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

Act IV. Scene V.

Troilus and Cressida

The Grecian Camp.Lists set out.


Agam.Here art thou in appointment fresh and fair,

Anticipating time with starting courage.

Give with thy trumpet a loud note to Troy,

Thou dreadful Ajax; that the appalled air

May pierce the head of the great combatant

And hale him hither.

Ajax.Thou, trumpet, there’s my purse.

Now crack thy lungs, and split thy brazen pipe:

Blow, villain, till thy sphered bias cheek

Outswell the colic of puff’d Aquilon.

Come, stretch thy chest, and let thy eyes spout blood;

Thou blow’st for Hector.[Trumpet sounds.

Ulyss.No trumpet answers.

Achil.’Tis but early days.

Agam.Is not yond Diomed with Calchas’ daughter?

Ulyss.’Tis he, I ken the manner of his gait;

He rises on the toe: that spirit of his

In aspiration lifts him from the earth.


Agam.Is this the Lady Cressid?

Dio.Even she.

Agam.Most dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet lady.

Nest.Our general doth salute you with a kiss.

Ulyss.Yet is the kindness but particular;

’Twere better she were kiss’d in general.

Nest.And very courtly counsel: I’ll begin.

So much for Nestor.

Achil.I’ll take that winter from your lips, fair lady:

Achilles bids you welcome.

Men.I had good argument for kissing once.

Patr.But that’s no argument for kissing now;

For thus popp’d Paris in his hardiment,

And parted thus you and your argument.

Ulyss.O, deadly gall, and theme of all our scorns!

For which we lose our heads to gild his horns.

Patr.The first was Menelaus’ kiss; this, mine:

Patroclus kisses you.

Men.O! this is trim.

Patr.Paris and I, kiss evermore for him.

Men.I’ll have my kiss, sir. Lady, by your leave.

Cres.In kissing, do you render or receive?

Patr.Both take and give.

Cres.I’ll make my match to live,

The kiss you take is better than you give;

Therefore no kiss.

Men.I’ll give you boot; I’ll give you three for one.

Cres.You’re an odd man; give even, or give none.

Men.An odd man, lady! every man is odd.

Cres.No, Paris is not; for, you know ’tis true,

That you are odd, and he is even with you.

Men.You fillip me o’ the head.

Cres.No, I’ll be sworn.

Ulyss.It were no match, your nail against his horn.

May I, sweet lady, beg a kiss of you?

Cres.You may.

Ulyss.I do desire it.

Cres.Why, beg, then.

Ulyss.Why, then, for Venus’ sake, give me a kiss,

When Helen is a maid again, and his.

Cres.I am your debtor; claim it when ’tis due.

Ulyss.Never’s my day, and then a kiss of you.

Dio.Lady, a word: I’ll bring you to your father.[DIOMEDES leads out CRESSIDA.

Nest.A woman of quick sense.

Ulyss.Fie, fie upon her!

There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,

Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out

At every joint and motive of her body.

O! these encounterers, so glib of tongue,

That give a coasting welcome ere it comes,

And wide unclasp the tables of their thoughts

To every tickling reader, set them down

For sluttish spoils of opportunity

And daughters of the game.[Trumpet within.

All.The Trojans’ trumpet.

Agam.Yonder comes the troop.

Enter HECTOR, armed; ÆNEAS, TROILUS, and other Trojans, with Attendants.

Æne.Hail, all you state of Greece! what shall be done

To him that victory commands? or do you purpose

A victor shall be known? will you the knights

Shall to the edge of all extremity

Pursue each other, or shall be divided

By any voice or order of the field?

Hector bade ask.

Agam.Which way would Hector have it?

Æne.He cares not; he’ll obey conditions.

Achil.’Tis done like Hector; but securely done,

A little proudly, and great deal misprising

The knight oppos’d.

Æne.If not Achilles, sir.

What is your name?

Achil.If not Achilles, nothing.

Æne.Therefore Achilles; but, whate’er, know this:

In the extremity of great and little,

Valour and pride excel themselves in Hector;

The one almost as infinite as all,

The other blank as nothing. Weigh him well,

And that which looks like pride is courtesy.

This Ajax is half made of Hector’s blood:

In love whereof half Hector stays at home;

Half heart, half hand, half Hector comes to seek

This blended knight, half Trojan, and half Greek.

Achil.A maiden battle, then? O! I perceive you.

Re-enter DIOMEDES.

Agam.Here is Sir Diomed. Go, gentle knight,

Stand by our Ajax: as you and Lord Æneas

Consent upon the order of their fight,

So be it; either to the uttermost,

Or else a breath: the combatants being kin

Half stints their strife before their strokes begin.[AJAX and HECTOR enter the lists.

