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Neoptolemus
I abhor acting on advice, son of Laertes, which causes pain in the hearing. It is not in my nature to achieve anything by means of evil cunning, nor was it, as I hear, in my father's. [90] But I am ready to take the man by force and without treachery, since with the use of one foot only, he will not overcome so many of us in a struggle. And yet I was sent to assist you and am reluctant to be called traitor. Still I prefer, my king, [95] to fail when doing what is honorable than to be victorious in a dishonorable manner.

Odysseus
Son of a father so noble, I, too, in my youth once had a slow tongue and an active hand. But now that I have come forth to the test, I see that the tongue, not action, is what masters everything among men.

Neoptolemus
[100] What, then, are your orders—apart from my lying?

Odysseus
I command you to take Philoctetes by deceit.

Neoptolemus
And why by deceit rather than by persuasion?

Odysseus
He will never listen; and by force you cannot take him.

Neoptolemus
Has he strength so terrific to make him bold?

Odysseus
[105] Yes, shafts inevitable, escorts of death.

Neoptolemus
Then one does not dare even approach him?

Odysseus
No, unless he takes the man by deceit, as I prescribe.

Neoptolemus
Then you think it brings no shame to speak what is false?

Odysseus
No, not if the falsehood yields deliverance.

Neoptolemus
[110] And with what expression on his face will anyone dare mouth those lies?

Odysseus
When what you do promises gain, it is wrong to shrink back.

Neoptolemus
And what gain is it for me that he should come to Troy?

Odysseus
His arrows alone will capture Troy.

Neoptolemus
Then I am not to be the conqueror, as you said?

Odysseus
[115] Neither will you be without them, nor they without you.

Neoptolemus
It would seem, then, that we must track them down, if things stand as you say.

Odysseus
Know that by doing this task, you win two rewards.

Neoptolemus
What are they? If I knew, I would not refuse the deed.

Odysseus
You will be celebrated in the same breath as clever and as noble.

Neoptolemus
[120] So be it! I will do it, and cast off all shame.

Odysseus
Do you remember, then, the story that I recommended?

Neoptolemus
Be sure of it, since once and for all I have consented.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (3):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1-150
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 216-462
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 84
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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