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Troilus and Cressida

Act I
Troilus and Cressida

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Script of Act I Troilus and Cressida
 The play by William Shakespeare

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Script / Text of Act I Troilus and Cressida

ACT I
PROLOGUE
In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece
The princes orgulous, their high blood chafed,
Have to the port of Athens sent their ships,
Fraught with the ministers and instruments
Of cruel war: sixty and nine, that wore
Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay
Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made
To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures
The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen,
With wanton Paris sleeps; and that's the quarrel.
To Tenedos they come;
And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge
Their warlike fraughtage: now on Dardan plains
The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch
Their brave pavilions: Priam's six-gated city,
Dardan, and Tymbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien,
And Antenorides, with massy staples
And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts,
Sperr up the sons of Troy.
Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
On one and other side, Trojan and Greek,
Sets all on hazard: and hither am I come
A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence
Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited
In like conditions as our argument,
To tell you, fair beholders, that our play
Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils,
Beginning in the middle, starting thence away
To what may be digested in a play.
Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are:
Now good or bad, 'tis but the chance of war.

SCENE I. Troy. Before Priam's palace.

Enter TROILUS armed, and PANDARUS 
TROILUS 
Call here my varlet; I'll unarm again:
Why should I war without the walls of Troy,
That find such cruel battle here within?
Each Trojan that is master of his heart,
Let him to field; Troilus, alas! hath none.

PANDARUS 
Will this gear ne'er be mended?

TROILUS 
The Greeks are strong and skilful to their strength,
Fierce to their skill and to their fierceness valiant;
But I am weaker than a woman's tear,
Tamer than sleep, fonder than ignorance,
Less valiant than the virgin in the night
And skilless as unpractised infancy.

PANDARUS 
Well, I have told you enough of this: for my part,
I'll not meddle nor make no further. He that will
have a cake out of the wheat must needs tarry the grinding.

TROILUS 
Have I not tarried?

PANDARUS 
Ay, the grinding; but you must tarry
the bolting.

TROILUS 
Have I not tarried?

PANDARUS 
Ay, the bolting, but you must tarry the leavening.

TROILUS 
Still have I tarried.

PANDARUS 
Ay, to the leavening; but here's yet in the word
'hereafter' the kneading, the making of the cake, the
heating of the oven and the baking; nay, you must
stay the cooling too, or you may chance to burn your lips.

TROILUS 
Patience herself, what goddess e'er she be,
Doth lesser blench at sufferance than I do.
At Priam's royal table do I sit;
And when fair Cressid comes into my thoughts,--
So, traitor! 'When she comes!' When is she thence?

PANDARUS 
Well, she looked yesternight fairer than ever I saw
her look, or any woman else.

TROILUS 
I was about to tell thee:--when my heart,
As wedged with a sigh, would rive in twain,
Lest Hector or my father should perceive me,
I have, as when the sun doth light a storm,
Buried this sigh in wrinkle of a smile:
But sorrow, that is couch'd in seeming gladness,
Is like that mirth fate turns to sudden sadness.

PANDARUS 
An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen's--
well, go to--there were no more comparison between
the women: but, for my part, she is my kinswoman; I
would not, as they term it, praise her: but I would
somebody had heard her talk yesterday, as I did. I
will not dispraise your sister Cassandra's wit, but--

TROILUS 
O Pandarus! I tell thee, Pandarus,--
When I do tell thee, there my hopes lie drown'd,
Reply not in how many fathoms deep
They lie indrench'd. I tell thee I am mad
In Cressid's love: thou answer'st 'she is fair;'
Pour'st in the open ulcer of my heart
Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice,
Handlest in thy discourse, O, that her hand,
In whose comparison all whites are ink,
Writing their own reproach, to whose soft seizure
The cygnet's down is harsh and spirit of sense
Hard as the palm of ploughman: this thou tell'st me,
As true thou tell'st me, when I say I love her;
But, saying thus, instead of oil and balm,
Thou lay'st in every gash that love hath given me
The knife that made it.

PANDARUS 
I speak no more than truth.

TROILUS 
Thou dost not speak so much.

PANDARUS 
Faith, I'll not meddle in't. Let her be as she is:
if she be fair, 'tis the better for her; an she be
not, she has the mends in her own hands.

TROILUS 
Good Pandarus, how now, Pandarus!

