Troilus and Cressida Act II
by William Shakespeare

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Act II, Scene 1

ACT II.

SCENE 1. The Grecian camp

[Enter Ajax and THERSITES.]

AJAX.
Thersites!

THERSITES.
Agamemnon--how if he had boils full, an over, generally?

AJAX.
Thersites!

THERSITES.
And those boils did run--say so. Did not the general run
then? Were not that a botchy core?

AJAX.
Dog!

THERSITES.
Then there would come some matter from him;
I see none now.

AJAX.
Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear? Feel, then.

[Strikes him.]

THERSITES.
The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted
lord!

AJAX.
Speak, then, thou whinid'st leaven, speak. I will beat thee
into handsomeness.

THERSITES.
I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holiness; but I
think thy horse will sooner con an oration than thou learn a
prayer without book. Thou canst strike, canst thou? A red murrain
o' thy jade's tricks!

AJAX.
Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.

THERSITES.
Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?

AJAX.
The proclamation!

THERSITES.
Thou art proclaim'd, a fool, I think.

AJAX.
Do not, porpentine, do not; my fingers itch.

THERSITES.
I would thou didst itch from head to foot and I had the
scratching of thee; I would make thee the loathsomest scab in
Greece. When thou art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as
slow as another.

AJAX.
I say, the proclamation.

THERSITES.
Thou grumblest and railest every hour on Achilles; and
thou art as full of envy at his greatness as Cerberus is at
Proserpina's beauty--ay, that thou bark'st at him.

AJAX.
Mistress Thersites!

THERSITES.
Thou shouldst strike him.

AJAX.
Cobloaf!

THERSITES.
He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a
sailor breaks a biscuit.

AJAX.
You whoreson cur!

[Strikes him.]

THERSITES.
Do, do.

AJAX.
Thou stool for a witch!

THERSITES.
Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more
brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinico may tutor thee. You
scurvy valiant ass! Thou art here but to thrash Troyans, and thou
art bought and sold among those of any wit like a barbarian
slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel and tell
what thou art by inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou!

AJAX.
You dog!

THERSITES.
You scurvy lord!

AJAX.
You cur!

[Strikes him.]

THERSITES.
Mars his idiot! Do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.

[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS.]

ACHILLES.
Why, how now, Ajax! Wherefore do you thus?
How now, Thersites! What's the matter, man?

THERSITES.
You see him there, do you?

ACHILLES.
Ay; what's the matter?

THERSITES.
Nay, look upon him.

ACHILLES.
So I do. What's the matter?

THERSITES.
Nay, but regard him well.

ACHILLES.
Well! why, so I do.

THERSITES.
But yet you look not well upon him; for who some ever
you take him to be, he is Ajax.

ACHILLES.
I know that, fool.

THERSITES.
Ay, but that fool knows not himself.

AJAX.
Therefore I beat thee.

THERSITES.
Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters! His
evasions have ears thus long. I have bobb'd his brain more than
he has beat my bones. I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and
his pia mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow. This
lord, Achilles, Ajax--who wears his wit in his belly and his guts
in his head--I'll tell you what I say of him.

ACHILLES.
What?

THERSITES.
I say this Ajax--

[AJAX offers to strike him.]

ACHILLES.
Nay, good Ajax.

THERSITES.
Has not so much wit--

ACHILLES.
Nay, I must hold you.

THERSITES.
As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he
comes to fight.

ACHILLES.
Peace, fool.

THERSITES.
I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will not--
he there; that he; look you there.

AJAX.
O thou damned cur! I shall--

ACHILLES.
Will you set your wit to a fool's?

THERSITES.
No, I warrant you, the fool's will shame it.

PATROCLUS.
Good words, Thersites.

ACHILLES.
What's the quarrel?

AJAX.
I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenour of the
proclamation, and he rails upon me.

THERSITES.
I serve thee not.

AJAX.
Well, go to, go to.

THERSITES.
I serve here voluntary.

ACHILLES.
Your last service was suff'rance; 'twas not voluntary. No
man is beaten voluntary. Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as
under an impress.

THERSITES.
E'en so; a great deal of your wit too lies in your
sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great catch
an he knock...

(The entire section is 4,741 words.)