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Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida Translation Act 2, Scene 3

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Enter THERSITES, solus

THERSITES

How now, Thersites! what lost in the labyrinth of thy 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 enginer! 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 dependent on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers and devil Envy say Amen. What ho! my Lord Achilles!

THERSITES

Oh Thersites! What, are you stuck in a maze of your own hate? Will the elephant Ajax win over you like this? He hits me and I insult him, oh that's a worthy payback! I wish it were the other way around, and I could hit him whilst he shouted at me. God's foot, if I have to learn magic and how to conjure demons I will do it, to make my hatred productive. Then there's Achilles, a strange sapper. If Troy isn't taken by these two, it won't be until the walls fall over on their own. Oh Jupiter give up your thunderbolts, and Mercury give up your medicine, if you don't take the last of Ajax and Achilles' pathetic wit from them. Those stupid creatures couldn't think of a way of saving a fly from a spider without drawing their swords and cutting the web apart. After these two, I'd put a plague on the whole camp! Or I'd make their bones ache, a suitable curse for those that go to war over a woman. I have said my prayers and now only need the devil of Envy to agree. What's this, my lord Achilles.

Enter PATROCLUS

PATROCLUS

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

PATROCLUS

Who's there? Thersites! Oh good, come in and start complaining.

THERSITES

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?

THERSITES

If my memory was able to remember a gilded fake you would not have left my prayers: but it's not important. Be true to yourself! May you be kept wealthy by the common failings of mankind, stupidity and ignorance. May the gods give you the wisdom of a tutor, and you never experience punishment. Be guided by your passions until you die, and if the woman who prepares your body when you die calls you beautiful, then I was a liar and swore that she never prepared anyone who wasn't a leper. Amen. Where's Achilles?

PATROCLUS

What, art thou devout? wast thou in prayer?

PATROCLUS

What, are you devout? Were you praying?

THERSITES

Ay: the heavens hear me!

THERSITES

Yes, may the heavens hear me!

Enter ACHILLES

ACHILLES

Who's there?

ACHILLES

Who's there?

PATROCLUS

Thersites, my lord.

PATROCLUS

Thersites, my lord.

ACHILLES

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

ACHILLES

Where, where? Have you arrived? Oh, my entertainment, my comedian whilst I eat, why haven't you performed whilst I eat for so long? Come on then, what is Agamemnon like?

THERSITES

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

THERSITES

He is your commander, Achilles. Now tell me, Patroclus, what's Achilles?

PATROCLUS

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

PATROCLUS

He is your lord, Thersites. Now tell me, please, what are you?

THERSITES

Thy knower, Patroclus: then tell me, Patroclus,what art thou?

THERSITES

I am the one who understands you, Patroclus. Now tell me, Patroclus, what are you?

PATROCLUS

Thou mayst tell that knowest.

PATROCLUS

You can tell me if you know me.

ACHILLES

O, tell, tell.

ACHILLES

Tell him, tell him.

THERSITES

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

THERSITES

I'll begin from the beginning. Agamemnon commands Achilles, Achilles is my lord, I am Patroclus's knower, and Patroclus is a fool.

PATROCLUS

You rascal!

PATROCLUS

You rascal!

THERSITES

Peace, fool! I have not done.

THERSITES

Be quiet, fool! I am not finished.

ACHILLES

He is a privileged man. Proceed, Thersites.

ACHILLES

He is allowed to speak. Go on, Thersites.

THERSITES

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

THERSITES

Agamemnon is a fool, Achilles is a fool, Thersites is a fool, and as I have already said, Patroclus is a fool.

ACHILLES

Derive this; come.

ACHILLES

How did you figure this out, then?

THERSITES

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.

THERSITES

Agamemnon is a fool to try and command Achilles. Achilles is a fool because he is commanded by Agamemnon. Thersites is a fool because he serves such a fool. And Patroclus is definitely a fool.

PATROCLUS

Why am I a fool?

PATROCLUS

Why am I a fool?

THERSITES

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

THERSITES

Ask God, who will be your judge. It is enough for me that you are. Who is coming here?

