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I am declined
Into the vale of years.

      — Othello, Act III Scene 3

Troilus and Cressida

Act II

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Scene 1. A part of the Grecian camp.

Scene 2. Troy. A room in Priam’s palace.

Scene 3. The Grecian camp. Before Achilles’ tent.

---
       

Act II, Scene 1

A part of the Grecian camp.

      next scene .
---

[Enter AJAX and THERSITES]

  • Thersites. Agamemnon, how if he had boils? full, all over,
    generally? 860
  • Thersites. And those boils did run? say so: did not the
    general run then? were not that a botchy core?
  • Thersites. Then would come some matter from him; I see none now. 865
  • Ajax. Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear?
    [Beating him]
    Feel, then.
  • Thersites. The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel
    beef-witted lord! 870
  • Ajax. Speak then, thou vinewedst 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, 875
    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 proclaimed a fool, I think. 880
  • 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. 885
  • 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 Proserpine's beauty, ay, that thou
    barkest at him. 890
  • Ajax. Mistress Thersites!
  • Thersites. He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a
    sailor breaks a biscuit. 895
  • Ajax. [Beating him] You whoreson cur!
  • 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 assinego 900
    may tutor thee: thou scurvy-valiant ass! thou art
    here but to thrash Trojans; and thou art bought and
    sold among those of any wit, like a barbarian slave.
    If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel, and
    tell what thou art by inches, thou thing of no 905
    bowels, thou!
  • Ajax. [Beating him] You cur!
  • Thersites. Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do. 910

[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS]

  • Achilles. Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore do you thus? How now,
    Thersites! what's the matter, man?
  • Thersites. But yet you look not well upon him; for whosoever you 920
    take him to be, he is Ajax.
  • 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 925
    evasions have ears thus long. I have bobbed 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 nineth part of a sparrow. This lord,
    Achilles, Ajax, who wears his wit in his belly and 930
    his guts in his head, I'll tell you what I say of
    him.

[Ajax offers to beat him]

  • Thersites. As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he
    comes to fight. 940
  • 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? 945
  • Thersites. No, I warrant you; for a fools will shame it.
  • Ajax. I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the
    proclamation, and he rails upon me. 950
  • Ajax. Well, go to, go to.
  • Achilles. Your last service was sufferance, 'twas not
    voluntary: no man is beaten voluntary: Ajax was 955
    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 have a great
    catch, if he knock out either of your brains: a'
    were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel. 960
  • 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.
  • 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! 970
  • Thersites. I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?
  • Thersites. I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come
    any more to your tents: I will keep where there is
    wit stirring and leave the faction of fools. 975

[Exit]

  • 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 980
    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 lottery; otherwise 985
    He knew his man.
  • Ajax. O, meaning you. I will go learn more of it.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

Troy. A room in Priam’s palace.

      next scene .
---

[Enter PRIAM, HECTOR, TROILUS, PARIS, and HELENUS]

  • Priam. After so many hours, lives, speeches spent, 990
    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 consumed
    In hot digestion of this cormorant war— 995
    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, 1000
    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 1005
    To the 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, 1010
    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! 1015
    Weigh you the worth and honour of a king
    So great as our dread father in a scale
    Of common ounces? will you with counters sum
    The past proportion of his infinite?
    And buckle in a waist most fathomless 1020
    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, 1025
    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; 1030
    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 1035
    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 1040
    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 holding.
  • Troilus. What is aught, but as 'tis valued? 1045
  • 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 1050
    And the will dotes that is attributive
    To what infectiously itself affects,
    Without some image of the affected merit.
  • Troilus. I take to-day a wife, and my election
    Is led on in the conduct of my will; 1055
    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 1060
    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 1065
    Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks:
    Your breath of full consent bellied his sails;
    The seas and winds, old wranglers, took a truce
    And did him service: he touch'd the ports desired,
    And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive, 1070
    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 pearl,
    Whose price hath launch'd above a thousand ships, 1075
    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 noble prize—
    As you must needs, for you all clapp'd your hands 1080
    And cried 'Inestimable!'—why do you now
    The issue of your proper wisdoms rate,
    And do a deed that fortune never did,
    Beggar the estimation which you prized
    Richer than sea and land? O, theft most base, 1085
    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!
  • Priam. What noise? what shriek is this?
  • Troilus. 'Tis our mad sister, I do know her voice.

