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Troilus and Cressida Scenes

Scene 4

The plains between Troy and the Grecian camp.

(Thersites; Diomedes; Troilus; Hector)

Thersites looks on at the battle and comments disparagingly on it, seeing neither glory nor honor there, only a pack of fools fighting over whores. Though Troilus and Diomedes fight, now not only Achilles but Ajax as well have decided not to go to battle today, and the Greeks are in disarray. Hector runs in and asks Thersites whether he is honorable enough to deserve being killed by him, but Thersites denies it with an honest self-assessment. Hector lets him live. (14 lines)

Alarum. Enter Thersites. Excursions.


Now they are clapper-clawing one another; I’ll go look on. That dissembling abominable varlet, Diomed, has got that same scurvy doting foolish young knave’s sleeve of Troy there in his helm. I would fain see them meet, that that same young Troyan ass, that loves the whore there, might send that Greekish whoremasterly villain with the sleeve back to the dissembling luxurious drab, of a sleeveless arrant. A’ th’ t’ other side, the policy of those crafty swearing rascals, that stale old mouse-eaten dry cheese, Nestor, and that same dog-fox, Ulysses, is not prov’d worth a blackberry. They set me up, in policy, that mongrel cur, Ajax, against that dog of as bad a kind, Achilles; and now is the cur Ajax prouder than the cur Achilles, and will not arm today; whereupon the Grecians began to proclaim barbarism, and policy grows into an ill opinion.

Enter Diomedes, and Troilus following.

Soft, here comes sleeve and t’ other.


Fly not, for shouldst thou take the river Styx,

I would swim after.


Thou dost miscall retire.

I do not fly, but advantageous care

Withdrew me from the odds of multitude.

Have at thee!


Hold thy whore, Grecian!—now for thy whore, Troyan!—now the sleeve, now the sleeve!

Exeunt Troilus and Diomedes fighting.

Enter Hector.


What art thou, Greek? Art thou for Hector’s match?

Art thou of blood and honor?


No, no, I am a rascal, a scurvy railing knave, a very filthy rogue.


I do believe thee, live.



God-a-mercy, that thou wilt believe me, but a plague break thy neck—for frighting me! What’s become of the wenching rogues? I think they have swallow’d one another. I would laugh at that miracle—yet in a sort lechery eats itself. I’ll seek them.



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