Hero’s of the Trojan War Philoctetes, Odysseus, and Neoptolemos were forced to confront their struggle with morality vs. necessity in various ways. The changes in morality, in the notion of the trust and also the emotional temper is a course in the play. The lines of the play reflects the wildness of the landscape, ruggedness, harshness, and brutality that characterizes military life in Homeric age during which this play takes place.
1Philoctetes, remains on the island of Nemnos, for ten years nursing a wound and his hatred of the Greeks. However, his former companions learned from the captured Trojan seer Helenus that Troy could fall only before the arrows of Heracles. They descend to Philoctetes by his father, Poeas, who received them for the service of lighting Heracles’ funeral pyre. Hercules appears, in the end demanding for Philoctetes to leave. 2Philoctetes is cured by Machaon, the son of Asclepius. Philoctetes murders Paris with one of the arrows which soon renders Troy to fall.
The legend of Philoctetes relates at length in the Trojan
War Cycle. He is a man and who does not need to conceal his identity. He soon wins the sympathy and affection of Philoctetes by telling him a false story which tells of the long suffering people by the Greeks, which he obtains the bow after. Philoctetes though frantic with despair, refuses to yield. Philoctetes is still obstinate after Neoptolemus restores his bow and affairs appear to be dead-locked. Hercules descends from heaven demanding obedience to the will of the Gods. He introduces the artless Neoptolemus along with the unscrupulous Odysseus, and by skillful arrangement of the incidents, Sophocles has contrived to present Philoctese to our view under a far more varied aspect than would have been possible in the preceding Greek dramas. We no longer see the violence of his character, the bitter indignation, the fury against Odysseus and the Greeks, and lastly his passion for revenge. The plot by Aeschylus represents Philoctetes as embittered by his sufferings, and irreconcilably hostile to the Greeks.
Neoptolemus is the son of Achilles. He is called Pyrrhus from His yellow hair and because he was a new soldier, who arrived late to the Trojan War. He slew the aged Priam. He married Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaus. He was murdered by Orestes at Delphi on his return home. Neoptolemus brought to the war by Odysseus because of a prophecy which told him that he was crucial to the capture of Troy. It also told him he was going to be one of the many warriors hidden inside wooden horse, hidden there to kill Priam and fling Astyanax over the walls of the city. Achilles penned the name Neoptolmus “Young Warriors” in the Illiad. Neoptolemus is the most important and sympathetic figure in Sophocles’ Philoctetes. Neoptolemus knew his duty was to deliver the Philoctetes and the bow to Troy by any means necessary, however his conscious knew that it was wrong to deceit him.
Odysseus is the king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s Odyssey.
Odysseus is portrayed as shrewd and wily. A man of noble qualities in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. Odysseus reputation is unaccountably declined, after Homer’s day is generally presented as a diabolically clever however unscrupulous man. Odysseus would stop at nothing to gain his ends. Ulysses is the only noble character in comparison to Neoptolemos and Philocetes. Odysseus’ complex characters. The epic poem by Homer recounts the adventures of Odysseus on his way to Ithaca after the Trojan War. This poem is written in a heroic verse and is considered the first novel, because of its exciting narrative and the effective use of flashback to heighten the dramatic action.
Odysseus’ twisted morality was he would do anything to get his way through life lie, cheat, deceit, and in the same time remain faithful to his wife Penelope who in the poem thinks he is dead Odysseus’ necessity would be his will to survive. He lied, cheated and killed to survive. He lied to Calypso to escape to return to his wife.
He killed the Cyclops to survive and not be eaten. Odysseus cheated Penelope’s suitors to get her affection back.
Odysseus’ I believe is really an anti-hero. He does not succeed in both pieces of literature, however in Philocetes he does not complete his mission and decides to leave empty handed. 2He gives up his cause, in the Iliad and refuses to abandon the fight for the cause of the Greeks.
1The heroic characters of Sophocles’ Philocetes are both human ideals. Both are made human by the distinct and continuous portrayal of their own personal feelings, impulses and motives. Thier preserved chiefly in two ways. The poet avoids moral analysis, at first and so each character, and reveal their main tendencies which are exhibited, and still remains generic type then a portrait. The characters are under the direct manifested feeling rending them completely in control of the Gods and their fate. A perfect unity of moral government, and the development of human motives heightens the interest of the action, serving to illustrate the power of the gods. 1The method in which Sophocles combines humanity with idealism may be seen in these characters.
The practical of drama depends on the principal that the dramatic poet usually stands aloof from the characters he creates. It is not for him to be an advocate or a partisan. The dramatic poet describes a contest of forces his characters must face and decides the issues as he conceives that it would be decided by the powers which control the characters lives. The irony as well as the morality and necessity of Philocetes, Neoptolemus, and Odysseus are meant to be in themselves. The quality of this is especially noticeable and artistic.
Sophocles creates the art making this contrast, throughout the whole course of the drama and is peculiarly suggestive and forcible.
There is an antithesis in Philocetes. Philocetes is injured and noble, Odysseus is dishonest however patriotic and faithful to his wife Penelope, throughout his journey. Odysseus wants to abduct Philocetes in the public interests of the army of Troy he urges on Neoptolemus the end sanctifies the means. Neoptolemus declines at first, then accepts and finally deserts the plot in a passion of generous pity for Philoctetes. Philoctetes is brought back to Troy as a result however only by fair means. He agrees to do that of which he loathes, and goes back to his enemies under circumstances which makes his return the happiest in his life.
Odysseus, in contrast gains an end, however not by the means which he had started for himself. He carries Philocetes back to Troy; however only after his stratagems has been foiled. Neoptolemus, who remains to be faithful after his lapse, and honor conquers without a change of front.
It is this same instinct of harmony that has already been seen to rule in the work of Sophocles, that give these classic characters motive for thier delicate precision to their morality, and necessity.
footnote 1,2 , Philoctetes- an analysis of the play Philoctetes
Originally published in the Tragic Drama of the Greeks. A.E. Haigh. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896. pp 194-
Footnote 1, Theme Analysis of Odysseus: Website WWW.wensonic-store.com
footnote 1 The Genius of Sophocles By Richard Claverhouse Jebb
(A Lecture delivered in Dublin before the Society for Afternoon Lectures on Literature and Art)