Troilus and Cressida


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Thersites


How now, Thersites! What, lost in the

labyrinth of thy fury? Shall the elephant Ajax carry it
carry it (away) [from a falconry term ‘to fly away with the game’] win the day, have the advantage, succeed

thus? He beats me, and I rail at him: O, worthy
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count

satisfaction! Would it were otherwise – that I could

beat him whilst he railed at me. 'Sfoot, I'll learn to

conjure and raise devils, but I'll see some issue of my
conjure (v.) 4 engage in magic, cast spells, invoke supernatural aid

spiteful execrations. Then there's Achilles – a rare
execration (n.) curse, imprecation, denunciation
issue (n.) 3 yield, product, result

engineer. If Troy be not taken till these two undermine
engineer, enginer (n.) constructor of military works; plotter, contriver

it, the walls will stand till they fall of themselves. O

thou great thunder-darter of Olympus, forget that
thunder-darter (n.) wielder of thunderbolts

thou art Jove, the king of gods; and Mercury, lose all

the serpentine craft of thy caduceus, if thou take not
caduceus (n.) [pron: ka'dyoosius] heraldic wand [in the case of Mercury, entwined with two serpents]

that little little, less than little wit from them that they
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

have! – which short-armed ignorance itself knows is so

abundant scarce it will not in circumvention deliver a
circumvention (n.) 2 craft, outwitting, getting the better of [someone]

fly from a spider without drawing their massy irons and
iron (n.) 1 iron weapon, steel, sword
massy (adj.) massive, heavy, colossal

cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole

camp – or rather, the Neapolitan bone-ache – for that,
bone-ache (n.), Neapolitan bone-ache [pain in the bones from Naples] syphilis, venereal disease

methinks, is the curse dependent on those that war for
depend (v.) 2 have consequences for, menace, hover over
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

a placket. I have said my prayers, and devil Envy say
placket (n.) 2 opening in the front of a skirt or petticoat

‘ Amen.’ – What ho! My Lord Achilles!

Enter Patroclus


Who's there? Thersites! Good Thersites,

come in and rail.
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count


If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit,
counterfeit (n.) 1 false imitation, spurious image

thou wouldst not have slipped out of my contemplation;

but it is no matter – thyself upon thyself! The

common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be

thine in great revenue! Heaven bless thee from a tutor,

and discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be thy
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
discipline (n.) 2 learning, schooling, course of instruction

direction till thy death; then if she that lays thee out

says thou art a fair corpse, I'll be sworn and sworn

upon't, she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. –
lazar (n.) leper, diseased person

Where's Achilles?


What, art thou devout? Wast thou in a



Ay, the heavens hear me!

Enter Achilles


Who's there?


Thersites, my lord.


Where, where? – Art thou come? Why, my

cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself

in to my table, so many meals? Come, what's



Thy commander, Achilles. Then tell me,

Patroclus, what's Achilles?


Thy lord, Thersites. Then tell me, I pray

thee, what's thyself?


Thy knower, Patroclus. Then tell me, Patroclus,

what art thou?


Thou mayst tell that knowest.


O, tell, tell.


I'll decline the whole question.
decline (v.) 4 go systematically through, recite in order
question (n.) 2 point at issue, problem, business

Agamemnon commands Achilles, Achilles is my lord,

I am Patroclus' knower, and Patroclus is a fool.


You rascal!


Peace, fool, I have not done.


He is a privileged man. – Proceed, Thersites.
privileged (adj.) [of a professional fool] allowed to say anything


Agamemnon is a fool, Achilles is a fool,

Thersites is a fool, and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a



Derive this; come.
derive (v.) 3 explain, justify, give the basis of


Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command
offer (v.) 2 dare, presume, venture

Achilles, Achilles is a fool to be commanded of

Agamemnon, Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool,

and Patroclus is a fool positive.
positive (adj.) unconditional, absolute, unqualified


Why am I a fool?


Make that demand to the Creator; it suffices
demand (n.) 1 question, enquiry, request
suffice (v.) 2 satisfy, content, be enough [for]

me thou art. Look you, who comes here?


Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody. – Come in

with me, Thersites.



