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Philoctetes (fĭlŏktēˈtēz) [key], in Greek mythology, son of Poias. He acquired, by gift, the bow and arrow of Hercules by lighting the pyre on which the hero was consumed alive. On his way to the Trojan War, Philoctetes was bitten by a snake. Because the smell of his wound and his cries made him offensive, his companions left him on the desolate island of Lemnos. When an oracle declared that Troy could not be taken without the weapons of Hercules, Philoctetes was brought to Troy by Neoptolemus (or Diomedes) and Odysseus. Sophocles' drama Philoctetes is based on the efforts of Neoptolemus and Odysseus to bring Philoctetes to Troy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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