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Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida Translation Act 3, Scene 3

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Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, DIOMEDES, NESTOR, AJAX, MENELAUS, and CALCHAS

CALCHAS

Now, princes, for the service I have done you, The advantage of the time prompts me aloud To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind That, through the sight I bear in things to love, I have abandon'd Troy, left my possession, Incurr'd a traitor's name; exposed myself, From certain and possess'd conveniences, To doubtful fortunes; sequestering from me all That time, acquaintance, custom and condition Made tame and most familiar to my nature, And here, to do you service, am become As new into the world, strange, unacquainted: I do beseech you, as in way of taste, To give me now a little benefit, Out of those many register'd in promise, Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.

CALCHAS

Now, princes, the time has come for me to ask you for a reward for the service I have done for you. Remember that, because I can see into the future, I have left Troy, leaving behind all my possessions and deserving a traitor. I have risked my comfortable and stable life. I have given up all the time, friends, and good-standing that I had. Because I wanted to help you I have come here, as if I was new to the world. I ask you to show me now a small part of the reward  that you promised me.

AGAMEMNON

What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? make demand.

AGAMEMNON

What would you like, Trojan? Ask for it.

CALCHAS

You have a Trojan prisoner, call'd Antenor, Yesterday took: Troy holds him very dear. Oft have you—often have you thanks therefore— Desired my Cressid in right great exchange, Whom Troy hath still denied: but this Antenor, I know, is such a wrest in their affairs That their negotiations all must slack, Wanting his manage; and they will almost Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam, In change of him: let him be sent, great princes, And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence Shall quite strike off all service I have done, In most accepted pain.

CALCHAS

You have a Trojan prisoner called Antenor, who you captured yesterday. Troy values him very highly. You have often asked Troy to release my Cressida in hostage exchanges, which I thank you for, but you have had no luck. Now I know that Antenor, who is so important to their leadership that their discussions must be slack without his management. I reckon they would almost give us one of the royal princes, one of King Priam's sons, in return for Antenor. Let him go back, great princes, in return for my daughter. Her presence would be payment enough for all the service I have done for you, despite the hardships it has brought upon me.

AGAMEMNON

Let Diomedes bear him, And bring us Cressid hither: Calchas shall have What he requests of us. Good Diomed, Furnish you fairly for this interchange: Withal bring word if Hector will to-morrow Be answer'd in his challenge: Ajax is ready.

AGAMEMNON

Let Diomedes hand over Antenor, and bring Cressida here. Calchas will get what he wants. Good Diomedes, dress well for this exchange, and tell them that if Hector is still willing to go through with his challenge that Ajax is ready.

DIOMEDES

This shall I undertake; and 'tis a burdenWhich I am proud to bear.

DIOMEDES

I'll do this, I am honored that I can be of service.

Exeunt DIOMEDES and CALCHAS

Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS, before their tent

ULYSSES

Achilles stands i' the entrance of his tent: Please it our general to pass strangely by him, As if he were forgot; and, princes all, Lay negligent and loose regard upon him: I will come last. 'Tis like he'll question me Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him: If so, I have derision medicinable, To use between your strangeness and his pride, Which his own will shall have desire to drink: It may be good: pride hath no other glass To show itself but pride, for supple knees Feed arrogance and are the proud man's fees.

ULYSSES

Achilles is standing in the entrance of his tent. If you please general, you should walk past him and treat him like a stranger, as if you had completely forgotten him. And, fellow princes, I suggest you also pay no attention to him. I will walk behind everyone else. It is likely he will ask me why no one recognizes him. And if he does this, I will provide a bitter-sweet medicine, and advise him on how to fix his reputation, a medicine he'll willingly take. It will do him good. Only pride can be a lesson for pride, and our previous attempts to bow to Achilles only made him more proud.

AGAMEMNON

We'll execute your purpose, and put on A form of strangeness as we pass along: So do each lord, and either greet him not, Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more Than if not look'd on. I will lead the way.

AGAMEMNON

We'll do as you say, and deliberately pretend not to notice him as we walk by. Each lord should do this, and don't greet him unless you do so disdainfully, which will upset him even more than if he were ignored. I will go first. [AGAMEMNON walks past ACHILLES]

ACHILLES

What, comes the general to speak with me?You know my mind, I'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.

