Flourish. Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Diomedes,
Nestor, Ajax, Menelaus, and Calchas
Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
Th' advantage of the time prompts me aloud
To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind
That, through the sight I bear in things to come,
I have abandoned Troy, left my possession,
Incurred a traitor's name, exposed myself,
From certain and possessed conveniences,
To doubtful fortunes; sequest'ring from me all
That time, acquaintance, custom, and condition
Made tame and most familiar to my nature;
And here, to do you service, am become
As new into the world, strange, unacquainted.
I do beseech you, as in way of taste,
To give me now a little benefit,
Out of those many registered in promise,
Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.
What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? Make demand.
You have a Trojan prisoner, called Antenor,
Yesterday took; Troy holds him very dear.
Oft have you – often have you thanks therefore –
Desired my Cressid in right great exchange,
Whom Troy hath still denied; but this Antenor,
I know, is such a wrest in their affairs
That their negotiations all must slack,
Wanting his manage; and they will almost
Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam,
In change of him. Let him be sent, great princes,
And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence
Shall quite strike off all service I have done
In most accepted pain.
effort, endeavour, exertion, labour
Let Diomedes bear him,
And bring us Cressid hither; Calchas shall have
What he requests of us. Good Diomed,
Furnish you fairly for this interchange;
Withal bring word if Hector will tomorrow
Be answered in his challenge. Ajax is ready.
This shall I undertake, and 'tis a burden
Which I am proud to bear.
Exeunt Diomedes and Calchas
Achilles and Patroclus stand in the entrance to their
Achilles stands i'th' entrance of his tent.
Please it our general to pass strangely by him,
As if he were forgot; and, princes all,
Lay negligent and loose regard upon him.
I will come last – 'tis like he'll question me
Why such unplausive eyes are bent, why turned on him;
If so, I have derision medicinable
To use between your strangeness and his pride,
Which his own will shall have desire to drink.
It may do good: pride hath no other glass
To show itself but pride; for supple knees
Feed arrogance, and are the proud man's fees.
We'll execute your purpose, and put on
A form of strangeness as we pass along –
So do each lord, and either greet him not,
Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more
Than if not looked on. I will lead the way.
What, comes the general to speak with me?
You know my mind; I'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.
What says Achilles? Would he aught with us?
Would you, my lord, aught with the general?
Nothing, my lord.
Exeunt Agamemnon and Nestor
Good day, good day.
How do you? How do you?
What, does the cuckold scorn me?
How now, Patroclus?
Good morrow, Ajax.
Ay, and good next day too.
What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?
They pass by strangely. They were used to bend,
To send their smiles before them to Achilles;
To come as humbly as they use to creep
To holy altars.
What, am I poor of late?
'Tis certain, greatness, once fallen out with fortune,
Must fall out with men too. What the declined is,
He shall as soon read in the eyes of others
As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies,
Show not their mealy wings but to the summer,
And not a man, for being simply man,
Hath any honour, but honoured for those honours
That are without him, as place, riches, and favour –
Prizes of accident as oft as merit –
Which when they fall, as being slippery standers,
The love that leaned on them, as slippery too,
Do one pluck down another, and together
Die in the fall. But 'tis not so with me:
Fortune and I are friends. I do enjoy
At ample point all that I did possess,
Save these men's looks; who do, methinks, find out
Something not worth in me such rich beholding
As they have often given. Here is Ulysses:
I'll interrupt his reading –
How now, Ulysses!
Now, great Thetis' son.
What are you reading?
A strange fellow here
Writes me that man – how dearly ever parted,
How much in having, or without or in –
Cannot make boast to have that which he hath,
Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection;
As when his virtues shining upon others
Heat them, and they retort that heat again
To the first giver.
This is not strange, Ulysses.
The beauty that is borne here in the face
The bearer knows not, but commends itself
To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself,
That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself,
spirit (n.) 3
life-supporting substance thought to be carried by the blood, animating essence
Not going from itself, but eye to eye opposed
Salutes each other with each other's form.
For speculation turns not to itself
Till it hath travelled, and is mirrored there
Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.
I do not strain at the position –
It is familiar – but at the author's drift,
Who in his circumstance expressly proves
That no man is the lord of any thing,
Though in and of him there is much consisting,
Till he communicate his parts to others;
part (n.) 1
quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]
Nor doth he of himself know them for aught
Till he behold them formed in th' applause
Where they're extended; who like an arch reverb'rate
extend (v.) 5
[unclear meaning] react to; evaluate; enlarge in scope
The voice again; or, like a gate of steel
Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
His figure and his heat. I was much wrapt in this,
And apprehended here immediately
The unknown Ajax. Heavens, what a man is there!
