thumbnail of Classical drama; Philoctetes, part 1
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The following program was produced and recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Classical drama a series of five Complete plays of antiquity in modern translation today. Film by Sophocles as published by the University of Chicago Press. Translation by David Greene. Original music composed by Jerry belike and conducted by Henri and Dolly. Producer of all this University of Michigan series Jerry Sanders. Now to introduce today's production of Philip TT's the consultant for this year is Professor Gerald else chairman of the department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan. Ladies and gentlemen the play you are about to hear is not as famous as in taken in or Electra or Oedipus the King. Not many people have read it. Very few have ever seen it acted. It's a quiet play on the whole.
And at first sight not particularly tragic as the way we usually understand that word. No deaths no grand passion no tragic fall. There are just three characters that count really only two and they're all men. The interaction between these three men what they do and fail to do to each other what happens to them in the end is the play. Under the surface of the action however there runs a deep current of feeling and a question. The question is one that might arise anywhere in any time or country but especially in a time of crisis when a nation's whole strength and energy and honor are committed to a major undertaking like winning a war. What are the individual his faiths and feelings and loyalties to other human beings. That is the question. Suppose the national interest requires him to do things that are repugnant to him as an individual. Things like spying lying or
trampling on the rights and the dignity of others. Does the higher obligation justify crimes like these. Or suppose the call comes to a man who has been wronged and cast out by the very people who now need him and plead with him to help his country. What should he do. The Greeks have carried on the siege of Troy for nine years. The great expedition is on the verge of success or failure. Now they learn that to succeed they must have the services the unique services of a man whom they had rejected and cast out to die in nine years before. Philip Davies I spent those nine years alone and in constant pain on a desolate island. He must come to try but he will not come of his own accord that is certain. So a scheme is concocted and two men the wily old tissues and the young noble innocent up Calamus son of Achilles are sent to carry it out in the name of
the national war effort and his own future glory. The up columnist must learn to lie to bag his pigeon by trickery. The scheme is Kerry's. It runs head on into a law of nature human nature a noble nature cannot deny itself even for glory or national success. The morning of Thomas and Philip Davies are thrown together. The more they recognise a community of spirit between them that cries mockery tricks and stratagems in the end this mutual sympathy threatens to undo the whole undertaking. They will not go to Troy yet they must. They have reached a checkmate that cannot be solved by unaided human wills. Some other means has to be found to break the deadlock. In this drama Sophocles has put in his own way and eternally valid and urgent question whether the end justifies the means. But being a dramatist he doesn't put it in this abstract
fashion. The problem is one of man not of means and ends and goals and enterprises. The solution or the failure to find a solution can only be reached through the interaction of men on each other. And Sophocles conducts the quest in the same way that Mozart or Beethoven write music. The play is not a sermon but an action and a drama. It lives and moves and breathes with the three men who in act the play is its characters and the characters are the play. They and the Lonely Island which is their stage. There's. The uptightness son of the killers.
This is limitless and it's beach. Down to the sea that quite surrounds. US and. No one sets foot. There are no houses. This is where I ruined him long ago. In a tedious the sun appears to me that. His foot diseased and eaten away with running a. Deep hole that was sort of our greatest hero I tell you I had orders for what I did. My masters the princes badly do it. With no peace. We. Have the whole festivals we did not touch the wine and he screamed and groan so. And those terrible cries of his brought here luck on our celebrations. Oh the camp was haunted by. Now is no time to talk to you of this now is no time for long speeches. I am afraid that he may hear of my coming and ruin all my plans to take him. It is you must help me with the rest. I look about and see where there might be a cave with two
mouths. There are two niches to rest in. One in the sun when it is cold the other a tunnel passage through which the breezes blow in summer time. A man can sleep there and be cool to the left a little. You may see a spring to drink at if it is still on choked. Go this way quietly. See if he's there or somewhere else. And signal and I can tell you the rest. What you speak of is near at hand of this is I I think I see such a case above or below I cannot see it myself. Above here and no trace of a foot see if you've housed within a sleep. I see an empty hut with no one there nothing to keep house with bad stuff with leaves to sleep on nothing else. Nothing inside the house a cup made of the bare wood. Poor workman's contrivance. Oh and some kindling to look at is his treasure house that you describe when you look some rags are drying in the sun full of the oozing magic from us.
