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The sort to fight with Hector: Among ourselves,||
Give him allowance for the better man,
For that will physic the great Myrmidon,
Who broils in loud applause; and make him fall
His crest, that prouder than blue Iris bends.
If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
We'll dress him up in voices: If he fail,
Yet go we under our opinion? still

That we have better men. But, hit or miss,
Our project's life this shape of sense assumes,-
Ajax, employ'd, plucks down Achilles' plumes.
Nest. Ulysses,

Now I begin to relish thy advice;
And I will give a taste of it forthwith

To Agamemnon: go we to him straight.
Two curs shall tame each other; Pride alone
Must tarre3 the mastiffs on, as 'twere their bone.


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Ajax. Thou stool for a witch!

Ther. Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! thou
hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an
assinego5 may tutor thee: Thou scurvy valiant ass,
thou art here put 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 bowels, thou!
Ajax. You dog!

Ther. You scurvy lord!
Ajax. You cur!

[Beating him. Ther. Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.

Enter Achilles and Patroclus.

Achil. Why, how now, Ajax? wherefore do you
How now,
Thersites? what's the matter, man?
Ther. You see him there, do you?
Achil. Ay; what's the matter?
Ther. Nay, look upon him.
Achil. So I do; What's the matter?
Ther. Nay, but regard him well.
Achil. Well, why I do so.

Ther. But yet you look not well upon him: for,
whosoever you take him to be, he is Ajax.
Achil. I know that, fool.

Ther. Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
Ajax. Therefore I beat thee.

Ther. 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 ninth 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 him.

Achil. What?

Ther. I say, this Ajax

[Ajax offers to strike him, Achilles interposes. Achil. Nay, good Ajax.

Ther. Has not so much wit

Achil. Nay, I must hold you.

Ther. As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he comes to fight. Achil. Peace, fool!

Ther. 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

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

Ther. No, I warrant you; for a fool's will shame it.
Patr. Good words, Thersites.
Achil. What's the quarrel?

Ajax. I bade the vile owl, go learn me the tenor
of the proclamation, and he rails upon me.
Ther. I serve thee not.

Ajax. Well, go to, go to.
Ther. I serve here voluntary.8

Achil. Your last service was sufferance, 'twas not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary; Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.

Ther. Even so?-a great deal of your wit too lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great catch, if he knock out either of your brains; a' were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.

Achil. What, with me too, Thersites ?

Ther. There's Ulysses, and old Nestor,-whose

(6) Continue.

(7) The membrane that protects the brain. (8) Voluntarily.

wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails on their toes,-yoke you like draught oxen, and make you plough up the wars.

Achil. What, what?

Ther. Yes, good sooth; To, Achilles! to, Ajax! to! Ajax. I shall cut out your tongue. Ther. 'Tis no matter; I shall speak as much as thou afterwards.

Patr. No more words, Thersites; peace. Ther. I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?

Achil. There's for you, Patroclus. Ther. 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.


Patr. A good riddance.

Achil. Marry, this, sir, is proclaimed through all our host:

That Hector, by the first 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?
Achil. I know not, it is put to lottery; otherwise,
He knew his man.

Ajax. O, meaning you :-I'll go learn more of it. [Exeunt.

SCENE II.-Troy. A room in Priam's palace. Enter Priam, Hector, Troilus, Paris, and He


Pri. After so many hours, lives, speeches spent, Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks; Deliver Helen, and all damage else— As honour, loss of time, travel, expense, Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is con


In hot digestion of this cormorant war,—
Shall be struck off:-Hector, what say you to't?
Hect. 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,
More spungy 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
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,2
Hath been as dear as Helen; I mean, of ours:
If we have lost so many tenths of ours,
To guard a thing not ours; not 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?

Tro. Fie, fie, my brother! 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, With spans and inches so diminutive As fears and reasons? fie, for godly shame! Hel. No marvel, though you bite so sharp at

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Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons, Because your speech hath none, that tells him so? Tro. You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest,

You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your


You know, an enemy intends you harm;
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;
And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove,
Or like a star dis-orb'd ?-Nay, if we talk of reason,
Let's shut our gates, and sleep: Manhood and

Should have hare hearts, would they but fat their thoughts

With this cramm'd reason: reason and respecta Make livers pale, and lustihood deject.

Hect. Brother, she is not worth what she doth cost The holding.


What is aught, but as 'tis valued? Hect. 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; And the will dotes, that is attributive To what infectiously itself affects, Without some image of the affected merit.

Tro. I take to-day a wife, and my election Is led on in the conduct of my will; 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 To blench4 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,3
Because we now are full. It was thought meet,
Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks:
Your breath with full consent bellied his sails;
The seas and winds (old wranglers) took a truce,
And did him service: he touch'd the ports desir'd;
And, for an old aunt,6 whom the Greeks held cap-


He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness

Wrinkles Apollo's, and makes pale 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,
And turn'd crown'd kings to merchants.
If you'll avouch, 'twas wisdom Paris went
(As you must needs, for you all cry'd-Go, go,)
If you'll confess, he brought home noble prize
(As you must needs, for you all clapp'd your hands,
And cry'd-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 priz'd
Richer than sea and land? O theft most base;
That we have stolen what we do fear to keep!
But, thieves, unworthy of a thing so stolen,
That in their country did them that disgrace,
We fear to warrant in our native place!
Cas. [Within.] Cry, Trojans, cry!

