Open Source Shakespeare

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

Total: 52

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



(stage directions). [Sennet. Enter AGAMEMNON, NESTOR, ULYSSES,]
MENELAUS, and others]

Agamemnon. Princes,
What grief hath set the jaundice on your cheeks?
The ample proposition that hope makes
In all designs begun on earth below
Fails in the promised largeness: cheques and disasters
Grow in the veins of actions highest rear'd,
As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap,
Infect the sound pine and divert 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 affined 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.



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 To 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 experienced 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.



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?



(stage directions). [A tucket]

Agamemnon. What trumpet? look, Menelaus.



(stage directions). [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 ears?

Agamemnon. With surety stronger than Achilles' arm
'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?

Agamemnon. How!



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 Trojan 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, Trojan; lay thy finger on thy lips!
The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
If that the praised himself bring the praise forth:
But what the repining enemy commends,
That breath fame blows; that praise, sole sure,

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.

Agamemnon. He hears naught privately that comes from Troy.



Aeneas. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper 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. Trojan, 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.
[Trumpet sounds]
We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
A prince call'd Hector,—Priam is his father,—
Who in this dull and long-continued truce
Is rusty 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 Trojans 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 compass in his arms,
And will to-morrow with his trumpet call
Midway 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.



Ulysses. Amen.

Agamemnon. Fair Lord AEneas, let me touch your hand;
To our pavilion shall I lead you, sir.
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.



(stage directions). [Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES, and AJAX]

Agamemnon. Where is Achilles?



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:
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. 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,
And 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 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:
A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
Before a sleeping giant.' Tell him so.



(stage directions). [Exit]

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.



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?



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. I'll let his humours blood.

Agamemnon. He will be the physician that should be the patient.



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.



Calchas. Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
The advantage of the time prompts me aloud
To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind
That, through the sight I bear in things to love,
I have abandon'd Troy, left my possession,
Incurr'd a traitor's name; exposed myself,
From certain and possess'd conveniences,
To doubtful fortunes; sequestering 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 register'd in promise,
Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.

Agamemnon. What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? make demand.



Calchas. You have a Trojan prisoner, call'd Antenor,
Yesterday took: Troy holds him very dear.
Oft have you—often have you thanks therefore—
Desired 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.



Ulysses. Achilles stands i' the entrance of his tent:
Please it our general to pass strangely by him,
As if he were forgot; and, princes all,
Lay negligent and loose regard upon him:
I will come last. 'Tis like he'll question me
Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him:
If so, I have derision medicinable,
To use between your strangeness and his pride,
Which his own will shall have desire to drink:
It may be 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. Nothing, my lord.

Agamemnon. The better.



(stage directions). [Enter AJAX, armed; AGAMEMNON, ACHILLES, PATROCLUS,]

Agamemnon. Here art thou in appointment fresh and fair,
Anticipating time with starting courage.
Give with thy trumpet a loud note to Troy,
Thou dreadful Ajax; that the appalled air
May pierce the head of the great combatant
And hale him hither.



Achilles. 'Tis but early days.

Agamemnon. Is not yond Diomed, with Calchas' daughter?



(stage directions). [Enter DIOMEDES, with CRESSIDA]

Agamemnon. Is this the Lady Cressid?



Diomedes. Even she.

Agamemnon. Most dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet lady.



All. The Trojans' trumpet.

Agamemnon. Yonder comes the troop.
[Enter HECTOR, armed; AENEAS, TROILUS, and other]
Trojans, with Attendants]



Aeneas. Hail, all you state of Greece! what shall be done
To him that victory commands? or do you purpose
A victor shall be known? will you the knights
Shall to the edge of all extremity
Pursue each other, or shall be divided
By any voice or order of the field?
Hector bade ask.

Agamemnon. Which way would Hector have it?



(stage directions). [Re-enter DIOMEDES]

Agamemnon. Here is Sir Diomed. Go, gentle knight,
Stand by our Ajax: as you and Lord AEneas
Consent upon the order of their fight,
So be it; either to the uttermost,
Or else a breath: the combatants being kin
Half stints their strife before their strokes begin.



Ulysses. They are opposed already.

Agamemnon. What Trojan is that same that looks so heavy?



(stage directions). [Alarum. Hector and Ajax fight]

Agamemnon. They are in action.



Troilus. Hector, thou sleep'st;
Awake thee!

Agamemnon. His blows are well disposed: there, Ajax!



Hector. The worthiest of them tell me name by name;
But for Achilles, mine own searching eyes
Shall find him by his large and portly size.

Agamemnon. Worthy of arms! as welcome as to one
That would be rid of such an enemy;
But that's no welcome: understand more clear,
What's past and what's to come is strew'd with husks
And formless ruin of oblivion;
But in this extant moment, faith and troth,
Strain'd purely from all hollow bias-drawing,
Bids thee, with most divine integrity,
From heart of very heart, great Hector, welcome.



Hector. I thank thee, most imperious Agamemnon.

Agamemnon. [To TROILUS] My well-famed lord of Troy, no
less to you.



Hector. Thy hand upon that match.

Agamemnon. First, all you peers of Greece, go to my tent;
There in the full convive we: afterwards,
As Hector's leisure and your bounties shall
Concur together, severally entreat him.
Beat loud the tabourines, let the trumpets blow,
That this great soldier may his welcome know.



Thersites. With too much blood and too little brain, these two
may run mad; but, if with too much brain and too
little blood they do, I'll be a curer of madmen.
Here's Agamemnon, an honest fellow enough and one
that loves quails; but he has not so much brain as
earwax: and the goodly transformation of Jupiter
there, his brother, the bull,—the primitive statue,
and oblique memorial of cuckolds; a thrifty
shoeing-horn in a chain, hanging at his brother's
leg,—to what form but that he is, should wit larded
with malice and malice forced with wit turn him to?
To an ass, were nothing; he is both ass and ox: to
an ox, were nothing; he is both ox and ass. To be a
dog, a mule, a cat, a fitchew, a toad, a lizard, an
owl, a puttock, or a herring without a roe, I would
not care; but to be Menelaus, I would conspire
against destiny. Ask me not, what I would be, if I
were not Thersites; for I care not to be the louse
of a lazar, so I were not Menelaus! Hey-day!
spirits and fires!
NESTOR, MENELAUS, and DIOMEDES, with lights]

Agamemnon. We go wrong, we go wrong.



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

Agamemnon. So now, fair prince of Troy, I bid good night.
Ajax commands the guard to tend on you.



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

Agamemnon. Good night.



(stage directions). [Enter AGAMEMNON]

Agamemnon. Renew, renew! The fierce Polydamas
Hath beat down Menon: bastard Margarelon
Hath Doreus prisoner,
And stands colossus-wise, waving his beam,
Upon the pashed corses of the kings
Epistrophus and Cedius: Polyxenes is slain,
Amphimachus and Thoas deadly hurt,
Patroclus ta'en or slain, and Palamedes
Sore hurt and bruised: the dreadful Sagittary
Appals our numbers: haste we, Diomed,
To reinforcement, or we perish all.



(stage directions). [Enter AGAMEMNON, AJAX, MENELAUS, NESTOR, DIOMEDES,]
and others, marching. Shouts within]

Agamemnon. Hark! hark! what shout is that?



Ajax. If it be so, yet bragless let it be;
Great Hector was a man as good as he.

Agamemnon. March patiently along: let one be sent
To pray Achilles see us at our tent.
If in his death the gods have us befriended,
Great Troy is ours, and our sharp wars are ended.