Troilus and Cressida, by William Shakespeare

Act III

Scene I. Troy. Priam’s palace.

Enter a Servant and Pandarus

Pandarus

Friend, you! pray you, a word: do not you follow the young Lord Paris?

Servant

Ay, sir, when he goes before me.

Pandarus

You depend upon him, I mean?

Servant

Sir, I do depend upon the lord.

Pandarus

You depend upon a noble gentleman; I must needs praise him.

Servant

The lord be praised!

Pandarus

You know me, do you not?

Servant

Faith, sir, superficially.

Pandarus

Friend, know me better; I am the Lord Pandarus.

Servant

I hope I shall know your honour better.

Pandarus

I do desire it.

Servant

You are in the state of grace.

Pandarus

Grace! not so, friend: honour and lordship are my titles.

Music within

What music is this?

Servant

I do but partly know, sir: it is music in parts.

Pandarus

Know you the musicians?

Servant

Wholly, sir.

Pandarus

Who play they to?

Servant

To the hearers, sir.

Pandarus

At whose pleasure, friend

Servant

At mine, sir, and theirs that love music.

Pandarus

Command, I mean, friend.

Servant

Who shall I command, sir?

Pandarus

Friend, we understand not one another: I am too courtly and thou art too cunning. At whose request do these men play?

Servant

That’s to ’t indeed, sir: marry, sir, at the request of Paris my lord, who’s there in person; with him, the mortal Venus, the heart-blood of beauty, love’s invisible soul —

Pandarus

Who, my cousin Cressida?

Servant

No, sir, Helen: could you not find out that by her attributes?

Pandarus

It should seem, fellow, that thou hast not seen the Lady Cressida. I come to speak with Paris from the Prince Troilus: I will make a complimental assault upon him, for my business seethes.

Servant

Sodden business! there’s a stewed phrase indeed!

Enter Paris and Helen, attended

Pandarus

Fair be to you, my lord, and to all this fair company! fair desires, in all fair measure, fairly guide them! especially to you, fair queen! fair thoughts be your fair pillow!

Helen

Dear lord, you are full of fair words.

Pandarus

You speak your fair pleasure, sweet queen. Fair prince, here is good broken music.

Paris

You have broke it, cousin: and, by my life, you shall make it whole again; you shall piece it out with a piece of your performance. Nell, he is full of harmony.

Pandarus

Truly, lady, no.

Helen

O, sir —

Pandarus

Rude, in sooth; in good sooth, very rude.

Paris

Well said, my lord! well, you say so in fits.

Pandarus

I have business to my lord, dear queen. My lord, will you vouchsafe me a word?

Helen

Nay, this shall not hedge us out: we’ll hear you sing, certainly.

Pandarus

Well, sweet queen. you are pleasant with me. But, marry, thus, my lord: my dear lord and most esteemed friend, your brother Troilus —

Helen

My Lord Pandarus; honey-sweet lord —

Pandarus

Go to, sweet queen, to go:— commends himself most affectionately to you —

Helen

You shall not bob us out of our melody: if you do, our melancholy upon your head!

Pandarus

Sweet queen, sweet queen! that’s a sweet queen, i’ faith.

Helen

And to make a sweet lady sad is a sour offence.

Pandarus

Nay, that shall not serve your turn; that shall not, in truth, la. Nay, I care not for such words; no, no. And, my lord, he desires you, that if the king call for him at supper, you will make his excuse.

Helen

My Lord Pandarus —

Pandarus

What says my sweet queen, my very very sweet queen?

Paris

What exploit’s in hand? where sups he to-night?

Helen

Nay, but, my lord —

Pandarus

What says my sweet queen? My cousin will fall out with you. You must not know where he sups.

Paris

I’ll lay my life, with my disposer Cressida.

Pandarus

No, no, no such matter; you are wide: come, your disposer is sick.

Paris

Well, I’ll make excuse.

Pandarus

Ay, good my lord. Why should you say Cressida? no, your poor disposer’s sick.

Paris

I spy.

Pandarus

You spy! what do you spy? Come, give me an instrument. Now, sweet queen.

Helen

Why, this is kindly done.

Pandarus

My niece is horribly in love with a thing you have, sweet queen.

Helen

She shall have it, my lord, if it be not my lord Paris.

