Document: All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Troilus and Cressida > Act II, scene I
[Enter AJAX and THERSITES]
THERSITES: Agamemnon, how if he had boils? full, all over,
THERSITES: And those boils did run? say so: did not the
general run then? were not that a botchy core?
THERSITES: Then would come some matter from him; I see none now.
AJAX: Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear?
THERSITES: The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel
AJAX: Speak then, thou vinewedst leaven, speak: I will
beat thee into handsomeness.
THERSITES: 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: Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.
THERSITES: Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?
AJAX: The proclamation!
THERSITES: Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.
AJAX: Do not, porpentine, do not: my fingers itch.
THERSITES: 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!
THERSITES: Thou grumblest and railest every hour on Achilles,
and thou art as full of envy at his greatness as
Cerberus is at Proserpine's beauty, ay, that thou
barkest at him.
AJAX: Mistress Thersites!
THERSITES: Thou shouldest strike him.
THERSITES: He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a
sailor breaks a biscuit.
AJAX: [Beating him] You whoreson cur!
THERSITES: Do, do.
AJAX: Thou stool for a witch!
THERSITES: 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
AJAX: You dog!
THERSITES: You scurvy lord!
AJAX: [Beating him] You cur!
THERSITES: Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.
[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS]
ACHILLES: Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore do you thus? How now,
Thersites! what's the matter, man?
THERSITES: You see him there, do you?
ACHILLES: Ay; what's the matter?
THERSITES: Nay, look upon him.
ACHILLES: So I do: what's the matter?
THERSITES: Nay, but regard him well.
ACHILLES: 'Well!' why, I do so.
THERSITES: But yet you look not well upon him; for whosoever you
take him to be, he is Ajax.
ACHILLES: I know that, fool.
THERSITES: Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
AJAX: Therefore I beat thee.
THERSITES: Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters! his
evasions 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 nineth 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
THERSITES: I say, this Ajax--
[Ajax offers to beat him]
ACHILLES: Nay, good Ajax.
THERSITES: Has not so much wit--
ACHILLES: Nay, I must hold you.
THERSITES: As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he
comes to fight.
ACHILLES: Peace, fool!
THERSITES: 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--
ACHILLES: Will you set your wit to a fool's?
THERSITES: No, I warrant you; for a fools will shame it.
PATROCLUS: Good words, Thersites.
ACHILLES: What's the quarrel?
AJAX: I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the
proclamation, and he rails upon me.
THERSITES: I serve thee not.
AJAX: Well, go to, go to.
THERSITES: I serve here voluntarily.
ACHILLES: Your last service was sufferance, 'twas not
voluntary: no man is beaten voluntary: Ajax was
here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.
THERSITES: E'en so; a great deal of your wit, too, lies in your
sinews, or else there be liars. Hector have a great
catch, if he knock out either of your brains: a'
were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.
ACHILLES: What, with me too, Thersites?
THERSITES: 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 wars.
ACHILLES: What, what?
THERSITES: Yes, good sooth: to, Achilles! to, Ajax! to!
AJAX: I shall cut out your tongue.
THERSITES: 'Tis no matter! I shall speak as much as thou
PATROCLUS: No more words, Thersites; peace!
THERSITES: I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?
ACHILLES: There's for you, Patroclus.
THERSITES: 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.
PATROCLUS: A good riddance.
ACHILLES: Marry, this, sir, is proclaim'd through all our host:
That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,
Will with a trumpet 'twixt our tents and Troy
To-morrow morning call some knight to arms
That hath a stomach; and such a one that dare
Maintain--I know not what: 'tis trash. Farewell.
AJAX: Farewell. Who shall answer him?
ACHILLES: I know not: 'tis put to lottery; otherwise
He knew his man.
AJAX: O, meaning you. I will go learn more of it.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA