Troilus and Cressida (1602-3)


Act II, Scene 1

A part of the Grecian camp.

[Enter AJAX and THERSITES]

857

Ajax Thersites!

858

Thersites Agamemnon, how if he had boils? full, all over,
generally?

859

Ajax Thersites!

861

Thersites And those boils did run? say so: did not the
general run then? were not that a botchy core?

862

Ajax Dog!

864

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.

866

Thersites The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel
beef-witted lord!

869

Ajax Speak then, thou vinewedst leaven, speak: I will
beat thee into handsomeness.

871

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,
canst thou? a red murrain o' thy jade's tricks!

873

Ajax Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.

877

Thersites Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?

878

Ajax The proclamation!

879

Thersites Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.

880

Ajax Do not, porpentine, do not: my fingers itch.

881

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.

882

Ajax I say, the proclamation!

886

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.

887

Ajax Mistress Thersites!

891

Thersites Thou shouldest strike him.

892

Ajax Cobloaf!

893

Thersites He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a
sailor breaks a biscuit.

894

Ajax [Beating him] You whoreson cur!

896

Ajax Thou stool for a witch!

898

Thersites Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no
more brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinego
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
bowels, thou!

899

Ajax You dog!

907

Thersites You scurvy lord!

908

Ajax [Beating him] You cur!

909

Thersites Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.

910

[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS]

911

Achilles Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore do you thus? How now,
Thersites! what's the matter, man?

912

Thersites You see him there, do you?

914

Achilles Ay; what's the matter?

915

Thersites Nay, look upon him.

916

Achilles So I do: what's the matter?

917

Thersites Nay, but regard him well.

918

Achilles 'Well!' why, I do so.

919

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

920

Achilles I know that, fool.

922

Thersites Ay, but that fool knows not himself.

923

Ajax Therefore I beat thee.

924

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
him.

925

Thersites I say, this Ajax--

934

[Ajax offers to beat him]

935

Achilles Nay, good Ajax.

936

Thersites Has not so much wit--

937

Achilles Nay, I must hold you.

938

Thersites As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he
comes to fight.

939

Achilles Peace, fool!

941

Thersites I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will
not: he there: that he: look you there.

942

Ajax O thou damned cur! I shall--

944

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

945

Thersites No, I warrant you; for a fools will shame it.

946

Patroclus Good words, Thersites.

947

Achilles What's the quarrel?

948

Ajax I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the
proclamation, and he rails upon me.

949

Thersites I serve thee not.

951

Ajax Well, go to, go to.

952

Thersites I serve here voluntarily.

953

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.

954

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.

957

Achilles What, with me too, Thersites?

961

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.

962

Achilles What, what?

965

Thersites Yes, good sooth: to, Achilles! to, Ajax! to!

966

Ajax I shall cut out your tongue.

967

Thersites 'Tis no matter! I shall speak as much as thou
afterwards.

968

Patroclus No more words, Thersites; peace!

970

Thersites I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?

971

Achilles There's for you, Patroclus.

972

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.

973

[Exit]

976

Patroclus A good riddance.

977

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.

978

Ajax Farewell. Who shall answer him?

984

Achilles I know not: 'tis put to lottery; otherwise
He knew his man.

985

Ajax O, meaning you. I will go learn more of it.

987

[Exeunt]

988
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