ACHILLES

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

ACHILLES

Patroclus I do not want to speak to anyone, come into the tent Thersites.

Exit

THERSITES

Here is such patchery, such juggling and such knavery! all the argument is a 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!

THERSITES

These are good tricks and traps. My argument was a baseless show, a clever argument that will make these men argue and fight to the death. Now, a plague on the subject! Let war and greed ensnare everyone!

Exit

Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES, and AJAX

AGAMEMNON

Where is Achilles?

AGAMEMNON

Where is Achilles?

PATROCLUS

Within his tent; but ill disposed, my lord.

PATROCLUS

He's in the tent, but he's ill, my lord.

AGAMEMNON

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.

AGAMEMNON

Let him know we are here. He has shamefully turned away our messengers, and we are willing to forget our rank by visiting him. Tell him this so that he does not think we aren't willing to pull rank on him or that we do not know our power.

PATROCLUS

I shall say so to him.

PATROCLUS

I will tell him this.

Exit

ULYSSES

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

ULYSSES

We saw him at the entrance of his tent so he can't be sick.

AJAX

Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart: you may call itmelancholy, if you will favour the man; but, by myhead, 'tis pride: but why, why? let him show us thecause. A word, my lord.

AJAX

He's got the sickness of a lion, he's sick from pride. If you want to make him feel better call it sadness. But I know it is pride. But why is he proud? Let him show us a reason for his pride. A word with you, my lord.

Takes AGAMEMNON aside

NESTOR

What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?

NESTOR

Why is Ajax so angry at Achilles?

ULYSSES

Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.

ULYSSES

Achilles has taken his fool from him.

NESTOR

Who, Thersites?

NESTOR

Who do you mean, Thersites?

ULYSSES

He.

ULYSSES

Yes.

NESTOR

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

NESTOR

Ajax probably has nothing to think about, without Thersites to argue with.

ULYSSES

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

ULYSSES

No, the fool takes his argument from his keeper. So now Achilles has become Thersites's argument.

NESTOR

All the better; their fraction is more our wish thantheir faction: but it was a strong composure a foolcould disunite.

NESTOR

This is good, their division is better to us than their alliance. It must have been a strong bond that a fool could break up.

ULYSSES

The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may easilyuntie. Here comes Patroclus.

ULYSSES

A friendship that isn't wise can be easily broken by folly. Patroclus is coming back.

Re-enter PATROCLUS

NESTOR

No Achilles with him.

NESTOR

Without Achilles.

ULYSSES

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

ULYSSES

The elephant has joints but no knees to bow with, its legs are only for walking, not for showing respect.

PATROCLUS

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, And after-dinner's breath.

PATROCLUS

Achilles asked me to say that he is very sorry if you had any serious business to come all this way to him. He hopes you only came this way as part of a leisurely walk after dinner.

AGAMEMNON

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, Are 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 judgment; 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.

AGAMEMNON

Listen, Patroclus, we know these responses very well. But his desire to avoid us, sent with such scorn, can't escape our notice. He has a great reputation, and it is well deserved, but all his virtues begin to seem less impressive to us if he does nothing, just as fresh fruit placed in a rotten meal won't be eaten. Go and tell him we want to speak to him, and don't be afraid to tell him we think he has grown too proud and dishonest. He thinks he is better than he is. Tell him that while he acts aloof a better man is waiting outside, a man who is pretending not to be a divine king, a man who is willingly waiting for him to get off his high horse. I am watching his sulking and pathetic self-assured demeanor. Go, and tell him these things, and say that if he thinks too much of himself we will not see him, but rather we will let him lie here like a siege engine without wheels and place a note outside his tent: "Unless the fighting comes here, this engine cannot go to war, we would rather take an active dwarf than a sleeping giant." Tell him this.

PATROCLUS

I shall; and bring his answer presently.

PATROCLUS

I will, and I will tell you what he says as soon as possible.

Exit

AGAMEMNON

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

AGAMEMNON

I don't want to speak to a middle man, we will come in too. Ulysses, go in.

Exit ULYSSES

AJAX

What is he more than another?

AJAX

Is he better than anyone else?