Certainly he lives here even now is somewhere not far off. He cannot go far as he is lame and crippled for so long. It's likely he's gone to search for food or somewhere that he knows there is a herb to ease his pain. Send your man here to watch that he may not come upon me without warning for he would rather take me than all the Greeks. Very well then the path will be watched. Go on with your story. Tell me what you want. Son of a killer yes I will come in here has a purpose to be loyal with more than your body. If you should hear some strange new thing unlike what you have heard before still serve us. It was to serve you came here. What would you have me do ensnare the soul of TT's with your words when he asks who you are and when you came. So you are a killer's son. You need not lie. Say you are sailing home leaving the Greeks and all their fleet and bitter hatred. Say that they had prayed you urged you from your home and swore that only with your help control would be
taken. Yet when you came and asked as by your right to have your father's arms Achilles arms they did not think you were they but gave them to disuse. Say what you will against me. Do not spare me anything. Nothing of this will hurt me. If you will not do this it will bring sorrow out of the Greeks. If this man's boat cannot be taken by us you cannot sack the town of Troy. Perhaps you wonder why you can safely meet him. Why he would trust you were not me. Well let me explain. You have come here unforced unpledged by oaths made no part of our earlier expedition. The opposite is true in my own case I have no point. Can I deny his charge. If when he sees me feel like TT's still has his bow. There is an end of me and you too for my company would damn you for this. You must sharpen your wits to become a thief of the arms. No man has conquered.
I know young man it is not your natural bent to say such things nor to contrive such mischief. But the prize of victory is pleasant to win. Bear up. Another time we shall prove honest for one brief shameless portion of a day. Give me yourself or all the rest of time you will be called most scrupulous of men son of layered he's what I dislike to hear I hate to put in execution. I have a natural antipathy to get my ends by tricks and stratagems so too they say my father was so like TT's I will gladly fight and capture bring him with us but not by treachery. Surely a one legged man cannot prevail against so many of us. I recognize that I was sent with you to follow your instructions I am loath to have you call me a traitor. Still my lord I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.
You are a good man and so on. I was young too once and then I had a tongue very active and they're doing hand now as I go forth to the test. I see that everywhere among the race of men it is the tongue that wins and not the deed. What do you bid me do but to tell a lie as I bid you take and why buy Kraft rather than by persuasion he will not be persuaded. Has he such strength to give him confidence. I was known may avoid the Kelly death and even to encounter him is not safe. Not if you do not take him by craft as I told you to you not find it via yourself this is life. Not if the lie brings our rescue with him can a man not blush to say such things as one does something profitable. One need not blush. What game for me that he should come to draw his weapons are no not destined to take droid then I shall not be its conqueror not you apart from them nor they from you. They must be my quarry then if this is so you will win a double prize if you do this you will be called intelligent and a good man. Then I will do it. Casting aside all shame you clearly
recollect all I've told yes now that I have understood it. Stay and wait his coming here. I will go that he may not spy in my presence I will take the guard with me to the ship. If you are too slow I will send him back again and disguise him as a sailor for the TT's will never know him. Whatever clever story he gives you and fall in with it and use it as you need. Now I will go to the ship and leave you in charge. He Hermes God of Christ the guide for us to be guide indeed. Telling us we are strangers and this land is strange. What shall we say and what concealed from the suspicious man. Tell me for coming that passes another's coming into preeminent judgment lie with the prints in whose sovereign keeping is holy cept
to you young lord all this has come. All the power of your forefathers. Tell me now what I must do to serve you now if you wish to see where he sleeps on his crack at the edge. Look. Be not afraid. But when the terrible wanderer returns Begone from the hut. But come to my beckoning take your cues from me help when you can. This I have always done have kept a watchful eye over your safety. But now tell me what place is he inhabits and where he rests. It would not be amiss for me to know this lest he attack me unawares. Where does he live. Where does he rest what foot path does he follow. Is he in the house or not. This that you see is his two fronted house and he sleeps inside on the rock where is he gone. The happy creature. I'm sure he's gone to find food somewhere near here. Stumbling the lame dragging along the path. He's trying to shoot birds to prolong his miserable life. This indeed they say is how he lives and no one comes near to curing us. For my part I pity him.