ACHILLES

What, does the general come to speak with me? You know my decision, I won't fight against Troy anymore.

AGAMEMNON

What says Achilles? would he aught with us?

AGAMEMNON

[To Nestor] What is Achilles saying? Does he want to talk with me?

NESTOR

Would you, my lord, aught with the general?

NESTOR

[To Achilles] Do you want to say something to the general, my lord?

ACHILLES

No.

ACHILLES

No.

NESTOR

Nothing, my lord.

NESTOR

[To Agamemnon] He has nothing to say, my lord.

AGAMEMNON

The better.

AGAMEMNON

Excellent.

Exeunt AGAMEMNON and NESTOR

ACHILLES

Good day, good day.

ACHILLES

[To Menelaus] Hello, good day.

MENELAUS

How do you? how do you?

MENELAUS

[To Achilles] How are you? How are you?

Exit

ACHILLES

What, does the cuckold scorn me?

ACHILLES

Huh, does the cuckold treat me scornfully?

AJAX

How now, Patroclus!

AJAX

[To Patroclus] Hello, Patroclus!

ACHILLES

Good morrow, Ajax.

ACHILLES

[To Ajax] Good morning, Ajax.

AJAX

Ha?

AJAX

Huh?

ACHILLES

Good morrow.

ACHILLES

[To Ajax] Good morning.

AJAX

Ay, and good next day too.

AJAX

[To Achilles] Yeah, have a good week.

Exit

ACHILLES

What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?

ACHILLES

What is wrong with these people? Don't they know me?

PATROCLUS

They pass by strangely: they were used to bendTo send their smiles before them to Achilles;To come as humbly as they used to creepTo holy altars.

PATROCLUS

They pass by like they don't know you. They used to bow before you and smile when they came to Achilles, as humble as when they go to pray.

ACHILLES

What, am I poor of late? 'Tis certain, greatness, once fall'n out with fortune, Must fall out with men too: what the declined is He shall as soon read in the eyes of others As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies, Show not their mealy wings but to the summer, And not a man, for being simply man, Hath any honour, but honour for those honours That are without him, as place, riches, favour, Prizes of accident as oft as merit: Which when they fall, as being slippery standers, The love that lean'd on them as slippery too, Do one pluck down another and together Die in the fall. But 'tis not so with me: Fortune and I are friends: I do enjoy At ample point all that I did possess, Save these men's looks; who do, methinks, find out Something not worth in me such rich beholding As they have often given. Here is Ulysses; I'll interrupt his reading. How now Ulysses!

ACHILLES

What, have I lost my reputation? When great men lose their good fortune they also lose all the respect of their fellow man. The newly unfortunate man reads his fall in the eyes of other people. In that respect people are like butterflies who only show their wings during the summer: men show respect only to those who appear honorable on their outside, even if their successes were by accident rather than merit. And when a great man falls the love that other people have shown to him falls too, the one bringing down the other so they both die. But it won't be like this with me, good fortune is my friend. I still have all the strengths I used to have, except these men's attentions. I think these men have seen something in me that they don't respect as much as they used to. Ulysses is coming, I'll interrupt his reading. [To ULYSSES] How's it going, Ulysses!

ULYSSES

Now, great Thetis' son!

ULYSSES

Hello, great son of Thetis.

ACHILLES

What are you reading?

ACHILLES

What are you reading?

ULYSSES

A strange fellow here Writes me: 'That man, how dearly ever parted, How much in having, or without or in, Cannot make boast to have that which he hath, Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection; As when his virtues shining upon others Heat them and they retort that heat again To the first giver.'

ULYSSES

A strange man tells me: "That no man, no matter how naturally talented, rich, or in favor with the king, can boast of what he has nor understand what his duty is except by seeing how other people treat him. Virtues warm the people around them, and that heat is then reflected back."

ACHILLES

This is not strange, Ulysses. The beauty that is borne here in the face The bearer knows not, but commends itself To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself, That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself, Not going from itself; but eye to eye opposed Salutes each other with each other's form; For speculation turns not to itself, Till it hath travell'd and is mirror'd there Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.

ACHILLES

That is not strange, Ulysses. Someone with a beautiful face wouldn't know it unless other people tell them. And an eye, our greatest natural tool, cannot see itself except by looking at something reflective, or gazing at another person's eye. Sight only happens when we look away, and the image comes back to us. There is nothing unusual about what the man says.

