is one of the very rare plays by Sophocles that can be dated precisely: it was first performed in Athens’ City Dionysia in 409 BC and won the first prize.

The myth staged in this play would have been familiar to the audience and can be related to the saga of the Trojan War. Before embarking with the Greeks for Troy, Philoctetes is linked to the legend of Heracles. Because Philoctetes had agreed to light the funeral pyre on which he wished to be burnt alive, Heracles gave Philoctetes his own bow, a special, almost magical, weapon: its arrows never miss their target. As the Greeks were sailing to Troy, they stopped to offer a sacrifice on the island of Chrysē (or to a deity called Chrysē), and Philoctetes was bitten on the foot by a water-snake during this stopover. The

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Citation: Paillard, Elodie. "Philoctetes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 August 2017 [, accessed 22 April 2024.]

2784 Philoctetes 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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