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Troilus and Cressida: Act 1, Scene 3

Troilus and Cressida
Act 1, Scene 3

The Grecian camp. Before Agamemnon’s tent.

  1. Sennet. Enter Agamemnon, Nestor, Ulysses, Diomedes,
  2. Menelaus, with others.

Agamemnon

3 - 32
  1. Princes:
  2. What grief hath set these jaundies o’er your cheeks?
  3. The ample proposition that hope makes
  4. In all designs begun on earth below
  5. Fails in the promis’d largeness. Checks and disasters
  6. Grow in the veins of actions highest rear’d,
  7. As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap,
  8. Infects the sound pine, and diverts his grain
  9. Tortive and errant from his course of growth.
  10. Nor, princes, is it matter new to us
  11. That we come short of our suppose so far
  12. That after seven years’ siege yet Troy walls stand,
  13. Sith every action that hath gone before,
  14. Whereof we have record, trial did draw
  15. Bias and thwart, not answering the aim
  16. And that unbodied figure of the thought
  17. That gave’t surmised shape. Why then, you princes,
  18. Do you with cheeks abash’d behold our works,
  19. And call them shames which are indeed nought else
  20. But the protractive trials of great Jove
  21. To find persistive constancy in men?
  22. The fineness of which metal is not found
  23. In fortune’s love; for then the bold and coward,
  24. The wise and fool, the artist and unread,
  25. The hard and soft, seem all affin’d and kin;
  26. But in the wind and tempest of her frown,
  27. Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,
  28. Puffing at all, winnows the light away,
  29. And what hath mass or matter, by itself
  30. Lies rich in virtue and unmingled.

Nestor

33 - 56
  1. With due observance of thy godlike seat,
  2. Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply
  3. Thy latest words. In the reproof of chance
  4. Lies the true proof of men: the sea being smooth,
  5. How many shallow bauble boats dare sail
  6. Upon her patient breast, making their way
  7. With those of nobler bulk!
  8. But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
  9. The gentle Thetis, and anon behold
  10. The strong-ribb’d bark through liquid mountains cut,
  11. Bounding between the two moist elements,
  12. Like Perseus’ horse. Where’s then the saucy boat
  13. Whose weak untimber’d sides but even now
  14. Corrivall’d greatness? Either to harbor fled,
  15. Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so
  16. Doth valor’s show and valor’s worth divide
  17. In storms of fortune; for in her ray and brightness
  18. The herd hath more annoyance by the breeze
  19. Than by the tiger; but when the splitting wind
  20. Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks,
  21. And flies fled under shade, why then the thing of courage,
  22. As rous’d with rage, with rage doth sympathize,
  23. And with an accent tun’d in self-same key
  24. Retires to chiding fortune.

Ulysses

57 - 75
  1.                             Agamemnon,
  2. Thou great commander, nerves and bone of Greece,
  3. Heart of our numbers, soul and only sprite
  4. In whom the tempers and the minds of all
  5. Should be shut up, hear what Ulysses speaks.
  6. Besides th’ applause and approbation
  7. The which,
  8. To Agamemnon.
  9.            most mighty for thy place and sway,
  10. To Nestor.
  11. And thou most reverend for thy stretch’d-out life,
  12. I give to both your speeches, which were such
  13. As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
  14. Should hold up high in brass, and such again
  15. As venerable Nestor, hatch’d in silver,
  16. Should with a bond of air strong as the axle-tree
  17. On which heaven rides, knit all the Greekish ears
  18. To his experienc’d tongue, yet let it please both,
  19. Thou great, and wise, to hear Ulysses speak.

Agamemnon

76 - 80
  1. Speak, prince of Ithaca, and be’t of less expect
  2. That matter needless, of importless burden,
  3. Divide thy lips, than we are confident,
  4. When rank Thersites opes his mastic jaws,
  5. We shall hear music, wit, and oracle.

