The History of Troilus and Cressida
by William Shakespeare [Craig edition]
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by William Shakespeare


PRIAM, King of Troy


Trojan commanders: AENEAS ANTENOR

CALCHAS, a Trojan priest, taking part with the Greeks PANDARUS, uncle to Cressida AGAMEMNON, the Greek general MENELAUS, his brother


THERSITES, a deformed and scurrilous Greek ALEXANDER, servant to Cressida SERVANT to Troilus SERVANT to Paris SERVANT to Diomedes HELEN, wife to Menelaus ANDROMACHE, wife to Hector CASSANDRA, daughter to Priam, a prophetess CRESSIDA, daughter to Calchas

Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants

SCENE: Troy and the Greek camp before it



In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf'd, Have to the port of Athens sent their ships Fraught with the ministers and instruments Of cruel war. Sixty and nine that wore Their crownets regal from the Athenian bay Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen, With wanton Paris sleeps—and that's the quarrel. To Tenedos they come, And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge Their war-like fraughtage. Now on Dardan plains The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch Their brave pavilions: Priam's six-gated city, Dardan, and Tymbria, Ilias, Chetas, Troien, And Antenorides, with massy staples And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts, Sperr up the sons of Troy. Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits On one and other side, Troyan and Greek, Sets all on hazard. And hither am I come A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited In like conditions as our argument, To tell you, fair beholders, that our play Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils, Beginning in the middle; starting thence away, To what may be digested in a play. Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are; Now good or bad, 'tis but the chance of war.


SCENE 1. Troy. Before PRIAM'S palace

[Enter TROILUS armed, and PANDARUS.]

TROILUS. Call here my varlet; I'll unarm again. Why should I war without the walls of Troy That find such cruel battle here within? Each Trojan that is master of his heart, Let him to field; Troilus, alas! hath none.

PANDARUS. Will this gear ne'er be mended?

TROILUS. The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength, Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant; But I am weaker than a woman's tear, Tamer than sleep, fonder than ignorance, Less valiant than the virgin in the night, And skilless as unpractis'd infancy.

PANDARUS. Well, I have told you enough of this; for my part, I'll not meddle nor make no further. He that will have a cake out of the wheat must tarry the grinding.

TROILUS. Have I not tarried?

PANDARUS. Ay, the grinding; but you must tarry the bolting.

TROILUS. Have I not tarried?

PANDARUS. Ay, the bolting; but you must tarry the leavening.

TROILUS. Still have I tarried.

PANDARUS. Ay, to the leavening; but here's yet in the word 'hereafter' the kneading, the making of the cake, the heating of the oven, and the baking; nay, you must stay the cooling too, or you may chance to burn your lips.

TROILUS. Patience herself, what goddess e'er she be, Doth lesser blench at suff'rance than I do. At Priam's royal table do I sit; And when fair Cressid comes into my thoughts, So, traitor! 'when she comes'! when she is thence?

PANDARUS. Well, she look'd yesternight fairer than ever I saw her look, or any woman else.

TROILUS. I was about to tell thee: when my heart, As wedged with a sigh, would rive in twain, Lest Hector or my father should perceive me, I have, as when the sun doth light a storm, Buried this sigh in wrinkle of a smile. But sorrow that is couch'd in seeming gladness Is like that mirth fate turns to sudden sadness.

PANDARUS. An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen's, well, go to, there were no more comparison between the women. But, for my part, she is my kinswoman; I would not, as they term it, praise her, but I would somebody had heard her talk yesterday, as I did. I will not dispraise your sister Cassandra's wit; but—

TROILUS. O Pandarus! I tell thee, Pandarus, When I do tell thee there my hopes lie drown'd, Reply not in how many fathoms deep They lie indrench'd. I tell thee I am mad In Cressid's love. Thou answer'st 'She is fair'; Pour'st in the open ulcer of my heart Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice, Handlest in thy discourse. O! that her hand, In whose comparison all whites are ink Writing their own reproach; to whose soft seizure The cygnet's down is harsh, and spirit of sense Hard as the palm of ploughman! This thou tell'st me, As true thou tell'st me, when I say I love her; But, saying thus, instead of oil and balm, Thou lay'st in every gash that love hath given me The knife that made it.

PANDARUS. I speak no more than truth.

TROILUS. Thou dost not speak so much.

PANDARUS. Faith, I'll not meddle in't. Let her be as she is: if she be fair, 'tis the better for her; an she be not, she has the mends in her own hands.

TROILUS. Good Pandarus! How now, Pandarus!

PANDARUS. I have had my labour for my travail, ill thought on of her and ill thought on of you; gone between and between, but small thanks for my labour.

TROILUS. What! art thou angry, Pandarus? What! with me?

PANDARUS. Because she's kin to me, therefore she's not so fair as Helen. An she were not kin to me, she would be as fair on Friday as Helen is on Sunday. But what care I? I care not an she were a blackamoor; 'tis all one to me.

TROILUS. Say I she is not fair?

PANDARUS. I do not care whether you do or no. She's a fool to stay behind her father. Let her to the Greeks; and so I'll tell her the next time I see her. For my part, I'll meddle nor make no more i' the matter.

TROILUS. Pandarus


TROILUS. Sweet Pandarus—

PANDARUS. Pray you, speak no more to me: I will leave all as I found it, and there an end.

[Exit PANDARUS. An alarum.]

TROILUS. Peace, you ungracious clamours! Peace, rude sounds! Fools on both sides! Helen must needs be fair, When with your blood you daily paint her thus. I cannot fight upon this argument; It is too starv'd a subject for my sword. But Pandarus, O gods! how do you plague me! I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar; And he's as tetchy to be woo'd to woo As she is stubborn-chaste against all suit. Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne's love, What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we? Her bed is India; there she lies, a pearl; Between our Ilium and where she resides Let it be call'd the wild and wandering flood; Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar Our doubtful hope, our convoy, and our bark.

[Alarum. Enter AENEAS.]

AENEAS. How now, Prince Troilus! Wherefore not afield?

TROILUS. Because not there. This woman's answer sorts, For womanish it is to be from thence. What news, Aeneas, from the field to-day?

AENEAS. That Paris is returned home, and hurt.

TROILUS. By whom, Aeneas?

AENEAS. Troilus, by Menelaus.

TROILUS. Let Paris bleed: 'tis but a scar to scorn; Paris is gor'd with Menelaus' horn.


AENEAS. Hark what good sport is out of town to-day!

TROILUS. Better at home, if 'would I might' were 'may.' But to the sport abroad. Are you bound thither?

AENEAS. In all swift haste.

TROILUS. Come, go we then together. [Exeunt.]


SCENE 2. Troy. A street

[Enter CRESSIDA and her man ALEXANDER.]

CRESSIDA. Who were those went by?

ALEXANDER. Queen Hecuba and Helen.

CRESSIDA. And whither go they?

ALEXANDER. Up to the eastern tower, Whose height commands as subject all the vale, To see the battle. Hector, whose patience Is as a virtue fix'd, to-day was mov'd. He chid Andromache, and struck his armourer; And, like as there were husbandry in war, Before the sun rose he was harness'd light, And to the field goes he; where every flower Did as a prophet weep what it foresaw In Hector's wrath.

CRESSIDA. What was his cause of anger?

ALEXANDER. The noise goes, this: there is among the Greeks A lord of Troyan blood, nephew to Hector; They call him Ajax.

CRESSIDA. Good; and what of him?

ALEXANDER. They say he is a very man per se, And stands alone.

CRESSIDA. So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs.

ALEXANDER. This man, lady, hath robb'd many beasts of their particular additions: he is as valiant as a lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant—a man into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his valour is crush'd into folly, his folly sauced with discretion. There is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it; he is melancholy without cause and merry against the hair; he hath the joints of every thing; but everything so out of joint that he is a gouty Briareus, many hands and no use, or purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.

CRESSIDA. But how should this man, that makes me smile, make Hector angry?

ALEXANDER. They say he yesterday cop'd Hector in the battle and struck him down, the disdain and shame whereof hath ever since kept Hector fasting and waking.


CRESSIDA. Who comes here?

ALEXANDER. Madam, your uncle Pandarus.

CRESSIDA. Hector's a gallant man.

ALEXANDER. As may be in the world, lady.

PANDARUS. What's that? What's that?

CRESSIDA. Good morrow, uncle Pandarus.

PANDARUS. Good morrow, cousin Cressid. What do you talk of?—Good morrow, Alexander.—How do you, cousin? When were you at Ilium?

CRESSIDA. This morning, uncle.

PANDARUS. What were you talking of when I came? Was Hector arm'd and gone ere you came to Ilium? Helen was not up, was she?

CRESSIDA. Hector was gone; but Helen was not up.

PANDARUS. E'en so. Hector was stirring early.

CRESSIDA. That were we talking of, and of his anger.

PANDARUS. Was he angry?

CRESSIDA. So he says here.

PANDARUS. True, he was so; I know the cause too; he'll lay about him today, I can tell them that. And there's Troilus will not come far behind him; let them take heed of Troilus, I can tell them that too.

