[“Trick or Treat?” Illustration by Hannah Isabel Gay. October 31, 2014. Used with permission. Click for a larger view.]
What a wonderful thing to step into a classroom and find this illustration on the blackboard. It’s the work of my student Hannah Isabel Gay. Major props, Hannah.
The scene is from the final moments of Sophocles’s Philoctetes. The Greek warrior Philoctetes, son of Poeas, suffers from a foul-smelling, never-healing wound. His fellow Greeks abandoned him on the island of Lemnos as they sailed to Troy. But now, nine years later, the Greeks need Philoctetes and his magic bow (a gift from Heracles) if they are to take Troy. Odysseus and Neoptolemus (Achilles’s son) travel to Lemnos to bring Philoctetes back. But how? By force? persuasion? deceit? And will Neoptolemus go along with Odysseus’s plans? At the play’s end, as Neoptolemus prepares to take Philoctetes home, Heracles appears above the entrance to Philoctetes’s cave and declares that Philoctetes must go to Troy, where his wound will be healed and he will win great honor in battle.
The classicist and director Peter Meineck offers an inspired suggestion: because the actor who played Odysseus would now be playing Heracles, perhaps “Heracles” is Odysseus in disguise, and the divine command just one more Odyssean deception. Treat? Or trick?
And thus this picture.
A related post
Friday, October 31, 2014
By Michael Leddy at 12:44 PM