The son of Peoas, king of Meliboea, at the eastern coast of Thessaly. He was a close friend of Heracles
, and he received the hero's bow and arrows when no other than he would light Heracles' funeral pyre. With seven ships Philoctetes sailed along in the expedition against Troy. When they stopped on the island Chryse to get supplies, he was bitten by a snake. The wound caused by the bite began to fester and produced such a horrible smell that the others could no bear it. On Odysseus
' advice and at the order of the Atreidae
, he was left behind on the island of Lemnos, where he spent ten long years in sufferance and loneliness.
However, because an oracle had prophesied that Troy could not be taken without the aid of Heracles' never missing arrows, Odysseus and Neoptolemus were send back to Lemnos to fetch Philoctetes. When they returned at Troy, Philoctetes' wound was healed by Asclepius (or Machaon). By killing Paris, Philoctetes accelerated the downfall of Troy.
According to some sources, he went to Italy on the return voyage from Troy, where he founded Brutti in Petelia (Strongoli). His person is the subject of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.