Pandarus

He! no, she’ll none of him; they two are twain.

Helen

Falling in, after falling out, may make them three.

Pandarus

Come, come, I’ll hear no more of this; I’ll sing you a song now.

Helen

Ay, ay, prithee now. By my troth, sweet lord, thou hast a fine forehead.

Pandarus

Ay, you may, you may.

Helen

Let thy song be love: this love will undo us all.
O Cupid, Cupid, Cupid!

Pandarus

Love! ay, that it shall, i’ faith.

Paris

Ay, good now, love, love, nothing but love.

Pandarus

In good troth, it begins so.

Sings

Love, love, nothing but love, still more!
For, O, love’s bow
Shoots buck and doe:
The shaft confounds,
Not that it wounds,
But tickles still the sore.
These lovers cry Oh! oh! they die!
Yet that which seems the wound to kill,
Doth turn oh! oh! to ha! ha! he!
So dying love lives still:
Oh! oh! a while, but ha! ha! ha!
Oh! oh! groans out for ha! ha! ha!
Heigh-ho!

Helen

In love, i’ faith, to the very tip of the nose.

Paris

He eats nothing but doves, love, and that breeds hot blood, and hot blood begets hot thoughts, and hot thoughts beget hot deeds, and hot deeds is love.

Pandarus

Is this the generation of love? hot blood, hot thoughts, and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers: is love a generation of vipers? Sweet lord, who’s a-field to-day?

Paris

Hector, Deiphobus, Helenus, Antenor, and all the gallantry of Troy: I would fain have armed to-day, but my Nell would not have it so. How chance my brother Troilus went not?

Helen

He hangs the lip at something: you know all, Lord Pandarus.

Pandarus

Not I, honey-sweet queen. I long to hear how they sped to-day. You’ll remember your brother’s excuse?

Paris

To a hair.

Pandarus

Farewell, sweet queen.

Helen

Commend me to your niece.

Pandarus

I will, sweet queen.

Exit

A retreat sounded

Paris

They’re come from field: let us to Priam’s hall,
To greet the warriors. Sweet Helen, I must woo you
To help unarm our Hector: his stubborn buckles,
With these your white enchanting fingers touch’d,
Shall more obey than to the edge of steel
Or force of Greekish sinews; you shall do more
Than all the island kings — disarm great Hector.

Helen

’Twill make us proud to be his servant, Paris;
Yea, what he shall receive of us in duty
Gives us more palm in beauty than we have,
Yea, overshines ourself.

Paris

Sweet, above thought I love thee.

Exeunt

Scene II. The same. Pandarus’ orchard.

Enter Pandarus and Troilus’s Boy, meeting

Pandarus

How now! where’s thy master? at my cousin
Cressida’s?

Boy

No, sir; he stays for you to conduct him thither.

Pandarus

O, here he comes.

Enter Troilus

How now, how now!

Troilus

Sirrah, walk off.

Exit Boy

Pandarus

Have you seen my cousin?

Troilus

No, Pandarus: I stalk about her door,
Like a strange soul upon the Stygian banks
Staying for waftage. O, be thou my Charon,
And give me swift transportance to those fields
Where I may wallow in the lily-beds
Proposed for the deserver! O gentle Pandarus,
From Cupid’s shoulder pluck his painted wings
And fly with me to Cressid!

Pandarus

Walk here i’ the orchard, I’ll bring her straight.

Exit

Troilus

I am giddy; expectation whirls me round.
The imaginary relish is so sweet
That it enchants my sense: what will it be,
When that the watery palate tastes indeed
Love’s thrice repured nectar? death, I fear me,
Swooning destruction, or some joy too fine,
Too subtle-potent, tuned too sharp in sweetness,
For the capacity of my ruder powers:
I fear it much; and I do fear besides,
That I shall lose distinction in my joys;
As doth a battle, when they charge on heaps
The enemy flying.

Re-enter Pandarus

Pandarus

She’s making her ready, she’ll come straight: you must be witty now. She does so blush, and fetches her wind so short, as if she were frayed with a sprite: I’ll fetch her. It is the prettiest villain: she fetches her breath as short as a new-ta’en sparrow.

Exit

Troilus

Even such a passion doth embrace my bosom:
My heart beats thicker than a feverous pulse;
And all my powers do their bestowing lose,
Like vassalage at unawares encountering
The eye of majesty.

