Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Modern)


858.1
[2.1]
Enter Ajax and Thersites.
860Ajax Thersites?
Thersites Agamemnon, how if he had boils, full, all over, generally?
Ajax Thersites?
Thersites And those boils did run (say so), did not the 865general run? Were not that a botchy core?
Ajax Dog.
Thersites Then there would come some matter from him; I see none now.
Ajax Thou bitch wolf's son, canst thou not hear? 870Feel then.
Strikes him.
Thersites The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord.
Ajax Speak then, you whinid'st leaven, speak. I will beat thee into handsomeness.
875Thersites 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.
Ajax Toad's stool, learn me the proclamation.
880Thersites Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strik'st me thus?
Ajax The proclamation.
Thersites Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.
Ajax Do not, porcupine; do not; my fingers itch.
Thersites I would thou didst itch from head to foot, and 885I had the scratching of thee. I would make thee the loathsomest scab in Greece.
Ajax I say, the proclamation.
Thersites Thou grumblest and railest every hour on Achilles, and thou art as full of envy at his greatness as 890Cerberus is at Proserpina's beauty, ay, that thou bark'st at him.
Ajax Mistress Thersites.
Thersites Thou shouldst strike him.
Ajax Cobloaf.
Thersites He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as 895a sailor breaks a biscuit.
Ajax You whoreson cur.
Thersites Do, do.
Ajax Thou stool for a witch.
Thersites Ay, do, do, thou sodden-witted lord; thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an asinico 900may tutor thee. Thou scurvy valiant ass, thou art here but to thresh Trojans, 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.
905Ajax You dog.
Thersites You scurvy lord.
Ajax You cur.
Thersites Mars his idiot, do; rudeness, do; camel, do, do.
Enter Achilles and Patroclus.
910Achilles Why, how now, Ajax? Wherefore do you this?
How now, Thersites? What's the matter, man?
Thersites You see him there, do you?
Achilles Ay, what's the matter?
Thersites Nay, look upon him.
915Achilles So I do. What's the matter?
Thersites Nay, but regard him well.
Achilles "Well?" Why, I do so.
Thersites But yet you look not well upon him, for whosomever you take him to be, he is Ajax.
920Achilles I know that, fool.
Thersites Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
Ajax Therefore, I beat thee.
Thersites Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters; his evasions have ears thus long. I have bobbed his brain 925more 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.
930Achilles What?
Thersites I say this Ajax --
Achilles Nay, good Ajax.
Thersites -- has not so much wit --
Achilles Nay, I must hold you.
935Thersites. -- as will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he comes to fight.
Achilles Peace, fool.
Thersites I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will not -- he there, that he, look you there.
940Ajax O thou damned cur, I shall --
Achilles Will you set your wit to a fool's?
Thersites No, I warrant you, for a fool's will shame it.
Patroclus Good words, Thersites.
Achilles What's the quarrel?
945Ajax I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the proclamation, and he rails upon me.
Thersites I serve thee not.
Ajax Well, go to, go to.
Thersites I serve here voluntary.
950Achilles Your last service was sufferance; 'twas not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary. Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.
Thersites E'en so, a great deal of your wit, too, lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great 955catch, if he knock out either of your brains; he were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.
Achilles What, with me too, Thersites?
Thersites There's Ulysses and old Nestor, whose wit was moldy ere their grandsires had nails on their toes, yoke 960you like draft-oxen, and make you plough up the war.
Achilles What? What?
Thersites Yes, good sooth. To, Achilles, to, Ajax, to --
Ajax I shall cut out your tongue.
Thersites 'Tis no matter; I shall speak as much as thou 965afterwards.
Patroclus No more words, Thersites. Peace.
Thersites I will hold my peace when Achilles' brooch bids me, shall I?
Achilles There's for you, Patroclus.
970Thersites I will see you hanged like clotpolls ere I come any more to your tents; I will keep where there is wit stirring, and leave the faction of fools.
Exit.
Patroclus A good riddance.
Achilles [To Ajax] Marry, this, sir, is proclaimed through all our host:
975That Hector by the fifth hour of the sun,
Will, with a trumpet, 'twixt our tents and Troy,
Tomorrow morning call some knight to arms
That hath a stomach, and such a one that dare
Maintain -- I know not what. 'Tis trash. Farewell.
980Ajax. Farewell? Who shall answer him?
Achilles I know not; 'tis put to lott'ry; otherwise he knew his man.
Ajax. Oh, meaning you. I will go learn more of it.
Exit.