[Enter CASSANDRA, raving]

  • Cassandra. Cry, Trojans, 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, 1100
    Add to my clamours! let us pay betimes
    A moiety of that mass of moan to come.
    Cry, Trojans, cry! practise your eyes with tears!
    Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilion stand;
    Our firebrand brother, Paris, burns us all. 1105
    Cry, Trojans, cry! a Helen and a woe:
    Cry, cry! Troy burns, or else let Helen go.

[Exit]

  • Hector. Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains
    Of divination in our sister work 1110
    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, 1115
    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 1120
    Which hath our several honours all engaged
    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 1125
    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 off 1130
    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, 1135
    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 1140
    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; 1145
    But I would have the soil of her fair rape
    Wiped 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 1150
    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 1155
    When Helen is defended, nor none so noble
    Whose life were ill bestow'd or death unfamed
    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. 1160
  • Hector. Paris and Troilus, you have both said well,
    And on the cause and question now in hand
    Have glozed, but superficially: not much
    Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought
    Unfit to hear moral philosophy: 1165
    The reasons you allege do more conduce
    To the hot passion of distemper'd 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 1170
    Of any true decision. Nature craves
    All dues be render'd 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, 1175
    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. 1180
    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, 1185
    But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion
    Is this in way of truth; yet ne'ertheless,
    My spritely brethren, I propend to you
    In resolution to keep Helen still,
    For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependance 1190
    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 Trojan blood 1195
    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; 1200
    For, I presume, brave Hector would not lose
    So rich advantage of a promised glory
    As smiles upon the forehead of this action
    For the wide world's revenue.
  • Hector. I am yours, 1205
    You valiant offspring of great Priamus.
    I have a roisting challenge sent amongst
    The dun and factious nobles of the Greeks
    Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits:
    I was advertised their great general slept, 1210
    Whilst emulation in the army crept:
    This, I presume, will wake him.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

The Grecian camp. Before Achilles’ tent.

       
---

[Enter THERSITES, solus]

  • Thersites. How now, Thersites! what lost in the labyrinth of 1215
    thy fury! Shall the elephant Ajax carry it thus? He
    beats me, and I rail at him: O, worthy satisfaction!
    would it were otherwise; that I could beat him,
    whilst he railed at me. 'Sfoot, I'll learn to
    conjure and raise devils, but I'll see some issue of 1220
    my spiteful execrations. Then there's Achilles, a
    rare enginer! 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, 1225
    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-armed ignorance itself knows is so abundant
    scarce, it will not in circumvention deliver a fly 1230
    from a spider, without drawing their massy irons and
    cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the
    whole camp! or rather, the bone-ache! for that,
    methinks, is the curse dependent on those that war
    for a placket. I have said my prayers and devil Envy 1235
    say Amen. What ho! my Lord Achilles!

[Enter PATROCLUS]

  • Patroclus. Who's there? Thersites! Good Thersites, come in and rail.
  • Thersites. If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou
    wouldst not have slipped out of my contemplation: but 1240
    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 1245
    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?

[Enter ACHILLES]

  • Achilles. Where, where? Art thou come? why, my cheese, my
    digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to 1255
    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 thyself? 1260
  • Thersites. Thy knower, Patroclus: then tell me, Patroclus,
    what art thou?
  • Thersites. I'll decline the whole question. Agamemnon commands 1265
    Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus'
    knower, and Patroclus is a fool.
  • Achilles. He is a privileged man. Proceed, Thersites. 1270
  • Thersites. Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites
    is a fool, and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.
  • Thersites. Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles;
    Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; 1275
    Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool, and
    Patroclus is a fool positive.
  • Thersites. Make that demand of the prover. It suffices me thou
    art. Look you, who comes here? 1280
  • Achilles. Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody.
    Come in with me, Thersites.