PANDARUS 
I have had my labour for my travail; ill-thought on of
her and ill-thought on of you; gone between and
between, but small thanks for my labour.

TROILUS 
What, art thou angry, Pandarus? what, with me?

PANDARUS 
Because she's kin to me, therefore she's not so fair
as Helen: an she were not kin to me, she would be as
fair on Friday as Helen is on Sunday. But what care
I? I care not an she were a black-a-moor; 'tis all one to me.

TROILUS 
Say I she is not fair?

PANDARUS 
I do not care whether you do or no. She's a fool to
stay behind her father; let her to the Greeks; and so
I'll tell her the next time I see her: for my part,
I'll meddle nor make no more i' the matter.

TROILUS 
Pandarus,--

PANDARUS 
Not I.

TROILUS 
Sweet Pandarus,--

PANDARUS 
Pray you, speak no more to me: I will leave all as I
found it, and there an end.

Exit PANDARUS. An alarum

TROILUS 
Peace, you ungracious clamours! peace, rude sounds!
Fools on both sides! Helen must needs be fair,
When with your blood you daily paint her thus.
I cannot fight upon this argument;
It is too starved a subject for my sword.
But Pandarus,--O gods, how do you plague me!
I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar;
And he's as tetchy to be woo'd to woo.
As she is stubborn-chaste against all suit.
Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne's love,
What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we?
Her bed is India; there she lies, a pearl:
Between our Ilium and where she resides,
Let it be call'd the wild and wandering flood,
Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar
Our doubtful hope, our convoy and our bark.

Alarum. Enter AENEAS

AENEAS 
How now, Prince Troilus! wherefore not afield?

TROILUS 
Because not there: this woman's answer sorts,
For womanish it is to be from thence.
What news, AEneas, from the field to-day?

AENEAS 
That Paris is returned home and hurt.

TROILUS 
By whom, AEneas?

AENEAS 
Troilus, by Menelaus.

TROILUS 
Let Paris bleed; 'tis but a scar to scorn;
Paris is gored with Menelaus' horn.

Alarum

AENEAS 
Hark, what good sport is out of town to-day!

TROILUS 
Better at home, if 'would I might' were 'may.'
But to the sport abroad: are you bound thither?

AENEAS 
In all swift haste.

TROILUS 
Come, go we then together.

Exeunt

SCENE II. The Same. A street.

Enter CRESSIDA and ALEXANDER 
CRESSIDA 
Who were those went by?

ALEXANDER 
Queen Hecuba and Helen.

CRESSIDA 
And whither go they?

ALEXANDER 
Up to the eastern tower,
Whose height commands as subject all the vale,
To see the battle. Hector, whose patience
Is, as a virtue, fix'd, to-day was moved:
He chid Andromache and struck his armourer,
And, like as there were husbandry in war,
Before the sun rose he was harness'd light,
And to the field goes he; where every flower
Did, as a prophet, weep what it foresaw
In Hector's wrath.

CRESSIDA 
What was his cause of anger?

ALEXANDER 
The noise goes, this: there is among the Greeks
A lord of Trojan blood, nephew to Hector;
They call him Ajax.

CRESSIDA 
Good; and what of him?

ALEXANDER 
They say he is a very man per se,
And stands alone.

CRESSIDA 
So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs.

ALEXANDER 
This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their
particular additions; he is as valiant as the lion,
churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant: a man
into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his
valour is crushed into folly, his folly sauced with
discretion: there is no man hath a virtue that he
hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he
carries some stain of it: he is melancholy without
cause, and merry against the hair: he hath the
joints of every thing, but everything so out of joint
that he is a gouty Briareus, many hands and no use,
or purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.

CRESSIDA 
But how should this man, that makes
me smile, make Hector angry?

ALEXANDER 
They say he yesterday coped Hector in the battle and
struck him down, the disdain and shame whereof hath
ever since kept Hector fasting and waking.

CRESSIDA 
Who comes here?

ALEXANDER 
Madam, your uncle Pandarus.

Enter PANDARUS

CRESSIDA 
Hector's a gallant man.

ALEXANDER 
As may be in the world, lady.

PANDARUS 
What's that? what's that?

CRESSIDA 
Good morrow, uncle Pandarus.

PANDARUS 
Good morrow, cousin Cressid: what do you talk of?
Good morrow, Alexander. How do you, cousin? When
were you at Ilium?