How unhappy how utterly alone always he suffers the SEVA DRI of his illness with no one to care for him. With no friendly face near him. But he willed it and despite that each need as a time. Thought that he had he kept a grip on life. To the contrivances of death and then. To the unhappy generations of death bound men whose lives have known extreme. Perhaps this man is as well born as any second to no son of a make from house. Yet now his life lacks everything and he makes his bed without neighbors. His thoughts are set continually on pain and hunger he cries out in his wretchedness. Is only a blabbering echo that comes from the distance speeding from his bitter crying I am not surprised that any of this. This is a God's doing if I have any understanding. These afflictions that have come
upon him of the work of Christ. As for his present loneliness and suffering this too no doubt is part of the god's plan. But he may not bend against Troy the divine invincible bow until the time shall be fulfilled at which it is decreed that Troy is they say show for all to that bow What is it. I hear a footfall foot fall of a man that walks painfully. Sit here I hear a voice. Now I can hear it clearly a voice of a man calling along the path hard put to it to me. It's far away but I. Hear. I can hear the sound well the voice of a man wounded. It's quite clear. He is here almost with us is no chair for marching to the pipes like a shepherd with his flock. Bitter cry. He must have stumbled far down on the path and his moaning carried it all the way here. Or perhaps he stopped to look at the empty harbor for it was a bitter cry.
Man Who are you putting really into a show without houses don't encourage. What countryman May I call you without offense. What is your people. Greeks Indeed you seem impression of your clothing did to me. May I hear your voice. Do not be afraid to shrink from such as I am the savage. I have been no no men very wretched without friend o comrade suffering a great deal. Take pity on me. Speak to me Speak speak if you come as friends on semi. If this is all that we have from one another speech this at least we should have Cerf your questions since you wish to know. No we are Greeks. Ah. Frank he has to say that I should hear it spoken once again by such on hand. You need such a place I believe. Who are you. Who is seen to heal what brought you. What do you impose what friendliest of winds give you all this that I may know who you are.
I am of Scarus that the seas around I am sailing home my name is Neapolis Achilles. Now you know everything. Another father that I love so dearly and of a country that I loved you with will read by that old man the comediennes what kind of venture going abroad to deport him when you see at present down from Troy from Troy to hide you did not say that to troll you at first. You then are one that also had a share in all the trouble is it possible you do not know me boy. Me whom you see here. I never saw you before how could I know you. You never heard my name then. Never a rumor of all the wrongs I suffered even to death. I never knew a word of what you ask me. Shyly I must divine. God must have hated me that never would doubt me of how I live here. Should have come home to all the land of Greece. The that outrage God casting me away can hold their tongues and laugh while my disease always increases
and grooved words. I boil you are a king's son. I stand here one you may have heard of as the master of head Achilles arms. I am Philip TT's the son of Pyrrhus. Those two generals and Prince the disuse of the simple leniency cause we're shore here to their shame as lonely as you can see me now. We stick with my sickness as cruel as it is caused by the murderous by devoured by Pearl mortally dangerous. I was already bitten when we put in here on the way from sea in search of Crikey I tell you boy those men cast me away here and ran and left me helpless. They were happy when they saw that I had fallen asleep on the shore in a rocky cave rock passage. They went their way and then me with such wrongs and few enough of them as one might give an unfortunate bigot and a handful of food and God keep them alive.
