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
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