What noise? what shriek is this?

(5) Basket.

(6) Priam's sister, Hesione,

Tro. 'Tis our mad sister, I do know her voice.
Cas. [Within.] Cry, Trojans !
Hect. It is Cassandra.

Enter Cassandra, raving.

Cas. Cry, Trojans, cry! lend me ten thousand


And I will fill them with prophetic tears.

Hect. Peace, sister, peace.

Cas. Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled elders,

Soft infancy, that nothing canst but cry,
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 fire-brand brother, Paris, burns us all.
Cry, Trojans, cry! a Helen, and a wo:
Cry, cry! Troy burns, or else let Helen go. [Exit.
Hect. Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high


Of divination in our sister work

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?

Tro. Why, brother Hector, 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 distastel the goodness of a quarrel, Which hath our several honours all engag'd To make it gracious.2 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 To fight for and maintain !

Par. Else might the world convince3 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 All fears attending on so dire a project. For what, alas, can these my single arms? What propugnation4 is in one man's valour, To stand the push and enmity of those This quarrel would excite? Yet, I protest, 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.

Paris, you speak
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.

Par. Sir, I propose not merely to myself
The pleasures such a beauty brings with it;
But I would have the soil of her fair rape
Wip'd 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,
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,
When Helen is defended; nor none so noble,
Whose life were ill bestow'd, or death unfam'd,
Where Helen is the subject: then, I say,

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(1) Corrupt, change to a worse state. (2) To set it off. (3) Convict. (4) Defence. (5) Commented.

Well may we fight for her, whom, we know well, The world's large spaces cannot parallel.

Hect. Paris, and Troilus, you have both said well:
And on the cause and question now in hand
Have gloz'd,5-but superficially; not much
Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought
Unfit to hear moral philosophy :

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
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;
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.

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,

But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion
Is this, in way of truth: yet, ne'ertheless,
My sprightly brethren, I propend' to you
In resolution to keep Helen still;

For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependence
Upon our joint and several dignities.

Tro. Why, there you touch'd the life of our
Were it not glory that we more affected
Than the performance of our heaving spleens,
I would not wish a drop of Trojan blood
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 :
For, I presume, brave Hector would not lose
So rich advantage of a promis'd glory,
As smiles upon the forehead of this action,
For the wide world's revenue.

Hect. I am yours, Yon valiant offspring of great Priamus.— I have a roistings challenge sent amongst The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks, Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits: I was advértis'd, their great general slept, Whilst emulation9 in the army crept; This, I presume, will wake him. [Exeunt. SCENE III.—The Grecian camp. Before Achilles' tent. Enter Thersites.

Ther. How now, Thersites? what, lost in the labyrinth of 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 my spiteful execrations. Then there's Achilles, a rare engineer. If Troy be not taken till these two undermine it, the walls will stand till they fall of themselves. O thou great thunderdarter of Olympus, forget that thou art Jove the king of gods; and, Mercury, lose all the serpen

(6) Through.

(7) Incline to, as a question of honour. (8) Blustering. (9) Envy.

tine 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 from a spider, without drawing their massy irons, and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the boneache! for that, methinks, is the curse dependent on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers; and devil, envy, say Amen.-What, ho! my lord Achilles !

Enter Patroclus.

Patr. Who's there? Thersites? Good Thersites, come in and rail.

Ther. If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldest not have slipped out of my contemplation: but 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 blood2 be thy direction till thy death! then if she, that lays thee out, says-thou art a fair corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't, she never shrouded any but lazars.3 Amen.-Where's Achilles?

Patr. What, art thou devout? wast thou in prayer?

Ther. Ay; The heavens hear me !

Enter Achilles.

Achil. Who's there?

Patr. Thersites, my lord.

Achil. Where, where?-Art thou come? my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my table so many meals? Come; what's Agamemnon?

Ther. Thy commander, Achilles;-Then tell me, Patroclus, what's Achilles?

Patr. Thy lord, Thersites; Then tell me, I pray thee, what's thyself?

Patr. Thou mayest tell, that knowest.

Achil. O, tell, tell.

Ther. Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery! all the argument is, a cuckold, and a whore; A good quarrel, to draw emulous4 factions, and bleed to death upon. Now the dry serpigo on the subject! and war, and lechery, confound all! [Exit.


Ther. Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a fool; and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.

Agam. Where is Achilles?
Patr. Within his tent; but ill-dispos'd, my lord.
Agam. Let it be known to him, that we are here.
He shent our messengers; and we lay by
Our appertainments,7 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.


