Open Source Shakespeare

Troilus and Cressida


Scene 1. Troy. Priam’s palace.

Scene 2. The same. Pandarus’ orchard.

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

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Act III, Scene 1

Troy. Priam’s palace.


[Enter a Servant and PANDARUS]

  • Pandarus. Friend, you! pray you, a word: do not you follow
    the young Lord Paris?
  • Servant. Ay, sir, when he goes before me. 1495
  • Pandarus. You depend upon him, I mean?
  • Servant. Sir, I do depend upon the lord.
  • Pandarus. You depend upon a noble gentleman; I must needs
    praise him.
  • Servant. The lord be praised! 1500
  • 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. 1505
  • Servant. You are in the state of grace.
  • Pandarus. Grace! not so, friend: honour and lordship are my titles.
    [Music within]
    What music is this?
  • Servant. I do but partly know, sir: it is music in parts. 1510
  • Pandarus. Know you the musicians?
  • Servant. Wholly, sir.
  • Pandarus. Who play they to?
  • Servant. To the hearers, sir.
  • Pandarus. At whose pleasure, friend 1515
  • 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 1520
    do these men play?
  • Servant. That's to 't indeed, sir: marry, sir, at the request
    of Paris my lord, who's there in person; with him,
    the mortal Venus, the heart-blood of beauty, love's
    invisible soul,— 1525
  • Pandarus. Who, my cousin Cressida?
  • Servant. No, sir, Helen: could you not find out that by her
  • Pandarus. It should seem, fellow, that thou hast not seen the
    Lady Cressida. I come to speak with Paris from the 1530
    Prince Troilus: I will make a complimental assault
    upon him, for my business seethes.
  • Servant. Sodden business! there's a stewed phrase indeed!

[Enter PARIS and HELEN, attended]

  • Pandarus. Fair be to you, my lord, and to all this fair 1535
    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 1540
    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. Nell, he is full
    of harmony. 1545
  • 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, 1550
    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 1555
    friend, your brother Troilus,—
  • Helen. My Lord Pandarus; honey-sweet lord,—
  • Pandarus. Go to, sweet queen, to go:—commends himself most
    affectionately to you,—
  • Helen. You shall not bob us out of our melody: if you do, 1560
    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 not,
    in truth, la. Nay, I care not for such words; no, 1565
    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? 1570
  • Helen. Nay, but, my lord,—
  • Pandarus. What says my sweet queen? My cousin will fall out
    with you. 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 1575
    disposer is sick.
  • Paris. Well, I'll make excuse.
  • Pandarus. Ay, good my lord. Why should you say Cressida? no,
    your poor disposer's sick.
  • Paris. I spy. 1580
  • 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. 1585
  • 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. 1590
  • 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! 1595
  • 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 more! 1600
    For, O, love's bow
    Shoots buck and doe:
    The shaft confounds,
    Not that it wounds,
    But tickles still the sore. 1605
    These lovers cry Oh! oh! they die!
    Yet that which seems the wound to kill,
    Doth turn oh! oh! to ha! ha! he!
    So dying love lives still:
    Oh! oh! a while, but ha! ha! ha! 1610
    Oh! oh! groans out for ha! ha! ha!
  • 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 1615
    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 to-day? 1620
  • Paris. Hector, Deiphobus, Helenus, Antenor, and all the
    gallantry of Troy: I would fain have armed to-day,
    but my Nell would not have it so. How chance my
    brother Troilus went not?
  • Helen. He hangs the lip at something: you know all, Lord Pandarus. 1625
  • Pandarus. Not I, honey-sweet queen. I long to hear how they
    sped to-day. You'll remember your brother's excuse?
  • Paris. To a hair.
  • Pandarus. Farewell, sweet queen.
  • Helen. Commend me to your niece. 1630
  • Pandarus. I will, sweet queen.


[A retreat sounded]

  • Paris. They're come from field: let us to Priam's hall,
    To greet the warriors. Sweet Helen, I must woo you 1635
    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. 1640
  • 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. 1645



Act III, Scene 2

The same. Pandarus’ orchard.


[Enter PANDARUS and Troilus's Boy, meeting]

  • Pandarus. How now! where's thy master? at my cousin
  • Boy. No, sir; he stays for you to conduct him thither. 1650
  • Pandarus. O, here he comes.
    [Enter TROILUS]
    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 those fields 1660
    Where I may wallow in the lily-beds
    Proposed for the deserver! O gentle Pandarus,
    From Cupid's shoulder pluck his painted wings
    And fly with me to Cressid!
  • Pandarus. Walk here i' the orchard, I'll bring her straight. 1665


  • Troilus. I am giddy; expectation whirls me round.
    The imaginary relish is so sweet
    That it enchants my sense: what will it be,
    When that the watery palate tastes indeed 1670
    Love's thrice repured nectar? death, I fear me,
    Swooning destruction, or some joy too fine,
    Too subtle-potent, tuned too sharp in sweetness,
    For the capacity of my ruder powers:
    I fear it much; and I do fear besides, 1675
    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 1680
    must be witty now. She does so blush, and fetches
    her wind so short, as if she were frayed with a
    sprite: I'll fetch her. It is the prettiest
    villain: she fetches her breath as short as a
    new-ta'en sparrow. 1685