AGAMEMNON

No more than what he thinks he is.

AGAMEMNON

He thinks he is.

AJAX

Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself abetter man than I am?

AJAX

And is he as good as he thinks he is? Do you think he thinks he is better than me?

AGAMEMNON

No question.

AGAMEMNON

Undoubtedly.

AJAX

Will you subscribe his thought, and say he is?

AJAX

Do you agree with him, and think he is better than me?

AGAMEMNON

No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as valiant, aswise, no less noble, much more gentle, and altogethermore tractable.

AGAMEMNON

No, noble Ajax, you are as strong, valiant, wise, noble, and more gentle than he, and much more easily ordered to do things.

AJAX

Why should a man be proud? How doth pride grow? Iknow not what pride is.

AJAX

Why is anyone proud? Where does pride come from? I don't even know what pride is.

AGAMEMNON

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.

AGAMEMNON

Your smarter and more virtuous for being that way, Ajax, proud men tarnish themselves. Pride is like a mirror to itself, its own trumpet, and its own biography. Anything that honors itself except by acting well ruins the action.

AJAX

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

AJAX

I hate proud men as much as I hate the reproduction of toads.

NESTOR

[Aside] Yet he loves himself: is't not strange?

NESTOR

[Aside] Yet he is a proud man, what does that imply?

Re-enter ULYSSES

ULYSSES

Achilles will not to the field to-morrow.

ULYSSES

Achilles will not fight tomorrow.

AGAMEMNON

What's his excuse?

AGAMEMNON

What's his excuse?

ULYSSES

He doth rely on none,But carries on the stream of his disposeWithout observance or respect of any,In will peculiar and in self-admission.

ULYSSES

He doesn't have one, but carries on acting as he has been without respect for anyone else, solely on his own authority.

AGAMEMNON

Why will he not upon our fair requestUntent his person and share the air with us?

AGAMEMNON

Why won't he, when we have so politely asked him, leave his tent and talk with us?

ULYSSES

Things small as nothing, for request's sake only, He 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.'

ULYSSES

He pretends trivial requests are important, purely because they are asked of him. He is so certain of his greatness he is not even satisfied with his own praises of himself, his sense of self worth has such a grip on him that the mental landscape of Achilles is in a state of civil war. What else is there to say? He is so sickeningly proud that his symptoms cry out: "No recovery is possible."

AGAMEMNON

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

AGAMEMNON

Let Ajax go to see him. Dear lord, go and greet him in his tent, it is said that he respects you, and will at your request be persuaded to make some small change in his behaviour.

ULYSSES

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.'

ULYSSES

Oh Agamemnon, don't let that happen! We should treasure every step that Ajax takes away from Achilles. The proud lord that stews in his arrogant pride and is incapable of thinking about anyone other than himself shouldn't be given the honor of a visit from a man we worship more than himself. No this very worthy and truly valiant lord must not have his deserved honor sullied. Nor would I want to see his merit, that is as great as Achilles's, treated as worse by making him go to Achilles. That would be like pumping up his already massive ego or throwing fuel into a mid-summer sun of pride. That Ajax should go to him? May Jupiter forbid it and shout down with thunder "Achilles go him."

NESTOR

[Aside to DIOMEDES] O, this is well; he rubs thevein of him.

NESTOR

[Aside to DIOMEDES] Oh this is excellent, Ulysses is playing Ajax perfectly.

DIOMEDES

[Aside to NESTOR] And how his silence drinks upthis applause!

DIOMEDES

[Aside to NESTOR] Look at how he silently enjoys this applause.

AJAX

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

AJAX

If I go to him, I'll smash him in the face with my armored fist.

AGAMEMNON

O, no, you shall not go.

AGAMEMNON

Oh no, you mustn't go in.

AJAX

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

AJAX

If he is proud to me, I'll sort his pride out. Let me go to him.

ULYSSES

Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.

ULYSSES

Not for all the honor of defeating Troy.

AJAX

A paltry, insolent fellow!

AJAX

He is a small, insolent man.

NESTOR

How he describes himself!

NESTOR

[Aside] Ajax could be describing himself!

AJAX

Can he not be sociable?

