List iconTroilus and CressidaList icon

Troilus and Cressida
Act 2, scene 1

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Set during the Trojan War, Troilus and Cressida recounts the love affair of its title characters. Inside the besieged city of Troy,…

Prologue

Act 1, scene 1

Troilus refuses to fight because he is too disturbed by his unrequited love for Cressida. Pandarus, her uncle, complains of…

Act 1, scene 2

Cressida gossips with her servant Alexander, and then with Pandarus, who strives to interest her in Troilus. After Pandarus and…

Act 1, scene 3

As the general, Agamemnon, and his councillors Nestor and Ulysses discuss the refusal of their principal warriors, Achilles and Ajax,…

Act 2, scene 1

Ajax beats Thersites for refusing to tell him the terms of the challenge, terms that are provided by Achilles when…

Act 2, scene 2

The Trojan leaders discuss whether to keep Helen and thereby continue the war. They decide to do so in spite…

Act 2, scene 3

Thersites rails against Achilles and Ajax, and then, joined by Achilles and Patroclus, ridicules them to their faces. As Agamemnon…

Act 3, scene 1

Pandarus asks Paris to make excuses for Troilus’s absence from his father Priam’s supper table that night. At Helen’s insistence,…

Act 3, scene 2

Pandarus brings together Troilus and a seemingly reluctant Cressida, who finally acknowledges her love for Troilus.

Act 3, scene 3

Calchas asks the Greek leaders to demand his daughter Cressida from the Trojans in exchange for Antenor, whom the Greeks…

Act 4, scene 1

Aeneas, summoned to Priam’s palace, meets Paris and a deputation from the Greek camp bringing Antenor to be exchanged for…

Act 4, scene 2

As morning breaks after Troilus and Cressida’s night of lovemaking, Troilus, Pandarus, and Cressida each learn in turn that Cressida…

Act 4, scene 3

Paris sends Troilus to bring Cressida to Diomedes.

Act 4, scene 4

As Troilus and Cressida part, he urges her to be faithful to him, and he promises to visit her in…

Act 4, scene 5

The Greek leaders, Menelaus and Ulysses excepted, kiss Cressida as Diomedes brings her to the Greek camp. After Hector and…

Act 5, scene 1

Achilles receives a letter from Queen Hecuba of Troy requiring him to keep an oath he has sworn to seek…

Act 5, scene 2

Diomedes pressures Cressida to keep her promise to have sex with him; they are overheard by an enraged Troilus, an…

Act 5, scene 3

Andromache and Cassandra enlist Priam in their efforts to persuade Hector to refrain from battle. He, in turn, futilely attempts…

Act 5, scene 4

A railing Thersites watches Troilus and Diomedes go off fighting and, surprised by Hector, escapes death only through the Trojan’s…

Act 5, scene 5

Diomedes sends the horse he has won from Troilus to Cressida. Agamemnon and Nestor recount the slaughter of Greeks by…

Act 5, scene 6

Troilus fights both Diomedes and Ajax. Hector bests Achilles but allows him to live, and pursues another Greek in order…

Act 5, scene 7

Achilles, now accompanied by Myrmidons, searches for Hector.

Act 5, scene 8

Thersites comments on the combat between Menelaus and Paris. Then, surprised by Priam’s bastard son, Thersites escapes by refusing to…

Act 5, scene 9

Hector, having killed the Greek in the splendid armor, unarms himself and is surprised by Achilles, who orders his Myrmidons…

Act 5, scene 10

The rest of the Greek forces hear the shouts of the Myrmidons announcing Hector’s death.

Act 5, scene 11

Troilus announces Hector’s death to the Trojans. Marching back to Troy, Troilus meets Pandarus and reviles him.

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Scene 1
Enter Ajax and Thersites.

AJAX Thersites!
THERSITES Agamemnon—how if he had boils, full, all
 over, generally?
AJAX Thersites!
THERSITES 5And those boils did run? Say so. Did not the
 general run, then? Were not that a botchy core?
AJAX Dog!
THERSITES Then there would come some matter
 from him. I see none now.
AJAX 10Thou bitchwolf’s son, canst thou not hear? Feel,
 then.Strikes him.
THERSITES The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel
 beef-witted lord!
AJAX Speak, then, thou unsalted leaven, speak. I will
15 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 20Toadstool, 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.
69

71
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 2. SC. 1

AJAX 25Do 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
30 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 Proserpina’s beauty, ay, that
35 thou bark’st at him.
AJAX Mistress Thersites!
THERSITES Thou shouldst strike him—
AJAX Cobloaf!
THERSITES He would pound thee into shivers with his
40 fist as a sailor breaks a biscuit.
AJAX You whoreson cur!Strikes him.
THERSITES Do, do.
AJAX Thou stool for a witch!
THERSITES Ay, do, do, thou sodden-witted lord. Thou
45 hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an
 asinego 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
50 at thy heel and tell what thou art by inches, thou
 thing of no bowels, thou.
AJAX You dog!
THERSITES You scurvy lord!
AJAX You cur!Strikes him.
THERSITES 55Mars 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?

73
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 2. SC. 1

THERSITES 60You 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 65Well, why, so I do.
THERSITES But yet you look not well upon him, for
 whosomever you take him to be, he is Ajax.
ACHILLES I know that, fool.
THERSITES Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
AJAX 70Therefore 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
75 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.
ACHILLES What?
THERSITES 80I say, this Ajax—Ajax menaces him.
ACHILLES Nay, good Ajax.
THERSITES Has not so much wit—
ACHILLES, to Ajax Nay, I must hold you.
THERSITES As will stop the eye of Helen’s needle, for
85 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 90Will you set your wit to a fool’s?
THERSITES No, I warrant you. The fool’s will shame it.
PATROCLUS Good words, Thersites.
ACHILLES, to Ajax What’s the quarrel?
AJAX I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the
95 proclamation, and he rails upon me.

75
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 2. SC. 1

THERSITES I serve thee not.
AJAX Well, go to, go to.
THERSITES I serve here voluntary.
ACHILLES Your last service was suff’rance; ’twas not
100 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 shall
 have a great catch an he knock out either of
105 your brains; he 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 moldy ere your grandsires had nails on
110 their toes—yoke you like draft-oxen and make
 you plow up the wars.
ACHILLES What? What?
THERSITES Yes, good sooth. To, Achilles! To, Ajax! To—
AJAX I shall cut out your tongue.
THERSITES 115’Tis no matter. I shall speak as much as
 thou afterwards.
PATROCLUS No more words, Thersites. Peace.
THERSITES I will hold my peace when Achilles’ brach
 bids me, shall I?
ACHILLES 120There’s for you, Patroclus.
THERSITES I will see you hanged like clodpolls ere I
 come any more to your tents. I will keep where
 there is wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.
He exits.
PATROCLUS A good riddance.
ACHILLES, to Ajax 
125 Marry, this, sir, is proclaimed through all our host:
 That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,
 Will with a trumpet ’twixt our tents and Troy
 Tomorrow morning call some knight to arms
 That hath a stomach, and such a one that dare
130 Maintain—I know not what; ’tis trash. Farewell.

77
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 2. SC. 2

AJAX Farewell. Who shall answer him?
ACHILLES 
 I know not. ’Tis put to lott’ry. Otherwise,
 He knew his man.Achilles and Patroclus exit.
AJAX O, meaning you? I will go learn more of it.
He exits.