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

Act I. Scene II.

Troilus and Cressida

The Same.A Street.


Cres.Who were those went by?

Alex.Queen Hecuba and Helen.

Cres.And whither go they?

Alex.Up to the eastern tower,

Whose height commands as subject all the vale,

To see the battle. Hector, whose patience

Is as a virtue fix’d, to-day was mov’d:

He chid Andromache, and struck his armourer;

And, like as there were husbandry in war,

Before the sun rose he was harness’d light,

And to the field goes he; where every flower

Did, as a prophet, weep what it foresaw

In Hector’s wrath.

Cres.What was his cause of anger?

Alex.The noise goes, this: there is among the Greeks

A lord of Trojan blood, nephew to Hector;

They call him Ajax.

Cres.Good; and what of him?

Alex.They say he is a very man per se

And stands alone.

Cres.So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs.

Alex.This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their particular additions: he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant: a man into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his valour is crushed into folly, his folly sauced with discretion: there is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it. He is melancholy without cause, and merry against the hair; he hath the joints of every thing, but every thing so out of joint that he is a gouty Briareus, many hands and no use; or purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.

Cres.But how should this man, that makes me smile, make Hector angry?

Alex.They say he yesterday coped Hector in the battle and struck him down; the disdain and shame whereof hath ever since kept Hector fasting and waking.

Cres.Who comes here?


Alex.Madam, your uncle Pandarus.

Cres.Hector’s a gallant man.

Alex.As may be in the world, lady.

Pan.What’s that? what’s that?

Cres.Good morrow, uncle Pandarus.

Pan.Good morrow, cousin Cressid. What do you talk of? Good morrow, Alexander. How do you, cousin? When were you at Ilium?

Cres.This morning, uncle.

Pan.What were you talking of when I came? Was Hector armed and gone ere ye came to Ilium? Helen was not up, was she?

Cres.Hector was gone, but Helen was not up.

Pan.E’en so: Hector was stirring early.

Cres.That were we talking of, and of his anger.

Pan.Was he angry?

Cres.So he says here.

Pan.True, he was so; I know the cause too: he’ll lay about him to-day, I can tell them that: and there’s Troilus will not come far behind him; let them take heed of Troilus, I can tell them that too.

Cres.What! is he angry too?

Pan.Who, Troilus? Troilus is the better man of the two.

Cres.O Jupiter! there’s no comparison.

Pan.What! not between Troilus and Hector? Do you know a man if you see him?

Cres.Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him.

Pan.Well, I say Troilus is Troilus.

Cres.Then you say as I say; for I am sure he is not Hector.

Pan.No, nor Hector is not Troilus in some degrees.

Cres.’Tis just to each of them; he is himself.

Pan.Himself! Alas, poor Troilus, I would he were.

Cres.So he is.

Pan.Condition, I had gone bare-foot to India.

Cres.He is not Hector.

Pan.Himself! no, he’s not himself. Would a’ were himself: well, the gods are above; time must friend or end: well, Troilus, well, I would my heart were in her body. No, Hector is not a better man than Troilus.

Cres.Excuse me.

Pan.He is elder.

Cres.Pardon me, pardon me.

Pan.Th’ other’s not come to ’t; you shall tell me another tale when the other’s come to ’t. Hector shall not have his wit this year.

Cres.He shall not need it if he have his own.

Pan.Nor his qualities.

Cres.No matter.

Pan.Nor his beauty.

Cres.’Twould not become him; his own’s better.

Pan.You have no judgment, niece: Helen herself swore th’ other day, that Troilus, for a brown favour,—for so ’tis I must confess,—not brown neither,—

Cres.No, but brown.

Pan.Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown.

Cres.To say the truth, true and not true.

Pan.She prais’d his complexion above Paris.

Cres.Why, Paris hath colour enough.

Pan.So he has.

Cres.Then Troilus should have too much: if she praised him above, his complexion is higher than his: he having colour enough, and the other higher, is too flaming a praise for a good complexion. I had as lief Helen’s golden tongue had commended Troilus for a copper nose.

Pan.I swear to you, I think Helen loves him better than Paris.

