Troilus and Cressida
Act I, Scene 3
The Grecian camp. Before Agamemnon’s tent.
- Sennet. Enter Agamemnon, Nestor, Ulysses, Diomedes,
- Menelaus, with others.
Agamemnon1 - 30
- What grief hath set these jaundies o’er your cheeks?
- The ample proposition that hope makes
- In all designs begun on earth below
- Fails in the promis’d largeness. Checks and disasters
- Grow in the veins of actions highest rear’d,
- As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap,
- Infects the sound pine, and diverts his grain
- Tortive and errant from his course of growth.
- Nor, princes, is it matter new to us
- That we come short of our suppose so far
- That after seven years’ siege yet Troy walls stand,
- Sith every action that hath gone before,
- Whereof we have record, trial did draw
- Bias and thwart, not answering the aim
- And that unbodied figure of the thought
- That gave’t surmised shape. Why then, you princes,
- Do you with cheeks abash’d behold our works,
- And call them shames which are indeed nought else
- But the protractive trials of great Jove
- To find persistive constancy in men?
- The fineness of which metal is not found
- In fortune’s love; for then the bold and coward,
- The wise and fool, the artist and unread,
- The hard and soft, seem all affin’d and kin;
- But in the wind and tempest of her frown,
- Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,
- Puffing at all, winnows the light away,
- And what hath mass or matter, by itself
- Lies rich in virtue and unmingled.
Nestor31 - 54
- With due observance of thy godlike seat,
- Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply
- Thy latest words. In the reproof of chance
- Lies the true proof of men: the sea being smooth,
- How many shallow bauble boats dare sail
- Upon her patient breast, making their way
- With those of nobler bulk!
- But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
- The gentle Thetis, and anon behold
- The strong-ribb’d bark through liquid mountains cut,
- Bounding between the two moist elements,
- Like Perseus’ horse. Where’s then the saucy boat
- Whose weak untimber’d sides but even now
- Corrivall’d greatness? Either to harbor fled,
- Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so
- Doth valor’s show and valor’s worth divide
- In storms of fortune; for in her ray and brightness
- The herd hath more annoyance by the breeze
- Than by the tiger; but when the splitting wind
- Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks,
- And flies fled under shade, why then the thing of courage,
- As rous’d with rage, with rage doth sympathize,
- And with an accent tun’d in self-same key
- Retires to chiding fortune.
Ulysses55 - 71
- Thou great commander, nerves and bone of Greece,
- Heart of our numbers, soul and only sprite
- In whom the tempers and the minds of all
- Should be shut up, hear what Ulysses speaks.
- Besides th’ applause and approbation
- The which,
- To Agamemnon.
- most mighty for thy place and sway,
- To Nestor.
- And thou most reverend for thy stretch’d-out life,
- I give to both your speeches, which were such
- As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
- Should hold up high in brass, and such again
- As venerable Nestor, hatch’d in silver,
- Should with a bond of air strong as the axle-tree
- On which heaven rides, knit all the Greekish ears
- To his experienc’d tongue, yet let it please both,
- Thou great, and wise, to hear Ulysses speak.
Agamemnon72 - 76
- Speak, prince of Ithaca, and be’t of less expect
- That matter needless, of importless burden,
- Divide thy lips, than we are confident,
- When rank Thersites opes his mastic jaws,
- We shall hear music, wit, and oracle.
Ulysses77 - 139
- Troy, yet upon his bases, had been down,
- And the great Hector’s sword had lack’d a master,
- But for these instances:
- The specialty of rule hath been neglected,
- And look how many Grecian tents do stand
- Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.
- When that the general is not like the hive
- To whom the foragers shall all repair,
- What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded,
- Th’ unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
- The heavens themselves, the planets, and this center
- Observe degree, priority, and place,
- Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
- Office, and custom, in all line of order;
- And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
- In noble eminence enthron’d and spher’d
- Amidst the other; whose med’cinable eye
- Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
- And posts like the commandment of a king,
- Sans check, to good and bad. But when the planets
- In evil mixture to disorder wander,
- What plagues and what portents, what mutiny!