CRESSIDA 
This morning, uncle.

PANDARUS 
What were you talking of when I came? Was Hector
armed and gone ere ye came to Ilium? Helen was not
up, was she?

CRESSIDA 
Hector was gone, but Helen was not up.

PANDARUS 
Even so: Hector was stirring early.

CRESSIDA 
That were we talking of, and of his anger.

PANDARUS 
Was he angry?

CRESSIDA 
So he says here.

PANDARUS 
True, he was so: I know the cause too: he'll lay
about him to-day, I can tell them that: and there's
Troilus will not come far behind him: let them take
heed of Troilus, I can tell them that too.

CRESSIDA 
What, is he angry too?

PANDARUS 
Who, Troilus? Troilus is the better man of the two.

CRESSIDA 
O Jupiter! there's no comparison.

PANDARUS 
What, not between Troilus and Hector? Do you know a
man if you see him?

CRESSIDA 
Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him.

PANDARUS 
Well, I say Troilus is Troilus.

CRESSIDA 
Then you say as I say; for, I am sure, he is not Hector.

PANDARUS 
No, nor Hector is not Troilus in some degrees.

CRESSIDA 
'Tis just to each of them; he is himself.

PANDARUS 
Himself! Alas, poor Troilus! I would he were.

CRESSIDA 
So he is.

PANDARUS 
Condition, I had gone barefoot to India.

CRESSIDA 
He is not Hector.

PANDARUS 
Himself! no, he's not himself: would a' were
himself! Well, the gods are above; time must friend
or end: well, Troilus, well: I would my heart were
in her body. No, Hector is not a better man than Troilus.

CRESSIDA 
Excuse me.

PANDARUS 
He is elder.

CRESSIDA 
Pardon me, pardon me.

PANDARUS 
Th' other's not come to't; you shall tell me another
tale, when th' other's come to't. Hector shall not
have his wit this year.

CRESSIDA 
He shall not need it, if he have his own.

PANDARUS 
Nor his qualities.

CRESSIDA 
No matter.

PANDARUS 
Nor his beauty.

CRESSIDA 
'Twould not become him; his own's better.

PANDARUS 
You have no judgment, niece: Helen
herself swore th' other day, that Troilus, for
a brown favour--for so 'tis, I must confess,--
not brown neither,--

CRESSIDA 
No, but brown.

PANDARUS 
'Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown.

CRESSIDA 
To say the truth, true and not true.

PANDARUS 
She praised his complexion above Paris.

CRESSIDA 
Why, Paris hath colour enough.

PANDARUS 
So he has.

CRESSIDA 
Then Troilus should have too much: if she praised
him above, his complexion is higher than his; he
having colour enough, and the other higher, is too
flaming a praise for a good complexion. I had as
lief Helen's golden tongue had commended Troilus for
a copper nose.

PANDARUS 
I swear to you. I think Helen loves him better than Paris.

CRESSIDA 
Then she's a merry Greek indeed.

PANDARUS 
Nay, I am sure she does. She came to him th' other
day into the compassed window,--and, you know, he
has not past three or four hairs on his chin,--

CRESSIDA 
Indeed, a tapster's arithmetic may soon bring his
particulars therein to a total.

PANDARUS 
Why, he is very young: and yet will he, within
three pound, lift as much as his brother Hector.

CRESSIDA 
Is he so young a man and so old a lifter?

PANDARUS 
But to prove to you that Helen loves him: she came
and puts me her white hand to his cloven chin--

CRESSIDA 
Juno have mercy! how came it cloven?

PANDARUS 
Why, you know 'tis dimpled: I think his smiling
becomes him better than any man in all Phrygia.

CRESSIDA 
O, he smiles valiantly.

PANDARUS 
Does he not?

CRESSIDA 
O yes, an 'twere a cloud in autumn.

PANDARUS 
Why, go to, then: but to prove to you that Helen
loves Troilus,--

CRESSIDA 
Troilus will stand to the proof, if you'll
prove it so.

PANDARUS 
Troilus! why, he esteems her no more than I esteem
an addle egg.

CRESSIDA 
If you love an addle egg as well as you love an idle
head, you would eat chickens i' the shell.

