Troilus and Cressida - Act 2, scene 3
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Act 2, scene 3
Thersites rails against Achilles and Ajax, and then, joined by Achilles and Patroclus, ridicules them to their faces. As Agamemnon and his councillors approach, Achilles goes inside his tent and refuses to meet them. The Greek leaders then heap praise on Ajax to prepare him to take up Hector’s challenge.Enter Thersites, alone.
⌜THERSITES⌝ 1210 How now, Thersites? What, lost in the
1211 labyrinth of thy fury? Shall the elephant Ajax carry
1212 it thus? He beats me, and I rail at him. O, worthy
1213 satisfaction! Would it were otherwise, that I could
1214 5 beat him whilst he railed at me. ’Sfoot, I’ll learn to
1215 conjure and raise devils but I’ll see some issue of
1216 my spiteful execrations. Then there’s Achilles, a
1217 rare enginer! If Troy be not taken till these two undermine
1218 it, the walls will stand till they fall of
1219 10 themselves. O thou great thunder-darter of Olympus,
1220 forget that thou art Jove, the king of gods;
1221 and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy
1222 caduceus, if you take not that little, little, less than
1223 little wit from them that they have, which short-armed
1224 15 ignorance itself knows is so abundant
1225 scarce it will not in circumvention deliver a fly
1226 from a spider without drawing their massy irons
1227 and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on
1228 the whole camp! Or rather, the Neapolitan bone-ache!
1229 20 For that, methinks, is the curse depending
1230 on those that war for a placket. I have said my
1231 prayers, and devil Envy say “Amen.”—What ho,
1232 my lord Achilles!
PATROCLUS, ⌜within⌝ 1233 Who’s there? Thersites? Good
1234 25 Thersites, come in and rail.
THERSITES 1235 If I could ’a remembered a gilt counterfeit,
1236 thou couldst not have slipped out of my contemplation.
1237 But it is no matter. Thyself upon thyself! The
1238 common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance,
1239 30 be thine in great revenue! Heaven bless thee from
1240 a tutor, and discipline come not near thee! Let thy
1241 blood be thy direction till thy death; then if she
1242 that lays thee out says thou art a fair corse, I’ll be
1244 35 but lazars. Amen.
1245 Where’s Achilles?
PATROCLUS 1246 What, art thou devout? Wast thou in
THERSITES 1248 Ay. The heavens hear me!
[PATROCLUS 1249 40Amen.]
ACHILLES, ⌜within⌝ 1250 Who’s there?
PATROCLUS 1251 Thersites, my lord.
ACHILLES, ⌜within⌝ 1252 Where? Where? O, where?
1253 ⌜To Thersites.⌝ Art thou come? Why, my cheese, my
1254 45 digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my
1255 table so many meals? Come, what’s Agamemnon?
THERSITES 1256 Thy commander, Achilles.—Then, tell me,
1257 Patroclus, what’s Achilles?
PATROCLUS 1258 Thy lord, Thersites. Then, tell me, I pray
1259 50 thee, what’s Thersites?
THERSITES 1260 Thy knower, Patroclus. Then, tell me, Patroclus,
1261 what art thou?
PATROCLUS 1262 Thou must tell that knowest.
ACHILLES 1263 O tell, tell.
THERSITES 1264 55I’ll decline the whole question. Agamemnon
1265 commands Achilles, Achilles is my lord, I am
1266 Patroclus’ knower, and Patroclus is a fool.
⟨PATROCLUS 1267 You rascal!
THERSITES 1268 Peace, fool. I have not done.
ACHILLES, ⌜to Patroclus⌝ 1269 60He is a privileged man.—Proceed,
THERSITES 1271 Agamemnon is a fool, Achilles is a fool,
1272 Thersites is a fool, and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a
ACHILLES 1274 65Derive this. Come.
1276 Achilles, Achilles is a fool to be commanded ⟨of
1277 Agamemnon,⟩ Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool,
1278 and this Patroclus is a fool positive.
PATROCLUS 1279 70Why am I a fool?
THERSITES 1280 Make that demand of the ⟨creator.⟩ It suffices
1281 me thou art.
Enter ⌜at a distance⌝ Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor,
Diomedes, Ajax, and Calchas.
1282 Look you, who comes here?
ACHILLES 1283 Patroclus, I’ll speak with nobody.—Come in
1284 75 with me, Thersites.⟨He exits.⟩
THERSITES 1285 Here is such patchery, such juggling, and
1286 such knavery. All the argument is a whore and a
1287 cuckold, a good quarrel to draw emulous factions
1288 and bleed to death upon. ⟨Now the dry serpigo on
1289 80 the subject, and war and lechery confound all!⟩
AGAMEMNON, ⌜to Patroclus⌝ 1290 Where is Achilles?