Cres.Then she’s a merry Greek indeed.

Pan.Nay, I am sure she does. She came to him th’ other day into the compassed window, and, you know, he has not past three or four hairs on his chin,—

Cres.Indeed, a tapster’s arithmetic may soon bring his particulars therein to a total.

Pan.Why, he is very young; and yet will he, within three pound, lift as much as his brother Hector.

Cres.Is he so young a man, and so old a lifter?

Pan.But to prove to you that Helen loves him: she came and puts me her white hand to his cloven chin,—

Cres.Juno have mercy! how came it cloven?

Pan.Why, you know, ’tis dimpled. I think his smiling becomes him better than any man in all Phrygia.

Cres.O! he smiles valiantly.

Pan.Does he not?

Cres.O! yes, an ’twere a cloud in autumn.

Pan.Why, go to, then. But to prove to you that Helen loves Troilus,—

Cres.Troilus will stand to the proof, if you’ll prove it so.

Pan.Troilus! why he esteems her no more than I esteem an addle egg.

Cres.If you love an addle egg as well as you love an idle head, you would eat chickens i’ the shell.

Pan.I cannot choose but laugh, to think how she tickled his chin: indeed, she has a marvell’s white hand, I must needs confess,—

Cres.Without the rack.

Pan.And she takes upon her to spy a white hair on his chin.

Cres.Alas! poor chin! many a wart is richer.

Pan.But there was such laughing: Queen Hecuba laughed that her eyes ran o’er.

Cres.With millstones.

Pan.And Cassandra laughed.

Cres.But there was more temperate fire under the pot of her eyes: did her eyes run o’er too?

Pan.And Hector laughed.

Cres.At what was all this laughing?

Pan.Marry, at the white hair that Helen spied on Troilus’ chin.

Cres.An ’t had been a green hair, I should have laughed too.

Pan.They laughed not so much at the hair as at his pretty answer.

Cres.What was his answer?

Pan.Quoth she, ‘Here’s but one-and-fifty hairs on your chin, and one of them is white.’

Cres.This is her question.

Pan.That’s true; make no question of that. ‘One-and-fifty hairs,’ quoth he, ‘and one white: that white hair is my father, and all the rest are his sons.’ ‘Jupiter!’ quoth she, ‘which of these hairs is Paris, my husband?’ ‘The forked one,’ quoth he; ‘pluck ’t out, and give it him.’ But there was such laughing, and Helen so blushed, and Paris so chafed, and all the rest so laughed, that it passed.

Cres.So let it now, for it has been a great while going by.

Pan.Well, cousin, I told you a thing yesterday; think on ’t.

Cres.So I do.

Pan.I’ll be sworn ’tis true: he will weep you, an ’twere a man born in April.

Cres.And I’ll spring up in his tears, an ’twere a nettle against May.[A retreat sounded.

Pan.Hark! they are coming from the field. Shall we stand up here, and see them as they pass toward Ilium? good niece, do; sweet niece, Cressida.

Cres.At your pleasure.

Pan.Here, here; here’s an excellent place: here we may see most bravely. I’ll tell you them all by their names as they pass by, but mark Troilus above the rest.

Cres.Speak not so loud.

ÆNEAS passes over the stage.

Pan.That’s Æneas: is not that a brave man? he’s one of the flowers of Troy, I can tell you: but mark Troilus; you shall see anon.

ANTENOR passes over.

Cres.Who’s that?

Pan.That’s Antenor: he has a shrewd wit, I can tell you; and he’s a man good enough: he’s one o’ the soundest judgments in Troy, whosoever, and a proper man of person. When comes Troilus? I’ll show you Troilus anon: if he see me, you shall see him nod at me.

Cres.Will he give you the nod?

Pan.You shall see.

Cres.If he do, the rich shall have more.

HECTOR passes over.

Pan.That’s Hector, that, that, look you, that; there’s a fellow! Go thy way, Hector! There’s a brave man, niece. O brave Hector! Look how he looks! there’s a countenance! Is ’t not a brave man?

Cres.O! a brave man.

