Troilus and Cressida/Act II
SCENE 1. The Grecian camp
[Enter Ajax and THERSITES.]
- Agamemnon—how if he had boils full, an over, generally?
- And those boils did run—say so. Did not the general run
- then? Were not that a botchy core?
- Then there would come some matter from him;
- I see none now.
- Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear? Feel, then.
- The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted
- Speak, then, thou whinid'st leaven, speak. I will beat thee
- into handsomeness.
- I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holiness; but I
- think thy horse will sooner con an oration than thou learn a
- prayer without book. Thou canst strike, canst thou? A red murrain
- o' thy jade's tricks!
- Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.
- Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?
- The proclamation!
- Thou art proclaim'd, a fool, I think.
- Do not, porpentine, do not; my fingers itch.
- I would thou didst itch from head to foot and I had the
- scratching of thee; I would make thee the loathsomest scab in
- Greece. When thou art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as
- slow as another.
- I say, the proclamation.
- Thou grumblest and railest every hour on Achilles; and
- thou art as full of envy at his greatness as Cerberus is at
- Proserpina's beauty—ay, that thou bark'st at him.
- Mistress Thersites!
- Thou shouldst strike him.
- He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a
- sailor breaks a biscuit.
- You whoreson cur!
- Do, do.
- Thou stool for a witch!
- Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more
- brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinico may tutor thee. You
- scurvy valiant ass! Thou art here but to thrash Troyans, and thou
- art bought and sold among those of any wit like a barbarian
- slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel and tell
- what thou art by inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou!
- You dog!
- You scurvy lord!
- You cur!
- Mars his idiot! Do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.
[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS.]
- Why, how now, Ajax! Wherefore do you thus?
- How now, Thersites! What's the matter, man?
- You see him there, do you?
- Ay; what's the matter?
- Nay, look upon him.
- So I do. What's the matter?
- Nay, but regard him well.
- Well! why, so I do.
- But yet you look not well upon him; for who some ever
- you take him to be, he is Ajax.
- I know that, fool.
- Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
- Therefore I beat thee.
- Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters! His
- evasions have ears thus long. I have bobb'd his brain more than
- he has beat my bones. I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and
- his pia mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow. This
- lord, Achilles, Ajax—who wears his wit in his belly and his guts
- in his head—I'll tell you what I say of him.
- I say this Ajax—
[AJAX offers to strike him.]
- Nay, good Ajax.
- Has not so much wit—
- Nay, I must hold you.
- As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he
- comes to fight.
- Peace, fool.
- I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will not—
- he there; that he; look you there.
- O thou damned cur! I shall—
- Will you set your wit to a fool's?
- No, I warrant you, the fool's will shame it.
- Good words, Thersites.
- What's the quarrel?
- I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenour of the
- proclamation, and he rails upon me.
- I serve thee not.
- Well, go to, go to.
- I serve here voluntary.
- Your last service was suff'rance; 'twas not voluntary. No
- man is beaten voluntary. Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as
- under an impress.
- E'en so; a great deal of your wit too lies in your
- sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great catch
- an he knock out either of your brains: 'a were as good crack a
- fusty nut with no kernel.
- What, with me too, Thersites?
- There's Ulysses and old Nestor—whose wit was mouldy ere
- your grandsires had nails on their toes—yoke you like draught
- oxen, and make you plough up the wars.
- What, what?
- Yes, good sooth. To Achilles, to Ajax, to—
- I shall cut out your tongue.
- 'Tis no matter; I shall speak as much as thou
- No more words, Thersites; peace!
- I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?
- There's for you, Patroclus.
- I will see you hang'd like clotpoles ere I come any more
- to your tents. I will keep where there is wit stirring, and leave
- the faction of fools.
- A good riddance.
- Marry, this, sir, is proclaim'd through all our host,
- That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,
- Will with a trumpet 'twixt our tents and Troy,
- To-morrow morning, call some knight to arms
- That hath a stomach; and such a one that dare
- Maintain I know not what; 'tis trash. Farewell.
- Farewell. Who shall answer him?
- I know not; 'tis put to lott'ry. Otherwise. He knew his man.
- O, meaning you! I will go learn more of it.
SCENE 2. Troy. PRIAM'S palace
[Enter PRIAM, HECTOR, TROILUS, PARIS, and HELENUS.]
- After so many hours, lives, speeches, spent,
- Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks:
- 'Deliver Helen, and all damage else—
- As honour, loss of time, travail, expense,
- Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consum'd
- In hot digestion of this cormorant war—
- Shall be struck off.' Hector, what say you to't?
- Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I,
- As far as toucheth my particular,
- Yet, dread Priam,
- There is no lady of more softer bowels,
- More spongy to suck in the sense of fear,
- More ready to cry out 'Who knows what follows?'
- Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety,
- Surety secure; but modest doubt is call'd
- The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches
- To th' bottom of the worst. Let Helen go.
- Since the first sword was drawn about this question,
- Every tithe soul 'mongst many thousand dismes
- Hath been as dear as Helen—I mean, of ours.
- If we have lost so many tenths of ours
- To guard a thing not ours, nor worth to us,
- Had it our name, the value of one ten,
- What merit's in that reason which denies
- The yielding of her up?
- Fie, fie, my brother!
- Weigh you the worth and honour of a king,
- So great as our dread father's, in a scale
- Of common ounces? Will you with counters sum
- The past-proportion of his infinite,
- And buckle in a waist most fathomless
- With spans and inches so diminutive
- As fears and reasons? Fie, for godly shame!
- No marvel though you bite so sharp at reasons,
- You are so empty of them. Should not our father
- Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons,
- Because your speech hath none that tells him so?
- You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest;
- You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your reasons:
- You know an enemy intends you harm;
- You know a sword employ'd is perilous,
- And reason flies the object of all harm.
- Who marvels, then, when Helenus beholds
- A Grecian and his sword, if he do set
- The very wings of reason to his heels
- And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove,
- Or like a star disorb'd? Nay, if we talk of reason,
- Let's shut our gates and sleep. Manhood and honour
- Should have hare hearts, would they but fat their thoughts
- With this cramm'd reason. Reason and respect
- Make livers pale and lustihood deject.
- Brother, she is not worth what she doth, cost
- The keeping.
- What's aught but as 'tis valued?
- But value dwells not in particular will:
- It holds his estimate and dignity
- As well wherein 'tis precious of itself
- As in the prizer. 'Tis mad idolatry
- To make the service greater than the god—I
- And the will dotes that is attributive
- To what infectiously itself affects,
- Without some image of th' affected merit.
- I take to-day a wife, and my election
- Is led on in the conduct of my will;
- My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears,
- Two traded pilots 'twixt the dangerous shores
- Of will and judgment: how may I avoid,
- Although my will distaste what it elected,
- The wife I chose? There can be no evasion
- To blench from this and to stand firm by honour.
- We turn not back the silks upon the merchant
- When we have soil'd them; nor the remainder viands
- We do not throw in unrespective sieve,
- Because we now are full. It was thought meet
- Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks;
- Your breath with full consent benied his sails;
- The seas and winds, old wranglers, took a truce,
- And did him service. He touch'd the ports desir'd;
- And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive
- He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness
- Wrinkles Apollo's, and makes stale the morning.
- Why keep we her? The Grecians keep our aunt.
- Is she worth keeping? Why, she is a pearl
- Whose price hath launch'd above a thousand ships,
- And turn'd crown'd kings to merchants.
- If you'll avouch 'twas wisdom Paris went—
- As you must needs, for you all cried 'Go, go'—
- If you'll confess he brought home worthy prize—
- As you must needs, for you all clapp'd your hands,
- And cried 'Inestimable!'—why do you now
- The issue of your proper wisdoms rate,
- And do a deed that never fortune did—
- Beggar the estimation which you priz'd
- Richer than sea and land? O theft most base,
- That we have stol'n what we do fear to keep!
- But thieves unworthy of a thing so stol'n
- That in their country did them that disgrace
- We fear to warrant in our native place!
- Cry, Troyans, cry.
- What noise, what shriek is this?
- 'Tis our mad sister; I do know her voice.
- Cry, Troyans.
- It is Cassandra.
[Enter CASSANDRA, raving.]
- Cry, Troyans, cry. Lend me ten thousand eyes,
- And I will fill them with prophetic tears.
- Peace, sister, peace.
- Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled eld,
- Soft infancy, that nothing canst but cry,
- Add to my clamours. Let us pay betimes
- A moiety of that mass of moan to come.
- Cry, Troyans, cry. Practise your eyes with tears.
- Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilion stand;
- Our firebrand brother, Paris, burns us all.
- Cry, Troyans, cry, A Helen and a woe!
- Cry, cry. Troy burns, or else let Helen go.
- Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains
- Of divination in our sister work
- Some touches of remorse, or is your blood
- So madly hot that no discourse of reason,
- Nor fear of bad success in a bad cause,
- Can qualify the same?
