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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene I.

Troilus and Cressida

Troy.A Street.

Enter, on one side, ÆNEAS, and Servant with a torch; on the other, PARIS, DEIPHOBUS, ANTENOR, DIOMEDES, and Others, with torches.

Par.See, ho! who is that there?

Dei.It is the Lord Æneas.

Æne.Is the prince there in person?

Had I so good occasion to lie long

As you, Prince Paris, nothing but heavenly business

Should rob my bed-mate of my company.

Dio.That’s my mind too. Good morrow, Lord Æneas.

Par.A valiant Greek, Æneas; take his hand:

Witness the process of your speech, wherein

You told how Diomed, a whole week by days,

Did haunt you in the field.

Æne.Health to you, valiant sir,

During all question of the gentle truce;

But when I meet you arm’d, as black defiance

As heart can think or courage execute.

Dio.The one and other Diomed embraces.

Our bloods are now in calm, and, so long, health!

But when contention and occasion meet,

By Jove, I’ll play the hunter for thy life

With all my force, pursuit, and policy.

Æne.And thou shalt hunt a lion, that will fly

With his face backward. In humane gentleness,

Welcome to Troy! now, by Anchises’ life,

Welcome, indeed! By Venus’ hand I swear,

No man alive can love in such a sort

The thing he means to kill more excellently.

Dio.We sympathize. Jove, let Æneas live,

If to my sword his fate be not the glory,

A thousand complete courses of the sun!

But, in mine emulous honour, let him die,

With every joint a wound, and that to-morrow!

Æne.We know each other well.

Dio.We do; and long to know each other worse.

Par.This is the most despiteful gentle greeting,

The noblest hateful love, that e’er I heard of.

What business, lord, so early?

Æne.I was sent for to the king; but why, I know not.

Par.His purpose meets you: ’twas to bring this Greek

To Calchas’ house, and there to render him,

For the enfreed Antenor, the fair Cressid.

Let’s have your company; or, if you please,

Haste there before us. I constantly do think—

Or rather, call my thought a certain knowledge—

My brother Troilus lodges there to-night:

Rouse him and give him note of our approach,

With the whole quality wherefore: I fear

We shall be much unwelcome.

Æne.That I assure you:

Troilus had rather Troy were borne to Greece

Than Cressid borne from Troy.

Par.There is no help;

The bitter disposition of the time

Will have it so. On, lord; we’ll follow you.

Æne.Good morrow, all.[Exit.

Par.And tell me, noble Diomed; faith, tell me true,

Even in the soul of sound good-fellowship,

Who, in your thoughts, merits fair Helen best—

Myself or Menelaus?

Dio.Both alike:

He merits well to have her that doth seek her—

Not making any scruple of her soilure—

With such a hell of pain and world of charge,

And you as well to keep her that defend her—

Not palating the taste of her dishonour—

With such a costly loss of wealth and friends:

He, like a puling cuckold, would drink up

The lees and dregs of a fiat tamed piece;

You, like a lecher, out of whorish loins

Are pleas’d to breed out your inheritors:

Both merits pois’d, each weighs nor less nor more;

But he as he, the heavier for a whore.

Par.You are too bitter to your country-woman.

Dio.She’s bitter to her country. Hear me, Paris:

For every false drop in her bawdy veins

A Grecian’s life hath sunk; for every scruple

Of her contaminated carrion weight

A Trojan hath been slain. Since she could speak,

She hath not given so many good words breath

As for her Greeks and Trojans suffer’d death.

Par.Fair Diomed, you do as chapmen do,

Dispraise the thing that you desire to buy;

But we in silence hold this virtue well,

We’ll not commend what we intend to sell.

Here lies our way.[Exeunt.