[Exit]

  • Thersites. Here is such patchery, such juggling and such
    knavery! all the argument is a cuckold and a 1285
    whore; 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]

[Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES, and AJAX]

  • Patroclus. Within his tent; but ill disposed, my lord.
  • Agamemnon. Let it be known to him that we are here.
    He shent our messengers; and we lay by
    Our appertainments, visiting of him: 1295
    Let him be told so; lest perchance he think
    We dare not move the question of our place,
    Or know not what we are.

[Exit]

  • 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 the 1305
    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. 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 1315
    their faction: but it was a strong composure a fool
    could disunite.
  • Ulysses. The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may easily
    untie. Here comes Patroclus.

[Re-enter 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 1325
    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,
    And after-dinner's breath.
  • Agamemnon. Hear you, Patroclus: 1330
    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, 1335
    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, 1340
    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, 1345
    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 1350
    Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and add,
    That if he overhold his price so much,
    We'll none of him; but let him, like an engine
    Not portable, lie under this report:
    'Bring action hither, this cannot go to war: 1355
    A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
    Before a sleeping giant.' Tell him so.
  • Patroclus. I shall; and bring his answer presently.

[Exit]

  • Agamemnon. In second voice we'll not be satisfied; 1360
    We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you.

[Exit ULYSSES]

  • Ajax. What is he more than another?
  • Agamemnon. No more than what he thinks he is.
  • Ajax. Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself a 1365
    better man than I am?
  • 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 1370
    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 1375
    his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle;
    and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours
    the deed in the praise.
  • Ajax. I do hate a proud man, as I hate the engendering of toads.
  • Nestor. Yet he loves himself: is't not strange? 1380

[Aside]

[Re-enter ULYSSES]

  • Ulysses. Achilles will not to the field to-morrow.
  • Ulysses. He doth rely on none, 1385
    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? 1390
  • 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: imagined worth
    Holds in his blood such swoln and hot discourse 1395
    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. 1400
    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 1405
    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 do revolve
    And ruminate himself, shall he be worshipp'd 1410
    Of that we hold an idol more than he?
    No, this thrice worthy and right valiant lord
    Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquired;
    Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit,
    As amply titled as Achilles is, 1415
    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, 1420
    And say in thunder 'Achilles go to him.'
  • Nestor. [Aside to DIOMEDES] O, this is well; he rubs the
    vein of him.
  • Diomedes. [Aside to NESTOR] And how his silence drinks up
    this applause! 1425
  • Ajax. If I go to him, with my armed fist I'll pash him o'er the face.
  • 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. 1430
  • Ajax. A paltry, insolent fellow!
  • Nestor. How he describes himself!
  • Ajax. Can he not be sociable?
  • Ulysses. The raven chides blackness.
  • Ajax. I'll let his humours blood. 1435
  • Agamemnon. He will be the physician that should be the patient.
  • Ajax. An all men were o' my mind,—
  • Ulysses. Wit would be out of fashion.
  • Ajax. A' should not bear it so, a' should eat swords first:
    shall pride carry it? 1440
  • Nestor. An 'twould, you'ld carry half.
  • Ulysses. A' would have ten shares.
  • Ajax. I will knead him; I'll make him supple.
  • Nestor. He's not yet through warm: force him with praises:
    pour in, pour in; his ambition is dry. 1445
  • 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; 1450
    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 pelter thus with us! 1455
    Would he were a Trojan!
  • Nestor. What a vice were it in Ajax now,—
  • Ulysses. Ay, or surly borne,— 1460
  • Diomedes. Or strange, or self-affected!
  • Ulysses. Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure;
    Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee suck:
    Famed be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
    Thrice famed, beyond all erudition: 1465
    But he that disciplined thy 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, 1470
    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:
    Put pardon, father Nestor, were your days 1475
    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?
  • 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 1485
    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. 1490

[Exeunt]

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