List iconTroilus and Cressida:
Act 3, scene 3
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Troilus and Cressida
Act 3, scene 3



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,…


This preface appears in some copies of the play’s first printing in quarto in 1609.


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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Quill icon
Scene 3
Flourish. Enter Ulysses, Diomedes, Nestor,
Agamemnon, Calchas, Menelaus, and Ajax.

 Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
 Th’ advantage of the time prompts me aloud
 To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

 That, through the sight I bear in things to come,
5 I have abandoned Troy, left my possessions,
 Incurred a traitor’s name, exposed myself,
 From certain and possessed conveniences,
 To doubtful fortunes, sequest’ring from me all
 That time, acquaintance, custom, and condition
10 Made tame and most familiar to my nature,
 And here, to do you service, am become
 As new into the world, strange, unacquainted.
 I do beseech you, as in way of taste,
 To give me now a little benefit
15 Out of those many regist’red in promise,
 Which you say live to come in my behalf.
 What wouldst thou of us, Trojan, make demand?
 You have a Trojan prisoner called Antenor
 Yesterday took. Troy holds him very dear.
20 Oft have you—often have you thanks therefor—
 Desired my Cressid in right great exchange,
 Whom Troy hath still denied; but this Antenor,
 I know, is such a wrest in their affairs
 That their negotiations all must slack,
25 Wanting his manage; and they will almost
 Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam,
 In change of him. Let him be sent, great princes,
 And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence
 Shall quite strike off all service I have done
30 In most accepted pain.
AGAMEMNON  Let Diomedes bear him,
 And bring us Cressid hither. Calchas shall have
 What he requests of us. Good Diomed,
 Furnish you fairly for this interchange.
35 Withal, bring word if Hector will tomorrow
 Be answered in his challenge. Ajax is ready.

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

 This shall I undertake, and ’tis a burden
 Which I am proud to bear.He exits with Calchas.

Achilles and Patroclus stand in their tent.
 Achilles stands i’ th’ entrance of his tent.
40 Please it our General pass strangely by him
 As if he were forgot, and, princes all,
 Lay negligent and loose regard upon him.
 I will come last. ’Tis like he’ll question me
 Why such unplausive eyes are bent, why turned on
45 him.
 If so, I have derision medicinable
 To use between your strangeness and his pride,
 Which his own will shall have desire to drink.
 It may do good; pride hath no other glass
50 To show itself but pride, for supple knees
 Feed arrogance and are the proud man’s fees.
 We’ll execute your purpose and put on
 A form of strangeness as we pass along;
 So do each lord, and either greet him not
55 Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more
 Than if not looked on. I will lead the way.

They pass before Achilles and Patroclus. Ulysses
remains in place, reading.

 What, comes the General to speak with me?
 You know my mind: I’ll fight no more ’gainst Troy.
AGAMEMNON, to Nestor 
 What says Achilles? Would he aught with us?
NESTOR, to Achilles 
60 Would you, my lord, aught with the General?

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

NESTOR Nothing, my lord.
AGAMEMNON The better.Agamemnon and Nestor exit.
ACHILLES, to Menelaus Good day, good day.
MENELAUS 65How do you? How do you?He exits.
ACHILLES What, does the cuckold scorn me?
AJAX How now, Patroclus?
ACHILLES Good morrow, Ajax.
ACHILLES 70Good morrow.
AJAX Ay, and good next day too.He exits.
 What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?
 They pass by strangely. They were used to bend,
 To send their smiles before them to Achilles,
75 To come as humbly as they use to creep
 To holy altars.
ACHILLES  What, am I poor of late?
 ’Tis certain, greatness, once fall’n out with Fortune,
 Must fall out with men too. What the declined is
80 He shall as soon read in the eyes of others
 As feel in his own fall, for men, like butterflies,
 Show not their mealy wings but to the summer,
 And not a man, for being simply man,
 Hath any honor, but honor for those honors
85 That are without him—as place, riches, and favor,
 Prizes of accident as oft as merit,
 Which, when they fall, as being slippery slanders,
 The love that leaned on them, as slippery too,
 Doth one pluck down another and together
90 Die in the fall. But ’tis not so with me.
 Fortune and I are friends. I do enjoy,
 At ample point, all that I did possess,
 Save these men’s looks, who do, methinks, find out
 Something not worth in me such rich beholding

