A monologue from the play by Sophocles

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.
  • PHILOCTETES: O thou fire!
    Thou universal horror! Masterpiece
    Abominable, of monstrous villainy!
    What hast thou done to me? How hast thou cheated me!
    Art not ashamed, O rogue, to look at me
    Thy supplicant, me thy petitioner?
    Thou has robbed me of my life, taking my bow.
    Give it back, I beg thee! Give it back, I pray!
    By our father's gods, son, do not take my life!
    Woe's me! he does not even answer me!
    He means to keep it--see, he turns away!
    You bays, you promontories, O you haunts
    Of mountain brutes, O cliffs precipitous,
    To you--for other hearers I have none--
    Present, my old familiars, I appeal;
    See how Achilles' son is wronging me!
    Swearing to take me home, to Troy he drags me;
    And pledging his right hand, he has obtained--
    Relic of Jove-born Heracles--my bow,
    Meaning in the Argives' sight to flourish it;
    Like some strong prisoner, by force he drags me,
    And knows not he is killing a dead man,
    A vapour's shadow, an unsubstantial shade!
    For in full strength he never had captured me,
    Since even thus he had not, save by guile;
    But now, unhappy, I have been deceived.
    What must I do? Nay, give it back to me;
    Nay, even yet, be thy true self once more;
    What say'st thou? Thou art dumb! I am lost, unhappy!
    O double-portalled frontal of the rock,
    Back, once again, I come and enter thee,
    Bare, without means of life; but I shall starve
    Here, in the fields alone; not killing now
    Winged bird, or silvan quarry, with my bow,
    But I myself, wretched, when I am dead,
    Yielding a meal to things on which I fed.
    Creatures I chased before will now chase me;
    And I shall pay for bloodshed with my blood,
    By practice of a seeming innocent!
    O may'st thou perish!--not yet, until I know
    Whether thou wilt repent, and change thy purpose;
    But if thou wilt not, evil be thine end!