PANDARUS 
I cannot choose but laugh, to think how she tickled
his chin: indeed, she has a marvellous white hand, I
must needs confess,--

CRESSIDA 
Without the rack.

PANDARUS 
And she takes upon her to spy a white hair on his chin.

CRESSIDA 
Alas, poor chin! many a wart is richer.

PANDARUS 
But there was such laughing! Queen Hecuba laughed
that her eyes ran o'er.

CRESSIDA 
With mill-stones.

PANDARUS 
And Cassandra laughed.

CRESSIDA 
But there was more temperate fire under the pot of
her eyes: did her eyes run o'er too?

PANDARUS 
And Hector laughed.

CRESSIDA 
At what was all this laughing?

PANDARUS 
Marry, at the white hair that Helen spied on Troilus' chin.

CRESSIDA 
An't had been a green hair, I should have laughed
too.

PANDARUS 
They laughed not so much at the hair as at his pretty answer.

CRESSIDA 
What was his answer?

PANDARUS 
Quoth she, 'Here's but two and fifty hairs on your
chin, and one of them is white.

CRESSIDA 
This is her question.

PANDARUS 
That's true; make no question of that. 'Two and
fifty hairs' quoth he, 'and one white: that white
hair is my father, and all the rest are his sons.'
'Jupiter!' quoth she, 'which of these hairs is Paris,
my husband? 'The forked one,' quoth he, 'pluck't
out, and give it him.' But there was such laughing!
and Helen so blushed, an Paris so chafed, and all the
rest so laughed, that it passed.

CRESSIDA 
So let it now; for it has been while going by.

PANDARUS 
Well, cousin. I told you a thing yesterday; think on't.

CRESSIDA 
So I do.

PANDARUS 
I'll be sworn 'tis true; he will weep you, an 'twere
a man born in April.

CRESSIDA 
And I'll spring up in his tears, an 'twere a nettle
against May.

A retreat sounded

PANDARUS 
Hark! they are coming from the field: shall we
stand up here, and see them as they pass toward
Ilium? good niece, do, sweet niece Cressida.

CRESSIDA 
At your pleasure.

PANDARUS 
Here, here, here's an excellent place; here we may
see most bravely: I'll tell you them all by their
names as they pass by; but mark Troilus above the rest.

CRESSIDA 
Speak not so loud.

AENEAS passes

PANDARUS 
That's AEneas: is not that a brave man? he's one of
the flowers of Troy, I can tell you: but mark
Troilus; you shall see anon.

ANTENOR passes

CRESSIDA 
Who's that?

PANDARUS 
That's Antenor: he has a shrewd wit, I can tell you;
and he's a man good enough, he's one o' the soundest
judgments in whosoever, and a proper man of person.
When comes Troilus? I'll show you Troilus anon: if
he see me, you shall see him nod at me.

CRESSIDA 
Will he give you the nod?

PANDARUS 
You shall see.

CRESSIDA 
If he do, the rich shall have more.

HECTOR passes

PANDARUS 
That's Hector, that, that, look you, that; there's a
fellow! Go thy way, Hector! There's a brave man,
niece. O brave Hector! Look how he looks! there's
a countenance! is't not a brave man?

CRESSIDA 
O, a brave man!

PANDARUS 
Is a' not? it does a man's heart good. Look you
what hacks are on his helmet! look you yonder, do
you see? look you there: there's no jesting;
there's laying on, take't off who will, as they say:
there be hacks!

CRESSIDA 
Be those with swords?

PANDARUS 
Swords! any thing, he cares not; an the devil come
to him, it's all one: by God's lid, it does one's
heart good. Yonder comes Paris, yonder comes Paris.

PARIS passes

Look ye yonder, niece; is't not a gallant man too,
is't not? Why, this is brave now. Who said he came
hurt home to-day? he's not hurt: why, this will do
Helen's heart good now, ha! Would I could see
Troilus now! You shall see Troilus anon.

HELENUS passes

CRESSIDA 
Who's that?

PANDARUS 
That's Helenus. I marvel where Troilus is. That's
Helenus. I think he went not forth to-day. That's Helenus.

CRESSIDA 
Can Helenus fight, uncle?

PANDARUS 
Helenus? no. Yes, he'll fight indifferent well. I
marvel where Troilus is. Hark! do you not hear the
people cry 'Troilus'? Helenus is a priest.

CRESSIDA 
What sneaking fellow comes yonder?

