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Philoctetes
It seems that you have come to me, friends, well commended by a grief that matches my own. [405] Your story is in harmony with mine, so that I can recognize the work of the Atreids and of Odysseus. For well I know that he would put his tongue to any base tale and to any mischief-making, if thereby he could hope to accomplish something criminal in the end. [410] No, that is not at all a wonder to me, but rather that the elder Ajax, if he was there, could bear to see this.

Neoptolemus
Ah, friend, he was no longer alive—I would never have been plundered like that while he lived.

Philoctetes
What do you say? Is he, too, dead and gone?

Neoptolemus
[415] Think of him as of one who sees the sun's light no more.

Philoctetes
Oh, no! But the son of Tydeus, and Sisyphus' offspring that was bought by Laertes—they will not die, since they do not deserve to live!

Neoptolemus
No, indeed, be sure of it. On the contrary, they prosper now [420] —yes, and greatly—in the Argive army.

Philoctetes
And what of my brave old friend, Nestor of Pylos—is he not alive? He often checked the crimes of those two, if not others, by his sage counsels.

Neoptolemus
He has his own troubles now, since Antilochus, [425] the son that was at his side, left him for Hades.

Philoctetes
Ah, me! These two, again, whom you have named, are men of whose death I had least wished to hear. Gods! What are we to look for, when these men have died, but Odysseus here again lives, when [430] in their place he should have been announced as dead?

Neoptolemus
The man is a clever wrestler. But even clever schemes, Philoctetes, are often blocked.

Philoctetes
Now, by the gods, tell me—where was Patroclus when you needed him, he whom your father loved beyond all others?

Neoptolemus
[435] He, too, was dead. And in a brief maxim I would teach you this: War takes no evil man by choice, but always the good men.

Philoctetes
I will attest to that, and with that very truth in mind, I will ask you how fares a man of little worth, but sharp of tongue and clever.

Neoptolemus
[440] Surely the man of whom you ask is no one but Odysseus?

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 776
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