Ulysses

81 - 143
  1. Troy, yet upon his bases, had been down,
  2. And the great Hector’s sword had lack’d a master,
  3. But for these instances:
  4. The specialty of rule hath been neglected,
  5. And look how many Grecian tents do stand
  6. Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.
  7. When that the general is not like the hive
  8. To whom the foragers shall all repair,
  9. What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded,
  10. Th’ unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
  11. The heavens themselves, the planets, and this center
  12. Observe degree, priority, and place,
  13. Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
  14. Office, and custom, in all line of order;
  15. And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
  16. In noble eminence enthron’d and spher’d
  17. Amidst the other; whose med’cinable eye
  18. Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
  19. And posts like the commandment of a king,
  20. Sans check, to good and bad. But when the planets
  21. In evil mixture to disorder wander,
  22. What plagues and what portents, what mutiny!
  23. What raging of the sea, shaking of earth!
  24. Commotion in the winds!, frights, changes, horrors
  25. Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
  26. The unity and married calm of states
  27. Quite from their fixure! O, when degree is shak’d,
  28. Which is the ladder of all high designs,
  29. The enterprise is sick. How could communities,
  30. Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,
  31. Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
  32. The primogenity and due of birth,
  33. Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
  34. But by degree stand in authentic place?
  35. Take but degree away, untune that string,
  36. And hark what discord follows. Each thing meets
  37. In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
  38. Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
  39. And make a sop of all this solid globe;
  40. Strength should be lord of imbecility,
  41. And the rude son should strike his father dead;
  42. Force should be right, or rather, right and wrong
  43. (Between whose endless jar justice resides)
  44. Should lose their names, and so should justice too!
  45. Then every thing include itself in power,
  46. Power into will, will into appetite,
  47. And appetite, an universal wolf
  48. (So doubly seconded with will and power),
  49. Must make perforce an universal prey,
  50. And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,
  51. This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
  52. Follows the choking,
  53. And this neglection of degree it is
  54. That by a pace goes backward with a purpose
  55. It hath to climb. The general’s disdain’d
  56. By him one step below, he by the next,
  57. That next by him beneath; so every step,
  58. Exampled by the first pace that is sick
  59. Of his superior, grows to an envious fever
  60. Of pale and bloodless emulation,
  61. And ’tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot,
  62. Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,
  63. Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.

Nestor

144 - 145
  1. Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover’d
  2. The fever whereof all our power is sick.

Agamemnon

146 - 147
  1. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses,
  2. What is the remedy?

Ulysses

148 - 190
  1. The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns
  2. The sinew and the forehand of our host,
  3. Having his ear full of his airy fame,
  4. Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent
  5. Lies mocking our designs. With him Patroclus
  6. Upon a lazy bed the livelong day
  7. Breaks scurril jests,
  8. And with ridiculous and awkward action,
  9. Which, slanderer, he imitation calls,
  10. He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon,
  11. Thy topless deputation he puts on,
  12. And like a strutting player, whose conceit
  13. Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
  14. To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
  15. ’Twixt his stretch’d footing and the scaffoldage,
  16. Such to-be-pitied and o’er-wrested seeming
  17. He acts thy greatness in; and when he speaks,
  18. ’Tis like a chime a-mending, with terms unsquar’d,
  19. Which from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp’d
  20. Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff
  21. The large Achilles, on his press’d bed lolling,
  22. From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause,
  23. Cries, Excellent! ’Tis Agamemnon right!
  24. Now play me Nestor, hem, and stroke thy beard,
  25. As he being dress’d to some oration.”
  26. That’s done, as near as the extremest ends
  27. Of parallels, as like as Vulcan and his wife;
  28. Yet god Achilles still cries, Excellent!
  29. ’Tis Nestor right. Now play him me, Patroclus,
  30. Arming to answer in a night alarm.”
  31. And then forsooth the faint defects of age
  32. Must be the scene of mirth; to cough and spit,
  33. And with a palsy fumbling on his gorget,
  34. Shake in and out the rivet; and at this sport
  35. Sir Valor dies; cries, O, enough, Patroclus,
  36. Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all
  37. In pleasure of my spleen.” And in this fashion,
  38. All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,
  39. Severals and generals of grace exact,
  40. Achievements, plots, orders, preventions,
  41. Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,
  42. Success or loss, what is or is not, serves
  43. As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.

Nestor

191 - 202
  1. And in the imitation of these twain
  2. Who, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns
  3. With an imperial voicemany are infect.
  4. Ajax is grown self-will’d, and bears his head
  5. In such a rein, in full as proud a place
  6. As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him,
  7. Makes factious feasts, rails on our state of war,
  8. Bold as an oracle, and sets Thersites,
  9. A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint,
  10. To match us in comparisons with dirt,
  11. To weaken or discredit our exposure,
  12. How rank soever rounded in with danger.

Ulysses

203 - 216
  1. They tax our policy, and call it cowardice,
  2. Count wisdom as no member of the war,
  3. Forestall prescience, and esteem no act
  4. But that of hand. The still and mental parts,
  5. That do contrive how many hands shall strike
  6. When fitness calls them on, and know by measure
  7. Of their observant toil the enemies’ weight
  8. Why, this hath not a finger’s dignity.
  9. They call this bed-work, mapp’ry, closet-war,
  10. So that the ram that batters down the wall,
  11. For the great swinge and rudeness of his poise,
  12. They place before his hand that made the engine,
  13. Or those that with the fineness of their souls
  14. By reason guide his execution.

