List iconTroilus and CressidaList icon

Troilus and Cressida
Act 5, 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,…

Preface

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

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 Achilles and Patroclus.

ACHILLES 
 I’ll heat his blood with Greekish wine tonight,
 Which with my scimitar I’ll cool tomorrow.
 Patroclus, let us feast him to the height.
PATROCLUS 
 Here comes Thersites.

Enter Thersites.

ACHILLES 5 How now, thou core of envy?
 Thou crusty botch of nature, what’s the news?
THERSITES Why, thou picture of what thou seemest and
 idol of idiot-worshippers, here’s a letter for thee.
ACHILLES From whence, fragment?
THERSITES 10Why, thou full dish of fool, from Troy.
Achilles takes the letter and moves aside to read it.
PATROCLUS Who keeps the tent now?
THERSITES The surgeon’s box or the patient’s wound.
PATROCLUS Well said, adversity. And what need these
 tricks?
THERSITES 15Prithee, be silent, boy. I profit not by thy
 talk. Thou art said to be Achilles’ male varlet.
PATROCLUS “Male varlet,” you rogue! What’s that?
THERSITES Why, his masculine whore. Now the rotten
 diseases of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures,
211

213
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 5. SC. 1

20 catarrhs, loads o’ gravel in the back, lethargies,
 cold palsies, [raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, whissing
 lungs, bladders full of impostume, sciaticas,
 limekilns i’ th’ palm, incurable bone-ache, and the
 rivelled fee-simple of the tetter,] take and take
25 again such preposterous discoveries.
PATROCLUS Why, thou damnable box of envy, thou,
 what means thou to curse thus?
THERSITES Do I curse thee?
PATROCLUS Why, no, you ruinous butt, you whoreson
30 indistinguishable cur, no.
THERSITES No? Why art thou then exasperate, thou idle
 immaterial skein of sleave-silk, thou green sarsenet
 flap for a sore eye, thou tassel of a prodigal’s purse,
 thou? Ah, how the poor world is pestered with such
35 waterflies, diminutives of nature!
PATROCLUS Out, gall!
THERSITES Finch egg!
ACHILLES, coming forward 
 My sweet Patroclus, I am thwarted quite
 From my great purpose in tomorrow’s battle.
40 Here is a letter from Queen Hecuba,
 A token from her daughter, my fair love,
 Both taxing me and gaging me to keep
 An oath that I have sworn. I will not break it.
 Fall, Greeks; fail, fame; honor, or go or stay;
45 My major vow lies here; this I’ll obey.
 Come, come, Thersites, help to trim my tent.
 This night in banqueting must all be spent.
 Away, Patroclus.He exits with Patroclus.
THERSITES With too much blood and too little brain,
50 these two may run mad; but if with too much brain
 and too little blood they do, I’ll be a curer of madmen.
 Here’s Agamemnon, an honest fellow enough
 and one that loves quails, but he has not so much
 brain as earwax. And the goodly transformation

215
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 5. SC. 1

55 of Jupiter there, his brother, the bull—the primitive
 statue and oblique memorial of cuckolds, a
 thrifty shoeing-horn in a chain, hanging at his
 brother’s leg—to what form but that he is should
 wit larded with malice and malice forced with
60 wit turn him to? To an ass were nothing; he is both
 ass and ox. To an ox were nothing; he is both ox
 and ass. To be a dog, a mule, a cat, a fitchew, a
 toad, a lizard, an owl, a puttock, or a herring without
 a roe, I would not care; but to be Menelaus! I
65 would conspire against destiny. Ask me not what I
 would be, if I were not Thersites, for I care not to be
 the louse of a lazar so I were not Menelaus.

Enter Hector, Troilus, Ajax, Agamemnon, Ulysses,
Nestor, Menelaus, and Diomedes, with lights.


 Heyday! Sprites and fires!
AGAMEMNON We go wrong, we go wrong.
AJAX 
70 No, yonder—’tis there, where we see the lights.
HECTOR I trouble you.
AJAX No, not a whit.

Enter Achilles.

ULYSSES, to Hector Here comes himself to guide you.
ACHILLES 
 Welcome, brave Hector. Welcome, princes all.
AGAMEMNON, to Hector 
75 So now, fair prince of Troy, I bid good night.
 Ajax commands the guard to tend on you.
HECTOR 
 Thanks, and good night to the Greeks’ general.
MENELAUS 
 Good night, my lord.
HECTOR  Good night, sweet lord
80 Menelaus.

217
Troilus and Cressida
ACT 5. SC. 1

THERSITES, aside Sweet draught. “Sweet,” quoth he?
 Sweet sink, sweet sewer.
ACHILLES 
 Good night and welcome, both at once, to those
 That go or tarry.
AGAMEMNON 85Good night.
Agamemnon and Menelaus exit.
ACHILLES 
 Old Nestor tarries, and you too, Diomed.
 Keep Hector company an hour or two.
DIOMEDES 
 I cannot, lord. I have important business,
 The tide whereof is now.—Good night, great Hector.
HECTOR 90Give me your hand.
ULYSSES, aside to Troilus 
 Follow his torch; he goes to Calchas’ tent.
 I’ll keep you company.
TROILUS  Sweet sir, you honor me.
HECTOR 
 And so, good night.
Diomedes exits, followed by Troilus and Ulysses.
ACHILLES 95 Come, come, enter my tent.
Achilles, Ajax, Nestor, and Hector exit.
THERSITES That same Diomed’s a false-hearted rogue,
 a most unjust knave. I will no more trust him when
 he leers than I will a serpent when he hisses. He
 will spend his mouth and promise like Brabbler
100 the hound, but when he performs, astronomers
 foretell it; it is prodigious, there will come some
 change. The sun borrows of the moon when
 Diomed keeps his word. I will rather leave to see
 Hector than not to dog him. They say he keeps a
105 Trojan drab and uses the traitor Calchas his tent.
 I’ll after. Nothing but lechery! All incontinent varlets!
He exits.