AJAX

Is it so much for him to come out?

ULYSSES

The raven chides blackness.

ULYSSES

[Aside] The pot is calling the kettle black.

AJAX

I'll let his humours blood.

AJAX

I'll spill his arrogant blood.

AGAMEMNON

He will be the physician that should be the patient.

AGAMEMNON

[Aside] He should be the patient, but wants to be the doctor.

AJAX

An all men were o' my mind,—

AJAX

If all men thought like me...

ULYSSES

Wit would be out of fashion.

ULYSSES

[Aside] Being witty would no longer be in fashion.

AJAX

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

AJAX

He should eat swords before he acts like this. Will pride be allowed to win?

NESTOR

An 'twould, you'ld carry half.

NESTOR

[Aside] If it was allowed to win it'd half be your fault.

ULYSSES

A' would have ten shares.

ULYSSES

[Aside] He would have ten portions of pride.

AJAX

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

AJAX

I will pound him like bread, I'll make him give in.

NESTOR

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

NESTOR

[Aside] He's not ambitious enough yet, stuff him with more praise, go, go, he's not ready.

ULYSSES

[To AGAMEMNON] My lord, you feed too much on this dislike.

ULYSSES

[To AGAMEMNON] My lord you let Achilles's snubbing of you play too heavily on your mind.

NESTOR

Our noble general, do not do so.

NESTOR

Noble general, do not think about it.

DIOMEDES

You must prepare to fight without Achilles.

DIOMEDES

You must prepare for the battle with Hector without Achilles.

ULYSSES

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

ULYSSES

Saying Achilles's name is upsetting Agamemnon. Here is a man who could be our champion... but I should not discuss this whilst he is here, I will be silent.

NESTOR

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

NESTOR

Why shouldn't you speak of it? Ajax isn't as proud as Achilles is.

ULYSSES

Know the whole world, he is as valiant.

ULYSSES

But the whole world knows he is as brave.

AJAX

A whoreson dog, that shall pelter thus with us!Would he were a Trojan!

AJAX

That son of a bitch, how dare he swindle us like this? I wish he were a Trojan.

NESTOR

What a vice were it in Ajax now,—

NESTOR

How terrible would it be if Ajax now...

ULYSSES

If he were proud,—

ULYSSES

If he were proud...

DIOMEDES

Or covetous of praise,—

DIOMEDES

Or sought after praise...

ULYSSES

Ay, or surly borne,—

ULYSSES

Yes, or if he was aloof...

DIOMEDES

Or strange, or self-affected!

DIOMEDES

Or refused to be sociable.

ULYSSES

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 vigour, 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: Put 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.

ULYSSES

Thank heavens, lord Ajax, that you are such a great man, and may the gods bless your father and mother! Your education must have been magnificent, but no education could teach you to be as great as you naturally are. The man who taught you to fight should be blessed by Mars, even the mighty athlete Milo  seems weak next to Ajax. I cannot praise the wisdom which disciplines your body, but might compare it to Nestor, who is so old that must be wise. I'm sorry father Nestor, but I think if you were as young as Ajax, your natural wit would not exceed his, but would be its equal.

AJAX

Shall I call you father?

AJAX

Will you be my father and mentor?

NESTOR

Ay, my good son.

NESTOR

Yes, my good son.

DIOMEDES

Be ruled by him, Lord Ajax.

DIOMEDES

Follow his directions, lord Ajax.

ULYSSES

There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles Keeps 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.

ULYSSES

We shouldn't wait around here, the unsociable Achilles won't come into the open. If it pleases our great general we should call together the war council as more Greek kings have arrived to help us. Tomorrow morning we should assemble the men on the field of battle. Even if all of the knights in the world came here, and we had our choice of them all, Ajax will perform best.

AGAMEMNON

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

AGAMEMNON

Let's go to the council. Let Achilles sleep, he will only weigh us down.

Exeunt

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Tom hill
About the Translator: Tom Hill

Tom Hill lives in his native London where he has just finished studying for an MA in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. He has worked in education both in the UK and in Asia. His favorite Shakespeare play is The Merchant of Venice.