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Philoctetes(fĭlŏktē`tēz), in Greek mythology, son of Poias. He acquired, by gift, the bow and arrow of Hercules by lighting the pyre on which the hero was consumed alive. On his way to the Trojan War, Philoctetes was bitten by a snake. Because the smell of his wound and his cries made him offensive, his companions left him on the desolate island of Lemnos. When an oracle declared that Troy could not be taken without the weapons of Hercules, Philoctetes was brought to Troy by Neoptolemus (or Diomedes) and Odysseus. Sophocles' drama Philoctetes is based on the efforts of Neoptolemus and Odysseus to bring Philoctetes to Troy.
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Greek hero abandoned for ten years by his comrades because of the smell of his wound. [Gk. Drama: Sophocles Philoctetes in Benét, 783]
Greek hero, bitten by a serpent, suffers agonies for ten years. [Gk. Drama: Sophocles Philoctetes in Magill III, 741]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.