Here is such patchery, such juggling, and
juggling (n.) deceiving, cheating, trickery
patchery (n.) roguery, knavery, tricks

such knavery! All the argument is a whore and a
knavery (n.) 1 roguish trick, rouguery, trickery

cuckold; a good quarrel to draw emulous factions and
cuckold (n.) [mocking name] man with an unfaithful wife See Topics: Frequency count
draw (v.) 1 bring together, draw in, gather
emulous (adj.) 2 rivalling, competing, emulating

bleed to death upon. Now the dry serpigo on the
serpigo (n.) type of spreading skin disease

subject, and war and lechery confound all!
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin


Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Diomedes, Ajax,

and Calchas


Where is Achilles?


Within his tent, but ill-disposed, my lord.
ill-disposed (adj.) 2 indisposed, unwell, under the weather


Let it be known to him that we are here.

He shent our messengers, and we lay by
lay by (v.) 1 lay aside, set aside, disregard
shent (v.) 2 insult, disgrace, shame

Our appertainments, visiting of him.
appertainments (n.) appurtenances, trappings, prerogatives

Let him be told so, lest perchance he think
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

We dare not move the question of our place,
move (v.) 7 raise, bring up, introduce
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count
question (n.) 2 point at issue, problem, business

Or know not what we are.


I shall say so to him.



We saw him at the opening of his tent:

He is not sick.


Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart; you may call it

melancholy, if you will favour the man, but, by my

head, 'tis pride: but why, why? Let him show us the

cause – a word, my lord.

He takes Agamemnon aside


What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?


Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.


Who, Thersites?




Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance

argument (n.) 1 subject of conversation, subject-matter, topic


No. You see, he is his argument that has his
argument (n.) 1 subject of conversation, subject-matter, topic

argument – Achilles.
argument (n.) 5 quarrel, dispute, point of contention


All the better: their fraction is more our wish
fraction (n.) 2 quarrelling, discord, dissension

than their faction; but it was a strong composure a fool
composure (n.) 2 combination, bond, coming together
faction (n.) 2 forming into a group

could disunite.


The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may

easily untie – here comes Patroclus.

Enter Patroclus


No Achilles with him.


The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy;
courtesy, cur'sy, curtsy (n.) 2 curtsy, bow, gesture of respect

his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.
flexure (n.) bending [the knee or head], bowing


Achilles bids me say he is much sorry

If anything more than your sport and pleasure
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Did move your greatness, and this noble state,

To call upon him; he hopes it is no other

But for your health and your digestion sake,

An after-dinner's breath.
breath (n.) 7 breathing-space, respite
breath (n.) 8 breather, exercising, breath of fresh air


                         Hear you, Patroclus:

We are too well acquainted with these answers;

But his evasion, winged thus swift with scorn,

Cannot outfly our apprehensions.
apprehension (n.) 2 conception, grasping by the mind, awareness

Much attribute he hath, and much the reason
attribute (n.) reputation, credit, honour

Why we ascribe it to him; yet all his virtues,

Not virtuously of his own part beheld,
behold (v.) observe, regard, maintain See Topics: Attention signals

Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,

Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
unwholesome (adj.) 1 harmful, damaging, noxious

Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him

We came to speak with him, and you shall not sin

If you do say we think him over-proud

And under-honest, in self-assumption greater
self-assumption (n.) self-importance, arrogance, egotism
under-honest (adj.) less than honourable

Than in the note of judgement; and worthier than himself
note (n.) 4 sign, mark, token

Here tend the savage strangeness he puts on,
savage (adj.) 4 boorish, uncivil, unsociable
strangeness (n.) estrangement, disaffection, coldness, aloofness
tend (v.) 1 attend, wait on, serve

Disguise the holy strength of their command,

And underwrite in an observing kind
kind (n.) 2 manner, way, state
observing (adj.) compliant, deferential, obsequious

His humorous predominance – yea, watch
humorous (adj.) 1 capricious, moody, temperamental
predominance (n.) ascendancy, predominant influence, authority

His pettish lunes, his ebbs, his flows, as if
lune (n.) frenzied fit, tantrum, mad outburst
pettish (adj.) petulant, peevish, bad-humoured

The passage and whole carriage of this action
carriage (n.) 2 conduct, management, course of action
passage (n.) 1 incident, occurrence, event, happening

Rode on his tide. Go tell him this; and add

That if he overhold his price so much,
overhold (v.) overestimate, overvalue, rate too highly

We'll none of him; but let him, like an engine
engine (n.) 2 weapon, instrument of warfare

Not portable, lie under this report:
lie under (v.) be subject to, suffer the consequence of
portable (adj.) bearable, supportable, endurable

‘ Bring action hither; this cannot go to war.

