Open Source Shakespeare

Speeches (Lines) for Achilles
in "Troilus and Cressida"

Total: 74

# Act, Scene, Line
(Click to see in context)
Speech text



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS]

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, I do so.



Thersites. But yet you look not well upon him; for whosoever you
take him to be, he is Ajax.

Achilles. I know that, fool.



Thersites. Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters! his
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
his guts in his head, I'll tell you what I say of

Achilles. What?



(stage directions). [Ajax offers to beat 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!



Ajax. O thou damned cur! I shall—

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



Patroclus. Good words, Thersites.

Achilles. What's the quarrel?



Thersites. I serve here voluntarily.

Achilles. Your last service was sufferance, '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 have a great
catch, if 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. I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?

Achilles. There's for you, Patroclus.



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 lottery; otherwise
He knew his man.



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES]

Achilles. Who's there?



Patroclus. Thersites, my lord.

Achilles. Where, 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?



Patroclus. Thou mayst tell that knowest.

Achilles. O, tell, tell.



Thersites. Peace, fool! I have not done.

Achilles. He is a privileged 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. Make that demand of the prover. It suffices me thou
art. Look you, who comes here?

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



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.



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

Achilles. No.



(stage directions). [Exeunt AGAMEMNON and NESTOR]

Achilles. Good day, good day.



(stage directions). [Exit]

Achilles. What, does the cuckold scorn me?



Ajax. How now, Patroclus!

Achilles. Good morrow, Ajax.



Ajax. Ha?

Achilles. Good morrow.



(stage directions). [Exit]

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



Patroclus. They pass by strangely: they were used to bend
To send their smiles before them to Achilles;
To come as humbly as they used 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 declined 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, 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,
Do 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 any thing,
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 form'd in the applause
Where they're extended; who, like an arch,
The voice again, or, like a gate of steel
Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
His figure and his heat. I was much wrapt in this;
And apprehended here immediately
The unknown Ajax.
Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse,
That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are
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 shrieking.

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-sized 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 mockery. 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 enter'd 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 the hand,
And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: 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 not stirs. 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!



Patroclus. To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you:
A woman impudent and mannish grown
Is not more loathed than an effeminate man
In time of action. I stand 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 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 gored.



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 we sit idly in the sun.

Achilles. Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus:
I'll send the fool to Ajax and desire him
To invite the Trojan 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 saved!



Thersites. A wonder!

Achilles. What?



Thersites. Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself.

Achilles. How so?



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, he stalks up and down like a peacock,—a stride
and a stand: ruminates 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 forever; for if Hector break not his
neck i' the combat, he'll break 't himself in
vain-glory. 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, language-less, a monster.
A plague of opinion! a man may wear it on both
sides, like a leather jerkin.

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



Thersites. Who, I? why, he'll answer nobody; he professes not
answering: speaking is for beggars; he wears his
tongue in's arms. I will put on his presence: let
Patroclus make 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 unarmed to my tent, and to procure
safe-conduct for his person of the magnanimous
and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honoured
captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon,
et cetera. Do this.



Thersites. Fare you well, with all my heart.

Achilles. Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?



Thersites. No, but he's out o' tune thus. What music will be in
him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know
not; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler Apollo
get his sinews to make catlings on.

Achilles. Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.



Thersites. Let me bear another to his horse; for that's the more
capable creature.

Achilles. My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirr'd;
And I myself see not the bottom of it.



Ulysses. No trumpet answers.

Achilles. 'Tis but early days.



Nestor. And very courtly counsel: I'll begin.
So much for Nestor.

Achilles. I'll take what winter from your lips, fair lady:
Achilles bids you welcome.



Aeneas. He cares not; he'll obey conditions.

Achilles. 'Tis done like Hector; but securely done,
A little proudly, and great deal misprizing
The knight opposed.



Aeneas. If not Achilles, sir,
What is your name?

Achilles. If not Achilles, nothing.



Aeneas. Therefore Achilles: but, whate'er, know this:
In the extremity of great and little,
Valour and pride excel themselves in Hector;
The one almost as infinite as all,
The other blank as nothing. Weigh him well,
And that which looks like pride is courtesy.
This Ajax is half made of Hector's blood:
In love whereof, half Hector stays at home;
Half heart, half hand, half Hector comes to seek
This blended knight, half Trojan and half Greek.

Achilles. A maiden battle, then? O, I perceive you.



Ulysses. So to him we leave it.
Most gentle and most valiant Hector, welcome:
After the general, I beseech you next
To feast with me and see me at my tent.

Achilles. I shall forestall thee, Lord Ulysses, thou!
Now, Hector, I have fed mine eyes on thee;
I have with exact view perused thee, Hector,
And quoted joint by joint.



