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Troilus and Cressida

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Act II, Scene 1

A part of the Grecian camp.



  • 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


  • 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

[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
  • 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


  • 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.