Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Modern)

Enter Ulysses, Diomed, Nestor, Agamemnon, [Ajax,] Menelaus, and Calchas. Flourish.
Calchas Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
1850Th'advantage of the time prompts me aloud
To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind
That, through the sight I bear in things to love,
I have abandoned Troy, left my possession,
Incurred a traitor's name, exposed myself,
1855From certain and possessed conveniences,
To doubtful fortunes, sequest'ring from me all
That time, acquaintance, custom, and condition,
Made tame and most familiar to my nature,
And here, to do you service, am become
1860As new into the world, strange, unacquainted.
I do beseech you, as in way of taste,
To give me now a little benefit
Out of those many registered in promise,
Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.
1865Agamemnon What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? Make demand.
Calchas You have a Trojan prisoner called Antenor,
Yesterday took. Troy holds him very dear.
Oft have you -- often have you thanks therefore --
1870Desired my Cressid in right great exchange,
Whom Troy hath still denied; but this Antenor,
I know, is such a wrest in their affairs
That their negotiations all must slack
Wanting his manage, and they will almost
1875Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam,
In change of him. Let him be sent, great princes,
And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence
Shall quite strike off all service I have done
In most accepted pain.
Let Diomed bear him,
And bring us Cressid hither. Calchas shall have
What he requests of us. Good Diomed,
Furnish you fairly for this interchange;
Withal bring word if Hector will tomorrow
1885Be answered in his challenge. Ajax is ready.
Diomed This shall I undertake, and 'tis a burden
Which I am proud to bear.
Exit [Diomed].
Enter Achilles and Patroclus in their tent.
Ulysses Achilles stands i'th'entrance of his tent;
1890Please it our general to pass strangely by him,
As if he were forgot, and, princes all,
Lay negligent and loose regard upon him.
I will come last; 'tis like he'll question me
Why such unplausive eyes are bent, why turned on him.
1895If so, I have derision medicinable
To use between your strangeness and his pride,
Which his own will shall have desire to drink.
It may do good. Pride hath no other glass
To show itself but pride; for supple knees
1900Feed arrogance, and are the proud man's fees.
Agamemnon We'll execute your purpose, and put on
A form of strangeness as we pass along.
So do each lord, and either greet him not,
Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more
1905Than if not looked on. I will lead the way.
[They walk separately past Achilles' tent.]
Achilles What? Comes the general to speak with me?
You know my mind; I'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.
Agamemnon [To Nestor] What says Achilles? Would he aught with us?
Nestor [To Achilles] Would you, my lord, aught with the general?
1910Achilles No.
Nestor [To Agamemnon]Nothing, my lord.
Agamemnon The better.
Achilles [To Menelaus]Good day, good day.
Menelaus How do you? How do you?
1915Achilles [To Patroclus]What, does the cuckold scorn me?
Ajax How now, Patroclus?
Achilles Good morrow, Ajax.
Ajax Ha?
Achilles Good morrow.
1920Ajax Ay, and good next day too.
Exeunt. [Ulysses remains onstage pretending to read.]
Achilles What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?
Patroclus They pass by strangely. They were used to bend,
To send their smiles before them to Achilles,
1925To come as humbly as they used to creep
To holy altars.
What, am I poor of late?
'Tis certain, greatness, once fall'n out with fortune,
Must fall out with men too. What the declined is
He shall as soon read in the eyes of others
1930As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies,
Show not their mealy wings but to the summer,
And not a man, for being simply man,
Hath any honor, but honored for those honors
That are without him, as place, riches, and favor,
1935Prizes of accident as oft as merit,
Which, when they fall, as being slippery standers,
The love that leaned on them, as slippery too,
Doth one pluck down another and together
Die in the fall. But 'tis not so with me;
1940Fortune and I are friends; I do enjoy
At ample point all that I did possess,
Save these men's looks, who do, me thinks, find out
Something not worth in me such rich beholding
As they have often given. Here is Ulysses;
1945I'll interrupt his reading. --
How now, Ulysses?
Now, great Thetis' son.
What are you reading?
A strange fellow here
Writes me that man (how dearly ever parted,
1950How much in having, or without, or in)
Cannot make boast to have that which he hath,
Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection,
As when his virtues shining upon others
Heat them, and they retort that heat again
1955To the first giver.
This is not strange, Ulysses.
The beauty that is borne here in the face
The bearer knows not, but commends itself
1958.1To others' eyes, nor doth the eye itself,
That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself,
Not going from itself, but eye to eye opposed,
1960Salutes each other with each other's form.
For speculation turns not to itself
Till it hath traveled and is married there
Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.
Ulysses I do not strain it at the position
1965(It is familiar), but at the author's drift,
Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves
That no man is the lord of anything
(Though in and of him there is much consisting)
Till he communicate his parts to others,
1970Nor doth he of himself know them for aught
Till he behold them formèd in th'applause
Where they are extended, who, like an arch, reverberate
The voice again, or, like a gate of steel,
Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
1975His figure and his heat. I was much rapt in this,
And apprehended here immediately
The unknown Ajax.
Heavens, what a man is there. A very horse,
That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are
1980Most abject in regard and dear in use;
What things again, most dear in the esteem
And poor in worth. Now shall we see tomorrow
An act that very chance doth throw upon him.
Ajax renowned? O heavens, what some men do,
1985While some men leave to do;
How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall,
Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes;
How one man eats into another's pride,
While pride is feasting in his wantonness
1990To see these Grecian lords. Why, even already
They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder,
As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast,
And great Troy shrinking.