TROILUS passes

PANDARUS 
Where? yonder? that's Deiphobus. 'Tis Troilus!
there's a man, niece! Hem! Brave Troilus! the
prince of chivalry!

CRESSIDA 
Peace, for shame, peace!

PANDARUS 
Mark him; note him. O brave Troilus! Look well upon
him, niece: look you how his sword is bloodied, and
his helm more hacked than Hector's, and how he looks,
and how he goes! O admirable youth! he ne'er saw
three and twenty. Go thy way, Troilus, go thy way!
Had I a sister were a grace, or a daughter a goddess,
he should take his choice. O admirable man! Paris?
Paris is dirt to him; and, I warrant, Helen, to
change, would give an eye to boot.

CRESSIDA 
Here come more.

Forces pass

PANDARUS 
Asses, fools, dolts! chaff and bran, chaff and bran!
porridge after meat! I could live and die i' the
eyes of Troilus. Ne'er look, ne'er look: the eagles
are gone: crows and daws, crows and daws! I had
rather be such a man as Troilus than Agamemnon and
all Greece.

CRESSIDA 
There is among the Greeks Achilles, a better man than Troilus.

PANDARUS 
Achilles! a drayman, a porter, a very camel.

CRESSIDA 
Well, well.

PANDARUS 
'Well, well!' why, have you any discretion? have
you any eyes? Do you know what a man is? Is not
birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood,
learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality,
and such like, the spice and salt that season a man?

CRESSIDA 
Ay, a minced man: and then to be baked with no date
in the pie, for then the man's date's out.

PANDARUS 
You are such a woman! one knows not at what ward you
lie.

CRESSIDA 
Upon my back, to defend my belly; upon my wit, to
defend my wiles; upon my secrecy, to defend mine
honesty; my mask, to defend my beauty; and you, to
defend all these: and at all these wards I lie, at a
thousand watches.

PANDARUS 
Say one of your watches.

CRESSIDA 
Nay, I'll watch you for that; and that's one of the
chiefest of them too: if I cannot ward what I would
not have hit, I can watch you for telling how I took
the blow; unless it swell past hiding, and then it's
past watching.

PANDARUS 
You are such another!

Enter Troilus's Boy

Boy 
Sir, my lord would instantly speak with you.

PANDARUS 
Where?

Boy 
At your own house; there he unarms him.

PANDARUS 
Good boy, tell him I come.

Exit boy

I doubt he be hurt. Fare ye well, good niece.

CRESSIDA 
Adieu, uncle.

PANDARUS 
I'll be with you, niece, by and by.

CRESSIDA 
To bring, uncle?

PANDARUS 
Ay, a token from Troilus.

CRESSIDA 
By the same token, you are a bawd.

Exit PANDARUS

Words, vows, gifts, tears, and love's full sacrifice,
He offers in another's enterprise;
But more in Troilus thousand fold I see
Than in the glass of Pandar's praise may be;
Yet hold I off. Women are angels, wooing:
Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing.
That she beloved knows nought that knows not this:
Men prize the thing ungain'd more than it is:
That she was never yet that ever knew
Love got so sweet as when desire did sue.
Therefore this maxim out of love I teach:
Achievement is command; ungain'd, beseech:
Then though my heart's content firm love doth bear,
Nothing of that shall from mine eyes appear.

Exeunt

SCENE III. The Grecian camp. Before Agamemnon's tent.

Sennet. Enter AGAMEMNON, NESTOR, ULYSSES, MENELAUS, and others 
AGAMEMNON 
Princes,
What grief hath set the jaundice on your cheeks?
The ample proposition that hope makes
In all designs begun on earth below
Fails in the promised largeness: cheques and disasters
Grow in the veins of actions highest rear'd,
As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap,
Infect the sound pine and divert his grain
Tortive and errant from his course of growth.
Nor, princes, is it matter new to us
That we come short of our suppose so far
That after seven years' siege yet Troy walls stand;
Sith every action that hath gone before,
Whereof we have record, trial did draw
Bias and thwart, not answering the aim,
And that unbodied figure of the thought
That gave't surmised shape. Why then, you princes,
Do you with cheeks abash'd behold our works,
And call them shames? which are indeed nought else
But the protractive trials of great Jove
To find persistive constancy in men:
The fineness of which metal is not found
In fortune's love; for then the bold and coward,
The wise and fool, the artist and unread,
The hard and soft seem all affined and kin:
But, in the wind and tempest of her frown,
Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,
Puffing at all, winnows the light away;
And what hath mass or matter, by itself
Lies rich in virtue and unmingled.

