Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Modern)


1204.1
[2.3]
1205
Enter Thersites [talking to himself].
[Thersites] 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 railed 1210at 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 1215that thou art Jove, the king of gods, and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy caduceus, if thou take not that little-little-less-than-little wit from them that they have, which short-armed ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce, it will not, in circumvention, deliver a 1220fly from a spider without drawing the massy irons and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp, or rather the bone-ache, for that me thinks is the curse dependent on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers, and devil envy say, "Amen." -- What ho? 1225My lord Achilles?
Enter Patroclus.
Patroclus Who's there? Thersites? Good Thersites, come in and rail.
Thersites If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, 1230thou wouldst not have slipped 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 1235thy death; then, if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corpse, I'll be sworn -- and sworn upon't -- she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. -- Where's Achilles?
[Patroclus comes forward.]
Patroclus What, art thou devout? Wast thou in a prayer?
Thersites Ay, the heavens hear me.
1240
Enter Achilles.
Achilles Who's there?
Patroclus Thersites, my lord.
Achilles Where, where? -- [To Thersites] Art thou come? Why, my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my 1245table so many meals? -- Come, what's Agamemnon?
Thersites Thy commander, Achilles; then tell me, Patroclus, what's Achilles?
Patroclus Thy lord, Thersites; then tell me, I pray thee, what's thyself?
1250Thersites Thy knower, Patroclus; then tell me, Patroclus, what art thou?
Patroclus Thou mayst tell that knowest.
Achilles O tell, tell.
Thersites I'll decline the whole question: Agamemnon 1255commands Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus' knower, and Patroclus is a fool.
Patroclus You rascal.
Thersites Peace, fool, I have not done.
Achilles [To Patroclus] He is a privileged man. -- Proceed, Thersites.
1260Thersites Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a fool, and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.
Achilles Derive this. Come.
Thersites Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; 1265Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool, and Patroclus is a fool positive.
Patroclus Why am I a fool?
Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Diomed, Ajax, and Calchas.
1270Thersites Make that demand to the creator. It suffices me thou art. Look you who comes here.
Achilles Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody; -- come in with me, Thersites.
Exit.
Thersites Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such 1275knavery. All the argument is a cuckold and a whore, a good quarrel to draw emulations, factions, and bleed to death upon. Now, the dry serpigo on the subject, and war and lechery confound all..
[Exit Thersites?]
Agamemnon [To Patroclus] Where is Achilles?
1280Patroclus Within his tent, but ill disposed, my lord.
Agamemnon Let it be known to him that we are here.
He sent our messengers, and we lay by
Our appertainments, visiting of him.
Let him be told so, lest perchance he think
1285We dare not move the question of our place,
Or know not what we are.
Patroclus
I shall so say to him.
[Exit Patroclus.]
Ulysses We saw him at the opening of his tent;
He is not sick.
1290Ajax Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart; you may call it melancholy if will favor the man, but, by my head, it is pride. But why? Why? Let him show us the cause. --A word, my lord.
[Ajax takes Agamemnon aside.]
Nestor What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?
1295Ulysses Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.
Nestor Who? Thersites?
Ulysses He.
Nestor Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument.
1300Ulysses No, you see, he is his argument that has his argument -- Achilles.
Nestor All the better; their fraction is more our wish than their faction; but it was a strong council that a fool could disunite.
1305Ulysses The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may easily untie.
Enter Patroclus.
Here comes Patroclus.
Nestor
No Achilles with him?
Ulysses The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy;
1310His legs are legs for necessity, not for flight.
Patroclus [To Agamemnon] Achilles bids me say he is much sorry
If anything more than your sport and pleasure
Did move your greatness and this noble state
To call upon him; he hopes it is no other
1315But for your health and your digestion sake,
An after dinner's breath.
Agamemnon
Hear you, Patroclus.
We are too well acquainted with these answers,
But his evasion, winged thus swift with scorn,
1320Cannot outfly our apprehensions.
Much attribute he hath, and much the reason
Why we ascribe it to him, yet all his virtues,
Not virtuously of his own part beheld,
Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,
1325Yea, and like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him:
We came 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
1330Than 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
1335His pettish lines, his ebbs, his flows, as if
The passage and whole carriage of this action
Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and add
That if he overhold his price so much,
We'll none of him, but let him, like an engine
1340Not 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.
Patroclus I shall, and bring his answer presently.
1345Agamemnon In second voice we'll not be satisfied;
We come to speak with him. -- Ulysses, enter you.
