A-Z: General definitions: Philoctetes

Definition

Keeper of Heracles' bow. He set off to fight against the Trojans, but only arrived at Troy after years spent alone having been abandoned. A prophecy said Troy would not fall until he was there. Philoctetes was one of the suitors of Helen who had taken an oath to protect the marriage rights of whoever was the successful suitor. So he set sail for Troy. He had Heracles' bow, with its arrows from which there was no escape. On the way to Troy, Philoctetes' foot was injured in some way ' possibly by an arrow or a snake. The foot would not heal. Soon, the smell of its rotting flesh and Philoctetes' cries of agony could not be borne. Odysseus ordered his men to leave the injured man on an island. There he lived alone throughout most of the Trojan War, until the Greeks were told that they could not win until Philoctetes was fighting for them with his bow. They eventually persuaded him to go to Troy, where he was healed and soon killed Paris. Philoctetes was one of the soldiers inside the Wooden Horse.

Related Topics

Trojan War; Wooden Horse; Heracles; Paris

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