CRESSIDA. What, is he angry too?

PANDARUS. Who, Troilus? Troilus is the better man of the two.

CRESSIDA. O Jupiter! there's no comparison.

PANDARUS. What, not between Troilus and Hector? Do you know a man if you see him?

CRESSIDA. Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him.

PANDARUS. Well, I say Troilus is Troilus.

CRESSIDA. Then you say as I say, for I am sure he is not Hector.

PANDARUS. No, nor Hector is not Troilus in some degrees.

CRESSIDA. 'Tis just to each of them: he is himself.

PANDARUS. Himself! Alas, poor Troilus! I would he were!

CRESSIDA. So he is.

PANDARUS. Condition I had gone barefoot to India.

CRESSIDA. He is not Hector.

PANDARUS. Himself! no, he's not himself. Would 'a were himself! Well, the gods are above; time must friend or end. Well, Troilus, well! I would my heart were in her body! No, Hector is not a better man than Troilus.

CRESSIDA. Excuse me.

PANDARUS. He is elder.

CRESSIDA. Pardon me, pardon me.

PANDARUS. Th' other's not come to't; you shall tell me another tale when th' other's come to't. Hector shall not have his wit this year.

CRESSIDA. He shall not need it if he have his own.

ANDARUS. Nor his qualities.

CRESSIDA. No matter.

PANDARUS. Nor his beauty.

CRESSIDA. 'Twould not become him: his own's better.

PANDARUS. You have no judgment, niece. Helen herself swore th' other day that Troilus, for a brown favour, for so 'tis, I must confess—not brown neither—

CRESSIDA. No, but brown.

PANDARUS. Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown.

CRESSIDA. To say the truth, true and not true.

PANDARUS. She prais'd his complexion above Paris.

CRESSIDA. Why, Paris hath colour enough.

PANDARUS. So he has.

CRESSIDA. Then Troilus should have too much. If she prais'd him above, his complexion is higher than his; he having colour enough, and the other higher, is too flaming praise for a good complexion. I had as lief Helen's golden tongue had commended Troilus for a copper nose.

PANDARUS. I swear to you I think Helen loves him better than Paris.

CRESSIDA. Then she's a merry Greek indeed.

PANDARUS. Nay, I am sure she does. She came to him th' other day into the compass'd window—and you know he has not past three or four hairs on his chin—

CRESSIDA. Indeed a tapster's arithmetic may soon bring his particulars therein to a total.

PANDARUS. Why, he is very young, and yet will he within three pound lift as much as his brother Hector.

CRESSIDA. Is he so young a man and so old a lifter?

PANDARUS. But to prove to you that Helen loves him: she came and puts me her white hand to his cloven chin—

CRESSIDA. Juno have mercy! How came it cloven?

PANDARUS. Why, you know, 'tis dimpled. I think his smiling becomes him better than any man in all Phrygia.

CRESSIDA. O, he smiles valiantly!

PANDARUS. Does he not?

CRESSIDA. O yes, an 'twere a cloud in autumn!

PANDARUS. Why, go to, then! But to prove to you that Helen loves Troilus—

CRESSIDA. Troilus will stand to the proof, if you'll prove it so.

PANDARUS. Troilus! Why, he esteems her no more than I esteem an addle egg.

CRESSIDA. If you love an addle egg as well as you love an idle head, you would eat chickens i' th' shell.

PANDARUS. I cannot choose but laugh to think how she tickled his chin. Indeed, she has a marvell's white hand, I must needs confess.

CRESSIDA. Without the rack.

PANDARUS. And she takes upon her to spy a white hair on his chin.

CRESSIDA. Alas, poor chin! Many a wart is richer.

PANDARUS. But there was such laughing! Queen Hecuba laugh'd that her eyes ran o'er.

CRESSIDA. With millstones.

PANDARUS. And Cassandra laugh'd.

CRESSIDA. But there was a more temperate fire under the pot of her eyes. Did her eyes run o'er too?

PANDARUS. And Hector laugh'd.

CRESSIDA. At what was all this laughing?

PANDARUS. Marry, at the white hair that Helen spied on Troilus' chin.

CRESSIDA. An't had been a green hair I should have laugh'd too.

PANDARUS. They laugh'd not so much at the hair as at his pretty answer.

CRESSIDA. What was his answer?

PANDARUS. Quoth she 'Here's but two and fifty hairs on your chin, and one of them is white.'

CRESSIDA. This is her question.

PANDARUS. That's true; make no question of that. 'Two and fifty hairs,' quoth he 'and one white. That white hair is my father, and all the rest are his sons.' 'Jupiter!' quoth she 'which of these hairs is Paris my husband?' 'The forked one,' quoth he, 'pluck't out and give it him.' But there was such laughing! and Helen so blush'd, and Paris so chaf'd; and all the rest so laugh'd that it pass'd.

CRESSIDA. So let it now; for it has been a great while going by.

PANDARUS. Well, cousin, I told you a thing yesterday; think on't.


PANDARUS. I'll be sworn 'tis true; he will weep you, and 'twere a man born in April.

CRESSIDA. And I'll spring up in his tears, an 'twere a nettle against May.

[Sound a retreat.]

PANDARUS. Hark! they are coming from the field. Shall we stand up here and see them as they pass toward Ilium? Good niece, do, sweet niece Cressida.

CRESSIDA. At your pleasure.

PANDARUS. Here, here, here's an excellent place; here we may see most bravely. I'll tell you them all by their names as they pass by; but mark Troilus above the rest.

[AENEAS passes.]

CRESSIDA. Speak not so loud.

PANDARUS. That's Aeneas. Is not that a brave man? He's one of the flowers of Troy, I can tell you. But mark Troilus; you shall see anon.

[ANTENOR passes.]

CRESSIDA. Who's that?

PANDARUS. That's Antenor. He has a shrewd wit, I can tell you; and he's a man good enough; he's one o' th' soundest judgments in Troy, whosoever, and a proper man of person. When comes Troilus? I'll show you Troilus anon. If he see me, you shall see him nod at me.

CRESSIDA. Will he give you the nod?

PANDARUS. You shall see.

CRESSIDA. If he do, the rich shall have more.

[HECTOR passes.]

PANDARUS. That's Hector, that, that, look you, that; there's a fellow! Go thy way, Hector! There's a brave man, niece. O brave Hector! Look how he looks. There's a countenance! Is't not a brave man?

CRESSIDA. O, a brave man!

PANDARUS. Is 'a not? It does a man's heart good. Look you what hacks are on his helmet! Look you yonder, do you see? Look you there. There's no jesting; there's laying on; take't off who will, as they say. There be hacks.

CRESSIDA. Be those with swords?

PANDARUS. Swords! anything, he cares not; an the devil come to him, it's all one. By God's lid, it does one's heart good. Yonder comes Paris, yonder comes Paris.

[PARIS passes.]

Look ye yonder, niece; is't not a gallant man too, is't not? Why, this is brave now. Who said he came hurt home to-day? He's not hurt. Why, this will do Helen's heart good now, ha! Would I could see Troilus now! You shall see Troilus anon.

[HELENUS passes.]

CRESSIDA. Who's that?

PANDARUS. That's Helenus. I marvel where Troilus is. That's Helenus. I think he went not forth to-day. That's Helenus.

CRESSIDA. Can Helenus fight, uncle?

PANDARUS. Helenus! no. Yes, he'll fight indifferent well. I marvel where Troilus is. Hark! do you not hear the people cry 'Troilus'? Helenus is a priest.

CRESSIDA. What sneaking fellow comes yonder?

[TROILUS passes.]

PANDARUS. Where? yonder? That's Deiphobus. 'Tis Troilus. There's a man, niece. Hem! Brave Troilus, the prince of chivalry!

CRESSIDA. Peace, for shame, peace!

PANDARUS. Mark him; note him. O brave Troilus! Look well upon him, niece; look you how his sword is bloodied, and his helm more hack'd than Hector's; and how he looks, and how he goes! O admirable youth! he never saw three and twenty. Go thy way, Troilus, go thy way. Had I a sister were a grace or a daughter a goddess, he should take his choice. O admirable man! Paris? Paris is dirt to him; and, I warrant, Helen, to change, would give an eye to boot.

CRESSIDA. Here comes more.

[Common soldiers pass.]

PANDARUS. Asses, fools, dolts! chaff and bran, chaff and bran! porridge after meat! I could live and die in the eyes of Troilus. Ne'er look, ne'er look; the eagles are gone. Crows and daws, crows and daws! I had rather be such a man as Troilus than Agamemnon and all Greece.

CRESSIDA. There is amongst the Greeks Achilles, a better man than Troilus.

PANDARUS. Achilles? A drayman, a porter, a very camel!

CRESSIDA. Well, well.

PANDARUS. Well, well! Why, have you any discretion? Have you any eyes? Do you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and such like, the spice and salt that season a man?

CRESSIDA. Ay, a minc'd man; and then to be bak'd with no date in the pie, for then the man's date is out.

PANDARUS. You are such a woman! A man knows not at what ward you lie.