Pan.Is a’ not? It does a man’s heart good. Look you what hacks are on his helmet! look you yonder, do you see? look you there: there’s no jesting; there’s laying on, take ’t off who will, as they say: there be hacks!

Cres.Be those with swords?

Pan.Swords? any thing, he cares not; an the devil come to him, it’s all one: by God’s lid, it does one’s heart good. Yonder comes Paris, yonder comes Paris.

PARIS crosses over.

Look ye yonder, niece: is ’t not a gallant man too, is ’t not? Why, this is brave now. Who said he came hurt home to-day? he’s not hurt: why, this will do Helen’s heart good now, ha!

Would I could see Troilus now! You shall see

Troilus anon.

Cres.Who’s that?

HELENUS passes over.

Pan.That’s Helenus. I marvel where Troilus is. That’s Helenus. I think he went not forth to-day. That’s Helenus.

Cres.Can Helenus fight, uncle?

Pan.Helenus? no, yes, he’ll fight indifferent well. I marvel where Troilus is. Hark! do you not hear the people cry, ‘Troilus?’ Helenus is a priest.

Cres.What sneaking fellow comes yonder?

TROILUS passes over.

Pan.Where? yonder? that’s Deiphobus. ’Tis Troilus! there’s a man, niece! Hem! Brave Troilus! the prince of chivalry!

Cres.Peace! for shame, peace!

Pan.Mark him; note him: O brave Troilus! look well upon him, niece: look you how his sword is bloodied, and his helmet more hacked than Hector’s; and how he looks, and how he goes! O admirable youth! he ne’er saw three-and-twenty. Go thy way, Troilus, go thy way! Had I a sister were a grace, or a daughter a goddess, he should take his choice. O admirable man! Paris? Paris is dirt to him; and, I warrant, Helen, to change, would give an eye to boot.

Cres.Here come more.

Soldiers pass over.

Pan.Asses, fools, dolts! chaff and bran, chaff and bran! porridge after meat! I could live and die i’ the eyes of Troilus. Ne’er look, ne’er look; the eagles are gone: crows and daws, crows and daws! I had rather be such a man as Troilus than Agamemnon and all Greece.

Cres.There is among the Greeks Achilles, a better man than Troilus.

Pan.Achilles! a drayman, a porter, a very camel.

Cres.Well, well.

Pan.‘Well, well!’ Why, have you any discretion? have you any eyes? Do you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and so forth, the spice and salt that season a man?

Cres.Ay, a minced man: and then to be baked with no date in the pie, for then the man’s date’s out.

Pan.You are such a woman! one knows not at what ward you lie.

Cres.Upon my back, to defend my belly; upon my wit, to defend my wiles; upon my secrecy, to defend mine honesty; my mask, to defend my beauty; and you, to defend all these: and at all these wards I lie, at a thousand watches.

Pan.Say one of your watches.

Cres.Nay, I’ll watch you for that; and that’s one of the chiefest of them too: if I cannot ward what I would not have hit, I can watch you for telling how I took the blow; unless it swell past hiding, and then it’s past watching.

Pan.You are such another!

Enter TROILUS’ Boy.

Boy.Sir, my lord would instantly speak with you.


Boy.At your own house; there he unarms him.

Pan.Good boy, tell him I come.[Exit Boy.]

I doubt he be hurt. Fare ye well, good niece.

Cres.Adieu, uncle.

Pan.I’ll be with you, niece, by and by.

Cres.To bring, uncle?

Pan.Ay, a token from Troilus.

Cres.By the same token, you are a bawd.[Exit PANDARUS.

Words, vows, gifts, tears, and love’s full sacrifice

He offers in another’s enterprise;

But more in Troilus thousand-fold I see

Than in the glass of Pandar’s praise may be.

Yet hold I off. Women are angels, wooing:

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing:

That she belov’d knows nought that knows not this:

Men prize the thing ungain’d more than it is:

That she was never yet, that ever knew

Love got so sweet as when desire did sue.

Therefore this maxim out of love I teach:

Achievement is command; ungain’d, beseech:

Then though my heart’s content firm love doth bear,

Nothing of that shall from mine eyes appear.[Exeunt.