Exit Ulysses.
Ajax What is he more than another?
Agamemnon No more than what he thinks he is.
1350Ajax Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself a better man than I am?
Agamemnon No question.
Ajax Will you subscribe his thought and say he is?
Agamemnon No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as valiant, as 1355wise, no less noble, much more gentle and altogether more tractable.
Ajax Why should a man be proud? How doth pride grow? I know not what it is.
Agamemnon Your mind is the clearer, Ajax, and your virtues 1360the 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.
Enter Ulysses.
1365Ajax I do hate a proud man as I hate the engendering of toads.
Nestor [Aside] Yet he loves himself. Is't not strange?
Ulysses Achilles will not to the field tomorrow.
Agamemnon
What's his excuse?
1370Ulysses
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.
Agamemnon Why will he not upon our fair request
1375Untent his person and share the air with us?
Ulysses Things small as nothing, for request's sake only,
He makes important; possessed he is with greatness,
And speaks not to himself but with a pride
That quarrels at self-breath. Imagined wroth
1380Holds in his blood such swoll'n and hot discourse
That 'twixt his mental and his active parts
Kingdomed Achilles in commotion rages
And batters 'gainst itself. What should I say?
He is so plaguy proud that the death-tokens of it
1385Cry, "No recovery."
Agamemnon
Let Ajax go to him.
[To Ajax] 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.
1390Ulysses 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
1395Enter his thoughts, save such as do revolve
And ruminate himself, shall he be worshipped
Of that we hold an idol more than he?
No, this thrice-worthy and right valiant lord
Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquired,
1400Nor 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.
1405This lord go to him? Jupiter forbid,
And say in thunder, "Achilles, go to him."
Nestor [Aside] Oh, this is well; he rubs the vein of him.
Diomed [Aside] And how his silence drinks up this applause.
Ajax If I go to him, with my armèd fist, I'll pash him 1410o'er the face.
Agamemnon O no, you shall not go.
Ajax An a be proud with me, I'll feeze his pride. Let me go to him.
Ulysses Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.
1415Ajax A paltry, insolent fellow.
Nestor [Aside] How he describes himself.
Ajax Can he not be sociable?
Ulysses [Aside] The raven chides blackness.
Ajax I'll let his humors blood.
1420Agamemnon [Aside] He will be the physician that should be the patient.
Ajax An all men were o'my mind --
Ulysses [Aside] Wit would be out of fashion.
Ajax -- a should not bear it so; a should eat swords 1425first. Shall pride carry it?
Nestor [Aside] An 'twould, you'd carry half.
Ulysses [Aside] A would have ten shares.
Ajax I will knead him; I'll make him supple; he's not yet through warm.
1430Nestor [Aside] Force him with praises; pour in, pour in; his ambition is dry.
Ulysses [To Agamemnon] My lord, you feed too much on this dislike.
Nestor Our noble general, do not do so.
Diomed [To Agamemnon] You must prepare to fight without Achilles.
1435Ulysses Why, 'tis this naming of him doth him harm.
Here is a man -- but 'tis before his face;
I will be silent.
Nestor
Wherefore should you so?
He is not emulous, as Achilles is.
1440Ulysses Know the whole world, he is as valiant.
Ajax A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus with us. Would he were a Trojan.
Nestor What a vice were it in Ajax now --
Ulysses If he were proud --
1445Diomed Or covetous of praise --
Ulysses Ay, or surly borne --
Diomed Or strange, or self-affected.
Ulysses [To Ajax]Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure.
Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee suck;
1450Fame be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
Thrice famed beyond, beyond all erudition;
But he that disciplined thy arms to fight,
Let Mars divide eternity in twain
And give him half, and, for thy vigor,
1455Bull-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;
1460He must, he is, he cannot but be wise.
But pardon, father Nestor, were your days
As green as Ajax' and your brain so tempered,
You should not have the eminence of him,
But be as Ajax.
1465Ajax
Shall I call you father?
Ulysses
Ay, my good son.
Diomed
Be ruled by him, lord Ajax.
Ulysses There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles
Keeps thicket. Please it our general
1470To call together all his state of war;
Fresh kings are come to Troy; tomorrow
We must with all our main of power stand fast,
And here's a lord, come knights from east to west
And cull their flow'r, Ajax shall cope the best.
1475Agamemnon Go we to council; let Achilles sleep.
Light boats may sail swift, though greater bulks draw deep.
Exeunt.