- What raging of the sea, shaking of earth!
- Commotion in the winds!, frights, changes, horrors
- Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
- The unity and married calm of states
- Quite from their fixure! O, when degree is shak’d,
- Which is the ladder of all high designs,
- The enterprise is sick. How could communities,
- Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,
- Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
- The primogenity and due of birth,
- Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
- But by degree stand in authentic place?
- Take but degree away, untune that string,
- And hark what discord follows. Each thing meets
- In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
- Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
- And make a sop of all this solid globe;
- Strength should be lord of imbecility,
- And the rude son should strike his father dead;
- Force should be right, or rather, right and wrong
- (Between whose endless jar justice resides)
- Should lose their names, and so should justice too!
- Then every thing include itself in power,
- Power into will, will into appetite,
- And appetite, an universal wolf
- (So doubly seconded with will and power),
- Must make perforce an universal prey,
- And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,
- This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
- Follows the choking,
- And this neglection of degree it is
- That by a pace goes backward with a purpose
- It hath to climb. The general’s disdain’d
- By him one step below, he by the next,
- That next by him beneath; so every step,
- Exampled by the first pace that is sick
- Of his superior, grows to an envious fever
- Of pale and bloodless emulation,
- And ’tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot,
- Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,
- Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.
Nestor140 - 141
- Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover’d
- The fever whereof all our power is sick.
Agamemnon142 - 143
- The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses,
- What is the remedy?
Ulysses144 - 186
- The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns
- The sinew and the forehand of our host,
- Having his ear full of his airy fame,
- Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent
- Lies mocking our designs. With him Patroclus
- Upon a lazy bed the livelong day
- Breaks scurril jests,
- And with ridiculous and awkward action,
- Which, slanderer, he imitation calls,
- He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon,
- Thy topless deputation he puts on,
- And like a strutting player, whose conceit
- Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
- To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
- ’Twixt his stretch’d footing and the scaffoldage,
- Such to-be-pitied and o’er-wrested seeming
- He acts thy greatness in; and when he speaks,
- ’Tis like a chime a-mending, with terms unsquar’d,
- Which from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp’d
- Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff
- The large Achilles, on his press’d bed lolling,
- From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause,
- Cries, “Excellent! ’Tis Agamemnon right!
- Now play me Nestor, hem, and stroke thy beard,
- As he being dress’d to some oration.”
- That’s done, as near as the extremest ends
- Of parallels, as like as Vulcan and his wife;
- Yet god Achilles still cries, “Excellent!
- ’Tis Nestor right. Now play him me, Patroclus,
- Arming to answer in a night alarm.”
- And then forsooth the faint defects of age
- Must be the scene of mirth; to cough and spit,
- And with a palsy fumbling on his gorget,
- Shake in and out the rivet; and at this sport
- Sir Valor dies; cries, “O, enough, Patroclus,
- Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all
- In pleasure of my spleen.” And in this fashion,
- All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,
- Severals and generals of grace exact,
- Achievements, plots, orders, preventions,
- Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,
- Success or loss, what is or is not, serves
- As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.
Nestor187 - 198
- And in the imitation of these twain—
- Who, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns
- With an imperial voice—many are infect.
- Ajax is grown self-will’d, and bears his head
- In such a rein, in full as proud a place
- As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him,
- Makes factious feasts, rails on our state of war,
- Bold as an oracle, and sets Thersites,
- A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint,
- To match us in comparisons with dirt,
- To weaken or discredit our exposure,
- How rank soever rounded in with danger.
Ulysses199 - 212
- They tax our policy, and call it cowardice,
- Count wisdom as no member of the war,
- Forestall prescience, and esteem no act
- But that of hand. The still and mental parts,
- That do contrive how many hands shall strike
- When fitness calls them on, and know by measure
- Of their observant toil the enemies’ weight—
- Why, this hath not a finger’s dignity.