Ulyss.They are oppos’d already.

Agam.What Trojan is that same that looks so heavy?

Ulyss.The youngest son of Priam, a true knight:

Not yet mature, yet matchless; firm of word,

Speaking in deeds and deedless in his tongue;

Not soon provok’d, nor being provok’d soon calm’d:

His heart and hand both open and both free;

For what he has he gives, what thinks he shows;

Yet gives he not till judgment guide his bounty,

Nor dignifies an impure thought with breath.

Manly as Hector, but more dangerous;

For Hector, in his blaze of wrath, subscribes

To tender objects; but he in heat of action

Is more vindicative than jealous love.

They call him Troilus, and on him erect

A second hope, as fairly built as Hector.

Thus says Æneas; one that knows the youth

Even to his inches, and with private soul

Did in great Ilion thus translate him to me.[Alarum. HECTOR and AJAX fight.

Agam.They are in action.

Nest.Now, Ajax, hold thine own!

Tro.Hector, thou sleep’st; awake thee!

Agam.His blows are well dispos’d: there, Ajax!

Dio.You must no more.[Trumpets cease.

Æne.Princes, enough, so please you.

Ajax.I am not warm yet; let us fight again.

Dio.As Hector pleases.

Hect.Why, then will I no more:

Thou art, great lord, my father’s sister’s son,

A cousin-german to great Priam’s seed;

The obligation of our blood forbids

A gory emulation ’twixt us twain.

Were thy commixtion Greek and Trojan so

That thou couldst say, ‘This hand is Grecian all,

And this is Trojan; the sinews of this leg

All Greek, and this all Troy; my mother’s blood

Runs on the dexter cheek, and this sinister

Bounds in my father’s,’ by Jove multipotent,

Thou shouldst not bear from me a Greekish member

Wherein my sword had not impressure made

Of our rank feud. But the just gods gainsay

That any drop thou borrow’dst from thy mother,

My sacred aunt, should by my mortal sword

Be drain’d! Let me embrace thee, Ajax;

By him that thunders, thou hast lusty arms;

Hector would have them fall upon him thus:

Cousin, all honour to thee!

Ajax.I thank thee, Hector:

Thou art too gentle and too free a man:

I came to kill thee, cousin, and bear hence

A great addition earned in thy death.

Hect.Not Neoptolemus so mirable,

On whose bright crest Fame with her loud’st oyes

Cries, ‘This is he!’ could promise to himself

A thought of added honour torn from Hector.

Æne.There is expectance here from both the sides,

What further you will do.

Hect.We’ll answer it;

The issue is embracement: Ajax, farewell.

Ajax.If I might in entreaties find success,—

As seld I have the chance,—I would desire

My famous cousin to our Grecian tents.

Dio.’Tis Agamemnon’s, wish, and great Achilles

Doth long to see unarm’d the valiant Hector.

Hect.Æneas, call my brother Troilus to me,

And signify this loving interview

To the expecters of our Trojan part;

Desire them home. Give me thy hand, my cousin;

I will go eat with thee and see your knights.

Ajax.Great Agamemnon comes to meet us here.

Hect.The worthiest of them tell me name by name;

But for Achilles, mine own searching eyes

Shall find him by his large and portly size.

Agam.Worthy of arms! as welcome as to one

That would be rid of such an enemy;

But that’s no welcome; understand more clear,

What’s past and what’s to come is strew’d with husks

And formless ruin of oblivion;

But in this extant moment, faith and troth,

Strain’d purely from all hollow bias-drawing,

Bids thee, with most divine integrity,

From heart of very heart, great Hector, welcome.

Hect.I thank thee, most imperious Agamemnon.

Agam.[To TROILUS.]My well-fam’d Lord of Troy, no less to you.

Men.Let me confirm my princely brother’s greeting:

You brace of war-like brothers, welcome hither.

Hect.Whom must we answer?

Æne.The noble Menelaus.

Hect.O! you, my lord? by Mars his gauntlet, thanks!

Mock not that I affect the untraded oath;

Your quondam wife swears still by Venus’ glove:

She’s well, but bade me not commend her to you.

Men.Name her not now, sir; she’s a deadly theme.

Hec.O! pardon; I offend.

Nest.I have, thou gallant Trojan, see thee oft,

Labouring for destiny, make cruel way

Through ranks of Greekish youth: and I have seen thee,

As hot as Perseus, spur thy Phrygian steed,

Despising many forfeits and subduements,

When thou hast hung thy advanc’d word i’ th’ air,

Not letting it decline on the declin’d;

That I have said to some my standers-by,

‘Lo! Jupiter is yonder, dealing life!’

