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Nest. What says Ulysses?
Ulyss. I have a young conception in my brain; Be you my time to bring it to some shape.
Nest. What is 't?
Ulyss. This 't is.
Blunt wedges rive hard knots: the seeded pride,
In rank Achilles, must or now be cropp'd,
Well, and how?
Ulyss. This challenge that the gallant Hector sends, However it is spread in general name,
Relates in purpose only to Achilles.
Nest. The purpose is perspicuous even as substance,
But that Achilles, were his brain as barren
'T is dry enough) will, with great speed of judgment, Ay, with celerity, find Hector's purpose
Pointing on him.
Uyss. And wake him to the answer, think you? Nest. Why', 't is most meet: whom may you else
That can from Hector bring his honour off.
If not Achilles? Though 't be a sportful combat,
For here the Trojans taste our dear'st repute
In this wild action; for the success,
And in such indexes (although small pricks
Of things to come at large. It is suppos'd,
1 Yes in folio.
What heart receives from hence the conquering part,
Ulyss. Give pardon to my speech:
Therefore 't is meet Achilles meet not Hector.
By showing the worst first. Do not consent,
For both our honour and our shame, in this,
Nest. I see them not with my old eyes: what are
Ulyss. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector, Were he not proud, we all should share3 with him : But he already is too insolent;
And we were better parch in Afric sun,
Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,
The sort to fight with Hector: among ourselves
Who broils in loud applause; and make him fall
1 yet to show in folio. 2 Shall show the better: in folio. 3 wear: in folio.
As the worthier. 5 Set on.
SCENE I.-Another 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 sore? Ajax. Dog!
Ther. Then would come some matter from him: I
see none now.
Ajax. Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear? Feel then. [Strikes him. Ther. The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!
Ajax. Speak then, thou vinewd'st' 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. Toads-stool, learn me the proclamation. Ther. Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strik'st me thus ?
Ajax. The proclamation,
Ther. Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.
Ajax. Do not, porcupine, 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 shouldest strike him.
1 Most mouldy. 2 The rest of the speech is only in the quartos.
Ther. He would pun1 thee into shivers with his fist,
as a sailor breaks a biscuit.
Ajax. You whoreson cur!
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. You cur!
Ther. Mar's idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do. Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS.
Achil. Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore do you this? 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.
Ther. Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters ! his orations 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 ninth 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.
Ther. I say, this Ajax-
[AJAX offers to strike him.
Ther. Has not so much wit-
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 tenour 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, 't was not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary: Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.
Ther. Even 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: he 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 war.
Achil. What? what?
Ther. Yes, good sooth: to Achilles ! to Ajax! toAjax. I shall cut out your tongue.
Ther. 'T is 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 proclaimed through all our
That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,