Hector. Is this Achilles?

Achilles. I am Achilles.



Hector. Stand fair, I pray thee: let me look on thee.

Achilles. Behold thy fill.



Hector. Nay, I have done already.

Achilles. Thou art too brief: I will the second time,
As I would buy thee, view thee limb by limb.



Hector. O, like a book of sport thou'lt read me o'er;
But there's more in me than thou understand'st.
Why dost thou so oppress me with thine eye?

Achilles. Tell me, you heavens, in which part of his body
Shall I destroy him? whether there, or there, or there?
That I may give the local wound a name
And make distinct the very breach whereout
Hector's great spirit flew: answer me, heavens!



Hector. It would discredit the blest gods, proud man,
To answer such a question: stand again:
Think'st thou to catch my life so pleasantly
As to prenominate in nice conjecture
Where thou wilt hit me dead?

Achilles. I tell thee, yea.



Hector. I pray you, let us see you in the field:
We have had pelting wars, since you refused
The Grecians' cause.

Achilles. Dost thou entreat me, Hector?
To-morrow do I meet thee, fell as death;
To-night all friends.



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS]

Achilles. I'll heat his blood with Greekish wine to-night,
Which with my scimitar I'll cool to-morrow.
Patroclus, let us feast him to the height.



(stage directions). [Enter THERSITES]

Achilles. How now, thou core of envy!
Thou crusty batch of nature, what's the news?



Thersites. Why, thou picture of what thou seemest, and idol
of idiot worshippers, here's a letter for thee.

Achilles. From whence, fragment?



Thersites. Finch-egg!

Achilles. My sweet Patroclus, I am thwarted quite
From my great purpose in to-morrow's battle.
Here is a letter from Queen Hecuba,
A token from her daughter, my fair love,
Both taxing me and gaging me to keep
An oath that I have sworn. I will not break it:
Fall Greeks; fail fame; honour or go or stay;
My major vow lies here, this I'll obey.
Come, come, Thersites, help to trim my tent:
This night in banqueting must all be spent.
Away, Patroclus!



(stage directions). [Re-enter ACHILLES]

Achilles. Welcome, brave Hector; welcome, princes all.



Thersites. Sweet draught: 'sweet' quoth 'a! sweet sink,
sweet sewer.

Achilles. Good night and welcome, both at once, to those
That go or tarry.



(stage directions). [Exeunt AGAMEMNON and MENELAUS]

Achilles. Old Nestor tarries; and you too, Diomed,
Keep Hector company an hour or two.



(stage directions). [Exit DIOMEDES; ULYSSES and TROILUS following]

Achilles. Come, come, enter my tent.



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES]

Achilles. Where is this Hector?
Come, come, thou boy-queller, show thy face;
Know what it is to meet Achilles angry:
Hector? where's Hector? I will none but Hector.



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES]

Achilles. Now do I see thee, ha! have at thee, Hector!



Hector. Pause, if thou wilt.

Achilles. I do disdain thy courtesy, proud Trojan:
Be happy that my arms are out of use:
My rest and negligence befriends thee now,
But thou anon shalt hear of me again;
Till when, go seek thy fortune.



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES, with Myrmidons]

Achilles. Come here about me, you my Myrmidons;
Mark what I say. Attend me where I wheel:
Strike not a stroke, but keep yourselves in breath:
And when I have the bloody Hector found,
Empale him with your weapons round about;
In fellest manner execute your aims.
Follow me, sirs, and my proceedings eye:
It is decreed Hector the great must die.
[Enter MENELAUS and PARIS, fighting:]



(stage directions). [Enter ACHILLES and Myrmidons]

Achilles. Look, Hector, how the sun begins to set;
How ugly night comes breathing at his heels:
Even with the vail and darking of the sun,
To close the day up, Hector's life is done.



Hector. I am unarm'd; forego this vantage, Greek.

Achilles. Strike, fellows, strike; this is the man I seek.
[HECTOR falls]
So, Ilion, fall thou next! now, Troy, sink down!
Here lies thy heart, thy sinews, and thy bone.
On, Myrmidons, and cry you all amain,
'Achilles hath the mighty Hector slain.'
[A retreat sounded]
Hark! a retire upon our Grecian part.



Myrmidons. The Trojan trumpets sound the like, my lord.

Achilles. The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the earth,
And, stickler-like, the armies separates.
My half-supp'd sword, that frankly would have fed,
Pleased with this dainty bait, thus goes to bed.
[Sheathes his sword]
Come, tie his body to my horse's tail;
Along the field I will the Trojan trail.