The Grecian camp. Before Achilles’ tent.
(Achilles; Patroclus; Thersites; Agamemnon; Hector; Troilus; Ajax; Ulysses; Nestor; Menelaus; Diomedes)
Achilles promises Patroclus that he’ll kill Hector the next day. Thersites, bringing a letter to Achilles, takes the time to venomously insult Patroclus as Achilles’s whore before handing it over. It is from Queen Hecuba, sending a token from Achilles’s beloved, who happens to be one of Priam and Hecuba’s daughters, hence Hector’s sister. Left alone, Thersites spews filth about the Greek leaders. The objects of his cursing appear, to send Hector on his way. Ulysses and Troilus sneak after Diomedes as Thersites adds the latter to his targets, castigating them all as occupied with nothing but lechery. (60 lines)
Enter Achilles and Patroclus.
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.
Here comes Thersites.
How now, thou core of envy?
Thou crusty batch of nature, what’s the news?
Why, thou picture of what thou seemest, and idol of idiot-worshippers, here’s a letter for thee.
From whence, fragment?
Why, thou full dish of fool, from Troy.
Who keeps the tent now?
The surgeon’s box, or the patient’s wound.
Well said, adversity! And what needs these tricks?
Prithee be silent, boy, I profit not by thy talk. Thou art said to be Achilles’ male varlot.
Male varlot, you rogue! What’s that?
Why, his masculine whore. Now the rotten diseases of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs, loads a’ gravel in the back, lethargies, cold palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, whissing lungs, bladders full of imposthume, sciaticas, lime-kills i’ th’ palm, incurable bone-ache, and the rivell’d fee-simple of the tetter, take and take again such preposterous discoveries!
Why, thou damnable box of envy, thou, what means thou to curse thus?
Do I curse thee?
Why, no, you ruinous butt, you whoreson indistinguishable cur, no.
No? Why art thou then exasperate, thou idle immaterial skein of sleave-silk, thou green sarcenet flap for a sore eye, thou tossel of a prodigal’s purse, thou? Ah, how the poor world is pest’red with such water-flies, diminutives of nature!
My sweet Patroclus, I am thwarted quite
From my great purpose in tomorrow’s battle.
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,
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.
Exeunt Achilles and Patroclus.
With too much blood and too little brain, 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 ear-wax; and the goodly transformation 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 fac’d with 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 fitchook, a toad, a lizard, an owl, a puttock, or a herring without a roe, I would not care; but to be Menelaus, I 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. Hey-day! Sprites and fires!
Enter Agamemnon, Hector, Troilus, Ajax, Ulysses, Nestor, Menelaus, and Diomedes, with lights.
We go wrong, we go wrong.
No, yonder ’tis,
There where we see the lights.
I trouble you.
No, not a whit.
Here comes himself to guide you.
Welcome, brave Hector, welcome, princes all.
So now, fair Prince of Troy, I bid good night.
Ajax commands the guard to tend on you.
Thanks and good night to the Greeks’ general.
Good night, my lord.
Good night, sweet Lord Menelaus.
Sweet draught! “Sweet,” quoth ’a! Sweet sink, sweet sewer.
Good night and welcome, both at once, to those
That go or tarry.
Exeunt Agamemnon, Menelaus.
Old Nestor tarries; and you too, Diomed,
Keep Hector company an hour or two.
I cannot, lord, I have important business,
The tide whereof is now. Good night, great Hector.
Give me your hand.
Aside to Troilus
Follow his torch, he goes to Calchas’ tent.
I’ll keep you company.
Sweet sir, you honor me.
And so good night.
Exit Diomedes, Ulysses and Troilus following.
Come, come, enter my tent.
Exeunt Achilles, Hector, Ajax, and Nestor.
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 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 Troyan drab, and uses the traitor Calchas’ tent. I’ll after—nothing but lechery! All incontinent varlots!