1291 Within his tent, but ill-disposed, my lord.
1292 Let it be known to him that we are here.
1293 He ⌜shent⌝ our messengers, and we lay by
1294 85 Our ⟨appertainments,⟩ visiting of him.
1295 Let him be told so, lest perchance he think
1296 We dare not move the question of our place
1297 Or know not what we are.
PATROCLUS 1298 I shall say so to him.⌜He exits.⌝
1299 90 We saw him at the opening of his tent.
1300 He is not sick.
AJAX 1301 Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart. You may call
1302 it melancholy if you will favor the man, but, by my
1304 95 cause.—⟨A word, my lord.⟩
⌜He and Agamemnon walk aside.⌝
NESTOR 1305 What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?
ULYSSES 1306 Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.
NESTOR 1307 Who, Thersites?
ULYSSES 1308 He.
NESTOR 1309 100Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his
ULYSSES 1311 No. You see, he is his argument that has his
1312 argument: Achilles.
NESTOR 1313 All the better. Their fraction is more our wish
1314 105 than their faction. But it was a strong composure a
1315 fool could disunite.
ULYSSES 1316 The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may
1317 easily untie.
1318 Here comes Patroclus.
NESTOR 1319 110No Achilles with him.
ULYSSES 1320 The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy;
1321 his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.
PATROCLUS, ⌜to Agamemnon⌝
1322 Achilles bids me say he is much sorry
1323 If anything more than your sport and pleasure
1324 115 Did move your greatness and this noble state
1325 To call upon him. He hopes it is no other
1326 But for your health and your digestion sake,
1327 An after-dinner’s breath.
AGAMEMNON 1328 Hear you, Patroclus:
1329 120 We are too well acquainted with these answers,
1330 But his evasion, winged thus swift with scorn,
1331 Cannot outfly our apprehensions.
1332 Much attribute he hath, and much the reason
1333 Why we ascribe it to him. Yet all his virtues,
1334 125 Not virtuously on his own part beheld,
1336 Yea, ⟨and⟩ like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
1337 Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him
1338 We come to speak with him; and you shall not sin
1339 130 If you do say we think him overproud
1340 And underhonest, in self-assumption greater
1341 Than in the note of judgment; and worthier than
1343 Here tend the savage strangeness he puts on,
1344 135 Disguise the holy strength of their command,
1345 And underwrite in an observing kind
1346 His humorous predominance—yea, watch
1347 His course and time, his ebbs and flows, ⟨as⟩ if
1348 The passage and whole ⟨carriage of this action⟩
1349 140 Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and add
1350 That, if he overhold his price so much,
1351 We’ll none of him. But let him, like an engine
1352 Not portable, lie under this report:
1353 “Bring action hither; this cannot go to war.”
1354 145 A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
1355 Before a sleeping giant. Tell him so.
1356 I shall, and bring his answer presently.
1357 In second voice we’ll not be satisfied;
1358 We come to speak with him.—Ulysses, ⟨enter you.⟩
⟨Ulysses exits, ⌜with Patroclus.⌝⟩
AJAX 1359 150What is he more than another?
AGAMEMNON 1360 No more than what he thinks he is.
AJAX 1361 Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself
1362 a better man than I am?
AGAMEMNON 1363 No question.
AJAX 1364 155Will you subscribe his thought and say he is?
AGAMEMNON 1365 No, noble Ajax. You are as strong, as
1366 valiant, as wise, no less noble, much more gentle,
1367 and altogether more tractable.
1369 160 grow? I know not what pride is.
AGAMEMNON 1370 Your mind is the clearer, ⟨Ajax,⟩ and your
1371 virtues the fairer. He that is proud eats up himself.
1372 Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own
1373 chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the
1374 165 deed devours the deed in the praise.
AJAX 1375 I do hate a proud man as I hate the engendering
1376 of toads.
1377 And yet he loves himself. Is ’t not strange?
1378 Achilles will not to the field tomorrow.
1379 170 What’s his excuse?
ULYSSES 1380 He doth rely on none,
1381 But carries on the stream of his dispose,
1382 Without observance or respect of any,
1383 In will peculiar and in self-admission.
1384 175 Why, will he not, upon our fair request,
1385 Untent his person and share th’ air with us?
1386 Things small as nothing, for request’s sake only,
1387 He makes important. Possessed he is with greatness
1388 And speaks not to himself but with a pride
1389 180 That quarrels at self-breath. Imagined worth
1390 Holds in his blood such swoll’n and hot discourse
1391 That ’twixt his mental and his active parts
1392 Kingdomed Achilles in commotion rages
1393 And batters down himself. What should I say?
1394 185 He is so plaguy proud that the death-tokens of it
1395 Cry “No recovery.”
AGAMEMNON 1396 Let Ajax go to him.—
1398 ’Tis said he holds you well and will be led
1399 190 At your request a little from himself.