I do believe it,
1995For they passed by me as misers do by beggars,
Neither gave to me good word nor look.
What, are my deeds forgot?
Ulysses Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
2000A great-sized monster of ingratitudes.
Those scraps are good deeds past,
Which are devoured as fast as they are made,
Forgot as soon as done. Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honor bright; to have done is to hang
2005Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mock'ry. Take the instant way,
For honor travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast. Keep then the path,
For emulation hath a thousand sons
2010That one by one pursue; if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an entered tide they all rush by
And leave you hindmost,
Or like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank,
2015Lie there for pavement to the abject -- near
O'er-run and trampled on. Then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o'er-top yours,
For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by th'hand
2020And, with his arms outstretched as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: the welcome ever smiles,
And farewells goes out sighing. Oh, let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was, for beauty, wit,
High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,
2025Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise newborn gauds,
Though they are made and molded of things past
2030And go to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o'er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object.
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax,
2035Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what not stirs. The cry went out on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
And case thy reputation in thy tent,
2040Whose glorious deeds but in these fields of late
Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves
And drave great Mars to faction.
Of this my privacy,
I have strong reasons.
But 'gainst your privacy
The reasons are more potent and heroical.
'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love
With one of Priam's daughters.
Ha? Known?
Is that a wonder?
The providence that's in a watchful state
Knows almost every grain of Pluto's gold,
Finds bottom in th'uncomprehensive deeps,
Keeps place with thought, and, almost like the gods,
2055Do thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
There is a mystery (with whom relation
Durst never meddle) in the soul of state
Which hath an operation more divine
Than breath or pen can give expressure to.
2060All the commerce that you have had with Troy
As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord;
And better would it fit Achilles much
To throw down Hector than Polixena.
But it must grieve young Pyrrhus, now at home,
2065When fame shall in her island sound her trump
And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing,
"Great Hector's sister did Achilles win,
But our great Ajax bravely beat down him."
Farewell, my lord. I as your lover speak:
2070"The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break."
Patroclus To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you;
A woman impudent and mannish grown
Is not more loathed than an effeminate man
In time of action. I stand condemned for this;
2075They think my little stomach to the war,
And your great love to me, restrains you thus.
Sweet, rouse yourself, and the weak wanton Cupid
Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold
And, like a dewdrop from the lion's mane,
2080Be shook to airy air.
Shall Ajax fight with Hector?
Patroclus Ay, and perhaps receive much honor by him.
Achilles I see my reputation is at stake;
My fame is shrewdly gored.
Oh, then, beware.
Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves.
Omission to do what is necessary
Seals a commission to a blank of danger,
And danger, like an ague, subtly taints
2090Even then when we sit idly in the sun.
Achilles Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus;
I'll send the fool to Ajax, and desire him
T'invite the Trojan lords after the combat
To see us here unarmed. I have a woman's longing,
2095An appetite that I am sick withal
To see great Hector in his weeds of peace,
Enter Thersites.
To talk with him, and to behold his visage
Even to my full of view. -- [Notices Thersites] A labor saved.
Thersites A wonder.
2100Achilles What?
Thersites Ajax goes up and down the field asking for himself.
Achilles How so?
Thersites He must fight singly tomorrow with Hector 2105and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgeling that he raves in saying nothing.
Achilles How can that be?
Thersites Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock, a stride and a stand, ruminates like an hostess that hath no 2110arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning; bites his lip with a politic regard as who should say, "there were wit in his head an 'twould out," and so there is; but it lies as coldly in him as fire in a flint which will not show without knocking. The man's undone 2115forever, for if Hector break not his neck i'th'combat, he'll break't himself in vainglory. He knows not me. I said, "Good morrow, Ajax," and he replies, "Thanks, Agamemnon." What think you of this man that takes me for the general? He's grown a very 2120land-fish: languageless, a monster. A plague of opinion. A man may wear it on both sides like a leather jerkin.
Achilles Thou must be my ambassador to him, Thersites.
Thersites Who, I? Why, he'll answer nobody. He professes 2125not answering; speaking is for beggars; he wears his tongue in's arms. I will put on his presence. Let Patroclus make his demands to me; you shall see the pageant of Ajax.
Achilles To him, Patroclus; tell him I humbly desire the 2130valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honored captain, general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon, etc. Do this.
2135Patroclus [To Thersites] Jove bless great Ajax.
Thersites [Pretending to be Ajax]Hum.
Patroclus I come from the worthy Achilles --
Thersites Ha?
Patroclus -- who most humbly desires you to invite Hector 2140to his tent --
Thersites Hum.
Patroclus. -- and to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.
Thersites Agamemnon?
Patroclus Ay, my lord.
2145Thersites Ha?
Patroclus What say you to't?
Thersites God b'wi'you, with all my heart.
Patroclus Your answer, sir?
Thersites If tomorrow be a fair day, by eleven o'clock 2150it will go one way or other; howsoever, he shall pay for me ere he has me.
Patroclus Your answer, sir?
Thersites [Pretending to exit] Fare you well, with all my heart.
Achilles Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?
2155Thersites No, but he's out o' tune thus. What music will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know not, but I am sure none, unless the fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.
Achilles Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him 2160straight.
Thersites Let me carry another to his horse, for that's the more capable creature.
Achilles My mind is troubled like a fountain stirred,
And I myself see not the bottom of it.
2165Thersites Would the fountain of your mind were clear again that I might water an ass at it. I had rather be a tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.