The passage presents an incident where men go back to their colleague ten years since the Trojan War. A snake at the shores of Lemnos bit Philoctetes. Philoctetes immobility forced his colleague Odysseus to abandon him at the Desert of Lemnos Island. For ten years, Philoctetes had lived with agony and unbearable smell of the wounded snakebite. The main idea here is the moral standards held by these two men who come to pick Philoctetes from the cave he has stayed in ten years with agony and great pain. Unity in time of war is highly determined by the sense of humanity and the moral standards held by the warriors. Odysseus extends his humanity and help philoctetes recover from the snakebite when he was attacked. Odysseus opts to withdraw from the unbearable smell to proceed with the remaining journey. At times, it becomes important for one to hold his/her self-interests to pursue the group’s interests. Odysseus leaves Philoctetes at a time when he would have needed him the most. Philoctetes needed a first aid help from his only colleague, Odysseus. The victim strongly accuses Odysseus for not helping him and in turn starts hating him.
A person of good morals cannot pritect his/her own interests by means of a group interest. In a group dynamics, everyone in the group is responsible for the welfare and safety of the others. In this sense, when one is stuck in a problem, others should come in the front line to help him/her overcome the problem. This is what Odysseus should have done. The fact that both of them were in a long journey binds them together and the accident caused by the snake bite should not have separated these two men. For moral people, a problem that is to bind the group is more than an incident of victory or success. Soldiers gain more courage and determination when their enemy injures one of them. The courage comes from the urge to revenge or rescue their colleague.
The trauma, experienced by Philoctetes could have bonded them and sail through the problem with easy pain. After ten years of pain and agony, living in a cave and existing in the lonely surrounding one’s eyes could be much traumatized. Unity is much crucial in any case to win in a certain battle. After ten years of fight the Greeks realize that Philoctetes is very strong and important in the war and that they should find the ways to go back to the Lemnos desert to save him. Every member of a group is counted in the war. Philoctetes carried the bowl which determined their victory. If the Greeks did not leave Philoctetes, the war could have been won ten years earlier.
Nevertheless, this could be because of the obedience to the orders from the commanding power. Odysseus says, ‘‘I abandoned him, acting on orders from our two commanders’’ (Sophocles 8-9). There is an act of immorality in the manner the commanding power handles this situation. The movement of soldiers in any war purely depends on the commanding force. I could argue whether the decision to abandon Philoctetes was brought about by the commanding power of the Greek chiefs.
The approach used by Odysseus in his attempt to draw Philoctetes from Lemons desert is very immoral. He makes use of an innocent young boy to present a false information to Philoctetes in order to lure him accompany them. The main interest in this case is the bowl, which would determine their victory. Since he knew that Philoctetes had already felt hatred, he decided to approach him via that young boy. Odysseus forced this young boy to cheat, saying that he did not know Odysseus. Odysseus made the boy belief that his ancestors were the ones who had given the order that he should have obey. The boy experienced a sense of betrayal to Philoctetes when Odysseus forced him to cheat Philoctetes. The boy said he was not born to betray people.
The boy demonstrated an aspect of inhumanity when he argued that he could remove the man by force instead of applying tricky procedures. This could violate the rights of Philoctetes who had made the place to be his home while being abandoned by the other soldiers and living alone for ten years. The boy is trying to avoid the vice of cheating by the engagement in a rather equal vice of using force to evict philoctetes from his cave. ‘‘Rather, much rather would I fall by virtue, than rise by guilt to certain victory’’ (Sophocles 147-148).
The boy shows a lot of humanity later when he sees Philoctetes. In the chorus, he lamented that this man lived in a lonely environment, with no human to take care of him. This boy feared that Philoctetes would be suspicious to him since he has lived alone for ten years. The boy said that Philoctetes may fear him because for many years he was not used to meeting strangers. Another aspect of immorality, portrayed by the boy, is the fact that he was not obedient to his commander, Odysseus. WhenOdysseus gave him the task to persuade Philoctetes, the boy stemed many arguments instead of obeying his lord. However, in a mixed decision making situation, the boy should obey his lord and complain only after the mission is done. The boy should not feel any sense of guilt because he was acting on behalf of his lord. If any blame should have been laid on the overall process of Philoctete’s eviction then Odysseus was to blame.
The whole concept of immorality revolving in this story is important in explaining how victory would be easy to achieve with unity. When people isolate their colleagues because of any weakness, they tend to reduce the winning force. To win any battle, teamwork is very important. Every member of the group holds a unique role, which when delegated to other people causes failures. The role of Philoctetes in the war was to carry the bowl of victory, left by the ancestors. Even though the Greek commanders considered him disabled after the snake had bitten his leg, his role continued to be crucial which made the soldiers return him.
In the context of this story, morality takes different dimensions because every man seems to act in a different manner. Obedience causes them to act inhuman. The issue in this case is very conflicting since it is not clear who is to blamed: the commander or the accused.