CRESSIDA. Upon my back, to defend my belly; upon my wit, to defend my wiles; upon my secrecy, to defend mine honesty; my mask, to defend my beauty; and you, to defend all these; and at all these wards I lie at, at a thousand watches.

PANDARUS. Say one of your watches.

CRESSIDA. Nay, I'll watch you for that; and that's one of the chiefest of them too. If I cannot ward what I would not have hit, I can watch you for telling how I took the blow; unless it swell past hiding, and then it's past watching

PANDARUS. You are such another!


BOY. Sir, my lord would instantly speak with you.


BOY. At your own house; there he unarms him.

PANDARUS. Good boy, tell him I come.Exit Boy I doubt he be hurt. Fare ye well, good niece.

CRESSIDA. Adieu, uncle.

PANDARUS. I will be with you, niece, by and by.

CRESSIDA. To bring, uncle.

PANDARUS. Ay, a token from Troilus.

CRESSIDA. By the same token, you are a bawd.


Words, vows, gifts, tears, and love's full sacrifice, He offers in another's enterprise; But more in Troilus thousand-fold I see Than in the glass of Pandar's praise may be, Yet hold I off. Women are angels, wooing: Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing. That she belov'd knows nought that knows not this: Men prize the thing ungain'd more than it is. That she was never yet that ever knew Love got so sweet as when desire did sue; Therefore this maxim out of love I teach: Achievement is command; ungain'd, beseech. Then though my heart's content firm love doth bear, Nothing of that shall from mine eyes appear.



SCENE 3. The Grecian camp. Before AGAMEMNON'S tent


AGAMEMNON. Princes, What grief hath set these jaundies o'er your cheeks? The ample proposition that hope makes In all designs begun on earth below Fails in the promis'd largeness; checks and disasters Grow in the veins of actions highest rear'd, As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap, Infects the sound pine, and diverts his grain Tortive and errant from his course of growth. Nor, princes, is it matter new to us That we come short of our suppose so far That after seven years' siege yet Troy walls stand; Sith every action that hath gone before, Whereof we have record, trial did draw Bias and thwart, not answering the aim, And that unbodied figure of the thought That gave't surmised shape. Why then, you princes, Do you with cheeks abash'd behold our works And call them shames, which are, indeed, nought else But the protractive trials of great Jove To find persistive constancy in men; The fineness of which metal is not found In fortune's love? For then the bold and coward, The wise and fool, the artist and unread, The hard and soft, seem all affin'd and kin. But in the wind and tempest of her frown Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan, Puffing at all, winnows the light away; And what hath mass or matter by itself Lies rich in virtue and unmingled.

NESTOR. With due observance of thy godlike seat, Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply Thy latest words. In the reproof of chance Lies the true proof of men. The sea being smooth, How many shallow bauble boats dare sail Upon her patient breast, making their way With those of nobler bulk! But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage The gentle Thetis, and anon behold The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cut, Bounding between the two moist elements Like Perseus' horse. Where's then the saucy boat, Whose weak untimber'd sides but even now Co-rivall'd greatness? Either to harbour fled Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so Doth valour's show and valour's worth divide In storms of fortune; for in her ray and brightness The herd hath more annoyance by the breeze Than by the tiger; but when the splitting wind Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks, And flies fled under shade—why, then the thing of courage As rous'd with rage, with rage doth sympathise, And with an accent tun'd in self-same key Retorts to chiding fortune.

ULYSSES. Agamemnon, Thou great commander, nerve and bone of Greece, Heart of our numbers, soul and only spirit In whom the tempers and the minds of all Should be shut up—hear what Ulysses speaks. Besides the applause and approbation The which,


most mighty, for thy place and sway,


And, thou most reverend, for thy stretch'd-out life, I give to both your speeches—which were such As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece Should hold up high in brass; and such again As venerable Nestor, hatch'd in silver, Should with a bond of air, strong as the axle-tree On which heaven rides, knit all the Greekish ears To his experienc'd tongue—yet let it please both, Thou great, and wise, to hear Ulysses speak.

AGAMEMNON. Speak, Prince of Ithaca; and be't of less expect That matter needless, of importless burden, Divide thy lips than we are confident, When rank Thersites opes his mastic jaws, We shall hear music, wit, and oracle.

ULYSSES. Troy, yet upon his basis, had been down, And the great Hector's sword had lack'd a master, But for these instances: The specialty of rule hath been neglected; And look how many Grecian tents do stand Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions. When that the general is not like the hive, To whom the foragers shall all repair, What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded, Th' unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask. The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre, Observe degree, priority, and place, Insisture, course, proportion, season, form, Office, and custom, in all line of order; And therefore is the glorious planet Sol In noble eminence enthron'd and spher'd Amidst the other, whose med'cinable eye Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil, And posts, like the commandment of a king, Sans check, to good and bad. But when the planets In evil mixture to disorder wander, What plagues and what portents, what mutiny, What raging of the sea, shaking of earth, Commotion in the winds! Frights, changes, horrors, Divert and crack, rend and deracinate, The unity and married calm of states Quite from their fixture! O, when degree is shak'd, Which is the ladder of all high designs, The enterprise is sick! How could communities, Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities, Peaceful commerce from dividable shores, The primogenity and due of birth, Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels, But by degree, stand in authentic place? Take but degree away, untune that string, And hark what discord follows! Each thing melts In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores, And make a sop of all this solid globe; Strength should be lord of imbecility, And the rude son should strike his father dead; Force should be right; or, rather, right and wrong— Between whose endless jar justice resides— Should lose their names, and so should justice too. Then everything includes itself in power, Power into will, will into appetite; And appetite, an universal wolf, So doubly seconded with will and power, Must make perforce an universal prey, And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon, This chaos, when degree is suffocate, Follows the choking. And this neglection of degree it is That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose It hath to climb. The general's disdain'd By him one step below, he by the next, That next by him beneath; so ever step, Exampl'd by the first pace that is sick Of his superior, grows to an envious fever Of pale and bloodless emulation. And 'tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot, Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length, Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.

NESTOR. Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover'd The fever whereof all our power is sick.

AGAMEMNON. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses, What is the remedy?

ULYSSES. The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehand of our host, Having his ear full of his airy fame, Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Lies mocking our designs; with him Patroclus Upon a lazy bed the livelong day Breaks scurril jests; And with ridiculous and awkward action— Which, slanderer, he imitation calls— He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon, Thy topless deputation he puts on; And like a strutting player whose conceit Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich To hear the wooden dialogue and sound 'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage— Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming He acts thy greatness in; and when he speaks 'Tis like a chime a-mending; with terms unsquar'd, Which, from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp'd, Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling, From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause; Cries 'Excellent! 'tis Agamemnon just. Now play me Nestor; hem, and stroke thy beard, As he being drest to some oration.' That's done—as near as the extremest ends Of parallels, as like Vulcan and his wife; Yet god Achilles still cries 'Excellent! 'Tis Nestor right. Now play him me, Patroclus, Arming to answer in a night alarm.' And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age Must be the scene of mirth: to cough and spit And, with a palsy-fumbling on his gorget, Shake in and out the rivet. And at this sport Sir Valour dies; cries 'O, enough, Patroclus; Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all In pleasure of my spleen.' And in this fashion All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes, Severals and generals of grace exact, Achievements, plots, orders, preventions, Excitements to the field or speech for truce, Success or loss, what is or is not, serves As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.

NESTOR. And in the imitation of these twain— Who, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns With an imperial voice—many are infect. Ajax is grown self-will'd and bears his head In such a rein, in full as proud a place As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him; Makes factious feasts; rails on our state of war Bold as an oracle, and sets Thersites, A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint, To match us in comparisons with dirt, To weaken and discredit our exposure, How rank soever rounded in with danger.

ULYSSES. They tax our policy and call it cowardice, Count wisdom as no member of the war, Forestall prescience, and esteem no act But that of hand. The still and mental parts That do contrive how many hands shall strike When fitness calls them on, and know, by measure Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight— Why, this hath not a finger's dignity: They call this bed-work, mapp'ry, closet-war; So that the ram that batters down the wall, For the great swinge and rudeness of his poise, They place before his hand that made the engine, Or those that with the fineness of their souls By reason guide his execution.

NESTOR. Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse Makes many Thetis' sons.


AGAMEMNON. What trumpet? Look, Menelaus.

MENELAUS. From Troy.

[Enter AENEAS.]

AGAMEMNON. What would you fore our tent?

AENEAS. Is this great Agamemnon's tent, I pray you?

AGAMEMNON. Even this.

AENEAS. May one that is a herald and a prince Do a fair message to his kingly eyes?

AGAMEMNON. With surety stronger than Achilles' an Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice Call Agamemnon head and general.

AENEAS. Fair leave and large security. How may A stranger to those most imperial looks Know them from eyes of other mortals?


AENEAS. Ay; I ask, that I might waken reverence, And bid the cheek be ready with a blush Modest as Morning when she coldly eyes The youthful Phoebus. Which is that god in office, guiding men? Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?

AGAMEMNON. This Troyan scorns us, or the men of Troy Are ceremonious courtiers.

