From Academic Kids

In Greek mythology, Philoctetes (also Philoktts or Philocthetes) was the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. His story is told by Sophocles, as well as Virgil, Pindar, Seneca, Quintilian, and Ovid.

Philoctetes was one of the Argonauts, as well as the personal friend and arms-bearer of Heracles. He was present at the death of Heracles. Because Philoctetes lit Heracles' funeral pyre (or Iolaus did) when no one else would, he received Heracles' bow and arrows. The arrows were dipped in the gall of the Hydra. Philoctetes took a solemn vow to never reveal the location of Heracles's ashes.


Involvement in the Trojan War

Philoctetes traveled to Sparta and became one of the suitors of Helen of Troy. She married Menelaus, and all of the suitors took vows to protect Helen. When she ran off with Paris, Menelaus called upon Philoctetes to sail to Troy.

There are two separate tales about what happened to strand Philoctetes on his journey to Troy, but both tales indicate that he received a wound on his foot that festered and had a terrible smell. Odysseus removed Philoctetes from the Greek camp and stranded him on Lemnos or Chryse.

His defining injury

One version holds that Philoctetes was bitten by a snake that Hera sent to molest him as punishment for his service to Heracles (bastard son of Zeus). Another tradition says that the Greeks forced Philoctetes to show them where Heracles's ashes were deposited. Philoctetes would not break his oath by speech, so he went to the spot and placed his foot upon the site. Immediately, he was injured in the foot that touched the soil over the ashes.

Regardless of the cause of the wound, Philoctetes was not able to join the rest of the Greeks and was angry at the treatment he received from Odysseus, who had advised the Atreidae to strand him. Medon took control of Philoctetes' men. Philoctetes remained on Lemnos, alone, for ten years.

Retrieval from Lemnos

When Helenus, son of King Priam of Troy, was revealed (under torture) that one of the conditions of the Greeks winning the Trojan War was that they had the bow and arrows of Heracles, Odysseus and Neoptolemus retrieved Philoctetes from Lemnos. Philoctetes' wound was healed by Machaon or Podalirius. Philoctetes then killed many Trojan worthies, including Paris, son of Priam and husband of Helen. After the war, he went to Italy and founded the town of Petilia in Calabria and establish the Brutti.

In modern fiction

The legend of Philoctetes was, in part, the inspiration for Robert Silverberg's science fiction novel The Man in the Maze.

The 1997 Disney animated movie Hercules takes considerable license with Greek myths. In it, Philoctetes (usually referred to simply as "Phil") is a satyr and a trainer of aspiring heroes who has often been disappointed by his trainees' shortcomings. After some initial reluctance, Phil agrees to train the callow young Hercules, and is ultimately gratified when the people of Thebes refer to the mighty and triumphant Hercules as "Phil's boy." The actor Danny DeVito provided Philoctetes's fr:Philoctte it:Filottete nl:Philoctetes ja:ピロクテテス


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools