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Troilus and Cressida
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Navigate this workTroilus and Cressida
Act 2, scene 1
Ajax beats Thersites for refusing to tell him the terms of the challenge, terms that are provided by Achilles when he and Patroclus come to Thersites’ rescue.Enter Ajax and Thersites.
AJAX 0853 Thersites!
THERSITES 0854 Agamemnon—how if he had boils, full, all
0855 over, generally?
AJAX 0856 Thersites!
THERSITES 0857 5And those boils did run? Say so. Did not the
0858 general run, then? Were not that a botchy core?
AJAX 0859 Dog!
THERSITES 0860 Then ⟨there⟩ would come some matter
0861 from him. I see none now.
AJAX 0862 10Thou bitchwolf’s son, canst thou not hear? Feel,
0863 then.⟨Strikes him.⟩
THERSITES 0864 The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel
0865 beef-witted lord!
AJAX 0866 Speak, then, thou unsalted leaven, speak. I will
0867 15 beat thee into handsomeness.
THERSITES 0868 I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holiness,
0869 but I think thy horse will sooner con an oration
0870 than thou learn ⟨a⟩ prayer without book. Thou canst
0871 strike, canst thou? A red murrain o’ thy jade’s tricks.
AJAX 0872 20Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.
THERSITES 0873 Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest
0874 me thus?
AJAX 0875 The proclamation!
THERSITES 0876 Thou art proclaimed ⟨a⟩ fool, I think.
p. 71AJAX 0877 25Do not, porpentine, do not. My fingers itch.
THERSITES 0878 I would thou didst itch from head to foot,
0879 and I had the scratching of thee; I would make
0880 thee the loathsomest scab in Greece. [When thou
0881 art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as slow as
0882 30 another.]
AJAX 0883 I say, the proclamation!
THERSITES 0884 Thou grumblest and railest every hour on
0885 Achilles, and thou art as full of envy at his greatness
0886 as Cerberus is at Proserpina’s beauty, ay, that
0887 35 thou bark’st at him.
AJAX 0888 Mistress Thersites!
THERSITES 0889 Thou shouldst strike him—
AJAX 0890 Cobloaf!
⟨THERSITES⟩ 0891 He would pound thee into shivers with his
0892 40 fist as a sailor breaks a biscuit.
⟨AJAX⟩ 0893 You whoreson cur!⌜Strikes him.⌝
⟨THERSITES⟩ 0894 Do, do.
AJAX 0895 Thou stool for a witch!
THERSITES 0896 Ay, do, do, thou sodden-witted lord. Thou
0897 45 hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an
0898 asinego may tutor thee, ⟨thou⟩ scurvy-valiant ass.
0899 Thou art here but to thrash Trojans, and thou art
0900 bought and sold among those of any wit, like a
0901 barbarian slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin
0902 50 at thy heel and tell what thou art by inches, thou
0903 thing of no bowels, thou.
AJAX 0904 You dog!
THERSITES 0905 You scurvy lord!
AJAX 0906 You cur!⌜Strikes him.⌝
THERSITES 0907 55Mars his idiot! Do, rudeness, do, camel, do,
⟨Enter Achilles and Patroclus.⟩
ACHILLES 0909 Why, how now, Ajax? Wherefore do you
0910 thus?—How now, Thersites? What’s the matter,
p. 73THERSITES 0912 60You see him there, do you?
ACHILLES 0913 Ay, what’s the matter?
THERSITES 0914 Nay, look upon him.
ACHILLES 0915 So I do. What’s the matter?
THERSITES 0916 Nay, but regard him well.
ACHILLES 0917 65Well, why, so I do.
THERSITES 0918 But yet you look not well upon him, for
0919 whosomever you take him to be, he is Ajax.
ACHILLES 0920 I know that, fool.
THERSITES 0921 Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
AJAX 0922 70Therefore I beat thee.
THERSITES 0923 Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters!
0924 His evasions have ears thus long. I have
0925 bobbed his brain more than he has beat my bones.
0926 ⟨I⟩ will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and his pia
0927 75 mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow.
0928 This lord, Achilles—Ajax, who wears his wit in his
0929 belly, and his guts in his head—⟨I’ll⟩ tell you what I
0930 say of him.
ACHILLES 0931 What?
THERSITES 0932 80I say, this Ajax—⌜Ajax menaces him.⌝
ACHILLES 0933 Nay, good Ajax.
THERSITES 0934 Has not so much wit—
ACHILLES, ⌜to Ajax⌝ 0935 Nay, I must hold you.
THERSITES 0936 As will stop the eye of Helen’s needle, for
0937 85 whom he comes to fight.
ACHILLES 0938 Peace, fool!
THERSITES 0939 I would have peace and quietness, but the
0940 fool will not—he there, that he. Look you there.
AJAX 0941 O, thou damned cur, I shall—
ACHILLES 0942 90Will you set your wit to a fool’s?
THERSITES 0943 No, I warrant you. The fool’s will shame it.
PATROCLUS 0944 Good words, Thersites.
ACHILLES, ⌜to Ajax⌝ 0945 What’s the quarrel?
AJAX 0946 I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the
0947 95 proclamation, and he rails upon me.
p. 75THERSITES 0948 I serve thee not.
AJAX 0949 Well, go to, go to.
THERSITES 0950 I serve here voluntary.
ACHILLES 0951 Your last service was suff’rance; ’twas not
0952 100 voluntary. No man is beaten voluntary. Ajax was
0953 here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.
THERSITES 0954 E’en so. A great deal of your wit, too, lies in
0955 your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall
0956 have a great catch an ⟨he⟩ knock ⟨out⟩ either of
0957 105 your brains; he were as good crack a fusty nut with
0958 no kernel.
ACHILLES 0959 What, with me too, Thersites?
THERSITES 0960 There’s Ulysses and old Nestor—whose wit
0961 was moldy ere ⌜your⌝ grandsires had nails ⟨on
0962 110 their toes⟩—yoke you like draft-oxen and make
0963 you plow up the wars.
ACHILLES 0964 What? What?
THERSITES 0965 Yes, good sooth. To, Achilles! To, Ajax! To—
AJAX 0966 I shall cut out your tongue.
THERSITES 0967 115’Tis no matter. I shall speak as much as
0968 thou afterwards.
PATROCLUS 0969 No more words, Thersites. Peace.
THERSITES 0970 I will hold my peace when Achilles’ ⌜brach⌝
0971 bids me, shall I?
ACHILLES 0972 120There’s for you, Patroclus.
THERSITES 0973 I will see you hanged like clodpolls ere I
0974 come any more to your tents. I will keep where
0975 there is wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.
PATROCLUS 0976 A good riddance.
ACHILLES, ⌜to Ajax⌝
0977 125 Marry, this, sir, is proclaimed through all our host:
0978 That Hector, by the ⟨fifth⟩ hour of the sun,
0979 Will with a trumpet ’twixt our tents and Troy
0980 Tomorrow morning call some knight to arms
0981 That hath a stomach, and such a one that dare
0982 130 Maintain—I know not what; ’tis trash. Farewell.
p. 77AJAX 0983 Farewell. Who shall answer him?
0984 I know not. ’Tis put to lott’ry. Otherwise,
0985 He knew his man.⌜Achilles and Patroclus exit.⌝
AJAX 0986 O, meaning you? I will go learn more of it.