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

95 As they have often given. Here is Ulysses.
 I’ll interrupt his reading.—How now, Ulysses?
ULYSSES Now, great Thetis’ son—
ACHILLES What are you reading?
ULYSSES A strange fellow here
100 Writes me that man, how dearly ever parted,
 How much in having, or without or in,
 Cannot make boast to have that which he hath,
 Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection;
 As when his virtues, shining upon others,
105 Heat them, and they retort that heat again
 To the first giver.
ACHILLES  This is not strange, Ulysses.
 The beauty that is borne here in the face
 The bearer knows not, but commends itself
110 [To others’ eyes; nor doth the eye itself,
 That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself,]
 Not going from itself, but eye to eye opposed
 Salutes each other with each other’s form.
 For speculation turns not to itself
115 Till it hath traveled and is mirrored there
 Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.
 I do not strain at the position—
 It is familiar—but at the author’s drift,
 Who in his circumstance expressly proves
120 That no man is the lord of anything—
 Though in and of him there be much consisting—
 Till he communicate his parts to others;
 Nor doth he of himself know them for aught
 Till he behold them formed in the applause
125 Where they’re extended; who, like an arch, reverb’rate
 The voice again or, like a gate of steel
 Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
 His figure and his heat. I was much rapt in this
 And apprehended here immediately

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

130 Th’ unknown Ajax. Heavens, what a man is there!
 A very horse, that has he knows not what!
 Nature, what things there are
 Most abject in regard, and dear in use,
 What things again most dear in the esteem
135 And poor in worth! Now shall we see tomorrow—
 An act that very chance doth throw upon him—
 Ajax renowned. O, heavens, what some men do
 While some men leave to do!
 How some men creep in skittish Fortune’s hall,
140 Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
 How one man eats into another’s pride,
 While pride is fasting in his wantonness!
 To see these Grecian lords—why, even already
 They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder
145 As if his foot were on brave Hector’s breast
 And great Troy shrieking.
 I do believe it, for they passed by me
 As misers do by beggars, neither gave to me
 Good word nor look. What, are my deeds forgot?
150 Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back
 Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
 A great-sized monster of ingratitudes.
 Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devoured
 As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
155 As done. Perseverance, dear my lord,
 Keeps honor bright. To have done is to hang
 Quite out of fashion like a rusty mail
 In monumental mock’ry. Take the instant way,
 For honor travels in a strait so narrow
160 Where one but goes abreast. Keep, then, the path,
 For Emulation hath a thousand sons
 That one by one pursue. If you give way
 Or turn aside from the direct forthright,

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

 Like to an entered tide they all rush by
165 And leave you hindmost;
 Or, like a gallant horse fall’n in first rank,
 Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
 O’errun and trampled on. Then what they do in
170 Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;
 For Time is like a fashionable host
 That slightly shakes his parting guest by th’ hand
 And, with his arms outstretched as he would fly,
 Grasps in the comer. Welcome ever smiles,
175 And Farewell goes out sighing. Let not virtue seek
 Remuneration for the thing it was,
 For beauty, wit,
 High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,
 Love, friendship, charity are subjects all
180 To envious and calumniating Time.
 One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
 That all, with one consent, praise newborn gauds,
 Though they are made and molded of things past,
 And give to dust that is a little gilt
185 More laud than gilt o’erdusted.
 The present eye praises the present object.
 Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
 That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax,
 Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
190 Than what stirs not. The cry went once on thee,
 And still it might, and yet it may again,
 If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
 And case thy reputation in thy tent,
 Whose glorious deeds but in these fields of late
195 Made emulous missions ’mongst the gods themselves
 And drave great Mars to faction.
ACHILLES  Of this my privacy,
 I have strong reasons.
ULYSSES  But ’gainst your privacy