Nestor

217 - 218
  1. Let this be granted, and Achilles’ horse
  2. Makes many Thetis’ sons.
  1. Tucket.

Agamemnon

220
  1. What trumpet? Look, Menelaus.

Menelaus

221
  1. From Troy.
  1. Enter Aeneas and Trojan Trumpeter.

Agamemnon

223
  1. What would you ’fore our tent?

Aeneas

224
  1. Is this great Agamemnon’s tent, I pray you?

Agamemnon

225
  1. Even this.

Aeneas

226 - 227
  1. May one that is a herald and a prince
  2. Do a fair message to his kingly eyes?

Agamemnon

228 - 230
  1. With surety stronger than Achilles’ arm,
  2. ’Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice
  3. Call Agamemnon head and general.

Aeneas

231 - 233
  1. Fair leave and large security. How may
  2. A stranger to those most imperial looks
  3. Know them from eyes of other mortals?

Agamemnon

234
  1.                                       How?

Aeneas

235 - 241
  1. Ay,
  2. I ask, that I might waken reverence,
  3. And bid the cheek be ready with a blush
  4. Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
  5. The youthful Phoebus.
  6. Which is that god in office, guiding men?
  7. Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?

Agamemnon

242 - 243
  1. This Troyan scorns us, or the men of Troy
  2. Are ceremonious courtiers.

Aeneas

244 - 253
  1. Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm’d,
  2. As bending angels; that’s their fame in peace.
  3. But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls,
  4. Good arms, strong joints, true swords, and, great Jove’s accord,
  5. Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Aeneas,
  6. Peace, Troyan, lay thy finger on thy lips!
  7. The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
  8. If that the prais’d himself bring the praise forth;
  9. But what the repining enemy commends,
  10. That breath fame blows, that praise, sole pure, transcends.

Agamemnon

254
  1. Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself Aeneas?

Aeneas

255
  1. Ay, Greek, that is my name.

Agamemnon

256
  1. What’s your affairs, I pray you?

Aeneas

257
  1. Sir, pardon, ’tis for Agamemnon’s ears.

Agamemnon

258
  1. He hears nought privately that comes from Troy.

Aeneas

259 - 262
  1. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper with him.
  2. I bring a trumpet to awake his ear,
  3. To set his sense on the attentive bent,
  4. And then to speak.

Agamemnon

263 - 266
  1.                    Speak frankly as the wind,
  2. It is not Agamemnon’s sleeping hour.
  3. That thou shalt know, Troyan, he is awake,
  4. He tells thee so himself.

Aeneas

267 - 295
  1.                           Trumpet, blow loud,
  2. Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents,
  3. And every Greek of mettle, let him know,
  4. What Troy means fairly shall be spoke aloud.
  5. Sound trumpet.
  6. We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
  7. A prince call’d HectorPriam is his father
  8. Who in this dull and long-continued truce
  9. Is resty grown. He bade me take a trumpet,
  10. And to this purpose speak: kings, princes, lords!
  11. If there be one among the fair’st of Greece
  12. That holds his honor higher than his ease,
  13. And seeks his praise more than he fears his peril,
  14. That knows his valor, and knows not his fear,
  15. That loves his mistress more than in confession
  16. With truant vows to her own lips he loves,
  17. And dare avow her beauty and her worth
  18. In other arms than hersto him this challenge!
  19. Hector, in view of Troyans and of Greeks,
  20. Shall make it good, or do his best to do it:
  21. He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
  22. Than ever Greek did couple in his arms,
  23. And will tomorrow with his trumpet call,
  24. Midway between your tents and walls of Troy,
  25. To rouse a Grecian that is true in love.
  26. If any come, Hector shall honor him;
  27. If none, he’ll say in Troy when he retires,
  28. The Grecian dames are sunburnt, and not worth
  29. The splinter of a lance. Even so much.

Agamemnon

296 - 302
  1. This shall be told our lovers, Lord Aeneas.
  2. If none of them have soul in such a kind,
  3. We left them all at home. But we are soldiers,
  4. And may that soldier a mere recreant prove,
  5. That means not, hath not, or is not in love!
  6. If then one is, or hath, or means to be,
  7. That one meets Hector; if none else, I am he.

Nestor

303 - 313
  1. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
  2. When Hector’s grandsire suck’d. He is old now,
  3. But if there be not in our Grecian mould
  4. A noble man that hath no spark of fire
  5. To answer for his love, tell him from me
  6. I’ll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver,
  7. And in my vambrace put my withered brawns,
  8. And meeting him will tell him that my lady
  9. Was fairer than his grandam, and as chaste
  10. As may be in the world. His youth in flood,
  11. I’ll prove this troth with my three drops of blood.

