The play Philoctetes was written by one of the greatest of the Greek tragedy playwrights, Sophocles, in 409 BCE. Philoctetes is one of his surviving plays whose exact production date can be determined and is set in the final year of the Trojan War. Initially, as the Greeks were sailing towards Troy, they made a stop at the small island of Lemnos. Having been bitten by a snake, the Greek archer Philoctetes has an incurable wound on his foot. Believing there is little they can do for him, he is abandoned, with few supplies, on the small, isolated island. As the war progresses, the Greeks are told of a prophecy stating they need Philoctetes to win against the Trojans for he has in his possession the bow and arrows of Heracles. They send Odysseus and the son of Achilles, Neoptolemus, to persuade the wounded warrior to help them. Since the old archer despises Odysseus and the sons of Atreus - Greek commanders Menelaus and Agamemnon - for abandoning him, an elaborate scheme is concocted by Odysseus to deceive Philoctetes. Reluctantly, Neoptolemus goes along with it until his conscience tells him otherwise. In the end, Philoctetes is finally convinced to sail to Troy.

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