Nest. All the better; their fraction is more our wish, than their faction: But it was a strong comWhy,posure, a fool could disunite.

Ulyss. The amity, that wisdom knits not, folly may easily untie. Here comes Patroclus.

Achil. Derive this; come.

Ther. Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool; and Patroclus is a fool positive.

Patr. Why am I a fool?

Ther. Make that demand of the prover.-It fices me, thou art. Look you, who comes here? Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Diomedes, and Ајах.

I shall say so to him. [Exit. Ulyss. 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 a cause.-A word, my lord. [Takes Agamemnon aside. Nest. What moves Ajax thus to bay at him? Ulyss. Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him. Nest. Who? Thersites? Ulyss. He.

Ther. Thy knower, Patroclus; Then tell me,flexure. Patroclus, what art thou?

Achil. Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody;Come in with me, Thersites. [Exit.

Nest. Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument.8

(1) The wand of Mercury, which is wreathed with serpents.

(2) Passions, natural propensities.

(3) Leprous persons. (4) Envious.

(5) Tetter, scab.


Ulyss. No, you see, he is his argument, that has his argument; Achilles.

Ther. I'll decline the whole question. Agamem-To call upon him; he hopes, it is no other, non commands Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am || But, for your health and your digestion's sake, Patroclus' knower; and Patroclus is a fool.

An after-dinner's breath.9

Patr. You rascal!

Re-enter Patroclus.

Nest. No Achilles with him.

Ulyss. The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy: his legs are legs for necessity, not for

Ther. Peace, fool; I have not done.

Hear you, Patroclus;--
We are too well acquainted with these answers:
Achil. He is a privileged man.-Proceed, Ther-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,
suf-Than in the note of judgment; and worthier than

Patr. 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,

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Re-enter Ulysses.

Ulyss. Achilles will not to the field to-morrow. Agam. What's his excuse? Ulyss. 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.

Agam. Why will he not, upon our fair request, Untent his person, and share the air with us? Ulyss. Things small as nothing, for request's sake only,

Let Ajax go to him.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.

Ulyss. O Agamemnon, let it not be so! We'll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes When they go from Achilles: Shall the proud lord, That bastes his arrogance with his own seam ;2 And never suffers matter of the world Enter his thoughts,-save such as do revolve And ruminate himself,-shall he be worshipp'd Of that we hold an idol more than he? No, this thrice-worthy and right valiant lord Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquir'd; Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit, As amply titled as Achilles is, By going to Achilles :

(1) Approbation.

(2) Fat.

That were to enlard his fat-already pride;
And add more coals to Cancer,3 when he burns
With entertaining great Hyperion.3
This lord go to him! Jupiter forbid;
say in thunder-Achilles, go to him.
Nest. O, this is well; he rubs the vein of him.
Dio. And how his silence drinks up this applause!

Ajax. If I go to him, with my arm'd fist I'l pash4 him Over the face.

Agam. O, no, you shall not go.

Ajax. An he be proud with me, I'll pheezes his pride:

Let me go to him.

Ulyss. Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.

Ajax. A paltry, insolent fellow,-


Ajax. Can he not be sociable?

How he describes [Aside.

The raven

Chides blackness. [Aside. Ajax. I will let his humours blood. Agam. He'll be physician, that should be the patient. [Aside. Ajax. An all men Were o' my mind,


He makes important: Possess'd he is with greatness; || Here is a man-But 'tis before his face;
And speaks not to himself, but with a pride
I will be silent.
That quarrels at self-breath: imagin'd worth
Holds in his blood such swoln and hot discourse,
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.



Wit would be out of fashion. [Aside.

Ajax. He should not bear it so, He should eat swords first: Shall pride carry it? Nest. An 'twould, you'd carry half. [Aside. Ulyss. He'd have ten shares. [Aside. Ajax. I'll knead him, I will make him supple :Nest. He's not yet thorough warm: forces him with praises: Pour in, pour in; his ambition is dry. [Aside. Ulyss. My lord, you feed too much on this dislike. [To Agamemnon. Nest. O noble general, do not do so. Dio. You must prepare to fight without Achilles. Ulyss. Why, 'tis this naming of him does him


I would, he were a Trojan! Nest.

Wherefore should you so? He is not emulous,7 as Achilles is.

Ulyss. Know the whole world, he is as valiant. Ajax. A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus with us!

(4) Strike. (6) Stuff.

What a vice

If he were proud?

Were it in Ajax now


Dio. Or covetous of praise?

Ay, or surly borne ?

Dio. Or strange, or self-affected?
Ulyss. Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of
sweet composure;

Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee suck:
Fam'd be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
Thrice-fam'd, beyond all erudition:
But he that disciplin'd thy arms to fight,
Let Mars divide eternity in twain,
And give him half: and, for thy vigour,

(3) The sign in the zodiac into which the sun enters June 21. 'And Cancer reddens with the solar blaze.'


(5) Comb or curry. (7) Envious. (8) Trifle.

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