AENEAS. Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm'd, As bending angels; that's their fame in peace. But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls, Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and, Jove's accord, Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Aeneas, Peace, Troyan; lay thy finger on thy lips. The worthiness of praise distains his worth, If that the prais'd himself bring the praise forth; But what the repining enemy commends, That breath fame blows; that praise, sole pure, transcends.

AGAMEMNON. Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself Aeneas?

AENEAS. Ay, Greek, that is my name.

AGAMEMNON. What's your affair, I pray you?

AENEAS. Sir, pardon; 'tis for Agamemnon's ears.

AGAME He hears nought privately that comes from Troy.

AENEAS. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper with him; I bring a trumpet to awake his ear, To set his sense on the attentive bent, And then to speak.

AGAMEMNON. Speak frankly as the wind; It is not Agamemnon's sleeping hour. That thou shalt know, Troyan, he is awake, He tells thee so himself.

AENEAS. Trumpet, blow loud, Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents; And every Greek of mettle, let him know What Troy means fairly shall be spoke aloud.

[Sound trumpet.]

We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy A prince called Hector-Priam is his father— Who in this dull and long-continued truce Is resty grown; he bade me take a trumpet And to this purpose speak: Kings, princes, lords! If there be one among the fair'st of Greece That holds his honour higher than his ease, That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril, That knows his valour and knows not his fear, That loves his mistress more than in confession With truant vows to her own lips he loves, And dare avow her beauty and her worth In other arms than hers-to him this challenge. Hector, in view of Troyans and of Greeks, Shall make it good or do his best to do it: He hath a lady wiser, fairer, truer, Than ever Greek did couple in his arms; And will to-morrow with his trumpet call Mid-way between your tents and walls of Troy To rouse a Grecian that is true in love. If any come, Hector shall honour him; If none, he'll say in Troy, when he retires, The Grecian dames are sunburnt and not worth The splinter of a lance. Even so much.

AGAMEMNON. This shall be told our lovers, Lord Aeneas. If none of them have soul in such a kind, We left them all at home. But we are soldiers; And may that soldier a mere recreant prove That means not, hath not, or is not in love. If then one is, or hath, or means to be, That one meets Hector; if none else, I am he.

NESTOR. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man When Hector's grandsire suck'd. He is old now; But if there be not in our Grecian mould One noble man that hath one spark of fire To answer for his love, tell him from me I'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver, And in my vantbrace put this wither'd brawn, And, meeting him, will tell him that my lady Was fairer than his grandame, and as chaste As may be in the world. His youth in flood, I'll prove this truth with my three drops of blood.

AENEAS. Now heavens forfend such scarcity of youth!


AGAMEMNON. Fair Lord Aeneas, let me touch your hand; To our pavilion shall I lead you, first. Achilles shall have word of this intent; So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent. Yourself shall feast with us before you go, And find the welcome of a noble foe.

[Exeunt all but ULYSSES and NESTOR.]

ULYSSES. Nestor!

NESTOR. What says Ulysses?

ULYSSES. I have a young conception in my brain; Be you my time to bring it to some shape.

NESTOR. What is't?

ULYSSES. This 'tis: Blunt wedges rive hard knots. The seeded pride That hath to this maturity blown up In rank Achilles must or now be cropp'd Or, shedding, breed a nursery of like evil To overbulk us all.

NESTOR. Well, and how?

ULYSSES. This challenge that the gallant Hector sends, However it is spread in general name, Relates in purpose only to Achilles.

NESTOR. True. The purpose is perspicuous even as substance Whose grossness little characters sum up; And, in the publication, make no strain But that Achilles, were his brain as barren As banks of Libya—though, Apollo knows, 'Tis dry enough—will with great speed of judgment, Ay, with celerity, find Hector's purpose Pointing on him.

ULYSSES. And wake him to the answer, think you?

NESTOR. Why, 'tis most meet. Who may you else oppose That can from Hector bring those honours off, If not Achilles? Though 't be a sportful combat, Yet in this trial much opinion dwells For here the Troyans taste our dear'st repute With their fin'st palate; and trust to me, Ulysses, Our imputation shall be oddly pois'd In this vile action; for the success, Although particular, shall give a scantling Of good or bad unto the general; And in such indexes, although small pricks To their subsequent volumes, there is seen The baby figure of the giant mas Of things to come at large. It is suppos'd He that meets Hector issues from our choice; And choice, being mutual act of all our souls, Makes merit her election, and doth boil, As 'twere from forth us all, a man distill'd Out of our virtues; who miscarrying, What heart receives from hence a conquering part, To steel a strong opinion to themselves? Which entertain'd, limbs are his instruments, In no less working than are swords and bows Directive by the limbs.

ULYSSES. Give pardon to my speech. Therefore 'tis meet Achilles meet not Hector. Let us, like merchants, show our foulest wares And think perchance they'll sell; if not, the lustre Of the better yet to show shall show the better, By showing the worst first. Do not consent That ever Hector and Achilles meet; For both our honour and our shame in this Are dogg'd with two strange followers.

NESTOR. I see them not with my old eyes. What are they?

ULYSSES. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector, Were he not proud, we all should wear with him; But he already is too insolent; And it were better parch in Afric sun Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes, Should he scape Hector fair. If he were foil'd, Why, then we do our main opinion crush In taint of our best man. No, make a lott'ry; And, by device, let blockish Ajax draw The sort to fight with Hector. Among ourselves Give him allowance for the better man; For that will physic the great Myrmidon, Who broils in loud applause, and make him fall His crest, that prouder than blue Iris bends. If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off, We'll dress him up in voices; if he fail, Yet go we under our opinion still That we have better men. But, hit or miss, Our project's life this shape of sense assumes— Ajax employ'd plucks down Achilles' plumes.

NESTOR. Now, Ulysses, I begin to relish thy advice; And I will give a taste thereof forthwith To Agamemnon. Go we to him straight. Two curs shall tame each other: pride alone Must tarre the mastiffs on, as 'twere their bone.



SCENE 1. The Grecian camp

[Enter Ajax and THERSITES.]

AJAX. Thersites!

THERSITES. Agamemnon—how if he had boils full, an over, generally?

AJAX. Thersites!

THERSITES. And those boils did run—say so. Did not the general run then? 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? Feel, then.

[Strikes him.]

THERSITES. The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!

AJAX. Speak, then, thou whinid'st leaven, speak. I will beat thee into handsomeness.

THERSITES. 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. Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.

THERSITES. Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?

AJAX. The proclamation!

THERSITES. Thou art proclaim'd, a fool, I think.

AJAX. Do not, porpentine, do not; my fingers itch.

THERSITES. I would thou didst itch from head to foot and I had the scratching of thee; I would make thee the loathsomest scab in Greece. When thou art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as slow as another.

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 Cerberus 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 a sailor breaks a biscuit.

AJAX. You whoreson cur!

[Strikes him.]


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 assinico may tutor thee. You scurvy valiant ass! Thou art here but to thrash Troyans, 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!

AJAX. You dog!

THERSITES. You scurvy lord!

AJAX. You cur!

[Strikes him.]

THERSITES. Mars his idiot! Do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.


ACHILLES. Why, how now, Ajax! Wherefore do you thus? 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.

ACHILLES. So I do. What's the matter?

THERSITES. Nay, but regard him well.

ACHILLES. Well! why, so I do.

THERSITES. But yet you look not well upon him; for who some ever you take him to be, he is Ajax.

ACHILLES. 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 bobb'd his brain more 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.


THERSITES. I say this Ajax—

[AJAX offers to strike him.]

ACHILLES. Nay, good Ajax.

THERSITES. Has not so much wit—

ACHILLES. Nay, I must hold you.

THERSITES. 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.

AJAX. O thou damned cur! I shall—

ACHILLES. Will you set your wit to a fool's?

THERSITES. No, I warrant you, the fool's will shame it.

PATROCLUS. Good words, Thersites.

ACHILLES. What's the quarrel?

AJAX. I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenour of the proclamation, and he rails upon me.

THERSITES. I serve thee not.

AJAX. Well, go to, go to.

THERSITES. I serve here voluntary.

ACHILLES. Your last service was suff'rance; '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 catch an he knock out either of your brains: 'a 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 mouldy ere your grandsires had nails on their toes—yoke you like draught oxen, and make you plough up the wars.

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 afterwards.

PATROCLUS. No more words, Thersites; peace!

THERSITES. I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?

ACHILLES. There's for you, Patroclus.

THERSITES. I will see you hang'd like clotpoles ere I come any more to your tents. I will keep where there is wit stirring, and leave the faction of fools.


PATROCLUS. A good riddance.

ACHILLES. Marry, this, sir, is proclaim'd through all our host, That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun, Will with a trumpet 'twixt our tents and Troy, To-morrow morning, call some knight to arms That hath a stomach; and such a one that dare Maintain I know not what; 'tis trash. Farewell.

AJAX. Farewell. Who shall answer him?

ACHILLES. I know not; 'tis put to lott'ry. Otherwise. He knew his man.

AJAX. O, meaning you! I will go learn more of it.



