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SCENE I

A part of the Grecian camp.
Enter AJAX and THERSITES.

Ajax.
Thersites!

Ther.
Agamemnon, how if he had boils?
full, all over, generally?

Ajax.
Thersites!

Ther.
And those boils did run? say so:
did not the general run then? were not that a
botchy core?

Ajax.
Dog!

Ther.
Then would come some matter from
him; I see none now.

Ajax.
Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou
not hear? [Beating him] Feel, then.

Ther.
The plague of Greece upon thee,
thou mongrel beef-witted lord!

Ajax.
Speak then, thou vinewedst leaven,
speak: I will beat thee into handsomeness.

Ther.
I shall sooner rail thee into wit and
holiness: but, I think, thy horse will sooner
con an oration than thou learn a prayer without
book. Thou canst strike, canst thou? a
red murrain o' thy jade's tricks!

Ajax.
Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.

Ther.
Dost thou think I have no sense,
thou strikest me thus?

Ajax.
The proclamation!

Ther.
Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.

Ajax.
Do not, porpentine, do not: my
fingers itch.

Ther.
I would thou didst itch from head to
foot and I had the scratching of thee; I would
make thee the loathsomest scab in Greece.
When thou art forth in the incursions, thou
strikest as slow as another.

Ajax.
I say, the proclamation!

Ther.
Thou grumblest and railest every
hour on Achilles, and thou art as full of envy
at his greatness as Cerberus is at Proserpina's
beauty, ay, that thou barkest at him.

Ajax.
Mistress Thersites!

Ther.
Thou shouldst strike him.

Ajax.
Cobloaf!

Ther.
He would pun thee into shivers with
his fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit.

Ajax.
[Beating him] You whoreson cur!

Ther.
Do, do.

Ajax.
Thou stool for a witch!

Ther.
Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted
lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in
mine elbows; an assinego may tutor thee:
thou scurvy-valiant ass! thou art here but to
thrash Trojans; and thou art bought and sold
among those of any wit, like a barbarian slave.
If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy
heel, and tell what thou art by inches, thou
thing of no bowels, thou!

Ajax.
You dog!

Ther.
You scurvy lord!

Ajax.
[Beating him] You cur!

Ther.
Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do,
camel; do, do.

Achil.
Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore
do you thus? How now, Thersites! what's
the matter, man?

Ther.
You see him there, do you?

Achil.
Ay; what's the matter?

Ther.
Nay, look upon him.

Achil.
So I do: what's the matter?

Ther.
Nay, but regard him well.

Achil.
'Well!' why, I do so.

Ther.
But yet you look not well upon him;
for whosoever you take him to be, he is Ajax.

Achil.
I know that, fool.

Ther.
Ay, but that fool knows not himself.

Ajax.
Therefore I beat thee.

Ther.
Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit
he utters! his evasions have ears thus long. I
have bobbed his brain more than he has beat
my bones: I will buy nine sparrows for a
penny, and his pia mater is not worth the
nineth part of a sparrow. This lord, Achilles,
Ajax, who wears his wit in his belly and his
guts in his head, I'll tell you what I say of
him.

Achil.
What?

Ther.
I say, this Ajax-- [Ajax offers to beat him.

Achil.
Nay, good Ajax.

Ther.
Has not so much wit--

Achil.
Nay, I must hold you.

Ther.
As will stop the eye of Helen's needle,
for whom he comes to fight.

Achil.
Peace, fool!

Ther.
I would have peace and quietness,
but the fool will not: he there: that he: look
you there.

Ajax.
O thou damned cur! I shall--

Achil.
Will you set your wit to a fool's?

Ther.
No, I warrant you; for a fool's will
shame it.

Patr.
Good words, Thersites.

Achil.
What's the quarrel?

Ajax.
I bade the vile owl go learn me the
tenor of the proclamation, and he rails upon
me.

Ther.
I serve thee not.

Ajax.
Well, go to, go to.

Ther.
I serve here voluntary.

Achil.
Your last service was sufferance,
'twas not voluntary: no man is beaten voluntary:
Ajax was here voluntary, and you
as under an impress.

Ther.
E'en so; a great deal of your wit,
too, lies in your sinews, or else there be liars.
Hector shall have a great catch, if he knock
out either of your brains: a' were as good
crack a fusty nut with no kernel.

Achil.
What, with me too, Thersites?

Ther.
There's Ulysses and old Nestor,
whose wit was mouldy ere your grandsires
had nails on their toes, yoke you like draught-oxen
and make you plough up the wars.

Achil.
What, what?

Ther.
Yes, good sooth: to, Achilles! to,
Ajax! to!

Ajax.
I shall cut out your tongue.

Ther.
'Tis no matter; I shall speak as
much as thou afterwards.

Patr.
No more words, Thersites; peace!

Ther.
I will hold my peace when Achilles'
brach bids me, shall I?

Achil.
There's for you, Patroclus.

Ther.
I will see you hanged, like clotpoles,
ere I come any more to your tents: I will keep
where there is wit stirring and leave the faction
of fools. [Exit.

Patr.
A good riddance.

Achil.
Marry, this, sir, is proclaim'd through all our host:
That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,
Will with a trumpet 'twixt our tents and Troy
To-morrow morning call some knight to arms
That hath a stomach; and such a one that dare
Maintain--I know not what: 'tis trash. Farewell.

Ajax.
Farewell. Who shall answer him?

Achil.
I know not: 'tis put to lottery; otherwise
He knew his man.

Ajax.
O, meaning you. I will go learn more of it. [Exeunt.

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