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SCENE III

The Grecian camp. Before Achilles' tent.
Enter THERSITES, solus.

Ther.
How now, Thersites! what, lost in
the labyrinth of the fury! Shall the elephant
Ajax carry it thus? he beats me, and I rail at
him: O, worthy satisfaction! would it were
otherwise; that I could beat him, whilst he
railed at me. 'Sfoot, I'll learn to conjure and
raise devils, but I'll see some issue of my spiteful
execrations. Then there's Achilles, a rare
engineer! If Troy be not taken till these two
undermine it, the walls will stand till they fall
of themselves, O thou great thunder-darter
of Olympus, forget that thou art Jove, the king
of gods, and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine
craft of thy caduceus, if ye take not that little
little less than little wit from them that they
have! which short-armed ignorance itself
knows is so abundant scarce, it will not in circumvention
deliver a fly from a spider, without
drawing their massy irons and cutting the
web. After this, the vengeance on the whole
camp! or rather, the bone-ache! for that, methinks,
is the curse dependant on those that
war for a placket. I have said my prayers and
devil Envy say Amen. What ho! my Lord
Achilles! Enter PATROCLUS.

Patr.
Who's there? Thersites! Good Thersites,
come in and rail.

Ther.
If I could have remembered a gilt
counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipped out
of my contemplation: but it is no matter; thyself
upon thyself! The common curse of
mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great
revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and
discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood
be thy direction till thy death! then if she
that lays thee out says thou art a fair corse,
I'll be sworn and sworn upon 't she never
shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where's
Achilles?

Patr.
What, art thou devout? wast thou in
prayer?

Ther.
Ay: the heavens hear me! Enter ACHILLES.

Achil.
Who's there?

Patr.
Thersites, my lord.

Achil.
Where, where? Art thou come?
why, my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou
not served thyself in to my table so many
meals? Come, what's Agamemnon?

Ther.
Thy commander, Achilles. Then tell
me, Patroclus, what's Achilles?

Patr.
Thy lord, Thersites: then tell me, I
pray thee, what's thyself?

Ther.
Thy knower, Patroclus; then tell
me, Patroclus, what art thou?

Patr.
Thou mayst tell that knowest.

Achil.
O, tell, tell.

Ther.
I'll decline the whole question.
Agamemnon commands Achilles; Achilles is
my lord; I am Patroclus' knower, and Patroclus
is a fool.

Patr.
You rascal!

Ther.
Peace, fool! I have not done.

Achil.
He is a privileged man. Proceed,
Thersites.

Ther.
Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a
fool; Thersites is a fool, and, as aforesaid,
Patroclus is a fool.

Achil.
Derive this; come.

Ther.
Agamemnon is a fool to offer to
command Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be
commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a
fool to serve such a fool, and Patroclus is a
fool positive.

Patr.
Why am I a fool?

Ther.
Make that demand of the prover. It
suffices me thou art. Look you, who comes
here?

Achil.
Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody.
Come in with me, Thersites. [Exit.

Ther.
Here such patchery, such juggling
and such knavery! all the argument is cuckold
and a whore; a good quarrel to draw emulous
factions and bleed to death upon. Now, the
dry serpigo on the subject! and war and
lechery confound all! [Exit. Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES, and AJAX.

Agam.
Where is Achilles?

Patr.
Within his tent; but ill disposed, my lord.

Agam.
Let it be known to him that we are here.
He shent our messengers; and we lay by
Our appertainments, visiting of him:
Let him be told so; lest perchance he think
We dare not move the question of our place,
Or know not what we are.

Patr.
I shall say so to him. [Exit.

Ulyss.
We saw him at the opening of his tent:
He is not sick.

Ajax.
Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart:
you may call it melancholy, if you will favor
the man; but, by my head, 'tis pride: but why,
why? let him show us the cause. A word, my
lord. [Takes Agamemnon aside.

Nest.
What moves Ajax thus to bay at
him?

Ulyss.
Achilles hath inveigled his fool
from him.

Nest.
Who, Thersites?

Ulyss.
He.

Nest.
Then will Ajax lack matter, if he
have lost his argument.

Ulyss.
No, you see, he is his argument that
has his argument, Achilles.

Nest.
All the better; their fraction is more
our wish than their faction: but it was a strong
composure a fool could disunite.

Ulyss.
The amity that wisdom knits not,
folly may easily untie. Here comes Patroclus. Re-enter PATROCLUS.

Nest.
No Achilles with him.

Ulyss.
The elephant hath joints, but none
for courtesy: his legs are legs for necessity,
not for flexure.

Patr.
Achilles bids me say, he is much sorry,
If any thing more than your sport and pleasure
Did move your greatness and this noble state
To call upon him; he hopes it is no other
But for your health and your digestion sake,
An after-dinner's breath.

Agam.
Hear you, Patroclus:
We are too well acquainted with these answers:
But his evasion, wing'd thus swift with scorn,
Cannot outfly our apprehensions.
Much attribute he hath, and much the reason
Why we ascribe it to him; yet all his virtues,
Not virtuously on his own part beheld,
Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,
Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
130Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him,
We come to speak with him; and you shall not sin,
If you do say we think him over-proud
And under-honest, in self-assumption greater
Than in the note of judgement; and worthier than himself
Here tend the savage strangeness he puts on,
Disguise the holy strength of their command,
And underwrite in an observing kind
His humorous predominance; yea, watch
His pettish lunes, his ebbs, his flows, as if
The passage and whole carriage of this action
Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and add,
That if he overhold his price so much,
We'll none of him; but let him, like an engine
Not portable, lie under this report:
'Bring action hither, this cannot go to war:
A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
Before a sleeping giant.' Tell him so.