NESTOR 
With due observance of thy godlike seat,
Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply
Thy latest words. In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men: the sea being smooth,
How many shallow bauble boats dare sail
Upon her patient breast, making their way
With those of nobler bulk!
But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
The gentle Thetis, and anon behold
The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cut,
Bounding between the two moist elements,
Like Perseus' horse: where's then the saucy boat
Whose weak untimber'd sides but even now
Co-rivall'd greatness? Either to harbour fled,
Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so
Doth valour's show and valour's worth divide
In storms of fortune; for in her ray and brightness
The herd hath more annoyance by the breeze
Than by the tiger; but when the splitting wind
Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks,
And flies fled under shade, why, then the thing of courage
As roused with rage with rage doth sympathize,
And with an accent tuned in selfsame key
Retorts to chiding fortune.

ULYSSES 
Agamemnon,
Thou great commander, nerve and bone of Greece,
Heart of our numbers, soul and only spirit.
In whom the tempers and the minds of all
Should be shut up, hear what Ulysses speaks.
Besides the applause and approbation To which,

To AGAMEMNON

most mighty for thy place and sway,

To NESTOR

And thou most reverend for thy stretch'd-out life
I give to both your speeches, which were such
As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
Should hold up high in brass, and such again
As venerable Nestor, hatch'd in silver,
Should with a bond of air, strong as the axle-tree
On which heaven rides, knit all the Greekish ears
To his experienced tongue, yet let it please both,
Thou great, and wise, to hear Ulysses speak.

AGAMEMNON 
Speak, prince of Ithaca; and be't of less expect
That matter needless, of importless burden,
Divide thy lips, than we are confident,
When rank Thersites opes his mastic jaws,
We shall hear music, wit and oracle.

ULYSSES 
Troy, yet upon his basis, had been down,
And the great Hector's sword had lack'd a master,
But for these instances.
The specialty of rule hath been neglected:
And, look, how many Grecian tents do stand
Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.
When that the general is not like the hive
To whom the foragers shall all repair,
What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded,
The unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
The heavens themselves, the planets and this centre
Observe degree, priority and place,
Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
Office and custom, in all line of order;
And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
Amidst the other; whose medicinable eye
Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
And posts, like the commandment of a king,
Sans cheque to good and bad: but when the planets
In evil mixture to disorder wander,
What plagues and what portents! what mutiny!
What raging of the sea! shaking of earth!
Commotion in the winds! frights, changes, horrors,
Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
The unity and married calm of states
Quite from their fixure! O, when degree is shaked,
Which is the ladder to all high designs,
Then enterprise is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
The primogenitive and due of birth,
Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
But by degree, stand in authentic place?
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead:
Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides,
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,
This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
Follows the choking.
And this neglection of degree it is
That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose
It hath to climb. The general's disdain'd
By him one step below, he by the next,
That next by him beneath; so every step,
Exampled by the first pace that is sick
Of his superior, grows to an envious fever
Of pale and bloodless emulation:
And 'tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot,
Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,
Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.

NESTOR 
Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover'd
The fever whereof all our power is sick.

AGAMEMNON 
The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses,
What is the remedy?

ULYSSES 
The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns
The sinew and the forehand of our host,
Having his ear full of his airy fame,
Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent
Lies mocking our designs: with him Patroclus
Upon a lazy bed the livelong day
Breaks scurril jests;
And with ridiculous and awkward action,
Which, slanderer, he imitation calls,
He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon,
Thy topless deputation he puts on,
And, like a strutting player, whose conceit
Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage,--
Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming
He acts thy greatness in: and when he speaks,
'Tis like a chime a-mending; with terms unsquared,
Which, from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp'd
Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff
The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling,
From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause;
Cries 'Excellent! 'tis Agamemnon just.
Now play me Nestor; hem, and stroke thy beard,
As he being drest to some oration.'
That's done, as near as the extremest ends
Of parallels, as like as Vulcan and his wife:
Yet god Achilles still cries 'Excellent!
'Tis Nestor right. Now play him me, Patroclus,
Arming to answer in a night alarm.'
And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age
Must be the scene of mirth; to cough and spit,
And, with a palsy-fumbling on his gorget,
Shake in and out the rivet: and at this sport
Sir Valour dies; cries 'O, enough, Patroclus;
Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all
In pleasure of my spleen.' And in this fashion,
All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,
Severals and generals of grace exact,
Achievements, plots, orders, preventions,
Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,
Success or loss, what is or is not, serves
As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.