1400 O Agamemnon, let it not be so!
1401 We’ll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes
1402 When they go from Achilles. Shall the proud lord
1403 That bastes his arrogance with his own seam
1404 195 And never suffers matter of the world
1405 Enter his thoughts, save such as doth revolve
1406 And ruminate himself—shall he be worshipped
1407 Of that we hold an idol more than he?
1408 No. This thrice-worthy and right valiant lord
1409 200 Shall not so stale his palm, nobly acquired,
1410 Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit,
1411 As amply ⟨titled⟩ as Achilles is,
1412 By going to Achilles.
1413 That were to enlard his fat-already pride
1414 205 And add more coals to Cancer when he burns
1415 With entertaining great Hyperion.
1416 This lord go to him? Jupiter forbid
1417 And say in thunder “Achilles, go to him.”
NESTOR, ⌜aside to Diomedes⌝
1418 O, this is well; he rubs the vein of him.
DIOMEDES, ⌜aside to Nestor⌝
1419 210 And how his silence drinks up ⟨this⟩ applause!
1420 If I go to him, with my armèd fist
1421 I’ll ⟨pash⟩ him o’er the face.
AGAMEMNON 1422 O, no, you shall not go.
1423 An he be proud with me, I’ll feeze his pride.
1424 215 Let me go to him.
1425 Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.
AJAX 1426 A paltry, insolent fellow.
AJAX 1428 Can he not be sociable?
ULYSSES, ⌜aside⌝ 1429 220The raven chides blackness.
AJAX 1430 I’ll ⟨let⟩ his humorous blood.
AGAMEMNON, ⌜aside⌝ 1431 He will be the physician that
1432 should be the patient.
AJAX 1433 An all men were of my mind—
ULYSSES, ⌜aside⌝ 1434 225Wit would be out of fashion.
AJAX 1435 —he should not bear it so; he should eat swords
1436 first. Shall pride carry it?
NESTOR, ⌜aside⌝ 1437 An ’twould, you’d carry half.
⟨ULYSSES,⟩ ⌜aside⌝ 1438 He would have ten shares.
AJAX 1439 230I will knead him; I’ll make him supple.
⌜NESTOR, aside⌝ 1440 He’s not yet through warm. Force him
1441 with ⟨praises.⟩ Pour in, pour ⟨in;⟩ his ambition is dry.
ULYSSES, ⌜to Agamemnon⌝
1442 My lord, you feed too much on this dislike.
NESTOR, ⌜to Agamemnon⌝
1443 Our noble general, do not do so.
DIOMEDES, ⌜to Agamemnon⌝
1444 235 You must prepare to fight without Achilles.
1445 Why, ’tis this naming of him does him harm.
1446 Here is a man—but ’tis before his face;
1447 I will be silent.
NESTOR 1448 Wherefore should you so?
1449 240 He is not emulous, as Achilles is.
1450 Know the whole world, he is as valiant—
AJAX 1451 A whoreson dog, that shall palter with us thus!
1452 Would he were a Trojan!
NESTOR 1453 What a vice were it in Ajax now—
ULYSSES 1454 245If he were proud—
DIOMEDES 1455 Or covetous of praise—
ULYSSES 1456 Ay, or surly borne—
DIOMEDES 1457 Or strange, or self-affected—
1458 Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet
1459 250 composure.
1460 Praise him that gat thee, she that gave thee suck;
1461 Famed be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
1462 Thrice famed beyond, ⟨beyond⟩ thy erudition;
1463 But he that disciplined thine arms to fight,
1464 255 Let Mars divide eternity in twain
1465 And give him half; and for thy vigor,
1466 Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield
1467 To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom,
1468 Which like a ⟨bourn,⟩ a pale, a shore confines
1469 260 ⟨Thy⟩ spacious and dilated parts. Here’s Nestor,
1470 Instructed by the antiquary times;
1471 He must, he is, he cannot but be wise.—
1472 But pardon, father Nestor, were your days
1473 As green as Ajax’ and your brain so tempered,
1474 265 You should not have the eminence of him,
1475 But be as Ajax.
AJAX 1476 Shall I call you father?
1477 Ay, my good son.
DIOMEDES 1478 Be ruled by him, Lord Ajax.
1479 270 There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles
1480 Keeps thicket. Please it our great general
1481 To call together all his state of war.
1482 Fresh kings are come to Troy. Tomorrow
1483 We must with all our main of power stand fast.
1484 275 And here’s a lord—come knights from east to west
1485 And ⟨cull⟩ their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.
1486 Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep.
1487 Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks draw deep.