Re-enter Pandarus with Cressida

Pandarus

Come, come, what need you blush? shame’s a baby. Here she is now: swear the oaths now to her that you have sworn to me. What, are you gone again? you must be watched ere you be made tame, must you? Come your ways, come your ways; an you draw backward, we’ll put you i’ the fills. Why do you not speak to her? Come, draw this curtain, and let’s see your picture. Alas the day, how loath you are to offend daylight! an ’twere dark, you’ld close sooner. So, so; rub on, and kiss the mistress. How now! a kiss in fee-farm! build there, carpenter; the air is sweet. Nay, you shall fight your hearts out ere I part you. The falcon as the tercel, for all the ducks i’ the river: go to, go to.

Troilus

You have bereft me of all words, lady.

Pandarus

Words pay no debts, give her deeds: but she’ll bereave you o’ the deeds too, if she call your activity in question. What, billing again? Here’s ‘In witness whereof the parties interchangeably’— Come in, come in: I’ll go get a fire.

Exit

Cressida

Will you walk in, my lord?

Troilus

O Cressida, how often have I wished me thus!

Cressida

Wished, my lord! The gods grant — O my lord!

Troilus

What should they grant? what makes this pretty abruption? What too curious dreg espies my sweet lady in the fountain of our love?

Cressida

More dregs than water, if my fears have eyes.

Troilus

Fears make devils of cherubims; they never see truly.

Cressida

Blind fear, that seeing reason leads, finds safer footing than blind reason stumbling without fear: to fear the worst oft cures the worse.

Troilus

O, let my lady apprehend no fear: in all Cupid’s pageant there is presented no monster.

Cressida

Nor nothing monstrous neither?

Troilus

Nothing, but our undertakings; when we vow to weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers; thinking it harder for our mistress to devise imposition enough than for us to undergo any difficulty imposed. This is the monstruosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite and the execution confined, that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.

Cressida

They say all lovers swear more performance than they are able and yet reserve an ability that they never perform, vowing more than the perfection of ten and discharging less than the tenth part of one. They that have the voice of lions and the act of hares, are they not monsters?

Troilus

Are there such? such are not we: praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we prove; our head shall go bare till merit crown it: no perfection in reversion shall have a praise in present: we will not name desert before his birth, and, being born, his addition shall be humble. Few words to fair faith: Troilus shall be such to Cressid as what envy can say worst shall be a mock for his truth, and what truth can speak truest not truer than Troilus.

Cressida

Will you walk in, my lord?

Re-enter Pandarus

Pandarus

What, blushing still? have you not done talking yet?

Cressida

Well, uncle, what folly I commit, I dedicate to you.

Pandarus

I thank you for that: if my lord get a boy of you, you’ll give him me. Be true to my lord: if he flinch, chide me for it.

Troilus

You know now your hostages; your uncle’s word and my firm faith.

Pandarus

Nay, I’ll give my word for her too: our kindred, though they be long ere they are wooed, they are constant being won: they are burs, I can tell you; they’ll stick where they are thrown.

Cressida

Boldness comes to me now, and brings me heart.
Prince Troilus, I have loved you night and day
For many weary months.

Troilus

Why was my Cressid then so hard to win?

Cressida

Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord,
With the first glance that ever — pardon me —
If I confess much, you will play the tyrant.
I love you now; but not, till now, so much
But I might master it: in faith, I lie;
My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown
Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools!
Why have I blabb’d? who shall be true to us,
When we are so unsecret to ourselves?
But, though I loved you well, I woo’d you not;
And yet, good faith, I wish’d myself a man,
Or that we women had men’s privilege
Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue,
For in this rapture I shall surely speak
The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence,
Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws
My very soul of counsel! stop my mouth.

Troilus

And shall, albeit sweet music issues thence.

Pandarus

Pretty, i’ faith.

Cressida

My lord, I do beseech you, pardon me;
’Twas not my purpose, thus to beg a kiss:
I am ashamed. O heavens! what have I done?
For this time will I take my leave, my lord.

Troilus

Your leave, sweet Cressid!

Pandarus

Leave! an you take leave till to-morrow morning —

Cressida

Pray you, content you.

