Troilus and Cressida


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Priam, Hector, Troilus, Paris, and Helenus


After so many hours, lives, speeches spent,

Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks:

‘ Deliver Helen, and all damage else –
deliver (v.) 4 hand over, convey, commit to the keeping [of someone]

As honour, loss of time, travail, expense,
travail, travel (n.) 1 labour, effort, exertion [often overlapping with sense 2]

Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consumed

In hot digestion of this cormorant war –
cormorant (adj.) greedy, insatiable, all-devouring

Shall be struck off.’ Hector, what say you to't?
strike off (v.) cancel [as by a pen-stroke], erase, remove


Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I

As far as toucheth my particular,
particular (n.) 2 individual person, self

Yet, dread Priam,
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe

There is no lady of more softer bowels,
bowels (n.) 2 feelings, sensitivity, heart
soft (adj.) 2 tender, compassionate, kind

More spongy to suck in the sense of fear,

More ready to cry out ‘ Who knows what follows?’

Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety,
surety (n.) 3 security, confidence, stability

Surety secure; but modest doubt is called
secure (adj.) 2 over-confident, unsuspecting, too self-confident

The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches
search (v.) 1 probe, explore, examine
tent (n.) 3 probe, insert [for exploring wounds]

To th' bottom of the worst. Let Helen go:

Since the first sword was drawn about this question,

Every tithe soul 'mongst many thousand dismes
disme (n.) [pron: diym] tenth person killed

Hath been as dear as Helen – I mean, of ours.

If we have lost so many tenths of ours,

To guard a thing not ours nor worth to us –

Had it our name – the value of one ten,

What merit's in that reason which denies
reason (n.) 2 reasoning, argument

The yielding of her up?


                         Fie, fie, my brother!

Weigh you the worth and honour of a king

So great as our dread father in a scale
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe

Of common ounces? Will you with counters sum
counter, compter (n.) 1 round piece of metal used for counting

The past-proportion of his infinite,
infinite (n.) 2 immensity, magnitude, vastness
past-proportion (n.) immeasurableness, quantity beyond compare

And buckle in a waist most fathomless

With spans and inches so diminutive
span (n.) 1 hand breadth [from tip of thumb to tip of little finger, when the hand is extended]

As fears and reasons? Fie, for godly shame!


No marvel though you bite so sharp at reasons,
bite (v.) 2 speak bitterly, inveigh, carp

You are so empty of them. Should not our father

Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons,

Because your speech hath none that tells him so?


You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest;

You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your reasons:
reason (n.) 2 reasoning, argument

You know an enemy intends you harm;

You know a sword employed is perilous,

And reason flies the object of all harm.
object (n.) 1 spectacle, sight, object of attention

Who marvels, then, when Helenus beholds

A Grecian and his sword, if he do set

The very wings of reason to his heels,

And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove,
chidden (adj.) 1 scolded, reproved, rebuked

Or like a star disorbed? Nay, if we talk of reason,
disorbed (adj.) removed from its sphere, knocked out of its orbit

Let's shut our gates and sleep. Manhood and honour

Should have hare-hearts, would they but fat their thoughts
fat (v.) fatten, feed up, nourish
hare-heart (n.) heart as timid as a hare

With this crammed reason; reason and respect
crammed (adj.) overfed, stuffed to excess
respect (n.) 2 attention, heed, deliberation

Make livers pale and lustihood deject.
deject (adj.) dejected, downcast, cast down
liver (n.) 1 part of the body thought to be at the seat of the passions [especially sexual desire]
lustihood (n.) lustiness, youthful vigour, robustness



She is not worth what she doth cost the holding.


What's aught but as 'tis valued?
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count


But value dwells not in particular will;
particular (adj.) 1 personal, special, private
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination

It holds his estimate and dignity
dignity (n.) 1 worth, nobleness, excellence
estimate (n.) 1 value, esteem, estimation

As well wherein 'tis precious of itself

As in the prizer. 'Tis mad idolatry

To make the service greater than the god;

And the will dotes that is inclinable
attributive (adj.) attaching excellence, ascribing worth
dote (v.) become deranged, behave foolishly

To what infectiously itself affects,
affect (v.) 1 incline to, like, favour, be drawn to

Without some image of th'affected merit.