A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
allowance (n.) 3 regard, respect, reputation
stirring (adj.) busy, bustling, active

Before a sleeping giant.’ Tell him so.


I shall, and bring his answer presently.
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count



In second voice we'll not be satisfied;
second (adj.) using a deputy, surrogate, proxy

We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you.

Exit Ulysses


What is he more than another?


No more than what he thinks he is.


Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself a

better man than I am?


No question.


Will you subscribe his thought, and say he is?
subscribe (v.) 3 make acknowledgement of, admit to


No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as

valiant, as wise, no less noble, much more gentle, and
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count

altogether more tractable.
tractable (adj.) compliant, manageable, governable


Why should a man be proud? How doth pride

grow? I know not what it is.


Your mind is the clearer, Ajax, and your

virtues the fairer. He that is proud eats up himself.

Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count

chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed,

devours the deed in the praise.

Enter Ulysses
engendering (n.) begetting, breeding, multiplying


I do hate a proud man as I hate the engendering of




And yet he loves himself; is't not strange?


Achilles will not to the field tomorrow.
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count


What's his excuse?


                         He doth rely on none,

But carries on the stream of his dispose,
dispose (n.) 2 disposition, manner, bearing

Without observance or respect of any,
observance (n.) 1 proper attention, attentiveness, heed
respect (n.) 3 regard, admiration, favour, opinion

In will peculiar and in self-admission.
peculiar (adj.) particular, private, personal
self-admission (n.) self-admiration, self-centredness
will (n.) 3 wilfulness, self-will, determination


Why will he not, upon our fair request,

Untent his person, and share the air with us?
untent (v.) remove from a tent


Things small as nothing, for request's sake only,

He makes important. Possessed he is with greatness,

And speaks not to himself but with a pride

That quarrels at self-breath. Imagined worth

Holds in his blood such swollen and hot discourse
discourse (n.) 3 course, process, manner
hot (adj.) 2 enthusiastic, ardent, eager, keen

That 'twixt his mental and his active parts

Kingdomed Achilles in commotion rages,
commotion (n.) 2 perturbation, agitation, disturbed excitement
kingdomed (adj.) constituted as a kingdom

And batters down himself. What should I say?

He is so plaguy proud that the death-tokens of it
death-token fatal symptom, death-like sign
plaguy (adv.) confoundedly, insufferably, pestilently

Cry ‘ No recovery.’


                         Let Ajax go to him. –

Dear lord, go you and greet him in his tent;

'Tis said he holds you well, and will be led,
hold (v.) 10 consider, regard, esteem, value [as]

At your request, a little from himself.


O Agamemnon, let it not be so!

We'll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes

When they go from Achilles. Shall the proud lord,

That bastes his arrogance with his own seam,
seam (n.) grease, fat

And never suffers matter of the world
matter (n.) 4 affair(s), business, real issue
suffer (v.) 1 allow, permit, let

Enter his thoughts, save such as do revolve
revolve (v.) consider, ponder, meditate

And ruminate himself – shall he be worshipped

Of that we hold an idol more than he?

No; this thrice-worthy and right valiant lord

Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquired,
palm (n.) 2 praise, honour, esteem
stale (v.) 2 depreciate, make cheap, lower the dignity of

Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit –
assubjugate (v.) reduce to subjugation, demean, debase

As amply titled as Achilles' is –

By going to Achilles:

That were to enlard his fat-already pride,
enlard (v.) smear with grease, add fatty juice to

And add more coals to Cancer when he burns

With entertaining great Hyperion.
entertain (v.) 4 cherish, harbour, welcome

This lord go to him? Jupiter forbid,

And say in thunder: ‘ Achilles go to him.’


rub (v.) 3 stir up, encourage, stimulate
vein (n.) 1 state of mind, motive, mood

O, this is well; he rubs the vein of him.