Troilus

What offends you, lady?

Cressida

Sir, mine own company.

Troilus

You cannot shun Yourself.

Cressida

  Let me go and try:
I have a kind of self resides with you;
But an unkind self, that itself will leave,
To be another’s fool. I would be gone:
Where is my wit? I know not what I speak.

Troilus

Well know they what they speak that speak so wisely.

Cressida

Perchance, my lord, I show more craft than love;
And fell so roundly to a large confession,
To angle for your thoughts: but you are wise,
Or else you love not, for to be wise and love
Exceeds man’s might; that dwells with gods above.

Troilus

O that I thought it could be in a woman —
As, if it can, I will presume in you —
To feed for aye her ramp and flames of love;
To keep her constancy in plight and youth,
Outliving beauty’s outward, with a mind
That doth renew swifter than blood decays!
Or that persuasion could but thus convince me,
That my integrity and truth to you
Might be affronted with the match and weight
Of such a winnow’d purity in love;
How were I then uplifted! but, alas!
I am as true as truth’s simplicity
And simpler than the infancy of truth.

Cressida

In that I’ll war with you.

Troilus

O virtuous fight,
When right with right wars who shall be most right!
True swains in love shall in the world to come
Approve their truths by Troilus: when their rhymes,
Full of protest, of oath and big compare,
Want similes, truth tired with iteration,
As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,
As sun to day, as turtle to her mate,
As iron to adamant, as earth to the centre,
Yet, after all comparisons of truth,
As truth’s authentic author to be cited,
‘As true as Troilus’ shall crown up the verse,
And sanctify the numbers.

Cressida

Prophet may you be!
If I be false, or swerve a hair from truth,
When time is old and hath forgot itself,
When waterdrops have worn the stones of Troy,
And blind oblivion swallow’d cities up,
And mighty states characterless are grated
To dusty nothing, yet let memory,
From false to false, among false maids in love,
Upbraid my falsehood! when they’ve said ‘as false
As air, as water, wind, or sandy earth,
As fox to lamb, as wolf to heifer’s calf,
Pard to the hind, or stepdame to her son,’
‘Yea,’ let them say, to stick the heart of falsehood,
‘As false as Cressid.’

Pandarus

Go to, a bargain made: seal it, seal it; I’ll be the witness. Here I hold your hand, here my cousin’s. If ever you prove false one to another, since I have taken such pains to bring you together, let all pitiful goers-between be called to the world’s end after my name; call them all Pandars; let all constant men be Troiluses, all false women Cressids, and all brokers-between Pandars! say, amen.

Troilus

Amen.

Cressida

Amen.

Pandarus

Amen. Whereupon I will show you a chamber with a bed; which bed, because it shall not speak of your pretty encounters, press it to death: away!
And Cupid grant all tongue-tied maidens here
Bed, chamber, Pandar to provide this gear!

Exeunt

Scene III. The Grecian camp. Before Achilles’ tent.

Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Diomedes, Nestor, Ajax, Menelaus, and Calchas

Calchas

Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
The advantage of the time prompts me aloud
To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind
That, through the sight I bear in things to love,
I have abandon’d Troy, left my possession,
Incurr’d a traitor’s name; exposed myself,
From certain and possess’d conveniences,
To doubtful fortunes; sequestering from me all
That time, acquaintance, custom and condition
Made tame and most familiar to my nature,
And here, to do you service, am become
As new into the world, strange, unacquainted:
I do beseech you, as in way of taste,
To give me now a little benefit,
Out of those many register’d in promise,
Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.

Agamemnon

What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? make demand.

Calchas

You have a Trojan prisoner, call’d Antenor,
Yesterday took: Troy holds him very dear.
Oft have you — often have you thanks therefore —
Desired my Cressid in right great exchange,
Whom Troy hath still denied: but this Antenor,
I know, is such a wrest in their affairs
That their negotiations all must slack,
Wanting his manage; and they will almost
Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam,
In change of him: let him be sent, great princes,
And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence
Shall quite strike off all service I have done,
In most accepted pain.

Agamemnon

Let Diomedes bear him,
And bring us Cressid hither: Calchas shall have
What he requests of us. Good Diomed,
Furnish you fairly for this interchange:
Withal bring word if Hector will to-morrow
Be answer’d in his challenge: Ajax is ready.