SCENE 2. Troy. PRIAM'S palace


PRIAM. After so many hours, lives, speeches, spent, Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks: 'Deliver Helen, and all damage else— As honour, loss of time, travail, expense, Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consum'd In hot digestion of this cormorant war— Shall be struck off.' Hector, what say you to't?

HECTOR. Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I, As far as toucheth my particular, Yet, dread Priam, There is no lady of more softer bowels, More spongy to suck in the sense of fear, More ready to cry out 'Who knows what follows?' Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety, Surety secure; but modest doubt is call'd The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches To th' bottom of the worst. Let Helen go. Since the first sword was drawn about this question, Every tithe soul 'mongst many thousand dismes Hath been as dear as Helen—I mean, of ours. If we have lost so many tenths of ours To guard a thing not ours, nor worth to us, Had it our name, the value of one ten, What merit's in that reason which denies The yielding of her up?

TROILUS. Fie, fie, my brother! Weigh you the worth and honour of a king, So great as our dread father's, in a scale Of common ounces? Will you with counters sum The past-proportion of his infinite, And buckle in a waist most fathomless With spans and inches so diminutive As fears and reasons? Fie, for godly shame!

HELENUS. No marvel though you bite so sharp at reasons, You are so empty of them. Should not our father Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons, Because your speech hath none that tells him so?

TROILUS. You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest; You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your reasons: You know an enemy intends you harm; You know a sword employ'd is perilous, And reason flies the object of all harm. Who marvels, then, when Helenus beholds A Grecian and his sword, if he do set The very wings of reason to his heels And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove, Or like a star disorb'd? Nay, if we talk of reason, Let's shut our gates and sleep. Manhood and honour Should have hare hearts, would they but fat their thoughts With this cramm'd reason. Reason and respect Make livers pale and lustihood deject.

HECTOR. Brother, she is not worth what she doth, cost The keeping.

TROILUS. What's aught but as 'tis valued?

HECTOR. But value dwells not in particular will: It holds his estimate and dignity As well wherein 'tis precious of itself As in the prizer. 'Tis mad idolatry To make the service greater than the god—I And the will dotes that is attributive To what infectiously itself affects, Without some image of th' affected merit.

TROILUS. I take to-day a wife, and my election Is led on in the conduct of my will; My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears, Two traded pilots 'twixt the dangerous shores Of will and judgment: how may I avoid, Although my will distaste what it elected, The wife I chose? There can be no evasion To blench from this and to stand firm by honour. We turn not back the silks upon the merchant When we have soil'd them; nor the remainder viands We do not throw in unrespective sieve, Because we now are full. It was thought meet Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks; Your breath with full consent benied his sails; The seas and winds, old wranglers, took a truce, And did him service. He touch'd the ports desir'd; And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness Wrinkles Apollo's, and makes stale the morning. Why keep we her? The Grecians keep our aunt. Is she worth keeping? Why, she is a Whose price hath launch'd above a thousand ships, And turn'd crown'd kings to merchants. If you'll avouch 'twas wisdom Paris went— As you must needs, for you all cried 'Go, go'— If you'll confess he brought home worthy prize— As you must needs, for you all clapp'd your hands, And cried 'Inestimable!'—why do you now The issue of your proper wisdoms rate, And do a deed that never fortune did— Beggar the estimation which you priz'd Richer than sea and land? O theft most base, That we have stol'n what we do fear to keep! But thieves unworthy of a thing so stol'n That in their country did them that disgrace We fear to warrant in our native place!

CASSANDRA. [Within.] Cry, Troyans, cry.

PRIAM. What noise, what shriek is this?

TROILUS. 'Tis our mad sister; I do know her voice.

CASSANDRA. [Within.] Cry, Troyans.

HECTOR. It is Cassandra.

[Enter CASSANDRA, raving.]

CASSANDRA. Cry, Troyans, cry. Lend me ten thousand eyes, And I will fill them with prophetic tears.

HECTOR. Peace, sister, peace.

CASSANDRA. Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled eld, Soft infancy, that nothing canst but cry, Add to my clamours. Let us pay betimes A moiety of that mass of moan to come. Cry, Troyans, cry. Practise your eyes with tears. Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilion stand; Our firebrand brother, Paris, burns us all. Cry, Troyans, cry, A Helen and a woe! Cry, cry. Troy burns, or else let Helen go.


HECTOR. Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains Of divination in our sister work Some touches of remorse, or is your blood So madly hot that no discourse of reason, Nor fear of bad success in a bad cause, Can qualify the same?

TROILUS. Why, brother Hector, We may not think the justness of each act Such and no other than event doth form it; Nor once deject the courage of our minds Because Cassandra's mad. Her brain-sick raptures Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel Which hath our several honours all engag'd To make it gracious. For my private part, I am no more touch'd than all Priam's sons; And Jove forbid there should be done amongst us Such things as might offend the weakest spleen To fight for and maintain.

PARIS. Else might the world convince of levity As well my undertakings as your counsels; But I attest the gods, your full consent Gave wings to my propension, and cut of All fears attending on so dire a project. For what, alas, can these my single arms? What propugnation is in one man's valour To stand the push and enmity of those This quarrel would excite? Yet, I protest, Were I alone to pass the difficulties, And had as ample power as I have will, Paris should ne'er retract what he hath done Nor faint in the pursuit.

PRIAM. Paris, you speak Like one besotted on your sweet delights. You have the honey still, but these the gall; So to be valiant is no praise at all.

PARIS. Sir, I propose not merely to myself The pleasures such a beauty brings with it; But I would have the soil of her fair rape Wip'd off in honourable keeping her. What treason were it to the ransack'd queen, Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me, Now to deliver her possession up On terms of base compulsion! Can it be That so degenerate a strain as this Should once set footing in your generous bosoms? There's not the meanest spirit on our party Without a heart to dare or sword to draw When Helen is defended; nor none so noble Whose life were ill bestow'd or death unfam'd Where Helen is the subject. Then, I say, Well may we fight for her whom we know well The world's large spaces cannot parallel.

HECTOR. Paris and Troilus, you have both said well; And on the cause and question now in hand Have gloz'd, but superficially; not much Unlike young men, whom Aristode thought Unfit to hear moral philosophy. The reasons you allege do more conduce To the hot passion of distemp'red blood Than to make up a free determination 'Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge Have ears more deaf than adders to the voice Of any true decision. Nature craves All dues be rend'red to their owners. Now, What nearer debt in all humanity Than wife is to the husband? If this law Of nature be corrupted through affection; And that great minds, of partial indulgence To their benumbed wills, resist the same; There is a law in each well-order'd nation To curb those raging appetites that are Most disobedient and refractory. If Helen, then, be wife to Sparta's king— As it is known she is-these moral laws Of nature and of nations speak aloud To have her back return'd. Thus to persist In doing wrong extenuates not wrong, But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion Is this, in way of truth. Yet, ne'er the less, My spritely brethren, I propend to you In resolution to keep Helen still; For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependence Upon our joint and several dignities.

TROILUS. Why, there you touch'd the life of our design. Were it not glory that we more affected Than the performance of our heaving spleens, I would not wish a drop of Troyan blood Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector, She is a theme of honour and renown, A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds, Whose present courage may beat down our foes, And fame in time to come canonize us; For I presume brave Hector would not lose So rich advantage of a promis'd glory As smiles upon the forehead of this action For the wide world's revenue.

HECTOR. I am yours, You valiant offspring of great Priamus. I have a roisting challenge sent amongst The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits. I was advertis'd their great general slept, Whilst emulation in the army crept. This, I presume, will wake him.



SCENE 3. The Grecian camp. Before the tent of ACHILLES

[Enter THERSITES, solus.]

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 rail'd at 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 that thou art Jove, the king of gods, and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy caduceus, if ye take not that little little less-than-little wit from them that they have! which short-arm'd ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce, it will not in circumvention deliver a fly from a spider without drawing their massy irons and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the Neapolitan bone-ache! for that, methinks, is the curse depending on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers; and devil Envy say 'Amen.' What ho! my Lord Achilles!


PATROCLUS. Who's there? Thersites! Good Thersites, come in and rail.

THERSITES. If I could 'a rememb'red a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipp'd 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 thy death. Then if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where's Achilles?

PATROCLUS. What, art thou devout? Wast thou in prayer?

THERSITES. Ay, the heavens hear me!



ACHILLES. Who's there?

PATROCLUS. Thersites, my lord.

ACHILLES. Where, where? O, where? Art thou come? Why, my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my table 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 Thersites?

THERSITES. Thy knower, Patroclus. Then tell me, Patroclus, what art thou?

PATROCLUS. Thou must tell that knowest.

ACHILLES. O, tell, tell,

THERSITES. I'll decline the whole question. Agamemnon commands 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. He is a privileg'd man. Proceed, Thersites.

THERSITES. 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; Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool; and this Patroclus is a fool positive.

PATROCLUS. Why am I a fool?

THERSITES. Make that demand of the Creator. It suffices me thou art. Look you, who comes here?

ACHILLES. Come, Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody. Come in with me, Thersites.