And I have seen thee pause and take thy breath,

When that a ring of Greeks have hemm’d thee in,

Like an Olympian wrestling: this have I seen;

But this thy countenance, still lock’d in steel,

I never saw till now. I knew thy grandsire,

And once fought with him: he was a soldier good;

But, by great Mars, the captain of us all,

Never like thee. Let an old man embrace thee;

And, worthy warrior, welcome to our tents.

Æne.’Tis the old Nestor.

Hect.Let me embrace thee, good old chronicle,

That hast so long walk’d hand in hand with time:

Most reverend Nestor, I am glad to clasp thee.

Nest.I would my arms could match thee in contention,

As they contend with thee in courtesy.

Hect.I would they could.


By this white beard, I’d fight with thee to-morrow.

Well, welcome, welcome! I have seen the time.—

Ulyss.I wonder now how yonder city stands,

When we have here her base and pillar by us.

Hect.I know your favour, Lord Ulysses, well.

Ah! sir, there’s many a Greek and Trojan dead,

Since first I saw yourself and Diomed

In Ilion, on your Greekish embassy.

Ulyss.Sir, I foretold you then what would ensue:

My prophecy is but half his journey yet;

For yonder walls, that pertly front your town,

Yond towers, whose wanton tops do buss the clouds,

Must kiss their own feet.

Hect.I must not believe you:

There they stand yet, and modestly I think,

The fall of every Phrygian stone will cost

A drop of Grecian blood: the end crowns all,

And that old common arbitrator, Time,

Will one day end it.

Ulyss.So to him we leave it.

Most gentle and most valiant Hector, welcome.

After the general, I beseech you next

To feast with me and see me at my tent.

Achil.I shall forestall thee, Lord Ulysses, thou!

Now, Hector, I have fed mine eyes on thee;

I have with exact view perus’d thee, Hector,

And quoted joint by joint.

Hect.Is this Achilles?

Achil.I am Achilles.

Hect.Stand fair, I pray thee: let me look on thee.

Achil.Behold thy fill.

Hect.Nay, I have done already.

Achil.Thou art too brief: I will the second time,

As I would buy thee, view thee limb by limb.

Hect.O! like a book of sport thou’lt read me o’er;

But there’s more in me than thou understand’st.

Why dost thou so oppress me with thine eye?

Achil.Tell me, you heavens, in which part of his body

Shall I destroy him? whether there, or there, or there?

That I may give the local wound a name,

And make distinct the very breach whereout

Hector’s great spirit flew. Answer me, heavens!

Hect.It would discredit the bless’d gods, proud man,

To answer such a question. Stand again:

Think’st thou to catch my life so pleasantly

As to prenominate in nice conjocture

Where thou wilt hit me dead?

Achil.I tell thee, yea.

Hect.Wert thou an oracle to tell me so,

I’d not believe thee. Henceforth guard thee well,

For I’ll not kill thee there, nor there, nor there;

But, by the forge that stithied Mars his helm,

I’ll kill thee every where, yea, o’er and o’er.

You wisest Grecians, pardon me this brag;

His insolence draws folly from my lips;

But I’ll endeavour deeds to match these words,

Or may I never—

Ajax.Do not chafe thee, cousin:

And you, Achilles, let these threats alone,

Till accident or purpose bring you to ’t:

You may have every day enough of Hector,

If you have stomach. The general state, I fear,

Can scarce entreat you to be odd with him.

Hect.I pray you, let us see you in the field;

We have had pelting wars since you refus’d

The Grecians’ cause.

Achil.Dost thou entreat me, Hector?

To-morrow do I meet thee, fell as death;

To-night all friends.

Hect.Thy hand upon that match.

Agam.First, all you peers of Greece, go to my tent;

There in the full convive we afterwards,

As Hector’s leisure and your bounties shall

Concur together, severally entreat him.

Beat loud the tabourines, let the trumpets blow,

That this great soldier may his welcome know.[Exeunt all except TROILUS and ULYSSES.

Tro.My Lord Ulysses, tell me, I beseech you,

In what place of the field doth Calchas keep?

Ulyss.At Menelaus’ tent, most princely Troilus:

There Diomed doth feast with him to-night;

Who neither looks upon the heaven nor earth,

But gives all gaze and bent of amorous view

On the fair Cressid.

Tro.Shall I, sweet lord, be bound to thee so much,

After we part from Agamemnon’s tent,

To bring me thither?

Ulyss.You shall command me, sir.

As gentle tell me, of what honour was

This Cressida in Troy? Had she no lover there

That wails her absence?

Tro.O, sir! to such as boasting show their scars

A mock is due. Will you walk on, my lord?

She was belov’d, she lov’d; she is, and doth:

But still sweet love is food for fortune’s tooth.[Exeunt.