Aeneas

314
  1. Now heavens forfend such scarcity of youth!

Ulysses

315
  1. Amen.

Agamemnon

316 - 321
  1. Fair Lord Aeneas, let me touch your hand;
  2. To our pavilion shall I lead you, sir,
  3. Achilles shall have word of this intent,
  4. So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent.
  5. Yourself shall feast with us before you go,
  6. And find the welcome of a noble foe.
  1. Exeunt. Manent Ulysses and Nestor.

Ulysses

323
  1. Nestor!

Nestor

324
  1. What says Ulysses?

Ulysses

325 - 326
  1. I have a young conception in my brain,
  2. Be you my time to bring it to some shape.

Nestor

327
  1. What is’t?

Ulysses

328 - 333
  1. This ’tis:
  2. Blunt wedges rive hard knots; the seeded pride
  3. That hath to this maturity blown up
  4. In rank Achilles must or now be cropp’d,
  5. Or shedding, breed a nursery of like evil,
  6. To overbulk us all.

Nestor

334
  1.                     Well, and how?

Ulysses

335 - 337
  1. This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,
  2. However it is spread in general name,
  3. Relates in purpose only to Achilles.

Nestor

338 - 345
  1. True, the purpose is perspicuous as substance,
  2. Whose grossness little characters sum up;
  3. And in the publication make no strain
  4. But that Achilles, were his brain as barren
  5. As banks of Libya (though, Apollo knows,
  6. ’Tis dry enough), will with great speed of judgment,
  7. Ay, with celerity, find Hector’s purpose
  8. Pointing on him.

Ulysses

346
  1. And wake him to the answer, think you?

Nestor

347 - 370
  1. Why, ’tis most meet; who may you else oppose
  2. That can from Hector bring those honors off,
  3. If not Achilles? Though’t be a sportful combat,
  4. Yet in the trial much opinion dwells;
  5. For here the Troyans taste our dear’st repute
  6. With their fin’st palate; and trust to me, Ulysses,
  7. Our imputation shall be oddly pois’d
  8. In this vild action, for the success,
  9. Although particular, shall give a scantling
  10. Of good or bad unto the general,
  11. And in such indexes (although small pricks
  12. To their subsequent volumes) there is seen
  13. The baby figure of the giant mass
  14. Of things to come at large. It is suppos’d
  15. He that meets Hector issues from our choice,
  16. And choice (being mutual act of all our souls)
  17. Makes merit her election, and doth boil
  18. (As ’twere from forth us all) a man distill’d
  19. Out of our virtues, who miscarrying,
  20. What heart receives from hence a conquering part
  21. To steel a strong opinion to themselves?
  22. Which entertain’d, limbs are his instruments,
  23. In no less working than are swords and bows
  24. Directive by the limbs.

Ulysses

371 - 379
  1.                         Give pardon to my speech:
  2. Therefore ’tis meet Achilles meet not Hector.
  3. Let us like merchants first show foul wares,
  4. And think perchance they’ll sell; if not,
  5. The lustre of the better shall exceed
  6. By showing the worse first. Do not consent
  7. That ever Hector and Achilles meet,
  8. For both our honor and our shame in this
  9. Are dogg’d with two strange followers.

Nestor

380
  1. I see them not with my old eyes, what are they?

Ulysses

381 - 400
  1. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,
  2. Were he not proud, we all should share with him.
  3. But he already is too insolent;
  4. And it were better parch in Afric sun
  5. Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,
  6. Should he scape Hector fair. If he were foil’d,
  7. Why then we do our main opinion crush
  8. In taint of our best man. No, make a lott’ry,
  9. And by device let blockish Ajax draw
  10. The sort to fight with Hector; among ourselves
  11. Give him allowance for the better man,
  12. For that will physic the great Myrmidon,
  13. Who broils in loud applause, and make him fall
  14. His crest that prouder than blue Iris bends.
  15. If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
  16. We’ll dress him up in voices; if he fail,
  17. Yet go we under our opinion still
  18. That we have better men. But hit or miss,
  19. Our project’s life this shape of sense assumes:
  20. Ajax employ’d plucks down Achilles’ plumes.

Nestor

401 - 405
  1. Now, Ulysses, I begin to relish thy advice,
  2. And I will give a taste thereof forthwith
  3. To Agamemnon. Go we to him straight.
  4. Two curs shall tame each other; pride alone
  5. Must tarre the mastiffs on, as ’twere a bone.
  1. Exeunt.
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