Diomedes

This shall I undertake; and ’tis a burden
Which I am proud to bear.

Exeunt Diomedes and Calchas

Enter Achilles and Patroclus, before their tent

Ulysses

Achilles stands i’ the entrance of his tent:
Please it our general to pass strangely by him,
As if he were forgot; and, princes all,
Lay negligent and loose regard upon him:
I will come last. ’Tis like he’ll question me
Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him:
If so, I have derision medicinable,
To use between your strangeness and his pride,
Which his own will shall have desire to drink:
It may be good: pride hath no other glass
To show itself but pride, for supple knees
Feed arrogance and are the proud man’s fees.

Agamemnon

We’ll execute your purpose, and put on
A form of strangeness as we pass along:
So do each lord, and either greet him not,
Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more
Than if not look’d on. I will lead the way.

Achilles

What, comes the general to speak with me?
You know my mind, I’ll fight no more ’gainst Troy.

Agamemnon

What says Achilles? would he aught with us?

Nestor

Would you, my lord, aught with the general?

Achilles

No.

Nestor

Nothing, my lord.

Agamemnon

The better.

Exeunt Agamemnon and Nestor

Achilles

Good day, good day.

Menelaus

How do you? how do you?

Exit

Achilles

What, does the cuckold scorn me?

Ajax

How now, Patroclus!

Achilles

Good morrow, Ajax.

Ajax

Ha?

Achilles

Good morrow.

Ajax

Ay, and good next day too.

Exit

Achilles

What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?

Patroclus

They pass by strangely: they were used to bend
To send their smiles before them to Achilles;
To come as humbly as they used to creep
To holy altars.

Achilles

  What, am I poor of late?
’Tis certain, greatness, once fall’n out with fortune,
Must fall out with men too: what the declined is
He shall as soon read in the eyes of others
As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies,
Show not their mealy wings but to the summer,
And not a man, for being simply man,
Hath any honour, but honour for those honours
That are without him, as place, riches, favour,
Prizes of accident as oft as merit:
Which when they fall, as being slippery standers,
The love that lean’d on them as slippery too,
Do one pluck down another and together
Die in the fall. But ’tis not so with me:
Fortune and I are friends: I do enjoy
At ample point all that I did possess,
Save these men’s looks; who do, methinks, find out
Something not worth in me such rich beholding
As they have often given. Here is Ulysses;
I’ll interrupt his reading.
How now Ulysses!

Ulysses

  Now, great Thetis’ son!

Achilles

What are you reading?

Ulysses

A strange fellow here
Writes me: ‘That man, how dearly ever parted,
How much in having, or without or in,
Cannot make boast to have that which he hath,
Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection;
As when his virtues shining upon others
Heat them and they retort that heat again
To the first giver.’

Achilles

This is not strange, Ulysses.
The beauty that is borne here in the face
The bearer knows not, but commends itself
To others’ eyes; nor doth the eye itself,
That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself,
Not going from itself; but eye to eye opposed
Salutes each other with each other’s form;
For speculation turns not to itself,
Till it hath travell’d and is mirror’d there
Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.

Ulysses

I do not strain at the position —
It is familiar — but at the author’s drift;
Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves
That no man is the lord of any thing,
Though in and of him there be much consisting,
Till he communicate his parts to others:
Nor doth he of himself know them for aught
Till he behold them form’d in the applause
Where they’re extended; who, like an arch, reverberates
The voice again, or, like a gate of steel
Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
His figure and his heat. I was much wrapt in this;
And apprehended here immediately
The unknown Ajax.
Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse,
That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are
Most abject in regard and dear in use!
What things again most dear in the esteem
And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-morrow —
An act that very chance doth throw upon him —
Ajax renown’d. O heavens, what some men do,
While some men leave to do!
How some men creep in skittish fortune’s hall,
Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
How one man eats into another’s pride,
While pride is fasting in his wantonness!
To see these Grecian lords! — why, even already
They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder,
As if his foot were on brave Hector’s breast
And great Troy shrieking.

Achilles

I do believe it; for they pass’d by me
As misers do by beggars, neither gave to me
Good word nor look: what, are my deeds forgot?