ULYSSES

I do not strain at the position,— It is familiar,—but at the author's drift; Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves That no man is the lord of any thing, Though in and of him there be much consisting, Till he communicate his parts to others: Nor doth he of himself know them for aught Till he behold them form'd in the applause Where they're extended; who, like an arch, reverberates The voice again, or, like a gate of steel Fronting the sun, receives and renders back His figure and his heat. I was much wrapt in this; And apprehended here immediately The unknown Ajax. Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse, That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are Most abject in regard and dear in use! What things again most dear in the esteem And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-morrow— An act that very chance doth throw upon him— Ajax renown'd. O heavens, what some men do, While some men leave to do! How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall, Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes! How one man eats into another's pride, While pride is fasting in his wantonness! To see these Grecian lords!— why, even already They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder, As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast And great Troy shrieking.

ULYSSES

I'm not calling his argument strange, it is a common idea, but I wonder what he means by it. He argues cleverly that no one really possesses any quality, no matter how there is in him, until they have demonstrate it to others. He also shows that we cannot know anything of ourselves except through other people's applause. We only can only judge ourselves through the reflection of our actions, like an echo in a tunnel, or a steel gate that receives the sun and shines it back. I have been very interested in this, and was immediately reminded of Ajax. By heaven, what kind of man is he? He's like a horse that doesn't know how he is being exploited. By nature, there are some creatures that are hated but useful, and others that we value highly but have no use! Tomorrow we'll all see an opportunity that pure luck has given him. Can you imagine Ajax being a hero? Oh heavens, it is amazing what opportunities some men will take and others will leave. Some men skulk around and avoid greatness even though luck is on their side, whilst others act like fools to try to become famous. The second man, although he is less worthy, steals the fame that should be the first man's. You should see the Greek lords! They are already patting the idiot on his back and cheering him as if he had already triumphed over Hector and made great Troy shriek.

ACHILLES

I do believe it; for they pass'd by meAs misers do by beggars, neither gave to meGood word nor look: what, are my deeds forgot?

ACHILLES

I know, they all walked past me earlier and looked at me like I was a beggar, saying nothing and not even looking at me. Are my deeds already forgotten?

ULYSSES

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, Wherein he puts alms for oblivion, A great-sized monster of ingratitudes: Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done: perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery. Take the instant way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow, Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path; For emulation hath a thousand sons That one by one pursue: if you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by And leave you hindmost; Or like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear, O'er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present, Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours; For time is like a fashionable host That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand, And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would fly, Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles, And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek Remuneration for the thing it was; For beauty, wit, High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all To envious and calumniating time. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin, That all with one consent praise new-born gawds, Though they are made and moulded of things past, And give to dust that is a little gilt More laud than gilt o'er-dusted. The present eye praises the present object. Then marvel not, thou great and complete man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax; Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee, And still it might, and yet it may again, If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive And case thy reputation in thy tent; Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late, Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves And drave great Mars to faction.

ULYSSES

As time passes all our actions are forgotten. Good deeds only last a moment and then become worthless. Only perseverance, my lord, keeps honor fresh and bright. To have done something is to be always out of fashion, like a rusty suit of armor. Take the most direct route, because honor always takes a path that is straight and narrow: keep on the path as there are always a thousand other men running after, one by one. Give them any room, or step aside, they'll rush past you in an instant and leave you behind. It is like a horse who falls at the front of the battle, and is run past and trampled on by those who come from behind. A success made now is worth much more than a past success, even if it is a lesser success, yes. Time is like a fashionable host who quickly says goodbye to his parting guest before embracing the next guest coming in: you are welcome when you show up but not when you leave. Virtues like honor, intellect, beauty, and so on, shouldn't ask to be respected for what they were but for what they are. People only value new things, even when their old possessions are better made. Someone in the present only praises things that are in the present: so you shouldn't be surprised that all the Greek lords are starting to cheer for Ajax, as he is still active. They once cheered for you, and still could cheer for you again, if you stopped burying yourself in your tent and thinking about how great you were. Especially since you were so great that the gods themselves had to enter the field of battle, even Mars!

ACHILLES

Of this my privacyI have strong reasons.

