Shakespeare Quotes

Good riddance

Ajax:
I shall cut out your tongue.

Thersites:
'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:
There's for you, Patroclus.

Thersites:
I will see you hang'd like clatpoles ere I come any more to
your tents. I will keep where there is wit stirring, and leave the
faction of fools. [Exit]

Patroclus:
A good riddance.

Troilus And Cressida Act 2, scene 1, 110–120

The Oxford English Dictionary lists no use of "(a) good riddance" before 1782, although it does cite Portia's "a gentle riddance" from the earlier Merchant of Venice (Act 2, scene 7) in its entry for "riddance." Portia means the same thing Patroclus means: "glad to be rid of you." We have preserved the phrase only in the form "good riddance," dropping the article "a"—the phrase is less descriptive now, and more expletive. We don't really think of "riddance" as a noun, which might be modified by adjectives such as "good," "gentle," "fair," or "bad."

In this case, Patroclus, a Greek warrior dear to Achilles, expresses relief as the satirical rogue Thersites departs. Thersites makes a sport of mocking fellow Greeks who have pretensions to valor, honor, and such like qualities. Here he deflates Patroclus by calling him "Achilles' brach"—that is, "Achilles' bitch"—an indecent characterization of the intimate friendship between Achilles and Patroclus. Spurned, Thersites vows to see this crowd "hang'd like clatpoles" before he comes back to their tents to "entertain" them again. In Elizabethan slang, "clatpole" or "clotpole" meant "blockhead" or "wooden head," which Thersites imagines being hung from a rope. "Clotpole" derives from "clodpoll."

Themes: insults and slander, expressions and idioms

Speakers: Ajax, Thersites, Patroclus, Achilles