Troilus and Cressida
Act II, Scene 2
Troy. A room in Priam’s palace.
- Enter Priam, Hector, Troilus, Paris, and Helenus.
Priam1 - 7
- After so many hours, lives, speeches spent,
- Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks;
- “Deliver Helen, and all damage else—
- As honor, loss of time, travail, expense,
- Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consum’d
- In hot digestion of this cormorant war—
- Shall be struck off.” Hector, what say you to’t?
Hector8 - 25
- Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I
- As far as toucheth my particular,
- Yet, dread Priam,
- There is no lady of more softer bowels,
- More spungy to suck in the sense of fear,
- More ready to cry out, “Who knows what follows?”
- Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety,
- Surety secure, but modest doubt is call’d
- The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches
- To th’ bottom of the worst. Let Helen go.
- Since the first sword was drawn about this question,
- Every tithe soul, ’mongst many thousand dismes,
- Hath been as dear as Helen; I mean, of ours.
- If we have lost so many tenths of ours,
- To guard a thing not ours nor worth to us
- (Had it our name) the value of one ten,
- What merit’s in that reason which denies
- The yielding of her up?
Troilus26 - 33
- Fie, fie, my brother!
- Weigh you the worth and honor of a king
- So great as our dread father’s in a scale
- Of common ounces? Will you with compters sum
- The past-proportion of his infinite,
- And buckle in a waist most fathomless
- With spans and inches so diminutive
- As fears and reasons? Fie, for godly shame!
Helenus34 - 37
- No marvel though you bite so sharp at reasons,
- You are so empty of them. Should not our father
- Bear the great sway of his affairs with reason,
- Because your speech hath none that tell him so?
Troilus38 - 51
- You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest,
- You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your reasons:
- You know an enemy intends you harm;
- You know a sword employ’d is perilous,
- And reason flies the object of all harm.
- Who marvels then, when Helenus beholds
- A Grecian and his sword, if he do set
- The very wings of reason to his heels
- And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove,
- Or like a star disorb’d? Nay, if we talk of reason,
- Let’s shut our gates and sleep. Manhood and honor
- Should have hare hearts, would they but fat their thoughts
- With this cramm’d reason; reason and respect
- Make livers pale and lustihood deject.
Hector52 - 53
- Brother, she is not worth what she doth cost
- The keeping.
- What’s aught but as ’tis valued?
Hector55 - 62
- But value dwells not in particular will,
- It holds his estimate and dignity
- As well wherein ’tis precious of itself
- As in the prizer. ’Tis mad idolatry
- To make the service greater than the god,
- And the will dotes that is attributive
- To what infectiously itself affects,
- Without some image of th’ affected merit.
Troilus63 - 98
- I take today a wife, and my election
- Is led on in the conduct of my will,
- My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears,
- Two traded pilots ’twixt the dangerous shores
- Of will and judgment: how may I avoid
- (Although my will distaste what it elected)
- The wife I chose? There can be no evasion
- To blench from this and to stand firm by honor.
- We turn not back the silks upon the merchant
- When we have soil’d them, nor the remainder viands
- We do not throw in unrespective sieve,
- Because we now are full. It was thought meet
- Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks.
- Your breath with full consent bellied his sails;
- The seas and winds, old wranglers, took a truce,
- And did him service; he touch’d the ports desir’d,
- And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive,
- He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness
- Wrinkles Apollo’s, and makes pale the morning.
- Why keep we her? The Grecians keep our aunt.
- Is she worth keeping? Why, she is a pearl,
- Whose price hath launched above a thousand ships,
- And turn’d crown’d kings to merchants.
- If you’ll avouch ’twas wisdom Paris went—
- As you must needs, for you all cried “Go, go”—
- If you’ll confess he brought home worthy prize—
- As you must needs, for you all clapp’d your hands,
- And cried “Inestimable!”—why do you now
- The issue of your proper wisdoms rate,
- And do a deed that never Fortune did,
- Beggar the estimation which you priz’d
- Richer than sea and land? O theft most base,
- That we have stol’n what we do fear to keep!
- But thieves unworthy of a thing so stol’n,
- That in their country did them that disgrace
- We fear to warrant in our native place!
- Cry, Troyans, cry!
- What noise? What shrike is this?
- ’Tis our mad sister, I do know her voice.
- Cry, Troyans!
- It is Cassandra.
- Enter Cassandra raving with her hair about her ears.
Cassandra104 - 105
- Cry, Troyans, cry! Lend me ten thousand eyes,
- And I will fill them with prophetic tears.