Patr.
I shall; and bring his answer presently. [Exit.

Agam.
In second voice we'll not be satisfied;
We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you. [Exit Ulysses.

Ajax.
What is he more than another?

Agam.
No more than what he thinks he is.

Ajax.
Is he so much? Do you not think
he thinks himself a better man than I am?

Agam.
No question.

Ajax.
Will you subscribe his thought, and
say he is?

Agam.
No, noble Ajax; you are as strong,
as valiant, as wise, no less noble, much more
gentle, and altogether more tractable.

Ajax.
Why should a man be proud? How
doth pride grow? I know not what pride is.

Agam.
Your mind is the clearer, Ajax, and
your virtues the fairer. He that is proud eats
up himself: pride is his own glass, his own
trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever
praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed
in the praise.

Ajax.
I do hate a proud man, as I hate the
engendering of toads.

Nest.
Yet he loves himself: is't not strange? [Aside.
Re-enter ULYSSES.

Ulyss.
Achilles will not to the field tomorrow.

Agam.
What's his excuse?

Ulyss.
He doth rely on none,
But carries on the stream of his dispose
Without observance or respect of any,
In will peculiar and in self-admission.

Agam.
Why will he not upon our fair request
Untent his person and share the air with us?

Ulyss.
Things small as nothing, for request's sake only,
180He makes important: possess'd he is with greatness,
And speaks not to himself but with a pride
That quarrels at self-breath: imagined worth
Holds in his blood such swoln and hot discourse
That 'twixt his mental and his active parts
Kingdom'd Achilles in commotion rages
And batters down himself: what should I say?
He is so plaguy proud that the death-tokens of it
Cry 'No recovery.'

Agam.
Let Ajax go to him.
Dear lord, go you and greet him in his tent:
'Tis said he holds you well, and will be led
At your request a little from himself.

Ulyss.
O Agamemnon, let it not be so!
We'll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes
When they go from Achilles: shall the proud lord
That bastes his arrogance with his own seam
And never suffers matter of the world
Enter his thoughts, save such as do revolve
And ruminate himself, shall he be worshipp'd
Of that we hold an idol more than he?
No, this thrice worthy and right valiant lord
Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquired;
Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit,
As amply titled as Achilles is,
By going to Achilles:
That were to enlard his fat already pride
And add more coals to Cancer when he burns
With entertaining great Hyperion.
This lord go to him! Jupiter forbid,
And say in thunder 'Achilles go to him.'

Nest.
210[Aside to Dio.]
O, this is well; he rubs the vein of him.

Dio.
[Aside to Nest.]
And how his silence drinks up this applause!

Ajax.
If I go to him, with my armed fist
I'll pash him o'er the face.

Agam.
O, no, you shall not go.

Ajax.
An a' be proud with me, I'll pheeze his pride:
Let me go to him.

Ulyss.
Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.

Ajax.
A paltry, insolent fellow!

Nest.
How he describes himself!

Ajax.
Can he not be sociable?

Ulyss.
The raven chides blackness.

Ajax.
I'll let his humors blood.

Agam.
He will be the physician that
should be the patient.

Ajax.
An all men were o' my mind,--

Ulyss.
Wit would be out of fashion.

Ajax.
A' should not bear it so, a' should
eat swords first: shall pride carry it?

Nest.
An 'twould, you'ld carry half.

Ulyss.
A' would have ten shares.

Ajax.
I will knead him; I'll make him
supple.

Nest.
He's not yet through warm: force
him with praises: pour in, pour in; his ambition
is dry.

Ulyss.
[to Agam.] My lord, you feed too
much on this dislike.

Nest.
Our noble general, do not do so.

Dio.
You must prepare to fight without
Achilles.

Ulyss.
Why, 'tis this naming of him does him harm.
240Here is a man--but 'tis before his face;
I will be silent.

Nest.
Wherefore should you so?
He is not emulous, as Achilles is.

Ulyss.
Know the whole world, he is as valiant.

Ajax.
A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus with us!
Would he were a Trojan!

Nest.
What a vice were it in Ajax now,--

Ulyss.
If he were proud,--

Dio.
Or covetous of praise,--

Ulyss.
Ay, or surly borne,--

Dio.
250Or strange, or self-affected!

Ulyss.
Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure;
Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee suck:
Famed be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
Thrice famed, beyond all erudition:
But he that disciplined thy arms to fight,
Let Mars divide eternity in twain,
And give him half: and, for thy vigor,
Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield
To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom,
Which, like a bourn, a pale, a shore, confines
Thy spacious and dilated parts: here's Nestor;
Instructed by the antiquary times,
He must, he is, he cannot but be wise:
But pardon, father Nestor, were your days
As green as Ajax' and your brain so temper'd,
You should not have the eminence of him,
But be as Ajax.

Ajax.
Shall I call you father?

Nest.
Ay, my good son.

Dio.
Be ruled by him, Lord Ajax.

Ulyss.
There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles
270Keeps thicket. Please it our great general
To call together all his state of war;
Fresh kings are come to Troy: to-morrow
We must with all our main of power stand fast:
And here's a lord,--come knights from east to west,
And cull their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.

Agam.
Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep:
Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks draw deep. [Exeunt.

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