The son of Poias, who had received the bow of Heracles, for agreeing to light the pyre and kill the dying Heracles. When Poias died, he gave the bow to Philoctetes.
When the Trojan War began, Philoctetes, the king of the Thessalians from Methone, contributed seven ships to the armada. On the voyage, while the Greeks were searching for Troy, Philoctetes was bitten on the heal by a snake. He did not die, but the wound became severely infected.
As the Greeks continued their voyage, the smell from Philoctetes' wound, as well as his constant complaining, began to annoy the Greeks. On Odysseus' advice, Philoctetes was abandoned on the island of Lemnos. He survived on the island for ten years, relying on his deadly-accurate bow to bring down game.
Upon the advice of the captured Helenus, the Greeks sent an envoy to return Philoctetes to the battle. Philoctetes was understandably upset, and despised the Greeks, especially Odysseus, for abandoning him. In the play Philoctetes, Odysseus and Neoptolemus sail to Lemnos to convince Philoctetes to return.
Knowing that Philoctetes would rather kill him than leave the island, Odysseus decided to trick Philoctetes. He had Neoptolemus, whom Philoctetes did not know, approach him. Neoptolemus claimed that he would take Philoctetes back to Greece, and he even persuaded Philoctetes to lend him his bow of Heracles. Philoctetes agreed.
Once on the boat, however, Neoptolemus had second thoughts about his actions. He decided to take Philoctetes back to Greece, fulfilling his earlier promise. Odysseus was upset, but the clever-talker could not convince Neoptolemus otherwise. As they sailed, however, Heracles, now a god, appeared and commanded Philoctetes to fight at Troy.
In the war, Philoctetes killed Paris with his bow.