Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Quarto 1, 1609)


of Troylus and Cresseida.
As venerable Nestor (hatcht in siluer)
525Should with a bond of ayre strong as the Axel-tree,
(On which heauen rides) knit all the Greekish eares
To his experienc't tongue, yet let it please both
Thou great and wise, to heare Vlisses speake.
Troy yet vpon his bases had beene downe,
535And the great Hectors sword had lackt a master
But for these instances.
The specialtie of rule hath beene neglected,
And looke how many Grecian tents do stand,
Hollow vpon this plaine, so many hollow factions,
540When that the generall is not like the hiue,
To whom the forragers shall all repaire,
What honey is expccted? Degree being visarded
Th'vnworthiest shewes as fairly in the maske.
The heauens them-selues, the plannets and this center
545Obserue degree, prioritie and place,
In sisture, course, proportion, season, forme,
Office and custome, in all line of order.
And therefore is the glorious planet Sol,
In noble eminence enthron'd and spherd,
550Amidst the other; whose medcinable eye,
Corrects the influence of euill Planets,
And posts like the Commandment of a King,
Sans check to good and bad. But when the Planets,
In euill mixture to disorder wander,
555What plagues, and what portents, what mutinie?
What raging of the sea, shaking of earth?
Commotion in the winds, frights, changes, horrors
Diuert and crack, rend and deracinate,
The vnitie and married calme of states
560Quite from their fixure: O when degree is shakt,
Which is the ladder of all high designes,
The enterprise is sick. How could communities,
Degrees in schooles, and brother-hoods in Citties,
Peacefull commerce from deuidable shores,
565The primogenitie and due of birth,
Prerogatiue of age, crownes, scepters, lawrels,
But