William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida in the complete original text.
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Troilus and Cressida

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Act II. Scene III.

Scene III.—The Grecian Camp. Before


Ther. How now, Thersites! what, lost in the
labyrinth of thy fury! Shall the elephant Ajax
carry it thus? he beats me, and I rail at him:
O worthy satisfaction! Would it were otherwise;
that I could beat him, whilst he railed at me.
'Sfoot, I'll learn to conjure and raise devils, but
I'll see some -issue of my spiteful execrations.
Then there's Achilles, a rare enginer. If Troy be
not taken till these two undermine it, the walls
will stand till they fall of themselves. O! thou
great thunder-darter of Olympus, forget that
thou art Jove the king of gods, and, Mercury,
lose all the serpentine craft of thy caduceus, if
ye take not that little little less than little wit
from them that they have; which short-armed
ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce it
will not in circumvention deliver a fly from a
spider, without drawing their massy irons and
cutting the web. After tins, the vengeance on
the whole camp! or, rather, the Neapolitan
bone-ache! for that, methinks, is the curse de-
pendant on those that war for a placket. I have
said my prayers, and devil Envy say Amen.
What, ho! my Lord Achilles!

Patr. Who's there? Thersites! Good Ther-
sites, come in and rail.
Ther. If I could have remembered a gilt
counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipped out
of my contemplation: but it is no matter; thy-
self upon thyself! The common curse of man-
kind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great
revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and
discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be
thy direction till thy death! then, if she that
lays thee out says thou art a fair corpse, I'll be
sworn and sworn upon't she never shrouded any
but lazars. Amen. Where's Achilles?
Patr. What! art thou devout? wast thou in
Ther. Ay; the heavens hear me!

Achil. Who's there?
Patr. Thersites, my lord.
Achil. Where, where? Art thou come? Why,
my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served
thyself in to my table so many meals? Come,
what's Agamemnon?
Ther. Thy commander, Achilles. Then tell
me, Patroclus, what's Achilles?
Patr. Thy lord Thersites. Then tell me, I
pray thee, what's thyself?
Ther. Thy knower, Patroclus. Then tell me,
Patroclus, what art thou?
Patr. Thou mayst tell that knowest.
Achil. O! tell, tell.
Ther. I'll decline the whole question. Aga-
memnon commands Achilles; Achilles is my
lord; I am Patroclus' knower; and Patroclus is
a fool.
Patr. You rascal!
Ther. Peace, fool! I have not done.
Achil. He is a privileged man. Proceed,
Ther. Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a
fool; Thersites is a fool; and, as aforesaid,
Patroclus is a fool.
Achil. Derive this; come.
Ther. Agamemnon is a fool to offer to com-
mand Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be com-
manded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool to
serve such a fool; and Patroclus is a fool
Patr. Why am I a fool?
Ther. Make that demand to the Creator. It
suffices me thou art. Look you, who comes
Achil. Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody.
Dome in with me, Thersites. [Exit.
Ther. Here is such patchery, such juggling,
and such knavery! all the argument is a
cuckold and a whore; a good quarrel to draw
emulous factions and bleed to death upon. Now,
the dry serpigo on the subject! and war and
lechery confound all! [Exit.

Agam. Where is Achilles?
Patr. Within his tent; but ill-dispos'd, my
Agam. Let it be known to him that we are
He shent our messengers; and we lay by
Our appertainments, visiting of him:
Let him be told so; lest perchance he think
We dare not move the question of our place,
Or know not what we are.
Patr. I shall say so to him.
Ulyss. We saw him at the opening of his
He is not sick.
Ajax. Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart: you
may call it melancholy if you will favour the
man; but, by my head, 'tis pride: but why,
why? let him show us a cause. A word, my
lord. [Takes AGAMEMNON aside.
Nest. What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?
Ulyss. Achilles hath inveigled his fool from
Nest. Who, Thersites?
Ulyss. He.
Nest. Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have
lost his argument.
Ulyss. No; you see, he is his argument that
has his argument, Achilles.
Nest. All the better; their fraction is more
our wish than their faction: but it was a strong
composure a fool could disunite.
Ulyss. The amity that wisdom knits not folly
may easily untie. Here comes Patroclus,

Nest. No Achilles with him.
Ulyss. The elephant hath joints, but none for
courtesy: his legs are legs for necessity, not for
Patr. Achilles bids me say, he is much sorry
If any thing more than your sport and pleasure
Did move your greatness and this noble state
To call upon him; he hopes it is no other
But, for your health and your digestion sake,
An after-dinner's breath.
Agam. Hear you, Patroclus:
We are too well acquainted with these answers:
But his evasion, wing'd thus swift with scorn,
Cannot outfly our apprehensions.
Much attribute he hath, and much the reason
Why we ascribe it to him; yet all his virtues,
Not virtuously on his own part beheld,
Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,
Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him,
We come to speak with him; and you shall not
If you do say we think him over-proud
And under-honest, in self-assumption greater
Than in the note of judgment; and worthier
than himself
Here tend the savage strangeness he puts on,
Disguise the holy strength of their command,
And underwrite in an observing kind
His humorous predominance; yea, watch
His pettish lunes, his ebbs, his flows, as if
The passage and whole carriage of this action
Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and add,
That if he overbold his price so much,
We'll none of him; but let him, like an engine
Not portable, lie under this report:
'Bring action hither, this cannot go to war:'
A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
Before a sleeping giant: tell him so.
Patr. I shall; and bring his answer pre-
sently. [Exit
Agam. In second voice we'll not be satis-
We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter
you. [Exit ULYSSES.
Ajax. What is he more than another?
Agam. No more than what he thinks he is.
Ajax. Is he so much? Do you not think he
thinks himself a better man than I am?
Again. No question.
Ajax. Will you subscribe his thought, and
say he is?
Agam. No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as
valiant, as wise, no less noble, much more gentle,
and altogether more tractable.
Ajax. Why should a man be proud? How
doth pride grow? I know not what pride is.
Agam. Your mind is the clearer, Ajax, and
your virtues the fairer. He that is proud eats
up himself: pride is his own glass, his own
trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever
praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed
in the praise.
Ajax. I do hate a proud man, as I hate the
engendering of toads.
Nest. [Aside.] Yet he loves himself: is't
not strange?

