On-line version ISSN 2413-3086
KALIMTZIS, Kostas. Sophokles' Philoktetes and the ascent to political friendship. Phronimon [online]. 2014, vol.15, n.2, pp. 38-54. ISSN 2413-3086.
Sophokles' Philoktetes was produced in 409 BC. The dominant theme that reveals itself in the play's imagery is Philoktetes' incurable illness, his nosos.1 This paper aims to shed light on the relationship between the play's nosos theme and the political and moral unravelling that was leading Athens to an impasse. From this vantage point, Philoktetes may be viewed as a tragedy about stasis, to be understood in its ancient meaning of a "disease",2 where the polis' functions become arrested and its naturally cooperating elements turn against each other with hatred.3 The catharsis of the play, which occurs with Herakles' epiphany, may then be interpreted as Sophokles' positing of homonoia or political friendship as the path for his polis' salvation. Homonoia is a new concept4 that will later find its philosophical elaboration in the works of Plato and Aristotle, but Sophokles has already described its core elements: it is a friendship that is forged from grand values of great consequence, and its consummation is an athlos that calls for sacred dedication and exertion so that the passions and actions of citizens may be brought into accord with these values.
Keywords : Sophokles; Philoktetes; nosos [illness]; stasis [stability]; polis; homonia [together-mindedness].