I take today a wife, and my election
election (n.) choice, preference

Is led on in the conduct of my will,

My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears,

Two traded pilots 'twixt the dangerous shores
traded (adj.) practised, expert, experienced

Of will and judgement: how may I avoid,
avoid (v.) 3 repudiate, deny, reject
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion

Although my will distaste what it elected,
distaste (v.) 1 dislike, not relish, be averse to

The wife I chose? There can be no evasion

To blench from this, and to stand firm by honour.
blench (v.) 1 flinch, start, shrink

We turn not back the silks upon the merchant

When we have soiled them; nor the remainder viands
remainder (adj.) left-over, remaining, uneaten
viand (n.) (usually plural) food, victuals, foodstuff

We do not throw in unrespective sieve
sieve (n.) basket, hold-all, container [especially for market produce]
unrespective (adj.) 2 undiscriminating, making no distinction, all-inclusive

Because we now are full. It was thought meet

Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks:
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count

Your breath of full consent bellied his sails;
breath (n.) 1 utterance, speech, voice

The seas and winds, old wranglers, took a truce,
wrangler (n.) quarreller, arguer; also: opponent, disputant

And did him service; he touched the ports desired;
touch (v.) 13 land at, arrive at, visit

And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive

He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness

Wrinkles Apollo's, and makes stale the morning.

Why keep we her? – The Grecians keep our aunt:

Is she worth keeping? – Why, she is a pearl

Whose price hath launched above a thousand ships,
price (n.) value, worth, importance

And turned crowned kings to merchants.

If you'll avouch 'twas wisdom Paris went –
avouch (v.) 1 declare, assert, affirm

As you must needs, for you all cried ‘ Go, go!’;

If you'll confess he brought home noble prize –

As you must needs, for you all clapped your hands

And cried ‘ Inestimable!’ – why do you now

The issue of your proper wisdoms rate,
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count
proper (adj.) 2 very, own
rate (v.) 1 berate, reproach, rebuke, scold

And do a deed that fortune never did –

Beggar the estimation which you prized
beggar (v.) 2 rate as worthless, esteem to be of no value
estimation (n.) 3 valued object, treasure

Richer than sea and land? O, theft most base,

That we have stolen what we do fear to keep!
base (adj.) 4 non-precious, worthless, of low value

But thieves unworthy of a thing so stolen,

That in their country did them that disgrace

We fear to warrant in our native place!
warrant (v.) 4 justify, defend, stand up for


shrike (n./v.) variant spelling of ‘shriek’

Cry, Trojans, cry!


                         What noise? What shriek is this?


'Tis our mad sister. I do know her voice.

CASSANDRA (within)


Cry, Trojans!


It is Cassandra.

Enter Cassandra, raving, with her hair about her



Cry, Trojans, cry! Lend me ten thousand eyes,

And I will fill them with prophetic tears.


Peace, sister, peace!


Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled old,
old (n.) old people, elders

Soft infancy, that nothing can but cry,

Add to my clamour! Let us pay betimes
betimes (adv.) 3 speedily, soon, in a short time

A moiety of that mass of moan to come.
moiety (n.) 1 share, portion, part

Cry, Trojans, cry! Practise your eyes with tears!
practise (v.) 2 put to use, employ

Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilium stand;

Our firebrand brother Paris burns us all.

Cry, Trojans, cry! A Helen and a woe!

Cry, cry! Troy burns, or else let Helen go.



Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains
strain (n.) 3 vocal effusion, lyrical outpouring

Of divination in our sister work

Some touches of remorse? Or is your blood
blood (n.) 2 anger, temper, passion
remorse (n.) 1 pity, regret, sorrow

So madly hot that no discourse of reason,
discourse (n.) 1 conversation, talk, chat
reason (n.) 2 reasoning, argument

Nor fear of bad success in a bad cause,
success (n.) 1 result, outcome, issue

Can qualify the same?
qualify (v.) 1 moderate, weaken, diminish


                         Why, brother Hector,

We may not think the justness of each act

Such and no other than event doth form it,
event (n.) outcome, issue, consequence

Nor once deject the courage of our minds,
deject (v.) 2 lower, reduce, lessen

Because Cassandra's mad. Her brain-sick raptures

Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel
distaste (v.) 3 make distasteful, destroy the relish of

Which hath our several honours all engaged
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

To make it gracious. For my private part,
gracious (adj.) 7 acceptable, righteous, full of favour

I am no more touched than all Priam's sons;
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to

And Jove forbid there should be done amongst us

Such things as might offend the weakest spleen
spleen (n.) 1 temper, spirit, passion [part of the body seen as the source of both gloomy and mirthful emotions]

To fight for and maintain.


Else might the world convince of levity
convince (v.) 4 convict, prove guilty

As well my undertakings as your counsels;

But I attest the gods, your full consent
attest (v.) 2 call as witnesses

Gave wings to my propension, and cut off
propension (n.) propensity, inclination, cast of mind

All fears attending on so dire a project.
attend (v.) 4 accompany, follow closely, go with

For what, alas, can these my single arms?

What propugnation is in one man's valour
propugnation (n.) defence, justification, vindication

To stand the push and enmity of those
push (n.) 2 attack, assault, thrust

This quarrel would excite? Yet I protest,

Were I alone to pass the difficulties,
pass (v.) 14 endure, undergo, experience

And had as ample power as I have will,

Paris should ne'er retract what he hath done,

Nor faint in the pursuit.
faint (v.) 1 lose courage, show fear, lose heart, take fright


                         Paris, you speak

Like one besotted on your sweet delights.

