1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Philoctetes
PHILOCTETES, in Greek legend, son of Poeas king of the Malians of Mt Oeta, one of the suitors of Helen and a celebrated hero of the Trojan War. Homer merely states that he was distinguished for his prowess with the bow; that he was bitten by a snake on the journey to Troy and left behind in the island of Lemnos; and that he subsequently returned home in safety. These brief allusions were elaborated by the "cyclic" poets, and the adventures of Philoctetes formed the subject of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. In the later form of the story Philoctetes was the friend and armour-bearer of Heracles, who presented him with his bow and poisoned arrows as a reward for kindling the fire on Mt Oeta, on which the hero immolated himself. Philoctetes remained at Lemnos till the tenth year of the war. An oracle having declared that Troy could not be taken without the arrows of Heracles, Odysseus and Diomedes (or Neoptolemus) were sent to fetch Philoctetes. On his arrival before Troy he was healed of his wound by Machaon, and slew Paris; shortly afterwards the City was taken. On his return to his own country, finding that a revolt had broken out against him, he again took ship and sailed for Italy, where he founded Petilia and Cremissa. He fell fighting on the side of a band of Rhodian colonists against some later immigrants from Pallene in Achaea. His tomb and sanctuary were shown at Macalla, on the coast of Bruttium.