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

Act V. Scene I.

Troilus and Cressida

The Grecian Camp.Before ACHILLES’ Tent.


Achil.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.

Patr.Here comes Thersites.


Achil.How now, thou core of envy!

Thou crusty batch of nature, what’s the news?

Ther.Why, thou picture of what thou seemest, and idol of idiot-worshippers, here’s a letter for thee.

Achil.From whence, fragment?

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

Patr.Who keeps the tent now?

Ther.The surgeon’s box, or the patient’s wound.

Patr.Well said, adversity! and what need these tricks?

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

Patr.Male varlet, you rogue! what’s that?

Ther.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, lime-kilns i’ the palm, incurable bone-ache, and the rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take again such preposterous discoveries!

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

Ther.Do I curse thee?

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

Ther.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 water-flies, diminutives of nature.

Patr.Out, gall!

Ther.Finch egg!

Achil.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![Exeunt ACHILLES and PATROCLUS.

Ther.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 ear-wax: 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!


Agam.We go wrong, we go wrong.

Ajax.No, yonder ’tis;

There, where we see the lights.

Hect.I trouble you.

Ajax.No, not a whit.

Ulyss.Here comes himself to guide you.

Re-enter ACHILLES.

Achil.Welcome, brave Hector; welcome, princes all.

Agam.So now, fair prince of Troy, I bid good-night.

Ajax commands the guard to tend on you.

Hect.Thanks and good-night to the Greeks’ general.

Men.Good-night, my lord.

Hect.Good-night, sweet Lord Menelaus.

Ther.Sweet draught: ‘sweet,’ quoth a’! sweet sink, sweet sewer.

Achil.Good-night and welcome both at once, to those

That go or tarry.

Agam.Good-night.[Exeunt AGAMEMNON and MENELAUS.

Achil.Old Nestor tarries; and you too, Diomed,

Keep Hector company an hour or two.

Dio.I cannot, lord; I have important business,

The tide whereof is now. Good-night, great Hector.

Hect.Give me your hand.

Ulyss.[Aside to TROILUS.]Follow his torch; he goes to Calchas’ tent.

I’ll keep you company.

Tro.Sweet sir, you honour me.

Hect.And so, good-night.[Exit DIOMEDES; ULYSSES and TROILUS following.

Achil.Come, come, enter my tent.[Exeunt ACHILLES, HECTOR, AJAX, and NESTOR.

Ther.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.[Exit.