NESTOR 
And in the imitation of these twain--
Who, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns
With an imperial voice--many are infect.
Ajax is grown self-will'd, and bears his head
In such a rein, in full as proud a place
As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him;
Makes factious feasts; rails on our state of war,
Bold as an oracle, and sets Thersites,
A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint,
To match us in comparisons with dirt,
To weaken and discredit our exposure,
How rank soever rounded in with danger.

ULYSSES 
They tax our policy, and call it cowardice,
Count wisdom as no member of the war,
Forestall prescience, and esteem no act
But that of hand: the still and mental parts,
That do contrive how many hands shall strike,
When fitness calls them on, and know by measure
Of their observant toil the enemies' weight,--
Why, this hath not a finger's dignity:
They call this bed-work, mappery, closet-war;
So that the ram that batters down the wall,
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine,
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.

NESTOR 
Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse
Makes many Thetis' sons.

A tucket

AGAMEMNON 
What trumpet? look, Menelaus.

MENELAUS 
From Troy.

Enter AENEAS

AGAMEMNON 
What would you 'fore our tent?

AENEAS 
Is this great Agamemnon's tent, I pray you?

AGAMEMNON 
Even this.

AENEAS 
May one, that is a herald and a prince,
Do a fair message to his kingly ears?

AGAMEMNON 
With surety stronger than Achilles' arm
'Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice
Call Agamemnon head and general.

AENEAS 
Fair leave and large security. How may
A stranger to those most imperial looks
Know them from eyes of other mortals?

AGAMEMNON 
How!

AENEAS 
Ay;
I ask, that I might waken reverence,
And bid the cheek be ready with a blush
Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
The youthful Phoebus:
Which is that god in office, guiding men?
Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?

AGAMEMNON 
This Trojan scorns us; or the men of Troy
Are ceremonious courtiers.

AENEAS 
Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm'd,
As bending angels; that's their fame in peace:
But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls,
Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and,
Jove's accord,
Nothing so full of heart. But peace, AEneas,
Peace, Trojan; lay thy finger on thy lips!
The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
If that the praised himself bring the praise forth:
But what the repining enemy commends,
That breath fame blows; that praise, sole sure,
transcends.

AGAMEMNON 
Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself AEneas?

AENEAS 
Ay, Greek, that is my name.

AGAMEMNON 
What's your affair I pray you?

AENEAS 
Sir, pardon; 'tis for Agamemnon's ears.

AGAMEMNON 
He hears naught privately that comes from Troy.

AENEAS 
Nor I from Troy come not to whisper him:
I bring a trumpet to awake his ear,
To set his sense on the attentive bent,
And then to speak.

AGAMEMNON 
Speak frankly as the wind;
It is not Agamemnon's sleeping hour:
That thou shalt know. Trojan, he is awake,
He tells thee so himself.

AENEAS 
Trumpet, blow loud,
Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents;
And every Greek of mettle, let him know,
What Troy means fairly shall be spoke aloud.

Trumpet sounds

We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
A prince call'd Hector,--Priam is his father,--
Who in this dull and long-continued truce
Is rusty grown: he bade me take a trumpet,
And to this purpose speak. Kings, princes, lords!
If there be one among the fair'st of Greece
That holds his honour higher than his ease,
That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril,
That knows his valour, and knows not his fear,
That loves his mistress more than in confession,
With truant vows to her own lips he loves,
And dare avow her beauty and her worth
In other arms than hers,--to him this challenge.
Hector, in view of Trojans and of Greeks,
Shall make it good, or do his best to do it,
He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
Than ever Greek did compass in his arms,
And will to-morrow with his trumpet call
Midway between your tents and walls of Troy,
To rouse a Grecian that is true in love:
If any come, Hector shall honour him;
If none, he'll say in Troy when he retires,
The Grecian dames are sunburnt and not worth
The splinter of a lance. Even so much.