- Why, brother Hector,
- We may not think the justness of each act
- Such and no other than event doth form it;
- Nor once deject the courage of our minds
- Because Cassandra's mad. Her brain-sick raptures
- Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel
- Which hath our several honours all engag'd
- To make it gracious. For my private part,
- I am no more touch'd than all Priam's sons;
- And Jove forbid there should be done amongst us
- Such things as might offend the weakest spleen
- To fight for and maintain.
- Else might the world convince of levity
- As well my undertakings as your counsels;
- But I attest the gods, your full consent
- Gave wings to my propension, and cut of
- All fears attending on so dire a project.
- For what, alas, can these my single arms?
- What propugnation is in one man's valour
- To stand the push and enmity of those
- This quarrel would excite? Yet, I protest,
- Were I alone to pass the difficulties,
- And had as ample power as I have will,
- Paris should ne'er retract what he hath done
- Nor faint in the pursuit.
- Paris, you speak
- Like one besotted on your sweet delights.
- You have the honey still, but these the gall;
- So to be valiant is no praise at all.
- Sir, I propose not merely to myself
- The pleasures such a beauty brings with it;
- But I would have the soil of her fair rape
- Wip'd off in honourable keeping her.
- What treason were it to the ransack'd queen,
- Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me,
- Now to deliver her possession up
- On terms of base compulsion! Can it be
- That so degenerate a strain as this
- Should once set footing in your generous bosoms?
- There's not the meanest spirit on our party
- Without a heart to dare or sword to draw
- When Helen is defended; nor none so noble
- Whose life were ill bestow'd or death unfam'd
- Where Helen is the subject. Then, I say,
- Well may we fight for her whom we know well
- The world's large spaces cannot parallel.
- Paris and Troilus, you have both said well;
- And on the cause and question now in hand
- Have gloz'd, but superficially; not much
- Unlike young men, whom Aristode thought
- Unfit to hear moral philosophy.
- The reasons you allege do more conduce
- To the hot passion of distemp'red blood
- Than to make up a free determination
- 'Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge
- Have ears more deaf than adders to the voice
- Of any true decision. Nature craves
- All dues be rend'red to their owners. Now,
- What nearer debt in all humanity
- Than wife is to the husband? If this law
- Of nature be corrupted through affection;
- And that great minds, of partial indulgence
- To their benumbed wills, resist the same;
- There is a law in each well-order'd nation
- To curb those raging appetites that are
- Most disobedient and refractory.
- If Helen, then, be wife to Sparta's king—
- As it is known she is-these moral laws
- Of nature and of nations speak aloud
- To have her back return'd. Thus to persist
- In doing wrong extenuates not wrong,
- But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion
- Is this, in way of truth. Yet, ne'er the less,
- My spritely brethren, I propend to you
- In resolution to keep Helen still;
- For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependence
- Upon our joint and several dignities.
- Why, there you touch'd the life of our design.
- Were it not glory that we more affected
- Than the performance of our heaving spleens,
- I would not wish a drop of Troyan blood
- Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector,
- She is a theme of honour and renown,
- A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds,
- Whose present courage may beat down our foes,
- And fame in time to come canonize us;
- For I presume brave Hector would not lose
- So rich advantage of a promis'd glory
- As smiles upon the forehead of this action
- For the wide world's revenue.
- I am yours,
- You valiant offspring of great Priamus.
- I have a roisting challenge sent amongst
- The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks
- Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits.
- I was advertis'd their great general slept,
- Whilst emulation in the army crept.
- This, I presume, will wake him.
SCENE 3. The Grecian camp. Before the tent of ACHILLES
[Enter THERSITES, solus.]
- 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 rail'd 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 engineer! 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-arm'd 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 this, the
- vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the Neapolitan
- bone-ache! for that, methinks, is the curse depending on those
- that war for a placket. I have said my prayers; and devil Envy
- say 'Amen.' What ho! my Lord Achilles!
- Who's there? Thersites! Good Thersites, come in and rail.
- If I could 'a rememb'red a gilt counterfeit, thou
- wouldst not have slipp'd out of my contemplation; but it is no
- matter; thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind, 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 corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't she never
- shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where's Achilles?
- What, art thou devout? Wast thou in prayer?
- Ay, the heavens hear me!
- Who's there?
- Thersites, my lord.
- Where, where? O, 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?
- Thy commander, Achilles. Then tell me, Patroclus, what's
- Thy lord, Thersites. Then tell me, I pray thee, what's
- Thy knower, Patroclus. Then tell me, Patroclus, what art
- Thou must tell that knowest.