- They call this bed-work, mapp’ry, closet-war,
- So that the ram that batters down the wall,
- For the great swinge and rudeness of his poise,
- They place before his hand that made the engine,
- Or those that with the fineness of their souls
- By reason guide his execution.
Nestor213 - 214
- Let this be granted, and Achilles’ horse
- Makes many Thetis’ sons.
- What trumpet? Look, Menelaus.
- From Troy.
- Enter Aeneas and Trojan Trumpeter.
- What would you ’fore our tent?
- Is this great Agamemnon’s tent, I pray you?
- Even this.
Aeneas220 - 221
- May one that is a herald and a prince
- Do a fair message to his kingly eyes?
Agamemnon222 - 224
- With surety stronger than Achilles’ arm,
- ’Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice
- Call Agamemnon head and general.
Aeneas225 - 227
- Fair leave and large security. How may
- A stranger to those most imperial looks
- Know them from eyes of other mortals?
Aeneas229 - 235
- I ask, that I might waken reverence,
- And bid the cheek be ready with a blush
- Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
- The youthful Phoebus.
- Which is that god in office, guiding men?
- Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?
Agamemnon236 - 237
- This Troyan scorns us, or the men of Troy
- Are ceremonious courtiers.
Aeneas238 - 247
- Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm’d,
- As bending angels; that’s their fame in peace.
- But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls,
- Good arms, strong joints, true swords, and, great Jove’s accord,
- Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Aeneas,
- Peace, Troyan, lay thy finger on thy lips!
- The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
- If that the prais’d himself bring the praise forth;
- But what the repining enemy commends,
- That breath fame blows, that praise, sole pure, transcends.
- Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself Aeneas?
- Ay, Greek, that is my name.
- What’s your affairs, I pray you?
- Sir, pardon, ’tis for Agamemnon’s ears.
- He hears nought privately that comes from Troy.
Aeneas253 - 256
- Nor I from Troy come not to whisper with him.
- I bring a trumpet to awake his ear,
- To set his sense on the attentive bent,
- And then to speak.
Agamemnon257 - 260
- Speak frankly as the wind,
- It is not Agamemnon’s sleeping hour.
- That thou shalt know, Troyan, he is awake,
- He tells thee so himself.
Aeneas261 - 288
- Trumpet, blow loud,
- Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents,
- And every Greek of mettle, let him know,
- What Troy means fairly shall be spoke aloud.
- Sound trumpet.
- We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
- A prince call’d Hector—Priam is his father—
- Who in this dull and long-continued truce
- Is resty grown. He bade me take a trumpet,
- And to this purpose speak: kings, princes, lords!
- If there be one among the fair’st of Greece
- That holds his honor higher than his ease,
- And seeks his praise more than he fears his peril,
- That knows his valor, and knows not his fear,
- That loves his mistress more than in confession
- With truant vows to her own lips he loves,
- And dare avow her beauty and her worth
- In other arms than hers—to him this challenge!
- Hector, in view of Troyans and of Greeks,
- Shall make it good, or do his best to do it:
- He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
- Than ever Greek did couple in his arms,
- And will tomorrow with his trumpet call,
- Midway between your tents and walls of Troy,
- To rouse a Grecian that is true in love.
- If any come, Hector shall honor him;
- If none, he’ll say in Troy when he retires,
- The Grecian dames are sunburnt, and not worth
- The splinter of a lance. Even so much.
Agamemnon289 - 295
- This shall be told our lovers, Lord Aeneas.
- If none of them have soul in such a kind,
- We left them all at home. But we are soldiers,
- And may that soldier a mere recreant prove,
- That means not, hath not, or is not in love!
- If then one is, or hath, or means to be,
- That one meets Hector; if none else, I am he.
Nestor296 - 306
- Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
- When Hector’s grandsire suck’d. He is old now,
- But if there be not in our Grecian mould
- A noble man that hath no spark of fire
- To answer for his love, tell him from me
- I’ll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver,
- And in my vambrace put my withered brawns,
- And meeting him will tell him that my lady
- Was fairer than his grandam, and as chaste
- As may be in the world. His youth in flood,
- I’ll prove this troth with my three drops of blood.