THERSITES. Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery. All the argument is a whore and a cuckold-a good quarrel to draw emulous factions and bleed to death upon. Now the dry serpigo on the subject, and war and lechery confound all! Exit


AGAMEMNON. Where is Achilles?

PATROCLUS. Within his tent; but ill-dispos'd, my lord.

AGAMEMNON. Let it be known to him that we are here. He shent our messengers; and we lay by Our appertainings, visiting of him. Let him be told so; lest, perchance, he think We dare not move the question of our place Or know not what we are.

PATROCLUS. I shall say so to him.


ULYSSES. We saw him at the opening of his tent. He is not sick.

AJAX. Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart. You may call it melancholy, if you will favour the man; but, by my head, 'tis pride. But why, why? Let him show us a cause. A word, my lord.

[Takes AGAMEMNON aside.]

NESTOR. What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?

ULYSSES. Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.

NESTOR. Who, Thersites?


NESTOR. Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument

ULYSSES. 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 composure a fool could disunite!

ULYSSES. The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may easily untie.

[Re-enter PATROCLUS.]

Here comes Patroclus.

NESTOR. No Achilles with him.

ULYSSES. The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy; his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.

PATROCLUS. Achilles bids me say he is much sorry If any thing more than your sport and pleasure Did move your greatness and this noble state To call upon him; he hopes it is no other But 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, wing'd thus swift with scorn, Cannot outfly our apprehensions. Much attribute he hath, and much the reason Why we ascribe it to him. Yet all his virtues, Not virtuously on his own part beheld, Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss; Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish, Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him We come 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 Than 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 His pettish lunes, his ebbs, his flows, as if The passage and whole carriage of this action Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and ad That if he overhold his price so much We'll none of him, but let him, like an engine Not 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.


AGAMEMNON. In second voice we'll not be satisfied; We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you.


AJAX. What is he more than another?

AGAMEMNON. No more than what he thinks he is.

AJAX. 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 wise, 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 pride is.

AGAMEMNON. Your mind is the clearer, Ajax, and your virtues the 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.

[Re-enter ULYSSES.]

AJAX. I do hate a proud man as I do hate the engend'ring of toads.



And yet he loves himself: is't not strange?

ULYSSES. Achilles will not to the field to-morrow.

AGAMEMNON. What's his excuse?

ULYSSES. 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, Untent his person and share the air with us?

ULYSSES. Things small as nothing, for request's sake only, He makes important; possess'd he is with greatness, And speaks not to himself but with a pride That quarrels at self-breath. Imagin'd worth Holds in his blood such swol'n and hot discourse That 'twixt his mental and his active parts Kingdom'd Achilles in commotion rages, And batters down himself. What should I say? He is so plaguy proud that the death tokens of it Cry 'No recovery.'

AGAMEMNON. Let Ajax go to him. 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.

ULYSSES. 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 Enter his thoughts, save such as doth revolve And ruminate himself—shall he be worshipp'd Of that we hold an idol more than he? No, this thrice-worthy and right valiant lord Shall not so stale his palm, nobly acquir'd, Nor, 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. This lord go to him! Jupiter forbid, And say in thunder 'Achilles go to him.'

NESTOR. [Aside.] O, this is well! He rubs the vein of him.

DIOMEDES. [Aside.] And how his silence drinks up this applause!

AJAX. If I go to him, with my armed fist I'll pash him o'er the face.

AGAMEMNON. O, no, you shall not go.

AJAX. An 'a be proud with me I'll pheeze his pride. Let me go to him.

ULYSSES. Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.

AJAX. 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 humours blood.

AGAMEMNON. [Aside.] He will be the physician that should be the patient.

AJAX. An all men were a my mind—

ULYSSES. [Aside.] Wit would be out of fashion.

AJAX. 'A should not bear it so, 'a should eat's words first. 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.

NESTOR. [Aside.] He's not yet through warm. 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.

DIOMEDES. You must prepare to fight without Achilles.

ULYSSES. Why 'tis this naming of him does 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.

ULYSSES. Know the whole world, he is as valiant.

AJAX. A whoreson dog, that shall palter with us thus! Would he were a Troyan!

NESTOR. What a vice were it in Ajax now—

ULYSSES. If he were proud.

DIOMEDES. Or covetous of praise.

ULYSSES. Ay, or surly borne.

DIOMEDES. Or strange, or self-affected.

ULYSSES. Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure Praise him that gat thee, she that gave thee suck; Fam'd be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature Thrice-fam'd beyond, beyond all erudition; But he that disciplin'd thine arms to fight— Let Mars divide eternity in twain And give him half; and, for thy vigour, Bull-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— He must, he is, he cannot but be wise; But pardon, father Nestor, were your days As green as Ajax' and your brain so temper'd, You should not have the eminence of him, But be as Ajax.

AJAX. Shall I call you father?

NESTOR. Ay, my good son.

DIOMEDES. Be rul'd by him, Lord Ajax.

ULYSSES. There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles Keeps thicket. Please it our great general To call together all his state of war; Fresh kings are come to Troy. To-morrow We must with all our main of power stand fast; And here's a lord—come knights from east to west And cull their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.

AGAMEMNON. Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep. Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks draw deep.



SCENE 1. Troy. PRIAM'S palace

[Music sounds within. Enter PANDARUS and a SERVANT.]

PANDARUS. Friend, you—pray you, a word. Do you not follow the young Lord Paris?

SERVANT. Ay, sir, when he goes before me.

PANDARUS. You depend upon him, I mean?

SERVANT. Sir, I do depend upon the lord.

PANDARUS. You depend upon a notable gentleman; I must needs praise him.

SERVANT. The lord be praised!

PANDARUS. You know me, do you not?

SERVANT. Faith, sir, superficially.

PANDARUS. Friend, know me better: I am the Lord Pandarus.

SERVANT. I hope I shall know your honour better.

PANDARUS. I do desire it.

SERVANT. You are in the state of grace.

PANDARUS. Grace! Not so, friend; honour and lordship are my titles. What music is this?

SERVANT. I do but partly know, sir; it is music in parts.

PANDARUS. Know you the musicians?

SERVANT. Wholly, sir.

PANDARUS. Who play they to?

SERVANT. To the hearers, sir.

PANDARUS. At whose pleasure, friend?

SERVANT. At mine, sir, and theirs that love music.

PANDARUS. Command, I mean, friend.

SERVANT. Who shall I command, sir?

PANDARUS. Friend, we understand not one another: I am too courtly, and thou art too cunning. At whose request do these men play?

SERVANT. That's to't, indeed, sir. Marry, sir, at the request of Paris my lord, who is there in person; with him the mortal Venus, the heart-blood of beauty, love's invisible soul—

PANDARUS. Who, my cousin, Cressida?

SERVANT. No, sir, Helen. Could not you find out that by her attributes?

PANDARUS. It should seem, fellow, that thou hast not seen the Lady Cressida. I come to speak with Paris from the Prince Troilus; I will make a complimental assault upon him, for my business seethes.

SERVANT. Sodden business! There's a stew'd phrase indeed!

[Enter PARIS and HELEN, attended.]

PANDARUS. Fair be to you, my lord, and to all this fair company! Fair desires, in all fair measure, fairly guide them—especially to you, fair queen! Fair thoughts be your fair pillow.

HELEN. Dear lord, you are full of fair words.

PANDARUS. You speak your fair pleasure, sweet queen. Fair prince, here is good broken music.

PARIS. You have broke it, cousin; and by my life, you shall make it whole again; you shall piece it out with a piece of your performance.

HELEN. He is full of harmony.

PANDARUS. Truly, lady, no.

HELEN. O, sir—

PANDARUS. Rude, in sooth; in good sooth, very rude.

PARIS. Well said, my lord. Well, you say so in fits.

PANDARUS. I have business to my lord, dear queen. My lord, will you vouchsafe me a word?

HELEN. Nay, this shall not hedge us out. We'll hear you sing, certainly—

PANDARUS. Well sweet queen, you are pleasant with me. But, marry, thus, my lord: my dear lord and most esteemed friend, your brother Troilus—

HELEN. My Lord Pandarus, honey-sweet lord—

PANDARUS. Go to, sweet queen, go to—commends himself most affectionately to you—

HELEN. You shall not bob us out of our melody. If you do, our melancholy upon your head!

PANDARUS. Sweet queen, sweet queen; that's a sweet queen, i' faith.

HELEN. And to make a sweet lady sad is a sour offence.

PANDARUS. Nay, that shall not serve your turn; that shall it not, in truth, la. Nay, I care not for such words; no, no.—And, my lord, he desires you that, if the King call for him at supper, you will make his excuse.

HELEN. My Lord Pandarus!

PANDARUS. What says my sweet queen, my very very sweet queen?

PARIS. What exploit's in hand? Where sups he to-night?

HELEN. Nay, but, my lord—

PANDARUS. What says my sweet queen?-My cousin will fall out with you.

HELEN. You must not know where he sups.

PARIS. I'll lay my life, with my disposer Cressida.

PANDARUS. No, no, no such matter; you are wide. Come, your disposer is sick.

PARIS. Well, I'll make's excuse.