Ulysses

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour’d
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
For emulation hath a thousand sons
That one by one pursue: if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter’d tide, they all rush by
And leave you hindmost;
Or like a gallant horse fall’n in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O’er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;
For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch’d, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,
Though they are made and moulded of things past,
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o’er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object.
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,
Made emulous missions ’mongst the gods themselves
And drave great Mars to faction.

Achilles

Of this my privacy
I have strong reasons.

Ulysses

But ’gainst your privacy
The reasons are more potent and heroical:
’Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love
With one of Priam’s daughters.

Achilles

Ha! known!

Ulysses

Is that a wonder?
The providence that’s in a watchful state
Knows almost every grain of Plutus’ gold,
Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps,
Keeps place with thought and almost, like the gods,
Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
There is a mystery — with whom relation
Durst never meddle — in the soul of state;
Which hath an operation more divine
Than breath or pen can give expressure to:
All the commerce that you have had with Troy
As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord;
And better would it fit Achilles much
To throw down Hector than Polyxena:
But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home,
When fame shall in our islands sound her trump,
And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing,
‘Great Hector’s sister did Achilles win,
But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.’
Farewell, my lord: I as your lover speak;
The fool slides o’er the ice that you should break.

Exit

Patroclus

To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you:
A woman impudent and mannish grown
Is not more loathed than an effeminate man
In time of action. I stand condemn’d for this;
They think my little stomach to the war
And your great love to me restrains you thus:
Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid
Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold,
And, like a dew-drop from the lion’s mane,
Be shook to air.

Achilles

  Shall Ajax fight with Hector?

Patroclus

Ay, and perhaps receive much honour by him.

Achilles

I see my reputation is at stake
My fame is shrewdly gored.

Patroclus

O, then, beware;
Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves:
Omission to do what is necessary
Seals a commission to a blank of danger;
And danger, like an ague, subtly taints
Even then when we sit idly in the sun.

Achilles

Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus:
I’ll send the fool to Ajax and desire him
To invite the Trojan lords after the combat
To see us here unarm’d: I have a woman’s longing,
An appetite that I am sick withal,
To see great Hector in his weeds of peace,
To talk with him and to behold his visage,
Even to my full of view.

Enter Thersites

A labour saved!

Thersites

A wonder!

Achilles

What?

Thersites

Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself.

Achilles

How so?

Thersites

He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that he raves in saying nothing.

Achilles

How can that be?

Thersites

Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock — a stride and a stand: ruminates like an hostess that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning: bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should say ‘There were wit in this head, an ’twould out;’ and so there is, but it lies as coldly in him as fire in a flint, which will not show without knocking. The man’s undone forever; for if Hector break not his neck i’ the combat, he’ll break ’t himself in vain-glory. He knows not me: I said ‘Good morrow, Ajax;’ and he replies ‘Thanks, Agamemnon.’ What think you of this man that takes me for the general? He’s grown a very land-fish, language-less, a monster. A plague of opinion! a man may wear it on both sides, like a leather jerkin.

Achilles

Thou must be my ambassador to him, Thersites.

Thersites

Who, I? why, he’ll answer nobody; he professes not answering: speaking is for beggars; he wears his tongue in’s arms. I will put on his presence: let Patroclus make demands to me, you shall see the pageant of Ajax.

Achilles

To him, Patroclus; tell him I humbly desire the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe-conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honoured captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon, et cetera. Do this.

Patroclus

Jove bless great Ajax!

Thersites

Hum!

Patroclus

I come from the worthy Achilles —

Thersites

Ha!

Patroclus

Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent —

Thersites

Hum!

Patroclus

And to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.

Thersites

Agamemnon!

Patroclus

Ay, my lord.

Thersites

Ha!

Patroclus

What say you to’t?

Thersites

God b’ wi’ you, with all my heart.

Patroclus

Your answer, sir.

Thersites

If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven o’clock it will go one way or other: howsoever, he shall pay for me ere he has me.

Patroclus

Your answer, sir.

Thersites

Fare you well, with all my heart.

Achilles

Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?

Thersites

No, but he’s out o’ tune thus. What music will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know not; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.

Achilles

Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.

Thersites

Let me bear another to his horse; for that’s the more capable creature.

Achilles

My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirr’d;
And I myself see not the bottom of it.

Exeunt Achilles and Patroclus

Thersites

Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be a tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.

Exit

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30