- Now heavens forfend such scarcity of youth!
Agamemnon309 - 314
- Fair Lord Aeneas, let me touch your hand;
- To our pavilion shall I lead you, sir,
- Achilles shall have word of this intent,
- So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent.
- Yourself shall feast with us before you go,
- And find the welcome of a noble foe.
- Exeunt. Manent Ulysses and Nestor.
- What says Ulysses?
Ulysses317 - 318
- I have a young conception in my brain,
- Be you my time to bring it to some shape.
- What is’t?
Ulysses320 - 325
- This ’tis:
- Blunt wedges rive hard knots; the seeded pride
- That hath to this maturity blown up
- In rank Achilles must or now be cropp’d,
- Or shedding, breed a nursery of like evil,
- To overbulk us all.
- Well, and how?
Ulysses327 - 329
- This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,
- However it is spread in general name,
- Relates in purpose only to Achilles.
Nestor330 - 337
- True, the purpose is perspicuous as substance,
- Whose grossness little characters sum up;
- And in the publication make no strain
- But that Achilles, were his brain as barren
- As banks of Libya (though, Apollo knows,
- ’Tis dry enough), will with great speed of judgment,
- Ay, with celerity, find Hector’s purpose
- Pointing on him.
- And wake him to the answer, think you?
Nestor339 - 362
- Why, ’tis most meet; who may you else oppose
- That can from Hector bring those honors off,
- If not Achilles? Though’t be a sportful combat,
- Yet in the trial much opinion dwells;
- For here the Troyans taste our dear’st repute
- With their fin’st palate; and trust to me, Ulysses,
- Our imputation shall be oddly pois’d
- In this vild action, for the success,
- Although particular, shall give a scantling
- Of good or bad unto the general,
- And in such indexes (although small pricks
- To their subsequent volumes) there is seen
- The baby figure of the giant mass
- Of things to come at large. It is suppos’d
- He that meets Hector issues from our choice,
- And choice (being mutual act of all our souls)
- Makes merit her election, and doth boil
- (As ’twere from forth us all) a man distill’d
- Out of our virtues, who miscarrying,
- What heart receives from hence a conquering part
- To steel a strong opinion to themselves?
- Which entertain’d, limbs are his instruments,
- In no less working than are swords and bows
- Directive by the limbs.
Ulysses363 - 371
- Give pardon to my speech:
- Therefore ’tis meet Achilles meet not Hector.
- Let us like merchants first show foul wares,
- And think perchance they’ll sell; if not,
- The lustre of the better shall exceed
- By showing the worse first. Do not consent
- That ever Hector and Achilles meet,
- For both our honor and our shame in this
- Are dogg’d with two strange followers.
- I see them not with my old eyes, what are they?
Ulysses373 - 392
- What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,
- Were he not proud, we all should share with him.
- But he already is too insolent;
- And it were better parch in Afric sun
- Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,
- Should he scape Hector fair. If he were foil’d,
- Why then we do our main opinion crush
- In taint of our best man. No, make a lott’ry,
- And by device let blockish Ajax draw
- The sort to fight with Hector; among ourselves
- Give him allowance for the better man,
- For that will physic the great Myrmidon,
- Who broils in loud applause, and make him fall
- His crest that prouder than blue Iris bends.
- If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
- We’ll dress him up in voices; if he fail,
- Yet go we under our opinion still
- That we have better men. But hit or miss,
- Our project’s life this shape of sense assumes:
- Ajax employ’d plucks down Achilles’ plumes.
Nestor393 - 397
- Now, Ulysses, I begin to relish thy advice,
- And I will give a taste thereof forthwith
- To Agamemnon. Go we to him straight.
- Two curs shall tame each other; pride alone
- Must tarre the mastiffs on, as ’twere a bone.