Skip to main content

Philoctetes by Sophocles

Two important themes were brilliantly explored by 7 Theta this morning in their interpretation of Sophocles’ play Philoctetes set in the ninth year of the Trojan war where Philoctetes is recalled to Troy from his exile on Lemnos. This tragic Greek drama examines the effects of disability and suffering in the wounded warrior and its effects on the social fabric. Philoctetes, the greatest of the Greek archers, played superbly by Christopher R., articulates in several of his monologues, the physical, psychological and social disruption caused by his suffering; what today we would call post traumatic stress disorder. Secondly, it explores how an essentially moral person, Neoptolemus, Achilles son, played with a commanding alertness by Tomaso R. is persuaded to engage in unethical behavior by a powerful superior, Odysseus, played confidently by Matthew McC.—and what then moves him to return to his new moral framework, enlarged by his almost complete betrayal of Philoctetes.

I enjoyed the correlation that the boys drew in their narration of the play with the effects of war today and the post traumatic stress often experienced by returning soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq. The PowerPoint presentation documented this correlation, giving the play a meaningful contemporary message. The boys also explored the stigma so often associated with illness and disability.

Sophocles' intent to show the negative side of Odysseus’ shrewdness is what makes this play so interesting.  Instead of seeing Odysseus as the hero (as in the Iliad and the Odyssey), we see him in Philoctetes as an opportunistic man who rationalizes his deceptions and abandonment of Philoctetes with a pragmatic argument—the moral core of the “hero” is missing.

Painting of Philoctetes by Jean-Germain Drouais

Comments

  1. Thank you for the wonderful review and accolades. It was a very sophisticated and challenging undertaking for the boys of Grade 7. Bravo to all the boys in Theta, Mr. Barbieri and Saint David's!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.



Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.


The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.


Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Saint David's Father and Son Dinner Featuring Mark Whitaker

Our annual Seventh Grade father and son dinner provides the opportunity for seventh graders and their fathers to share an evening exploring what it means to be a good man, the relationship between parent and son, and other mission-related themes.

The speaker at this year's event was author, journalist and media executive Mark Whitaker, who spoke about his memoir My Long Trip Home, in which he delves into the story of his family, in particular, his father. The son of a bi-racial couple who wed in 1956 (a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in some states), Mark spent many years estranged from his father, a brilliant African Studies scholar who struggled throughout his life with alcoholism.


Later, they would reconcile, but it was only after his father had passed away that Mark realized he wanted to write a book about this man who had had a groundbreaking career despite all his problems, and try to understand him better. Ultimately, the process deepened Mark'…