PANDARUS. Ay, good my lord. Why should you say Cressida? No, your poor disposer's sick.

PARIS. I spy.

PANDARUS. You spy! What do you spy?—Come, give me an instrument. Now, sweet queen.

HELEN. Why, this is kindly done.

PANDARUS. My niece is horribly in love with a thing you have, sweet queen.

HELEN. She shall have it, my lord, if it be not my Lord Paris.

PANDARUS. He! No, she'll none of him; they two are twain.

HELEN. Falling in, after falling out, may make them three.

PANDARUS. Come, come. I'll hear no more of this; I'll sing you a song now.

HELEN. Ay, ay, prithee now. By my troth, sweet lord, thou hast a fine forehead.

PANDARUS. Ay, you may, you may.

HELEN. Let thy song be love. This love will undo us all. O Cupid, Cupid, Cupid!

PANDARUS. Love! Ay, that it shall, i' faith.

PARIS. Ay, good now, love, love, nothing but love.

PANDARUS. In good troth, it begins so.


Love, love, nothing but love, still love, still more! For, oh, love's bow Shoots buck and doe; The shaft confounds Not that it wounds, But tickles still the sore. These lovers cry, O ho, they die! Yet that which seems the wound to kill Doth turn O ho! to ha! ha! he! So dying love lives still. O ho! a while, but ha! ha! ha! O ho! groans out for ha! ha! ha!-hey ho!

HELEN. In love, i' faith, to the very tip of the nose.

PARIS. He eats nothing but doves, love; and that breeds hot blood, and hot blood begets hot thoughts, and hot thoughts beget hot deeds, and hot deeds is love.

PANDARUS. Is this the generation of love: hot blood, hot thoughts, and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers. Is love a generation of vipers? Sweet lord, who's a-field today?

PARIS. Hector, Deiphobus, Helenus, Antenor, and all the gallantry of Troy. I would fain have arm'd to-day, but my Nell would not have it so. How chance my brothe

HELEN. He hangs the lip at something. You know all, Lord Pandarus.

PANDARUS. Not I, honey-sweet queen. I long to hear how they spend to-day. You'll remember your brother's excuse?

PARIS. To a hair.

PANDARUS. Farewell, sweet queen.

HELEN. Commend me to your niece.

PANDARUS. I will, sweet queen.

[Exit. Sound a retreat.]

PARIS. They're come from the field. Let us to Priam's hall To greet the warriors. Sweet Helen, I must woo you To help unarm our Hector. His stubborn buckles, With these your white enchanting fingers touch'd, Shall more obey than to the edge of steel Or force of Greekish sinews; you shall do more Than all the island kings—disarm great Hector.

HELEN. 'Twill make us proud to be his servant, Paris; Yea, what he shall receive of us in duty Gives us more palm in beauty than we have, Yea, overshines ourself.

PARIS. Sweet, above thought I love thee.Exeunt


SCENE 2. Troy. PANDARUS' orchard

[Enter PANDARUS and TROILUS' BOY, meeting.]

PANDARUS. How now! Where's thy master? At my cousin Cressida's?

BOY. No, sir; he stays for you to conduct him thither.

[Enter TROILUS.]

PANDARUS. O, here he comes. How now, how now!

TROILUS. Sirrah, walk off.

[Exit Boy.]

PANDARUS. Have you seen my cousin?

TROILUS. No, Pandarus. I stalk about her door Like a strange soul upon the Stygian banks Staying for waftage. O, be thou my Charon, And give me swift transportance to these fields Where I may wallow in the lily beds Propos'd for the deserver! O gentle Pandar, from Cupid's shoulder pluck his painted wings, and fly with me to Cressid!

PANDARUS. Walk here i' th' orchard, I'll bring her straight.


TROILUS. I am giddy; expectation whirls me round. Th' imaginary relish is so sweet That it enchants my sense; what will it be When that the wat'ry palate tastes indeed Love's thrice-repured nectar? Death, I fear me; Swooning destruction; or some joy too fine, Too subtle-potent, tun'd too sharp in sweetness, For the capacity of my ruder powers. I fear it much; and I do fear besides That I shall lose distinction in my joys; As doth a battle, when they charge on heaps The enemy flying.

[Re-enter PANDARUS.]

PANDARUS. She's making her ready, she'll come straight; you must be witty now. She does so blush, and fetches her wind so short, as if she were fray'd with a sprite. I'll fetch her. It is the prettiest villain; she fetches her breath as short as a new-ta'en sparrow.


TROILUS. Even such a passion doth embrace my bosom. My heart beats thicker than a feverous pulse, And all my powers do their bestowing lose, Like vassalage at unawares encount'ring The eye of majesty.


PANDARUS. Come, come, what need you blush? Shame's a baby.—Here she is now; swear the oaths now to her that you have sworn to me.— What, are you gone again? You must be watch'd ere you be made tame, must you? Come your ways, come your ways; an you draw backward, we'll put you i' th' fills.—Why do you not speak to her?—Come, draw this curtain and let's see your picture. Alas the day, how loath you are to offend daylight! An 'twere dark, you'd close sooner. So, so; rub on, and kiss the mistress How now, a kiss in fee-farm! Build there, carpenter; the air is sweet. Nay, you shall fight your hearts out ere I part you. The falcon as the tercel, for all the ducks i' th' river. Go to, go to.

TROILUS. You have bereft me of all words, lady.

PANDARUS. Words pay no debts, give her deeds; but she'll bereave you o' th' deeds too, if she call your activity in question. What, billing again? Here's 'In witness whereof the parties interchangeably.' Come in, come in; I'll go get a fire.


CRESSIDA. Will you walk in, my lord?

TROILUS. O Cressid, how often have I wish'd me thus!

CRESSIDA. Wish'd, my lord! The gods grant—O my lord!

TROILUS. What should they grant? What makes this pretty abruption? What too curious dreg espies my sweet lady in the fountain of our love?

CRESSIDA. More dregs than water, if my fears have eyes.

TROILUS. Fears make devils of cherubims; they never see truly.

CRESSIDA. Blind fear, that seeing reason leads, finds safer footing than blind reason stumbling without fear. To fear the worst oft cures the worse.

TROILUS. O, let my lady apprehend no fear! In all Cupid's pageant there is presented no monster.

CRESSIDA. Nor nothing monstrous neither?

TROILUS. Nothing, but our undertakings when we vow to weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers; thinking it harder for our mistress to devise imposition enough than for us to undergo any difficulty imposed. This is the monstruosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite, and the execution confin'd; that the desire is boundless, and the act a slave to limit.

CRESSIDA. They say all lovers swear more performance than they are able, and yet reserve an ability that they never perform; vowing more than the perfection of ten, and discharging less than the tenth part of one. They that have the voice of lions and the act of hares, are they not monsters?

TROILUS. Are there such? Such are not we. Praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we prove; our head shall go bare till merit crown it. No perfection in reversion shall have a praise in present. We will not name desert before his birth; and, being born, his addition shall be humble. Few words to fair faith: Troilus shall be such to Cressid as what envy can say worst shall be a mock for his truth; and what truth can speak truest not truer than Troilus.

CRESSIDA. Will you walk in, my lord?

[Re-enter PANDARUS.]

PANDARUS. What, blushing still? Have you not done talking yet?

CRESSIDA. Well, uncle, what folly I commit, I dedicate to you.

PANDARUS. I thank you for that; if my lord get a boy of you, you'll give him me. Be true to my lord; if he flinch, chide me for it.

TROILUS. You know now your hostages: your uncle's word and my firm faith.

PANDARUS. Nay, I'll give my word for her too: our kindred, though they be long ere they are wooed, they are constant being won; they are burs, I can tell you; they'll stick where they are thrown.

CRESSIDA. Boldness comes to me now and brings me heart. Prince Troilus, I have lov'd you night and day For many weary months.

TROILUS. Why was my Cressid then so hard to win?

CRESSIDA. Hard to seem won; but I was won, my lord, With the first glance that ever-pardon me. If I confess much, you will play the tyrant. I love you now; but till now not so much But I might master it. In faith, I lie; My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools! Why have I blabb'd? Who shall be true to us, When we are so unsecret to ourselves? But, though I lov'd you well, I woo'd you not; And yet, good faith, I wish'd myself a man, Or that we women had men's privilege Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue, For in this rapture I shall surely speak The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence, Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws My very soul of counsel. Stop my mouth.

TROILUS. And shall, albeit sweet music issues thence.

PANDARUS. Pretty, i' faith.

CRESSIDA. My lord, I do beseech you, pardon me; 'Twas not my purpose thus to beg a kiss. I am asham'd. O heavens! what have I done? For this time will I take my leave, my lord.

TROILUS. Your leave, sweet Cressid!

PANDARUS. Leave! An you take leave till to-morrow morning—

CRESSIDA. Pray you, content you.

TROILUS. What offends you, lady?

CRESSIDA. Sir, mine own company.

TROILUS. You cannot shun yourself.

CRESSIDA. Let me go and try. I have a kind of self resides with you; But an unkind self, that itself will leave To be another's fool. I would be gone. Where is my wit? I know not what I speak.