And how his silence drinks up this applause.


If I go to him, with my armed fist

I'll pash him o'er the face.
pash (v.) strike, smash, knock


O, no, you shall not go.


An 'a be proud with me, I'll pheeze his pride;
pheeze, feeze (v.) do for, settle the hash of, fix

Let me go to him.


Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.


A paltry, insolent fellow!



How he describes himself!


Can he not be sociable?


chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove See Topics: Frequency count

The raven chides blackness.


I'll let his humours' blood.
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count
let blood 2 bleed [as a medical treatment]



He will be the physician that

should be the patient.


An all men were o' my mind –


wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

Wit would be out of fashion.


– 'a should not bear it so, 'a should eat swords first;

shall pride carry it?
carry it (away) [from a falconry term ‘to fly away with the game’] win the day, have the advantage, succeed



An 'twould, you'd carry half.



'A would have ten shares.


I will knead him; I'll make him supple.


farce, force (v.) stuff, cram
through (adv.) thoroughly

He's not yet through warm. Force him

with praises, pour in, pour in; his ambition is dry.
dry (adj.) 2 dried, withered, shrivelled


(to Agamemnon)
dislike (n.) 2 discord, disagreement, dissension

My lord, you feed too much on this dislike.


Our noble general, do not do so.


You must prepare to fight without Achilles.


Why, 'tis this naming of him does him harm.

Here is a man – but 'tis before his face;

I will be silent.


                         Wherefore should you so?

He is not emulous, as Achilles is.
emulous (adj.) 1 envious, filled with rivalry, greedy for praise


Know the whole world, he is as valiant.


A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus with us!
palter (v.) prevaricate, deal evasively [with], quibble
whoreson (adj.) [abusive intensifier, serious or jocular] bastard, wretched, vile See Topics: Swearing

Would he were a Trojan!


What a vice were it in Ajax now –


If he were proud –


Or covetous of praise –


Ay, or surly borne –
borne (adj.) behaved, conducted, mannered


Or strange, or self-affected.
self-affected (adj.) self-loving, egotistical, conceited
strange (adj.) 7 aloof, distant, reserved


Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure;
composure (n.) 1 character, temperament, make-up

Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee suck.
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed

Famed be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]

Thrice-famed beyond, beyond all erudition;

But he that disciplined thine arms to fight,
discipline (v.) 2 teach, train, instruct

Let Mars divide eternity in twain,

And give him half; and for thy vigour,

Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield
addition (n.) 1 title, name

To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom,
sinewy (adj.) muscular, well-developed, brawny

Which, like a bourn, a pale, a shore, confines
bourn (n.) 1 frontier, destination, boundary
pale (n.) 1 fence, paling, enclosure

Thy spacious and dilated parts. Here's Nestor,
dilated (adj.) 1 ample, extensive, diffuse
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]

Instructed by the antiquary times;
antiquary (adj.) ancient, olden, former

He must, he is, he cannot but be wise –

Put pardon, father Nestor, were your days

As green as Ajax', and your brain so tempered,
green (adj.) 2 youthful, inexperienced, immature
temper (v.) 2 mould, shape, work, bring [to a particular character]

You should not have the eminence of him,
eminence (n.) 1 superiority, mastery, advantage

But be as Ajax.


(to Nestor)

                         Shall I call you father?


Ay, my good son.


                         Be ruled by him, Lord Ajax.


There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles
tarrying (n.) waiting, delaying, lingering

Keeps thicket. Please it our great general
keep (v.) 2 stay within, remain inside
thicket (n.) densely wooded area

To call together all his state of war;

Fresh kings are come to Troy. Tomorrow

We must with all our main of power stand fast,
main (n.) 6 strength, force, full might
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

And here's a lord – come knights from east to west,

And cull their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.
cope, cope with (v.) 2 be a match for, stand up to
cull (v.) select, pick out, choose


Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep;

Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks draw deep.
hulk (n.) ship, vessel


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