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[285] So time passed for me, season by season, and alone in this narrow house, I had to attend to all my wants by my own resources. For my stomach's needs this bow provided, bringing down doves on the wing. And whatever my string-sped arrow might strike, [290] in pain I would crawl to it myself, dragging my wretched foot behind me. Or, again, if water had to be fetched, or, if when the frost had spread, as often happens in winter, a bit of firewood had to be broken, I would creep out in pain and [295] manage it. Then fire would be lacking; but by rubbing stone hard on stone I would at last reveal the hidden spark which preserves me from day to day. Indeed, a roof over my head and a fire inside provides all that I want—except release from my disease.

[300] Come now, son, you must understand what sort of island this is. No mariner approaches it by choice, since there is no anchorage or port where he can find a gainful market or a kindly host. This is not a place to which prudent men voyage. But suppose that some one has put in against his will, for such things may often [305] happen in the long course of a man's life. These visitors, then, when they come, son, have compassionate words for me, and, perhaps moved by pity, they give me a little food or some clothing. [310] But there is one thing that no one will do, whenever I mention it: take me home in safety. No, this is already the tenth year that I am wasted by misery from hunger and suffering, by feeding this gluttonous plague. This is what the Atreids and the forceful Odysseus have done to me, boy. [315] May the gods on Olympus someday give them agonies as strong in requital for mine!

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 921
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 100
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