  • 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 encountering 1690
    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? 1695
    you must be watched ere you be made tame, must you?
    Come your ways, come your ways; an you draw backward,
    we'll put you i' the 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 1700
    daylight! an 'twere dark, you'ld 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 1705
    ducks i' the 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' the deeds too, if she call your
    activity in question. What, billing again? Here's 1710
    '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 Cressida, how often have I wished me thus! 1715
  • Cressida. Wished, 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. 1720
  • 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 1725
    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 1730
    enough than for us to undergo any difficulty imposed.
    This is the monstruosity in love, lady, that the will
    is infinite and the execution confined, that the
    desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.
  • Cressida. They say all lovers swear more performance than they 1735
    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? 1740
  • 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 1745
    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? 1750

[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 1755
    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 1760
    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 loved you night and day
    For many weary months. 1765
  • 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 not, till now, so much 1770
    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? 1775
    But, though I loved 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 1780
    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. 1785
  • Cressida. My lord, I do beseech you, pardon me;
    'Twas not my purpose, thus to beg a kiss:
    I am ashamed. O heavens! what have I done?
    For this time will I take my leave, my lord.
  • Troilus. Your leave, sweet Cressid! 1790
  • 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. 1795
  • 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. 1800
  • 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 1805
    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 ramp and flames of love;
    To keep her constancy in plight and youth, 1810
    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 1815
    Of such a winnow'd 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. 1820
  • 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 truths by Troilus: when their rhymes,
    Full of protest, of oath and big compare, 1825
    Want similes, truth tired 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 the centre,
    Yet, after all comparisons of truth, 1830
    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, 1835
    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, 1840
    From false to false, among false maids in love,
    Upbraid my falsehood! when they've said 'as false
    As air, as water, wind, or sandy earth,
    As fox to lamb, as wolf to heifer's calf,
    Pard to the hind, or stepdame to her son,' 1845
    '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 1850
    taken such pains to bring you together, let all
    pitiful goers-between be called 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. 1855
  • Troilus. Amen.
  • Cressida. Amen.
  • Pandarus. Amen. Whereupon I will show you a chamber with a
    bed; which bed, because it shall not speak of your
    pretty encounters, press it to death: away! 1860
    And Cupid grant all tongue-tied maidens here
    Bed, chamber, Pandar to provide this gear!



Act III, Scene 3

The Grecian camp. Before Achilles’ tent.



  • 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, 1870
    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, 1875
    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, 1880
    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— 1885
    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 1890
    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. 1895
  • 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 1900
    Be answer'd in his challenge: Ajax is ready.
  • Diomedes. This shall I undertake; and 'tis a burden
    Which I am proud to bear.


[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS, before their tent]

  • 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 1910
    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 1915
    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, 1920
    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? 1925
  • Nestor. Would you, my lord, aught with the general?
  • Achilles. No.
  • 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! 1935
  • Achilles. Good morrow, Ajax.
  • Ajax. Ha?
  • 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 used to bend
    To send their smiles before them to Achilles;
    To come as humbly as they used to creep
    To holy altars. 1945
  • 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, 1950
    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: 1955
    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 1960
    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. 1965
    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, 1970
    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 1975
    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, 1980
    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 1985
    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, 1990
    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, 1995
    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 2000
    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 2005
    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, 2010
    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, 2015
    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? 2020
  • 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 2025
    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, 2030
    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 2035
    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; 2040
    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 2045
    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 2050
    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 2055
    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 2060
    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, 2065
    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 2070
    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? 2075
    The providence that's in a watchful state
    Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold,
    Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps,
    Keeps place with thought and almost, like the gods,
    Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles. 2080
    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 2085
    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 islands sound her trump, 2090
    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. 2095


  • 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; 2100
    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, 2105
    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. 2110
  • 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 2115
    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, 2120
    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.
    [Enter THERSITES] 2125
    A labour saved!
  • Thersites. A wonder!
  • Achilles. What?
  • Thersites. Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself.
  • Achilles. How so? 2130
  • 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 2135
    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 2140
    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 2145
    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. 2150
  • 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. 2155
  • 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 2160
    captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon,
    et cetera. Do this.
  • Patroclus. Jove bless great Ajax!
  • Thersites. Hum!
  • Patroclus. I come from the worthy Achilles,— 2165
  • Thersites. Ha!
  • Patroclus. Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent,—
  • Thersites. Hum!
  • Patroclus. And to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.
  • Thersites. Agamemnon! 2170
  • Patroclus. Ay, my lord.
  • Thersites. Ha!
  • Patroclus. What say you to't?
  • Thersites. God b' wi' you, with all my heart.
  • Patroclus. Your answer, sir. 2175
  • Thersites. If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven o'clock it will
    go one way or other: howsoever, he shall pay for me
    ere he has me.
  • Patroclus. Your answer, sir.
  • Thersites. Fare you well, with all my heart. 2180
  • 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. 2185
  • 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. 2190


  • Thersites. Would the fountain of your mind were clear again,
    that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be a
    tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.