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In Greek mythology, Philoctetes (also Philoktêtês) was the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and was a participant in the Trojan War. He was the subject of at least two plays by Sophocles, and one each by Aeschylus and Euripides. However, only one Sophoclean play survives, the others are lost. He is also mentioned in Homer's Iliad, but was not a participant in the events of the Iliad.

The Iliad in Book 2, which describes his exile on the island of Lemnos, his wound by snake-bite, and his eventual recall by the Greeks. The recall of Philoctetes is told in the lost epic Little Iliad, where his retreival was accomplished by Odysseus and Diomedes.

Philoctetes was stranded on the Island of Lemnos or Chryse by the Greeks before the start of the Trojan War. There are two separate tales about what happened to strand Philoctetes on his journey to Troy, but both tales indicate that he received a wound on his foot that festered and had a terrible smell. One version holds that Philoctetes was bitten by a snake that Hera sent to molest him as punishment for his service to Heracles. (As he was the only one who would light Heracles' funeral pyre, Heracles bestowed on Philoctetes his magical bow and arrows.) Another tradition says that the Greeks forced Philoctetes to show them where Heracles's ashes were deposited. Philoctetes would not break his oath by speech, so he went to the spot and placed his foot upon the site. Immediately, he was injured in the foot that touched the soil over the ashes.

Regardless of the cause of the wound, Philoctetes was exiled by the Greeks and was angry at the treatment he received from Odysseus, who had advised the Atreidae to strand him. Medôn took control of Philoctetes' men. Philoctetes remained on Lemnos, alone, for ten years.

Helenus, son of King Priam of Troy, was forced to reveal, under torture, that one of the conditions of the Greeks winning the Trojan War, was that they had to use the bow and arrows of Heracles. Upon hearing this, Odysseus then retrieved Philoctetes from Lemnos. (As Sophocles writes it in his play about Philoctetes, Odysseus is accompanied by Neoptolomus. Other versions of the myth don't include Neoptolemus.) Philoctetes' wound was healed by Machaon or Podalirius. Philoctetes then killed many Trojan heros, including Paris, son of Priam and husband of Helen. After the war, he went to Italy and founded the town of Petilia in Calabria and establish the Brutti.

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