Re-enter ULYSSES.
Ulyss. Achilles will not to the field to-
Agam. what's his excuse?
Ulyss. He doth rely on none,
But carries on the stream of his dispose
Without observance or respect of any,
In will peculiar and in self-admission.
Agam. Why will he not upon our fair
Untent his person and share the air with us?
Ulyss. Things small as nothing, for request's
sake only,
He makes important: possess'd he is with great-
And speaks not to himself but with a pride
That quarrels at self-breath: imagin'd worth
Holds in his blood such swoln and hot dis-
That 'twixt his mental and his active parts
Kingdom'd Achilles in commotion rages
And batters down himself: what should I say?
He is so plaguy proud, that the death-tokens
of it
Cry 'No recovery.'
Agam. Let Ajax go to him.
Dear lord, go you and meet him in his tent:
'Tis said he holds you well. and will be led
At your request a little from himself.
Ulyss. O Agamemnon! let it not be so.
We'll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes
When they go from Achilles: shall the proud
That bastes his arrogance with his own seam,
And never suffers matter of the world
Enter his thoughts, save such as do revolve
And ruminate himself, shall he be worshipp'd
Of that we hold an idol more than he?
No, this thrice-worthy and right valiant lord
Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquir'd;
Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit,
As amply titled as Achilles is,
By going to Achilles:
That were to enlard his fat-already pride,
And add more coals to Cancer when he burns
With entertaining great Hyperion.
This lord go to him! Jupiter forbid,
And say in thunder, 'Achilles go to him.'
Nest. [Aside.] O! this is well; he rubs the
vein of him.
Dio. [Aside.] And how his silence drinks up
this applause!
Ajax. If I go to him, with my armed fist
I'll pash him o'er the face.
Agam. O, no! you shall not go.
Ajax. An a' be proud with me, I'll pheeze
his pride.
Let me go to him.
Ulyss. Not for the worth that hangs upon
our quarrel.
Ajax. A paltry, insolent fellow!
Nest. [Aside.] How he describes himself!
Ajax. Can he not be sociable?
Ulyss. [Aside.] The raven chides blackness.
Ajax. I'll let his humours blood.
Agam. [Aside.] He will be the physician
that should be the patient.
Ajax. An all men were o' my mind,—
Ulyss. [Aside.] Wit would be out of fashion.
Ajax. A' should not bear it go, a' should eat
swords first: shall pride carry it?
Nest. [Aside.] An't would, you'd carry half.
Ulyss. [Aside.] A' would have ten shares.
Ajax. I will knead him; I will make him
Nest. [Aside.] He's not yet through warm:
force him with praises: pour in, pour in; his
ambition is dry.
Ulyss. [To AGAMEMNON.] My lord, you feed
too much on thid dislike.
Nest. Our noble general, do not do so.
Dio. You must prepare to fight without
Ulyss. Why, 'tis this naming of him does
him harm.
Here is a man—but 'tis before his face;
I will be silent.
Nest. Wherefore should you so?
He is not emulous, as Achilles is.
Ulyss. Know the whole world, he is as
Ajax. A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus
with us! Would he were a Trojan!
Nest. What a vice were it in Ajax now,—
Ulyss. If he were proud,—
Dio. Or covetous of praise,—
Ulyss. Ay, or surly borne,—
Dio. Or strange, or self-affected!
Ulyss. Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of
sweet composure;
Praise him that got thee, her that gave thee
Fam'd be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
Thrice-fam'd, beyond all erudition:
But he that disciplin'd thy arms to fight,
Let Mars divide eternity in twain,
And give him half: and, for thy vigour,
Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield
To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom,
Which, like a bourn, a pale, a shore, confines
Thy spacious and dilated parts: here's Nestor
Instructed by the antiquary times,
He must, he is, he cannot but be wise;
But pardon, father Nestor, were your days
As green as Ajax, and your brain so temper'd,
You should not have the eminence of him,
But be as Ajax.
Ajax. Shall I call you father?
Ulyss. Ay, my good son.
Dio. Be rul'd by him, Lord Ajax.
Ulyss. There is no tarrying here; the hart
Keeps thicket. Please it our great general
To call together all his state of war;
Fresh kings are come to Troy: to-morrow,
We must with all our main of power stand fast:
And here's a lord,—come knights from east to
And cull their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.
Agam. Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep:
Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks
draw deep. [Exeunt.
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