ACHILLES

I have good reasons for not coming out. 

ULYSSES

But 'gainst your privacy The reasons are more potent and heroical: 'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love With one of Priam's daughters.

ULYSSES

Well, there are better and more heroic reasons for you to come out. It is well known that you are in love with one of Priam's daughters, Achilles.

ACHILLES

Ha! known!

ACHILLES

Hah, what do you mean?

ULYSSES

Is that a wonder? The providence that's in a watchful state Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold, Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps, Keeps place with thought and almost, like the gods, Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles. There is a mystery—with whom relation Durst never meddle—in the soul of state; Which hath an operation more divine Than breath or pen can give expressure to: All the commerce that you have had with Troy As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord; And better would it fit Achilles much To throw down Hector than Polyxena: But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home, When fame shall in our islands sound her trump, And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing, 'Great Hector's sister did Achilles win, But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.' Farewell, my lord: I as your lover speak; The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break.

ULYSSES

Are you surprised? Nothing escapes the notice of a good government, even the affairs of the gods can not be kept private from their spies, and thoughts can be understood before they are spoken. There is a kind of government knowledge that is never spoken of, and that is more godly than I could ever express in words. Every message you have sent over to Troy is as well known to us as it is to you, my lord, and I think it would be far more fitting that you wrestle Hector than Polyxena. It will be embarrassing for your son, Pyrrhus, back in Greece, when the news comes in and all the Greek girls start singing:
"Achilles won great Hector's sister,
But our great Ajax bravely slayed Hector."
Goodbye, my lord, speaking as your good friend I have to say, the fool is taking what should be yours.

Exit

PATROCLUS

To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you: A woman impudent and mannish grown Is not more loathed than an effeminate man In time of action. I stand condemn'd for this; They think my little stomach to the war And your great love to me restrains you thus: Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold, And, like a dew-drop from the lion's mane, Be shook to air.

PATROCLUS

I have told you this before, Achilles. An angry woman who acts like a man is better than a man who acts like a woman when it's time to fight. I am getting the blame for this, as everyone thinks that because I don't want to fight and you don't want to leave me you won't fight as well. Sweetheart, get up, and matters of love will fall from you like sweat from a lion's mane.

ACHILLES

Shall Ajax fight with Hector?

ACHILLES

Will Ajax fight Hector?

PATROCLUS

Ay, and perhaps receive much honour by him.

PATROCLUS

Yes, and maybe become famous for defeating him.

ACHILLES

I see my reputation is at stakeMy fame is shrewdly gored.

ACHILLES

My reputation is at stake, my good name has been attacked.

PATROCLUS

O, then, beware; Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves: Omission to do what is necessary Seals a commission to a blank of danger; And danger, like an ague, subtly taints Even then when we sit idly in the sun.

PATROCLUS

Then be cautious, the damage we do to ourselves is the hardest to heal. Refusing to do what you have to guarantees a bad result. And danger is always just around the corner, even when we are idle.

ACHILLES

Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus: I'll send the fool to Ajax and desire him To invite the Trojan lords after the combat To see us here unarm'd: I have a woman's longing, An appetite that I am sick withal, To see great Hector in his weeds of peace, To talk with him and to behold his visage, Even to my full of view.

ACHILLES

Go and fetch Thersites, sweet Patroclus. I'll send the fool to Ajax and tell him to invite the Trojan lords here after the fight to meet us here without our weapons. I am sick with love, and desperate to talk with Hector away from the battlefield.

Enter THERSITES

ACHILLES

A labour saved!

ACHILLES

You won't have to bother fetching Thersites.

THERSITES

A wonder!

THERSITES

There is an incredible sight!

ACHILLES

What?

ACHILLES

What?

THERSITES

Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself.

THERSITES

Ajax is pacing up and down the field looking for "a jakes."

ACHILLES

How so?

ACHILLES

Why?

THERSITES

He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is soprophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that heraves in saying nothing.

THERSITES

He must fight one-on-one with Hector tomorrow, and is proudly confident that he will be heroically defeated so he walks around saying nothing loudly.

ACHILLES

How can that be?

ACHILLES

How is that possible?

