This is a chapter of The Trojan War, by C. Witt & F. Younghusband.
The ranks of the Greeks had been terribly thinned by the long war, and now Achilles and Ajax, two of the mainstays of the army, had quickly followed one another to the Lower World. In their trouble, the Greeks remembered that, when Achilles had come from the island of Scyros to join their army, he had left behind him a young son named Neoptolemus. The boy had by this time grown up to be a brave youth, of whom they often heard that he had the same fiery eyes and dauntless heart as his father.
Odysseus, therefore, and Diomedes went to the island to ask if he would come to Troy and help them to storm the city, seeing that his father had fallen before the goal was reached. The mother of Neoptolemus was full of grief at the thought of her son going to the ill-fated war, but the young hero could not be restrained from it, and she was obliged to let him return to Troy with the messengers. The Myrmidons were rejoiced to see him, for he was the image of his father, and in the first battle he proved that he also inherited his valor; in the armor of Achilles which Odysseus had willingly given up to him, he fought in the front ranks of the Myrmidons, and the Trojans feared him almost as much as they had feared Achilles.
There was yet another hero who came at this time to the help of the Greeks. Ten years ago, on their journey to Troy, the Greeks had touched at an island where they landed and offered a sacrifice to the gods. Then there came suddenly, from under the altar which they had raised upon the turf, a serpent, who darted at one of the heroes, named Philoctetes, and bit him in the foot. The wound at once became very bad, causing Philoctetes terrible agony, and an intolerable odor came from it. Brave and heroic as Philoctetes was, the pain was so great that he could not refrain from uttering cries and moans which disturbed the sacrifice, for any sound of pain uttered while a sacrifice was being offered prevented the gods from having any pleasure in it. Moreover, the odor was so overpowering that no one could remain near him. So, while the sick hero was asleep, Odysseus and Diomedes carried him to the island of Lemnos and laid him down there in a solitary cave. By his side they placed his bow and arrows and a supply of food, and then they left the island.
Philoctetes was ready to despair when he awoke and found himself forsaken. He cursed the Greeks for having left him to bear his pain in solitude and at last die of hunger, for he could only crawl a few steps with the utmost difficulty and pain, and it was quite beyond his power to go farther inland to seek for some compassionate people who might be willing to help him. Nevertheless, he made the best of his wretched lot; he crept out of the cavern and collected dry wood with which he made a fire, and any wild creatures that ran past or flew past him he killed with his arrows, and thus prolonged his miserable life. He also made for himself a covering out of the feathers of the birds when his old clothes fell to pieces. But full of rage and despair he was and continued to be whenever he was overtaken by his terrible pains and found himself without anyone to moisten his lips with a drop of water or give him any assistance whatever.
Philoctetes had lived for ten years in this miserable manner, when the soothsayer Calchas said that the Greeks would never get possession of Troy until Philoctetes came to their aid with his bow and arrows. These had been given to his father by Heracles in return for his having set fire to the funeral pile on which the hero had placed himself to die, and had been often used by Heracles himself. Among the arrows were some that had been dipped in the gall of the Hydra, whose least scratch gave a deadly wound.
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When therefore the help of Philoctetes was pronounced to be necessary, the same heroes who had landed him in the island were sent to bring him to Troy. They found him in the selfsame spot, but how changed was his appearance! His face and hair were covered with dust and dirt, and his body was so thin that all his bones could be plainly seen beneath the skin. But in his eyes there still lingered the old fire, and now they glittered with rage when, in the heroes who approached him, he recognized two of those who had so terribly aggravated his sufferings by thrusting him away from them because of his misfortune. It was a long time before he would have anything to say to them, but at last, enticed by the prospect of being again among his fellow men, he gave in and allowed Odysseus and Diomedes to carry him to the ship. During the voyage, he was many times seized with the old pains, but the moment he landed on the Trojan shore the wound healed, the pain ceased, and Philoctetes became again a noble-looking hero, as he was before.