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

200 The reasons are more potent and heroical.
 ’Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love
 With one of Priam’s daughters.
ACHILLES  Ha? Known?
ULYSSES Is that a wonder?
205 The providence that’s in a watchful state
 Knows almost every grain of Pluto’s gold,
 Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deep,
 Keeps place with thought and almost, like the gods,
 Do thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
210 There is a mystery—with whom relation
 Durst never meddle—in the soul of state,
 Which hath an operation more divine
 Than breath or pen can give expressure to.
 All the commerce that you have had with Troy
215 As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord;
 And better would it fit Achilles much
 To throw down Hector than Polyxena.
 But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home
 When Fame shall in our islands sound her trump,
220 And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing
 “Great Hector’s sister did Achilles win,
 But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.”
 Farewell, my lord. I as your lover speak.
 The fool slides o’er the ice that you should break.
He exits.
225 To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you.
 A woman impudent and mannish grown
 Is not more loathed than an effeminate man
 In time of action. I stand condemned for this.
 They think my little stomach to the war,
230 And your great love to me, restrains you thus.
 Sweet, rouse yourself, and the weak wanton Cupid
 Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

 And, like a dewdrop from the lion’s mane,
 Be shook to air.
ACHILLES 235 Shall Ajax fight with Hector?
 Ay, and perhaps receive much honor by him.
 I see my reputation is at stake;
 My fame is shrewdly gored.
PATROCLUS  O, then, beware!
240 Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves.
 Omission to do what is necessary
 Seals a commission to a blank of danger,
 And danger, like an ague, subtly taints
 Even then when they sit idly in the sun.
245 Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus.
 I’ll send the fool to Ajax and desire him
 T’ invite the Trojan lords after the combat
 To see us here unarmed. I have a woman’s longing,
 An appetite that I am sick withal,
250 To see great Hector in his weeds of peace,
 To talk with him, and to behold his visage,
 Even to my full of view.

Enter Thersites.

 A labor saved.
THERSITES Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for
THERSITES He must fight singly tomorrow with Hector
260 and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgeling
 that he raves in saying nothing.
ACHILLES How can that be?

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

THERSITES Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock—
 a stride and a stand; ruminates like an hostess
265 that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set
 down her reckoning; bites his lip with a politic regard,
 as who should say “There were wit in this
 head an ’twould out”—and so there is, but it lies
 as coldly in him as fire in a flint, which will not
270 show without knocking. The man’s undone forever,
 for if Hector break not his neck i’ th’ combat,
 he’ll break ’t himself in vainglory. He knows not
 me. I said “Good morrow, Ajax,” and he replies
 “Thanks, Agamemnon.” What think you of this
275 man that takes me for the General? He’s grown a
 very land-fish, languageless, a monster. A plague of
 opinion! A man may wear it on both sides, like a
 leather jerkin.
ACHILLES Thou must be my ambassador to him,
280 Thersites.
THERSITES Who, I? Why, he’ll answer nobody. He professes
 not answering; speaking is for beggars; he
 wears his tongue in ’s arms. I will put on his presence.
 Let Patroclus make his demands to me. You
285 shall see the pageant of Ajax.
ACHILLES To him, Patroclus. Tell him I humbly desire
 the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector
 to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe-conduct
 for his person of the magnanimous and
290 most illustrious, six-or-seven-times-honored captain
 general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon,
 et cetera. Do this.
PATROCLUS, to Thersites, who is playing Ajax Jove
 bless great Ajax.
PATROCLUS I come from the worthy Achilles—

Troilus and Cressida
ACT 3. SC. 3

PATROCLUS Who most humbly desires you to invite
 Hector to his tent—
PATROCLUS And to procure safe-conduct from
THERSITES Agamemnon?
PATROCLUS Ay, my lord.
PATROCLUS What say you to ’t?
THERSITES God b’ wi’ you, with all my heart.
PATROCLUS Your answer, sir.
THERSITES If tomorrow be a fair day, by eleven of the
310 clock it will go one way or other. Howsoever, he
 shall pay for me ere he has me.
PATROCLUS Your answer, sir.
THERSITES Fare you well with all my heart.
He pretends to exit.
ACHILLES Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?
THERSITES 315No, but he’s out of tune thus. What music
 will be in him when Hector has knocked out his
 brains I know not. But I am sure none, unless the
 fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.
ACHILLES Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him
320 straight.
THERSITES Let me bear another to his horse, for that’s
 the more capable creature.
 My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred,
 And I myself see not the bottom of it.
Achilles and Patroclus exit.
THERSITES 325Would the fountain of your mind were clear
 again, that I might water an ass at it. I had rather
 be a tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.
He exits.