You have the honey still, but these the gall;
gall (n.) 1 bile [reputed for its bitterness]
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

So to be valiant is no praise at all.
praise (n.) 1 praiseworthiness, merit, virtue


Sir, I propose not merely to myself
merely (adv.) 2 purely, for no other reason than
propose (v.) 2 bring up for consideration, set before the mind

The pleasures such a beauty brings with it;

But I would have the soil of her fair rape
rape (n.) abduction, violent seizure
soil (n.) 1 blemish, stain, tarnish

Wiped off in honourable keeping her.

What treason were it to the ransacked queen,
ransacked (adj.) violated, ravished, plundered

Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me,

Now to deliver her possession up

On terms of base compulsion! Can it be
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count

That so degenerate a strain as this
strain (n.) 1 quality, character, disposition

Should once set footing in your generous bosoms?
footing, set set foot
generous (adj.) well-bred, mannerly, noble-minded

There's not the meanest spirit on our party
party (n.) 1 side, faction, camp

Without a heart to dare, or sword to draw,

When Helen is defended; nor none so noble

Whose life were ill bestowed, or death unfamed,
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count

Where Helen is the subject. Then, I say,

Well may we fight for her whom, we know well,

The world's large spaces cannot parallel.


Paris and Troilus, you have both said well,

And on the cause and question now in hand

Have glozed, but superficially – not much
gloze (v.) 3 expound, comment upon, give a commentary

Unlike young men whom Aristotle thought

Unfit to hear moral philosophy.

The reasons you allege do more conduce
conduce (v.) 1 lead, tend, contribute

To the hot passion of distempered blood
distempered (adj.) 3 disordered, disturbed, diseased
passion (n.) 1 powerful feeling, overpowering emotion [often opposed to ‘reason’]

Than to make up a free determination

'Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge

Have ears more deaf than adders to the voice

Of any true decision. Nature craves

All dues be rendered to their owners: now,
crave (v.) 2 need, demand, require

What nearer debt in all humanity

Than wife is to the husband? If this law

Of nature be corrupted through affection,
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling

And that great minds, of partial indulgence
partial (adj.) 2 biased, prejudiced, self-interested

To their benumbed wills, resist the same,
benumbed (adj.) paralysed, deprived of strength
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination

There is a law in each well-ordered nation

To curb those raging appetites that are
appetite (n.) 2 sexual desire, passion
raging (adj.) 1 roving, wanton, riotous

Most disobedient and refractory.
refractory (adj.) rebellious, obstinate, umanageable

If Helen then be wife to Sparta's king,

As it is known she is, these moral laws

Of nature and of nations speak aloud

To have her back returned; thus to persist

In doing wrong extenuates not wrong,
extenuate (v.) mitigate, lessen, tone down

But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion
heavy (adj.) 2 grave, serious, weighty

Is this in way of truth; yet ne'ertheless,
truth (n.) 3 abstract principle, general rule
way of, in (prep.) of the nature of, as a point of

My spritely brethren, I propend to you
propend (v.) incline, be disposed, have a propensity
sprightly, spritely (adj.) 1 cheerful, light-hearted, bright

In resolution to keep Helen still;
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependence
mean (adj.) 3 unworthy, insignificant, unimportant

Upon our joint and several dignities.
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count


Why, there you touched the life of our design:
design (n.) 1 undertaking, purpose, enterprise
touch (v.) 2 refer to, treat of, deal with

Were it not glory that we more affected
affect (v.) 1 incline to, like, favour, be drawn to

Than the performance of our heaving spleens,
heaving (adj.) swelling, aroused, agitated
performance (n.) discharge, fulfilment, manifestation
spleen (n.) 2 irritability, malice, bad temper

I would not wish a drop of Trojan blood

Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector,

She is a theme of honour and renown,
theme (n.) 2 reason for acting, ground of belief

A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds,

Whose present courage may beat down our foes,

And fame in time to come canonize us.
canonize (v.) glorify, immortalize, exalt

For I presume brave Hector would not lose
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent

So rich advantage of a promised glory
advantage (n.) 1 right moment, favourable opportunity

As smiles upon the forehead of this action

For the wide world's revenue.


                         I am yours,

You valiant offspring of great Priamus.

I have a roisting challenge sent amongst
roisting (adj.) roistering, swaggering, vaunting

The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks
dull (adj.) 1 dead, lifeless, sluggish, inactive
factious (adj.) 1 sectarian, partisan, arising from factions

Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits.
amazement (n.) 1 alarm, apprehension, fear

I was advertised their great general slept,
advertise, advertize (v.) 1 make aware, inform, notify; warn

Whilst emulation in the army crept;
emulation (n.) 1 ambitious rivalry, contention, conflict

This, I presume, will wake him.


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