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June 2017

Sophocles: Philoctetes

Philoctetus on the Island of Lemnos (1788), by Jean Germain Drouais. Wikimedia.Philoctetes (Ancient Greek: Φιλοκτήτης) is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles, originally produced in 409 BC. The title character was abandoned  by Ulysses on the island of Lemnos at the outset of the Trojan War. Many years later, a prophecy makes clear that the war cannot be brought to a successful conclusion without Philoctetes' presence.

The action of the play centres on Odysseus attempts to employ Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, to deceive Philoctetes into giving up his bow, and the dilemmas in which this involves Neoptolemus. A resolution is provided through the appearance of Philoctetes' divine patron, Hercules, who compels him to go to Troy.

Philoctetes at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Philoktetes, translated by Gregory McNamee. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Seven Plays in English Verse, translated by Lewis Campbell. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Philoctetes, Greek text edited by Philipp Buttmann (1822). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Philoctetes, Greek text edited with notes by William Haig Brown (1847). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Philoctetes, Greek text with English notes, translated from the German of F.W. Schneidewin by R.B Paul, edited by T.K Arnold (1851). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Philoctetes, Greek text edited with notes by Frederick Blaydes (1870). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Philoctetes, Greek text edited by I. Holub (1889). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Philoctetes, translation by Francis Gifford Plaistowe (1892). Multiple formats (Microform).

Internet Archive: Sophocles Vol. II; Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philoctetes. Greek text with facing translation by F. Storr (Loeb edition, 1916). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles Vol II; Trachinae, Ajax, Philoctetes, Electra, verse translation by Thomas Dale (1824). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles, translated by Thomas Franklin (1848). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles, Vol II; Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philoctetes, Fragments, translated by Lewis Campbell (1879). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Tragedies of Sophocles, translated by Richard C. Jebb (1904). Multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: Philoctetes, translated by Thomas Francklin. HTML and TXT formats.

Loebulus: L021 - Sophocles II: Ajax. Electra. Trachiniae. Philoctetes. Greek and English parallel text. Loeb edition, PDF format.

Perseus: Greek text (edited by Francis Storr, 1913). Translation (1898) and notes by Richard Jebb. HTML and XML formats.

Poetry in Translation: Philoktetes, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Philoctetes, translated by Thomas Francklin. Multiple formats.

Vancouver Island University: Philoctetes, translated by Ian Johnston. HTML format.

Wikisource: Greek text and multiple translations. Multiple formats.

Continue reading "Sophocles: Philoctetes" »


Sophocles: Ajax

 The suicide of Ajax the Great. Etrurian red-figured calyx-krater, ca. 400–350 BC. Said to be from Vulci. Wikimedia CommonsThe Ajax ( Ancient Greek: Αἴας) is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles, thought to be amongst the earliest of his extant plays, and probably produced before 441 BC.

The setting is the Trojan War, after the events of the Iliad and the subsequent death of Achilles, whose arms have been awarded to Odysseus. This decision is bitterly resented by his rival Ajax, whose homicidal anger against the Greek leaders is thwarted by divine intervention. Athena drives him mad so that he attacks sheep and cattle instead. The play opens in the aftermath, as Ajax recovers his wits and is stricken with shame. His wife Tecmessa consoles him, but he resolves upon suicide. Warned by the seer Calchas, his half-brother Teucer arrives too late to prevent Ajax from falling upon his sword. Menelaus and Agamemnon forbid his burial, until they are persuaded to relent by Odysseus.

Ajax at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Seven Plays in English Verse, translated by Lewis Campbell. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text, with English translation, commentary and notes by Richard C. Jebb (1896). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles Vol. II; Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philoctetes. Greek text with facing translation by F. Storr (Loeb edition, 1916). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text, with Latin translation by Scaliger and English notes by J.R. Pitman (1830). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text with English notes by T. Mitchell (1844). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text, edited by F.W. Schneidewin, with English notes by R.B. Paul (1851). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text, edited by Edward Wunder (1864). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text, edited by Christian August Lobeck (1866). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text with English notes by F.A. Paley (1888). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, Greek text, edited by Frederick Blaydes (1908). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, translated by E.D.A. Morshead (1864). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, translated by J. Clunes Wilson (1906). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ajax, translated by R.C. Trevelyan (1919). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles Vol II; Trachinae, Ajax, Philoctetes, Electra, verse translation by Thomas Dale (1824). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles, translated by Thomas Franklin (1848). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Sophocles, Vol II; Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philoctetes, Fragments, translated by Lewis Campbell (1879). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Tragedies of Sophocles, translated by Richard C. Jebb (1904). Multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: Ajax, translated by R.C. Trevelyan. HTML and TXT format.

Loebulus: L021 - Sophocles II: Ajax. Electra. Trachiniae. Philoctetes. Greek and English parallel text. Loeb edition, PDF format.

Perseus: Greek text edited by Francis Storr (1913). Translation and notes by Richard Jebb (1907). HTML and XML formats.

Poetry in Translation: Ajax, translated by George Theodoridis. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Ajax, translated by R.C. Trevelyan. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Greek text and multiple translations. Multiple formats.

Wilderness House Literary Review: Ajax, translated by Dennis Daly (2012). PDF format.

Continue reading "Sophocles: Ajax" »


Sophocles: The Theban Plays

Oedipus & Antigone, by Charles Jalabert (1842)The Theban Plays is a term often used for three tragedies by Sophocles; Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone; all of which deal with the legendary matter of Thebes and its King Oedipus. Although often regarded as a trilogy, the plays were not originally intended as such, being written at widely different times, as part of sequences now lost, and featuring different, sometimes incompatible, versions of the underling myth.

The Theban Plays at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Plays of Sophocles: Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone; translated by Francis Storr.

Internet Archive: Sophocles - Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, translated by John Swinnerton Phillimore (1902). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Three Theban plays : Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, translated by Theodore Howard Banks (1956). Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L020 - Sophocles -- Sophocles I: Oedipus the King. Oedipus at Colonus. Antigone. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Oedipus Trilogy (Oedipus the King - Oedipus at Colonus - Antigone), translated by F. Storr. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Sophocles. Multiple translations.

Performances and Reviews

Theatre 80, New York

New York Times: Three Plays, Eight Actors, All Sophocles, by Rachel Saltz, 2 November 2008.

Translation Reviews

Peter J. Ahrensdorf translation

Davidson.EDU: Prof Offers Unadorned Translation of Sophocles Plays, 10 April 2014.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews: Greek Tragedy and Political Philosophy, reviewed by Edith Hall.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Thebes. Melvyn Bragg with Edith Hall, Samuel Gartland, and Paul Cartledge.

History of Ancient Greece: Sophocles, podcast by Ryan Stitt.

Librivox: Sophocles.

Sophocles' Three Theban Plays, resources by translator Jamey Hecht.

Wikipedia: Sophocles

Youtube: Sophocles' Theban Plays, video blog by Phillip Zapkin.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Sophocles: The Theban plays - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone.

Aeschylus: Seven Against Thebes.

Aeschylus: The Oresteia - the only true trilogy still extent from ancient Greek tragedy.

Aristotle: The Poetics.

A.E. Haigh: The Tragic Drama of the Greeks (1896).

 Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.