TROILUS. Well know they what they speak that speak so wisely.

CRESSIDA. Perchance, my lord, I show more craft than love; And fell so roundly to a large confession To angle for your thoughts; but you are wise— Or else you love not; for to be wise and love Exceeds man's might; that dwells with gods above.

TROILUS. O that I thought it could be in a woman— As, if it can, I will presume in you— To feed for aye her lamp and flames of love; To keep her constancy in plight and youth, Outliving beauty's outward, with a mind That doth renew swifter than blood decays! Or that persuasion could but thus convince me That my integrity and truth to you Might be affronted with the match and weight Of such a winnowed purity in love. How were I then uplifted! but, alas, I am as true as truth's simplicity, And simpler than the infancy of truth.

CRESSIDA. In that I'll war with you.

TROILUS. O virtuous fight, When right with right wars who shall be most right! True swains in love shall in the world to come Approve their truth by Troilus, when their rhymes, Full of protest, of oath, and big compare, Want similes, truth tir'd with iteration— As true as steel, as plantage to the moon, As sun to day, as turtle to her mate, As iron to adamant, as earth to th' centre— Yet, after all comparisons of truth, As truth's authentic author to be cited, 'As true as Troilus' shall crown up the verse And sanctify the numbers.

CRESSIDA. Prophet may you be! If I be false, or swerve a hair from truth, When time is old and hath forgot itself, When waterdrops have worn the stones of Troy, And blind oblivion swallow'd cities up, And mighty states characterless are grated To dusty nothing—yet let memory From false to false, among false maids in love, Upbraid my falsehood when th' have said 'As false As air, as water, wind, or sandy earth, As fox to lamb, or wolf to heifer's calf, Pard to the hind, or stepdame to her son'— Yea, let them say, to stick the heart of falsehood, 'As false as Cressid.'

PANDARUS. Go to, a bargain made; seal it, seal it; I'll be the witness. Here I hold your hand; here my cousin's. If ever you prove false one to another, since I have taken such pains to bring you together, let all pitiful goers-between be call'd to the world's end after my name—call them all Pandars; let all constant men be Troiluses, all false women Cressids, and all brokers between Pandars. Say 'Amen.'



PANDARUS. Amen. Whereupon I will show you a chamber and a bed; which bed, because it shall not speak of your pretty encounters, press it to death. Away! And Cupid grant all tongue-tied maidens here, Bed, chamber, pander, to provide this gear!



SCENE 3. The Greek camp


CALCHAS. Now, Princes, for the service I have done, Th' 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 come, I have abandon'd Troy, left my possession, Incurr'd a traitor's name, expos'd myself From certain and possess'd 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 As 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 regist'red in promise, Which you say live to come in my behalf.

AGAMEMNON. What wouldst thou of us, Troyan? Make demand.

CALCHAS. You have a Troyan prisoner call'd Antenor, Yesterday took; Troy holds him very dear. Oft have you—often have you thanks therefore— Desir'd 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 Give 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.

AGAMEMNON. Let Diomedes 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 to-morrow Be answer'd in his challenge. Ajax is ready.

DIOMEDES. This shall I undertake; and 'tis a burden Which I am proud to bear.


[ACHILLES and PATROCLUS stand in their tent.]

ULYSSES. Achilles stands i' th' entrance of his tent. Please it our general 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 turn'd on him? If so, I have derision med'cinable 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 Feed 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 Than if not look'd on. I will lead the way.

ACHILLES. What comes the general to speak with me? You know my mind. I'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.

AGAMEMNON. What says Achilles? Would he aught with us?

NESTOR. Would you, my lord, aught with the general?


NESTOR. Nothing, my lord.

AGAMEMNON. The better.


ACHILLES. Good day, good day.

MENELAUS. How do you? How do you?


ACHILLES. What, does the cuckold scorn me?

AJAX. How now, Patroclus?

ACHILLES. Good morrow, Ajax.


ACHILLES. Good morrow.

AJAX. Ay, and good next day too.


ACHILLES. What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?

PATROCLUS. They pass by strangely. They were us'd to bend, To send their smiles before them to Achilles, To come as humbly as they us'd to creep To holy altars.

ACHILLES. What, am I poor of late? 'Tis certain, greatness, once fall'n out with fortune, Must fall out with men too. What the declin'd is, He shall as soon read in the eyes of others As 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 honour, but honour for those honours That are without him, as place, riches, and favour, Prizes of accident, as oft as merit; Which when they fall, as being slippery standers, The love that lean'd on them as slippery too, Doth one pluck down another, and together Die in the fall. But 'tis not so with me: Fortune and I are friends; I do enjoy At ample point all that I did possess Save these men's looks; who do, methinks, find out Something not worth in me such rich beholding As they have often given. Here is Ulysses. I'll interrupt his reading. How now, Ulysses!

ULYSSES. Now, great Thetis' son!

ACHILLES. What are you reading?

ULYSSES. A strange fellow here Writes me that man—how dearly ever parted, How 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 To the first giver.

ACHILLES. This is not strange, Ulysses. The beauty that is borne here in the face The bearer knows not, but commends itself To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself— That most pure spirit of sense—behold itself, Not going from itself; but eye to eye opposed Salutes each other with each other's form; For speculation turns not to itself Till it hath travell'd, and is mirror'd there Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.

ULYSSES. I do not strain at the position— 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 be much consisting, Till he communicate his parts to others; Nor doth he of himself know them for aught Till he behold them formed in th' applause Where th' are extended; who, like an arch, reverb'rate The voice again; or, like a gate of steel Fronting the sun, receives and renders back His figure and his heat. I was much rapt in this; And apprehended here immediately Th' unknown Ajax. Heavens, what a man is there! A very horse that has he knows not what! Nature, what things there are Most abject in regard and dear in use! What things again most dear in the esteem And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-morrow— An act that very chance doth throw upon him— Ajax renown'd. O heavens, what some men do, While 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 fasting in his wantonness! To 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.

ACHILLES. I do believe it; for they pass'd 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, A great-siz'd monster of ingratitudes. Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done. Perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright. To have done is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mock'ry. Take the instant way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow— Where one but goes abreast. Keep then the path, For emulation hath a thousand sons That one by one pursue; if you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an ent'red tide they all rush by And leave you hindmost; Or, like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear, O'er-run and trampled on. Then what they do in present, Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours; For Time is like a fashionable host, That slightly shakes his parting guest by th' hand; And with his arms out-stretch'd, as he would fly, Grasps in the corner. The welcome ever smiles, And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek Remuneration for the thing it was; For beauty, wit, High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, Love, 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 new-born gawds, Though they are made and moulded of things past, And give 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, Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what stirs not. The cry went once 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, Whose glorious deeds but in these fields of late Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves, And drave great Mars to faction.

ACHILLES. Of this my privacy I have strong reasons.

ULYSSES. 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.

ACHILLES. Ha! known!

ULYSSES. Is that a wonder? The providence that's in a watchful state Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold; Finds bottom in th' uncomprehensive deeps; Keeps place with thought, and almost, like the gods, Do 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. All 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 Polyxena. But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home, When fame shall in our 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. The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break.


PATROCLUS. To this effect, Achilles, have I mov'd you. A woman impudent and mannish grown Is not more loath'd than an effeminate man In time of action. I stand condemn'd for this; They 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 dew-drop from the lion's mane, Be shook to airy air.

ACHILLES. Shall Ajax fight with Hector?

PATROCLUS. Ay, and perhaps receive much honour by him.

ACHILLES. I see my reputation is at stake; My fame is shrewdly gor'd.

PATROCLUS. O, 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 Even then when they 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 Troyan lords, after the combat, To see us here unarm'd. I have a woman's longing, An appetite that I am sick withal, To see great Hector in his weeds of peace; To talk with him, and to behold his visage, Even to my full of view.


A labour sav'd!

THERSITES. A wonder!


THERSITES. Ajax goes up and down the field asking for himself.


THERSITES. He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that he raves in saying nothing.

ACHILLES. How can that be?

THERSITES. Why, 'a stalks up and down like a peacock—a stride and a stand; ruminaies like an hostess that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning, bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should say 'There were wit in this 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 for ever; 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 land fish, languageless, a monster. A plague of opinion! A man may wear it on both sides, like leather jerkin.

ACHILLES. Thou must be my ambassador to him, Thersites.

THERSITES. Who, I? Why, he'll answer nobody; he professes not 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 valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarm'd to my tent; and to procure safe conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honour'd Captain General of the Grecian army, et cetera, Agamemnon. Do this.

PATROCLUS. Jove bless great Ajax!


PATROCLUS. I come from the worthy Achilles—


PATROCLUS. Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent—


PATROCLUS. And to procure safe conduct from Agamemnon.

THERSITES. Agamemnon!

PATROCLUS. Ay, my lord.


PATROCLUS. What you say to't?

THERSITES. God buy you, with all my heart.

PATROCLUS. Your answer, sir.

THERSITES. If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven of the clock it will go one way or other. Howsoever, he shall pay for me ere he has me.

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