I think part of that weekend when I awoke and found them gone. Think of the useless tears and curses on myself when I saw the ships money ships which I had once commanded dung all gung men not a man leapt on the island. Not one to help me go to lend a hand when I was seized with my sickness. Not a man. You know all I saw before me nothing but pain. But of that a great abundance on time came and went for me in my tiny Shaz time must alone do everything by myself. This poem of mine I used to shoot the birds that filled my belly I must drag my foot my foot to where the boat sped with the bows down and struck down a bird. If I must drink and it was winter time the water was frozen. I must break up firewood again I crawled and miserably contrived to do the work. Whenever I had no fire robbing a store long storm I would at last produced a Spock that kept me still
in life a roof for shelter of only I have power gives me everything but release from pain. Boy is it because your design and no say about his choice comes near it. There is no anchorage nor anywhere that one can land sell goods be entertained sensible men make no voyages hear you now and then someone puts in a stretch of time as long as this allows much to happen when they have come here boy they pity me. But the states say they do and India pity they have given me scraps of food and cast off clothes. That other thing when I do mention it none of them will be taking me home again. It is nine years now that I have spent dying with hunger and pain. Feeding 9 say Chabal disease. That boy is what they have done to me. The two were trying to get that mighty prince I did. May the gods that live in it and grant that they pay for
my in this to resemble your other visitors. I pity you son of peers. I am a witness I also of the truth of what you say I know it is true. I too have dealt with those villains that too are tried in the Prince of this year's all you as well as I suffer and angry have you grounds against you try to give me the chance to gratify my anger with my hand some day. Then will my scene you know in Sparta know that scare is to breed soldier Well said boy you come to me with a great rage against them because of what I will tell you for TT's for all that it hurts to tell it of how I came to Troy and what dishonor they put upon me when faithfully Achilles came to die. Stop tell me no more be understand. It's best if he gave me a key. Yes. He is dead. No man has conquered but bested by a god Apollo the archer Noble was he that killed and he that died. But I had him until last which to
do first ask for your story or to mourn for him. God help you. I would think that your own sufferings were quite enough without mourning for those of others. Yes that is true. But again tell me your story of how they have insulted you. They came for me greater disuse and the man that was my father's tutor with the ship wonderfully decked with ribbons. They had a story be a truth or a lie that it was God's decrees since he my father was dead. I and I only should capture Troy. This was their story so you can imagine it did not take much time when they had told it for me to embark within chiefly you know I was prompted by love of him this dead man I had hope of seeing him live still and buried alive I never had. Well we we had a favoring wind on the second day we touched as I disembarked all of the soldiers swarmed around me blessed me swore that they saw a killer is alive again but he still lay on buried his mourning son wept for him. That in a while
I came to the to a Try to my friends as it seemed right to do and asked them for my father's arms and all else that he had. They needed brazen faces for their answer. Son of a kill is all that your father had all else is yours to take but not his arms. Another man now owns them. Let your g son burst into tears jumped up in rage cried out in my pain you scoundrels. Did you dare to give those arms that were mine to someone else before I knew of it. Disuse himself spoke he was standing near me. Yeah and rightly they gave them a ball I thought it was I who rescued them and him their former owner. My anger got the better of me. I cursed him outright with every insult that I knew sparing none that he should take my arms away from me. He is in no way given to quarreling but at this he was stunned by what I said. He answered you not where we were. You were at home out of the reach of Judy. Since Besides you have so bold a tongue in your head. Never will you possess them doubling them home to scare us.
There it was abuse on both sides but I lost what should be mine. And so I sailed home to CIRCE. That filthy son of filthy parents robbed me. Yet I do not blame him even so much as the princes all of a city is in the hand of the prince all of an army. On ruling men they come so by the instruction of their betters. This is the whole tale. Now he that hates the try to be as dear in God's sight as he is in mine.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Classical drama
Philoctetes, part 1
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-v40jz918).
Episode Description
This program presents part one of Philoctetes by Sophocles, in a translation by David Grene. The introduction is by Professor Gerald Else, University of Michigan.
Series Description
This series presents full-length productions of Greek and Roman plays of antiquity in modern English translation with original music especially composed for this series. Each play is introduced by William Arrowsmith, University of Texas.
Broadcast Date
Mythology, Greek--Adaptations.
Media type
Composer: Bilik, Jerry H.
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
Speaker: Arrowsmith, William, 1924-1992
Speaker: Else, Gerald Frank, 1908-1982
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-58-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:25:42
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Classical drama; Philoctetes, part 1,” 1961-11-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “Classical drama; Philoctetes, part 1.” 1961-11-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: Classical drama; Philoctetes, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from