Troilus and Cressida (1602-3)

Online Critical Edition in Progress - Version 1.a.
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Act V, Scene 1

The Grecian camp. Before Achilles' tent.


Achilles I'll heat his blood with Greekish wine to-night,
Which with my scimitar I'll cool to-morrow.
Patroclus, let us feast him to the height.

Patroclus Here comes Thersites.


Achilles How now, thou core of envy!
Thou crusty batch of nature, what's the news?

Thersites Why, thou picture of what thou seemest, and idol
of idiot worshippers, here's a letter for thee.

Achilles From whence, fragment?

Thersites Why, thou full dish of fool, from Troy.

Patroclus Who keeps the tent now?

Thersites The surgeon's box, or the patient's wound.

Patroclus Well said, adversity! and what need these tricks?

Thersites Prithee, be silent, boy; I profit not by thy talk:
thou art thought to be Achilles' male varlet.

Patroclus Male varlet, you rogue! what's that?

Thersites Why, his masculine whore. Now, the rotten diseases
of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs,
loads o' gravel i' the back, lethargies, cold
palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, wheezing
lungs, bladders full of imposthume, sciaticas,
limekilns i' the palm, incurable bone-ache, and the
rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take
again such preposterous discoveries!

Patroclus Why thou damnable box of envy, thou, what meanest
thou to curse thus?

Thersites Do I curse thee?

Patroclus Why no, you ruinous butt, you whoreson
indistinguishable cur, no.

Thersites No! why art thou then exasperate, thou idle
immaterial skein of sleave-silk, thou green sarcenet
flap for a sore eye, thou tassel of a prodigal's
purse, thou? Ah, how the poor world is pestered
with such waterflies, diminutives of nature!

Patroclus Out, gall!

Thersites Finch-egg!

Achilles My sweet Patroclus, I am thwarted quite
From my great purpose in to-morrow's battle.
Here is a letter from Queen Hecuba,
A token from her daughter, my fair love,
Both taxing me and gaging me to keep
An oath that I have sworn. I will not break it:
Fall Greeks; fail fame; honour or go or stay;
My major vow lies here, this I'll obey.
Come, come, Thersites, help to trim my tent:
This night in banqueting must all be spent.
Away, Patroclus!


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.

Ajax No, yonder 'tis;
There, where we see the lights.

Hector I trouble you.

Ajax No, not a whit.

Ulysses Here comes himself to guide you.

[Re-enter ACHILLES]

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.

Hector Thanks and good night to the Greeks' general.

Menelaus Good night, my lord.

Hector Good night, sweet lord Menelaus.

Thersites Sweet draught: 'sweet' quoth 'a! sweet sink,
sweet sewer.

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

Agamemnon Good night.


Achilles Old Nestor tarries; and you too, Diomed,
Keep Hector company an hour or two.

Diomedes I cannot, lord; I have important business,
The tide whereof is now. Good night, great Hector.

Hector Give me your hand.

Ulysses [Aside to TROILUS] Follow his torch; he goes to
Calchas' tent:
I'll keep you company.

Troilus Sweet sir, you honour me.

Hector And so, good night.

[Exit DIOMEDES; ULYSSES and TROILUS following]

Achilles Come, come, enter my tent.


Thersites That same Diomed's a false-hearted rogue, a most
unjust knave; I will no more trust him when he leers
than I will a serpent when he hisses: he will spend
his mouth, and promise, like Brabbler the hound:
but when he performs, astronomers foretell it; it
is prodigious, there will come some change; the sun
borrows of the moon, when Diomed keeps his
word. I will rather leave to see Hector, than
not to dog him: they say he keeps a Trojan
drab, and uses the traitor Calchas' tent: I'll
after. Nothing but lechery! all incontinent varlets!


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