Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: W. L. Godshalk
Peer Reviewed

Troilus and Cressida (Folio 1, 1623)

Troylus and Cressida.
In ranke Achilles, must or now be cropt,
785Or shedding breed a Nursery of like euil
To ouer-bulke vs all.
Nest. Wel, and how?
Ulys. This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,
How euer it is spred in general name,
790Relates in purpose onely to Achilles.
Nest. The purpose is perspicuous euen as substance,
Whose grossenesse little charracters summe vp,
And in the publication make no straine,
But that Achilles, were his braine as barren
795As bankes of Lybia, though (Apollo knowes)
'Tis dry enough, wil with great speede of iudgement,
I, with celerity, finde Hectors purpose
Pointing on him.
Ulys. And wake him to the answer, thinke you?
800Nest. Yes, 'tis most meet; who may you else oppose
That can from Hector bring his Honor off,
If not Achilles; though't be a sportfull Combate,
Yet in this triall, much opinion dwels.
For heere the Troyans taste our deer'st repute
805With their fin'st Pallate: and trust to me Vlysses,
Our imputation shall be oddely poiz'd
In this wilde action. For the successe
(Although particular) shall giue a scantling
Of good or bad, vnto the Generall:
810And in such Indexes, although small prickes
To their subsequent Volumes, there is seene
The baby figure of the Gyant-masse
Of things to come at large. It is suppos'd,
He that meets Hector, issues from our choyse;
815And choise being mutuall acte of all our soules,
Makes Merit her election, and doth boyle
As 'twere, from forth vs all: a man distill'd
Out of our Vertues; who miscarrying,
What heart from hence receyues the conqu'ring part
820To steele a strong opinion to themselues,
Which entertain'd, Limbes are in his instruments,
In no lesse working, then are Swords and Bowes
Directiue by the Limbes.
Vlys. Giue pardon to my speech:
825Therefore 'tis meet, Achilles meet not Hector:
Let vs (like Merchants) shew our fowlest Wares,
And thinke perchance they'l sell: If not,
The luster of the better yet to shew,
Shall shew the better. Do not consent,
830That euer Hector and Achilles meete:
For both our Honour, and our Shame in this,
Are dogg'd with two strange Followers.
Nest. I see them not with my old eies: what are they?
Vlys. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,
835(Were he not proud) we all should weare with him:
But he already is too insolent,
And we were better parch in Affricke Sunne,
Then in the pride and salt scorne of his eyes
Should he scape Hector faire. If he were foyld,
840Why then we did our maine opinion crush
In taint of our best man. No, make a Lott'ry,
And by deuice let blockish Aiax draw
The sort to fight with Hector: Among our selues,
Giue him allowance as the worthier man,
845For that will physicke the great Myrmidon
Who broyles in lowd applause, and make him fall
His Crest, that prouder then blew Iris bends.
If the dull brainlesse Aiax come safe off,
Wee'l dresse him vp in voyces: if he faile,
850Yet go we vnder our opinion still,
That we haue better men. But hit or misse,
Our proiects life this shape of sence assumes,
Aiax imploy'd, pluckes downe Achilles Plumes.
Nest. Now Vlysses, I begin to rellish thy aduice,
855And I wil giue a taste of it forthwith
To Agamemnon, go we to him straight:
Two Curres shal tame each other, Pride alone
Must tarre the Mastiffes on, as 'twere their bone.
Enter Aiax, and Thersites.
860Aia. Thersites?
Ther. Agamemnon, how if he had Biles (ful) all ouer
Aia. Thersites?
Ther. And those Byles did runne, say so; did not the
865General run, were not that a botchy core?
Aia. Dogge.
Ther. Then there would come some matter from him:
I see none now.
Aia. Thou Bitch-Wolfes-Sonne, canst yu not heare?
870Feele then.
Strikes him.
Ther. The plague of Greece vpon thee thou Mungrel
beefe-witted Lord.
Aia. Speake then you whinid'st leauen speake, I will
beate thee into handsomnesse.
875Ther. I shal sooner rayle thee into wit and holinesse:
but I thinke thy Horse wil sooner con an Oration, then yu
learn a prayer without booke: Thou canst strike, canst
thou? A red Murren o'th thy Iades trickes.
Aia. Toads stoole, learne me the Proclamation.
880Ther. Doest thou thinke I haue no sence thou strik'st
Aia. The Proclamation.
Ther. Thou art proclaim'd a foole, I thinke.
Aia. Do not Porpentine, do not; my fingers itch.
Ther. I would thou didst itch from head to foot, and
885I had the scratching of thee, I would make thee the loth-
som'st scab in Greece.
Aia. I say the Proclamation.
Ther. Thou grumblest & railest euery houre on A-
chilles, and thou art as ful of enuy at his greatnes, as Cer-
890berus is at Proserpina's beauty. I, that thou barkst at him.
Aia. Mistresse Thersites.
Ther. Thou should'st strike him.
Aia. Coblofe.
Ther. He would pun thee into shiuers with his fist, as
895a Sailor breakes a bisket.
Aia. You horson Curre. Ther. Do, do.
Aia. Thou stoole for a Witch.
Ther. I, do, do, thou sodden-witted Lord: thou hast
no more braine then I haue in mine elbows: An Asinico
900may tutor thee. Thou scuruy valiant Asse, thou art heere
but to thresh Troyans, and thou art bought and solde a-
mong those of any wit, like a Barbarian slaue. If thou vse
to beat me, I wil begin at thy heele, and tel what thou art
by inches, thou thing of no bowels thou.
905Aia. You dogge.
Ther. You scuruy Lord.
Aia. You Curre.
Ther. Mars his Ideot: do rudenes, do Camell, do, do.
Enter Achilles, and Patroclus.
910Achil. Why how now Aiax? wherefore do you this?
How now Thersites? what's the matter man?
Ther. You see him there, do you?
Achil. I, what's the matter.
Ther. Nay looke vpon him.
915Achil. So I do: what's the matter?