- Peace, sister, peace!
Cassandra107 - 115
- Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled eld,
- Soft infancy, that nothing canst but cry,
- Add to my clamors! Let us pay betimes
- A moi’ty of that mass of moan to come.
- Cry, Troyans, cry! Practice your eyes with tears!
- Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilion stand.
- Our fire-brand brother Paris burns us all.
- Cry, Troyans, cry! A Helen and a woe!
- Cry, cry! Troy burns, or else let Helen go.
Hector116 - 121
- Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains
- Of divination in our sister work
- Some touches of remorse? Or is your blood
- So madly hot that no discourse of reason,
- Nor fear of bad success in a bad cause,
- Can qualify the same?
Troilus122 - 133
- Why, brother Hector,
- We may not think the justness of each act
- Such and no other than event doth form it,
- Nor once deject the courage of our minds
- Because Cassandra’s mad. Her brain-sick raptures
- Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel
- Which hath our several honors all engag’d
- To make it gracious. For my private part,
- I am no more touch’d than all Priam’s sons;
- And Jove forbid there should be done amongst us
- Such things as might offend the weakest spleen
- To fight for and maintain.
Paris134 - 146
- Else might the world convince of levity
- As well my undertakings as your counsels,
- But I attest the gods, your full consent
- Gave wings to my propension, and cut off
- All fears attending on so dire a project.
- For what, alas, can these my single arms?
- What propugnation is in one man’s valor
- To stand the push and enmity of those
- This quarrel would excite? Yet I protest,
- Were I alone to pass the difficulties,
- And had as ample power as I have will,
- Paris should ne’er retract what he hath done,
- Nor faint in the pursuit.
Priam147 - 150
- Paris, you speak
- Like one besotted on your sweet delights.
- You have the honey still, but these the gall;
- So to be valiant, is no praise at all.
Paris151 - 167
- Sir, I propose not merely to myself
- The pleasures such a beauty brings with it,
- But I would have the soil of her fair rape
- Wip’d off, in honorable keeping her.
- What treason were it to the ransack’d queen,
- Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me,
- Now to deliver her possession up
- On terms of base compulsion! Can it be
- That so degenerate a strain as this
- Should once set footing in your generous bosoms?
- There’s not the meanest spirit on our party
- Without a heart to dare, or sword to draw,
- When Helen is defended; nor none so noble
- Whose life were ill bestow’d, or death unfam’d,
- Where Helen is the subject. Then I say,
- Well may we fight for her whom we know well
- The world’s large spaces cannot parallel.
Hector168 - 198
- Paris and Troilus, you have both said well,
- And on the cause and question now in hand
- Have gloz’d, but superficially, not much
- Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought
- Unfit to hear moral philosophy.
- The reasons you allege do more conduce
- To the hot passion of distemp’red blood
- Than to make up a free determination
- ’Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge
- Have ears more deaf than adders to the voice
- Of any true decision. Nature craves
- All dues be rend’red to their owners: now,
- What nearer debt in all humanity
- Than wife is to the husband? If this law
- Of nature be corrupted through affection,
- And that great minds, of partial indulgence
- To their benumbed wills, resist the same,
- There is a law in each well-order’d nation
- To curb those raging appetites that are
- Most disobedient and refractory.
- If Helen then be wife to Sparta’s king,
- As it is known she is, these moral laws
- Of nature and of nations speak aloud
- To have her back return’d. Thus to persist
- In doing wrong extenuates not wrong,
- But makes it much more heavy. Hector’s opinion
- Is this in way of truth; yet ne’er the less,
- My spritely brethren, I propend to you
- In resolution to keep Helen still,
- For ’tis a cause that hath no mean dependance
- Upon our joint and several dignities.
Troilus199 - 211
- Why, there you touch’d the life of our design!
- Were it not glory that we more affected
- Than the performance of our heaving spleens,
- I would not wish a drop of Troyan blood
- Spent more in her defense. But, worthy Hector,
- She is a theme of honor and renown,
- A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds,
- Whose present courage may beat down our foes,
- And fame in time to come canonize us,
- For I presume brave Hector would not lose
- So rich advantage of a promis’d glory
- As smiles upon the forehead of this action
- For the wide world’s revenue.
Hector212 - 219
- I am yours,
- You valiant offspring of great Priamus.
- I have a roisting challenge sent amongst
- The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks
- Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits.
- I was advertis’d their great general slept,
- Whilst emulation in the army crept:
- This I presume will wake him.