Neoptolemus' indecision in Sophocles' Philoctetes. A philosophical reading


  • Luciano Ciruzzi Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)



Neoptolemus, indecision, practical impotence, will, Philoctetes


Among the Sophoclean heroes, the figure of Neoptolemus stands out for his particular difficulty in committing himself definitively to a course of action. The young man agrees to carry out a ruse devised by Odysseus to obtain the infallible bow of Philoctetes, who has been living for ten years marooned on the desert island of Lemnos. But once the ruse is well advanced, when he is really close to his goal, he is suddenly assailed by a doubt that prevents him from going ahead, so that his position as an agent capable of carrying out the plan is blurred. Neoptolemus eventually confesses to the lonely islander the fraudulent motive for his presence, and, excusing himself, claims to be governed by "necessity" (v.923: anánke).

In this paper I will present, firstly, the conditions of emergence and the characteristics of the plan devised by the ingenious king of Ithaca; secondly, an explanation of Neoptolemus' indecision based on the particular relationship between his discourse and the reality he pretends to refer to; thirdly, I will focus on the ontological derivations of the central conflict of the play and, finally, I will advance on the practical corollaries that follow from what has been worked out in the previous points.   


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How to Cite

Ciruzzi, L. (2022). Neoptolemus’ indecision in Sophocles’ Philoctetes. A philosophical reading. Revista Archai, (32), e03209.