THERSITES

Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock,—a stride and a stand: ruminates like an hostess that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning: bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should say 'There were wit in this head, an 'twould out;' and so there is, but it lies as coldly in him as fire in a flint, which will not show without knocking. The man's undone forever; for if Hector break not his neck i' the combat, he'll break 't himself in vain-glory. He knows not me: I said 'Good morrow, Ajax;' and he replies 'Thanks, Agamemnon.' What think you of this man that takes me for the general? He's grown a very land-fish, language-less, a monster. A plague of opinion! a man may wear it on both sides, like a leather jerkin.

THERSITES

Oh he is walking around like a peacock, taking a step then standing still, and posing like a barmaid who can't count up the bill. He bites his lip and looks contemplative, like a man who has all the answers but wont say them, but the only way you'd get anything out of his head is by knocking his brains out! He can't win, because if Hector doesn't kill him, his vanity would. He didn't even recognize me earlier: I said "Good morning Ajax," and he replied "Thanks, Agamemnon." What kind of man would think I am the general? He's like a walking goldfish or some kind of language-less monster. Reputation is ridiculous. Man can wear it one way or another, like a leather waistcoat.

ACHILLES

Thou must be my ambassador to him, Thersites.

ACHILLES

I want you to tell him something from me, Thersites.

THERSITES

Who, I? why, he'll answer nobody; he professes not answering: speaking is for beggars ; he wears his tongue in's arms. I will put on his presence: let Patroclus make demands to me, you shall see the pageant of Ajax.

THERSITES

Me? He won't speak to anyone, it's like a motto to him: speaking is for beggars. He only talks through his fighting. I will show you what he's like, tell Patroclus to give me your message, and you'll see how ridiculous Ajax looks.

ACHILLES

To him, Patroclus; tell him I humbly desire the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe-conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honoured captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon, et cetera. Do this.

ACHILLES

Go on Patroclus, tell him I humbly desire that the valiant Ajax would invite the valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent, and to ask the very brave Agamemnon not to harm my guests, et cetera. Say that.

PATROCLUS

Jove bless great Ajax!

PATROCLUS

Jupiter bless the great Ajax!

THERSITES

Hum!

THERSITES

Hmm!

PATROCLUS

I come from the worthy Achilles,—

PATROCLUS

I have come on behalf of the worthy Achilles...

THERSITES

Ha!

THERSITES

Ha!

PATROCLUS

Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent,—

PATROCLUS

Who very humbly asks you to invite Hector to his tent...

THERSITES

Hum!

THERSITES

Hmm!

PATROCLUS

And to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.

PATROCLUS

And to get a guarantee of safety from Agamemnon.

THERSITES

Agamemnon!

THERSITES

Agamemnon!

PATROCLUS

Ay, my lord.

PATROCLUS

Yes, my lord.

THERSITES

Ha!

THERSITES

Ha!

PATROCLUS

What say you to't?

PATROCLUS

What is your reply?

THERSITES

God b' wi' you, with all my heart.

THERSITES

God bless you with all my heart.

PATROCLUS

Your answer, sir.

PATROCLUS

Your response, sir?

THERSITES

If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven o'clock it willgo one way or other: howsoever, he shall pay for meere he has me.

THERSITES

Tomorrow's battle, if it happens, will have been decided by eleven o'clock. And whatever happens I shall make sure he is hurt before either of us wins.

PATROCLUS

Your answer, sir.

PATROCLUS

Your response, sir?

THERSITES

Fare you well, with all my heart.

THERSITES

A warm goodbye.

ACHILLES

Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?

ACHILLES

Surely he isn't really like this?

THERSITES

No, but he's out o' tune thus. What music will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know not; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.

THERSITES

Oh, but he is. I don't know what sense will be in him when Hector has dashed out his brains, but it would take Apollo to make him understand.

ACHILLES

Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.

ACHILLES

Come here, I want you to deliver a letter to him.

THERSITES

Let me bear another to his horse; for that's the morecapable creature.

THERSITES

I should take it to his horse, his horse is more sensible.

ACHILLES

My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirr'd;And I myself see not the bottom of it.

ACHILLES

This is all very troubling, and I don't know how the future will play out.

Exeunt ACHILLES and PATROCLUS

THERSITES

Would the fountain of your mind were clear again,that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be atick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.

THERSITES

Stupid man! I'd rather be an insect than this arrogant fool.

Exit

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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.