AGAMEMNON 
This shall be told our lovers, Lord AEneas;
If none of them have soul in such a kind,
We left them all at home: but we are soldiers;
And may that soldier a mere recreant prove,
That means not, hath not, or is not in love!
If then one is, or hath, or means to be,
That one meets Hector; if none else, I am he.

NESTOR 
Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
When Hector's grandsire suck'd: he is old now;
But if there be not in our Grecian host
One noble man that hath one spark of fire,
To answer for his love, tell him from me
I'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver
And in my vantbrace put this wither'd brawn,
And meeting him will tell him that my lady
Was fairer than his grandam and as chaste
As may be in the world: his youth in flood,
I'll prove this truth with my three drops of blood.

AENEAS 
Now heavens forbid such scarcity of youth!

ULYSSES 
Amen.

AGAMEMNON 
Fair Lord AEneas, let me touch your hand;
To our pavilion shall I lead you, sir.
Achilles shall have word of this intent;
So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent:
Yourself shall feast with us before you go
And find the welcome of a noble foe.

Exeunt all but ULYSSES and NESTOR

ULYSSES 
Nestor!

NESTOR 
What says Ulysses?

ULYSSES 
I have a young conception in my brain;
Be you my time to bring it to some shape.

NESTOR 
What is't?

ULYSSES 
This 'tis:
Blunt wedges rive hard knots: the seeded pride
That hath to this maturity blown up
In rank Achilles must or now be cropp'd,
Or, shedding, breed a nursery of like evil,
To overbulk us all.

NESTOR 
Well, and how?

ULYSSES 
This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,
However it is spread in general name,
Relates in purpose only to Achilles.

NESTOR 
The purpose is perspicuous even as substance,
Whose grossness little characters sum up:
And, in the publication, make no strain,
But that Achilles, were his brain as barren
As banks of Libya,--though, Apollo knows,
'Tis dry enough,--will, with great speed of judgment,
Ay, with celerity, find Hector's purpose
Pointing on him.

ULYSSES 
And wake him to the answer, think you?

NESTOR 
Yes, 'tis most meet: whom may you else oppose,
That can from Hector bring his honour off,
If not Achilles? Though't be a sportful combat,
Yet in the trial much opinion dwells;
For here the Trojans taste our dear'st repute
With their finest palate: and trust to me, Ulysses,
Our imputation shall be oddly poised
In this wild action; for the success,
Although particular, shall give a scantling
Of good or bad unto the general;
And in such indexes, although small pricks
To their subsequent volumes, there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large. It is supposed
He that meets Hector issues from our choice
And choice, being mutual act of all our souls,
Makes merit her election, and doth boil,
As 'twere from us all, a man distill'd
Out of our virtues; who miscarrying,
What heart receives from hence the conquering part,
To steel a strong opinion to themselves?
Which entertain'd, limbs are his instruments,
In no less working than are swords and bows
Directive by the limbs.

ULYSSES 
Give pardon to my speech:
Therefore 'tis meet Achilles meet not Hector.
Let us, like merchants, show our foulest wares,
And think, perchance, they'll sell; if not,
The lustre of the better yet to show,
Shall show the better. Do not consent
That ever Hector and Achilles meet;
For both our honour and our shame in this
Are dogg'd with two strange followers.

NESTOR 
I see them not with my old eyes: what are they?

ULYSSES 
What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,
Were he not proud, we all should share with him:
But he already is too insolent;
A nd we were better parch in Afric sun
Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,
Should he 'scape Hector fair: if he were foil'd,
Why then, we did our main opinion crush
In taint of our best man. No, make a lottery;
And, by device, let blockish Ajax draw
The sort to fight with Hector: among ourselves
Give him allowance for the better man;
For that will physic the great Myrmidon
Who broils in loud applause, and make him fall
His crest that prouder than blue Iris bends.
If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
We'll dress him up in voices: if he fail,
Yet go we under our opinion still
That we have better men. But, hit or miss,
Our project's life this shape of sense assumes:
Ajax employ'd plucks down Achilles' plumes.

NESTOR 
Ulysses,
Now I begin to relish thy advice;
And I will give a taste of it forthwith
To Agamemnon: go we to him straight.
Two curs shall tame each other: pride alone
Must tarre the mastiffs on, as 'twere their bone.

Exeunt

 

Script of Act I Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare Personae 

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