Definition: Philoctetes, a Greek hero, owns the bow of Heracles (a gift to the demi-god from the god Apollo) that the Greeks have been told by an oracle they need to win the Trojan War, but he has been treated badly and blames Odysseus and the sons of Atreus (Agamemnon and Menelaus). Like Achilles, he is willing to nurse his grudge although it hurts even the blameless Greeks. Left isolated at Lemnos, Philoctetes has been using the special weapon for the undignified task of killing his own food. In Sophocles' tragedy Philoctetes, Heracles comes in at the end as a deus ex machina to make Philoctetes do the right thing.
The bow was used to slay Paris.
Philoctetes was one of the few Greeks who reached home after the Trojan War.
- “The Role of the Bow in the Philoctetes of Sophocles,” by Philip Whaley Harsh. The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 81, No. 4. (Oct., 1960), pp. 408-414.
- “Neoptolemos’ Story in the Philoctetes,” by Richard Hamilton. The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 96, No. 2. (Summer, 1975), pp. 131-137.
- "Sophocles' Philoctetes and the Homeric Embassy," by Charles Rowan Beye. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 101. (1970), pp. 63-75.
Alternate Spellings: Philoktetes