- O, tell, tell,
- I'll decline the whole question. Agamemnon commands
- Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus' knower; and
- Patroclus is a fool.
- You rascal!
- Peace, fool! I have not done.
- He is a privileg'd man. Proceed, Thersites.
- Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a
- fool; and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.
- Derive this; come.
- Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles; Achilles is a
- fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool to serve
- such a fool; and this Patroclus is a fool positive.
- Why am I a fool?
- Make that demand of the Creator. It suffices me thou
- art. Look you, who comes here?
- Come, Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody. Come in with me,
- Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery.
- All the argument is a whore and a cuckold-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
[Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES, AJAX, and CALCHAS.]
- Where is Achilles?
- Within his tent; but ill-dispos'd, my lord.
- Let it be known to him that we are here.
- He shent our messengers; and we lay by
- Our appertainings, 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.
- I shall say so to him.
- We saw him at the opening of his tent.
- He is not sick.
- 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.]
- What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?
- Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.
- Who, Thersites?
- Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument
- No; you see he is his argument that has his argument—
- All the better; their fraction is more our wish than their
- faction. But it was a strong composure a fool could disunite!
- The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may easily untie.
- Here comes Patroclus.
- No Achilles with him.
- The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy; his legs
- are legs for necessity, not for flexure.
- 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.
- 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 sin
- 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 ad
- That if he overhold 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.
- I shall, and bring his answer presently.
- In second voice we'll not be satisfied;
- We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you.
- What is he more than another?
- No more than what he thinks he is.
- Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself a better
- man than I am?
- No question.
- Will you subscribe his thought and say he is?
- No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as valiant, as wise,
- no less noble, much more gentle, and altogether more tractable.
- Why should a man be proud? How doth pride grow? I know not
- what pride is.
- 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.
- I do hate a proud man as I do hate the engend'ring of toads.
- And yet he loves himself: is't not strange?
- Achilles will not to the field to-morrow.
- What's his excuse?
- 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.
- Why will he not, upon our fair request,
- Untent his person and share the air with us?
- Things small as nothing, for request's sake only,
- He makes important; possess'd he is with greatness,
- And speaks not to himself but with a pride
- That quarrels at self-breath. Imagin'd worth
- Holds in his blood such swol'n and hot discourse
- 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.'
- Let Ajax go to him.
- Dear lord, go you and greet him in his tent.
- 'Tis said he holds you well; and will be led
- At your request a little from himself.
- O Agamemnon, let it not be so!
- We'll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes
- When they go from Achilles. Shall the proud lord
- That bastes his arrogance with his own seam
- And never suffers matter of the world
- Enter his thoughts, save such as doth 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
- Shall 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.'
- [Aside.] O, this is well! He rubs the vein of him.
- [Aside.] And how his silence drinks up this applause!
- If I go to him, with my armed fist I'll pash him o'er the
- O, no, you shall not go.
- An 'a be proud with me I'll pheeze his pride.
- Let me go to him.
- Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.
- A paltry, insolent fellow!
- [Aside.] How he describes himself!
- Can he not be sociable?
- [Aside.] The raven chides blackness.
- I'll let his humours blood.
- [Aside.] He will be the physician that should be the patient.
- An all men were a my mind—
- [Aside.] Wit would be out of fashion.
- 'A should not bear it so, 'a should eat's words first.
- Shall pride carry it?
- [Aside.] An 'twould, you'd carry half.
- [Aside.] 'A would have ten shares.
- I will knead him, I'll make him supple.
- [Aside.] He's not yet through warm. Force him with praises;
- pour in, pour in; his ambition is dry.
- [To AGAMEMNON.] My lord, you feed too much on this dislike.
- Our noble general, do not do so.
- You must prepare to fight without Achilles.
- Why 'tis this naming of him does him harm.
- Here is a man-but 'tis before his face;
- I will be silent.
- Wherefore should you so?
- He is not emulous, as Achilles is.
- Know the whole world, he is as valiant.
- A whoreson dog, that shall palter with us thus!
- Would he were a Troyan!
- What a vice were it in Ajax now—
- If he were proud.
- Or covetous of praise.
- Ay, or surly borne.
- Or strange, or self-affected.
- Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure
- Praise him that gat thee, she that gave thee suck;
- Fam'd be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
- Thrice-fam'd beyond, beyond all erudition;
- But he that disciplin'd thine 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.
- Shall I call you father?
- Ay, my good son.
- Be rul'd by him, Lord Ajax.
- There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles
- 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 west
- And cull their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.
- Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep.
- Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks draw deep.