A very horse, that has he knows not what!
Nature, what things there are
Most abject in regard, and dear in use!
What things again most dear in the esteem,
And poor in worth! Now shall we see tomorrow –
An act that very chance doth throw upon him –
Ajax renowned. O heavens, what some men do,
While some men leave to do!
How some men creep in skittish Fortune's hall,
Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
How one man eats into another's pride,
While pride is fasting in his wantonness!
To see these Grecian lords! – Why, even already
They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder,
As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast,
And great Troy shrinking.
I do believe it; for they passed by me
As misers do by beggars, neither gave to me
Good word nor look. What, are my deeds forgot?
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devoured
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done. Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast. Keep then the path,
For emulation hath a thousand sons,
That one by one pursue; if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an entered tide, they all rush by
And leave you hindmost;
Or, like a gallant horse fallen in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O'er-run and trampled on. Then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours;
excel, surpass, go beyond the (normal) level of
For time is like a fashionable host,
That slightly shakes his parting guest by th' hand,
And with his arms outstretched, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: the welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all, with one consent, praise new-born gauds,
gaudy toy, showy plaything, trinket
Though they are made and moulded of things past,
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o'er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object:
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax,
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what stirs not. The cry went once on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds but in these fields of late
Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves,
And drave great Mars to faction.
Of this my privacy
I have strong reasons.
But 'gainst your privacy
The reasons are more potent and heroical.
'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love
With one of Priam's daughters –
Is that a wonder?
The providence that's in a watchful state
Knows almost every grain of Pluto's gold,
Finds bottom in th' uncomprehensive deeps,
Keeps place with thought, and almost, like the gods,
Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
There is a mystery – with whom relation
Durst never meddle – in the soul of state,
Which hath an operation more divine
Than breath or pen can give expressure to.
All the commerce that you have had with Troy
As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord;
And better would it fit Achilles much
To throw down Hector than Polyxena.
But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home,
When fame shall in our islands sound her trump,
And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing:
‘ Great Hector's sister did Achilles win,
But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.’
Farewell, my lord: I as your lover speak;
The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break.
To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you.
A woman impudent and mannish grown
Is not more loathed than an effeminate man
In time of action. I stand condemned for this;
They think my little stomach to the war,
And your great love to me, restrains you thus.
Sweet, rouse yourself, and the weak wanton Cupid
Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold,
And, like a dew-drop from the lion's mane,
Be shook to air.
Shall Ajax fight with Hector?
Ay, and perhaps receive much honour by him.
I see my reputation is at stake.
My fame is shrewdly gored.
O, then, beware;
Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves.
Omission to do what is necessary
Seals a commission to a blank of danger,
And danger, like an ague, subtly taints
fever, sickness, shaking [as caused by a fever]
Even then when we sit idly in the sun.
Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus.
I'll send the fool to Ajax, and desire him
T' invite the Trojan lords after the combat
To see us here unarmed. I have a woman's longing,
An appetite that I am sick withal,
To see great Hector in his weeds of peace,
To talk with him, and to behold his visage
Even to my full of view. – A labour saved!
fullness, entire range, complete scope
Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for
He must fight singly tomorrow with Hector,
and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling
that he raves in saying nothing.
How can that be?
Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock, a
stride and a stand; ruminates like an hostess that hath
no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning;
bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should say
there were wit in his head, an 'twould out – and so
there is; but it lies as coldly in him as fire in a flint,
which will not show without knocking. The man's
undone for ever, for if Hector break not his neck
i'th' combat, he'll break't himself in vainglory. He
knows not me: I said ‘ Good morrow, Ajax ’ and he
replies ‘ Thanks, Agamemnon.’ – What think you of
this man, that takes me for the general? He's grown a
very land-fish, languageless, a monster. A plague of
opinion! A man may wear it on both sides, like a leather
male upper garment, close-fitting jacket [often made of leather]
See Topics: Clothing
Thou must be my ambassador to him,
Who, I? Why, he'll answer nobody, he
professes not answering; speaking is for beggars; he
wears his tongue in's arms. I will put on his presence:
let Patroclus make demands to me, you shall see
the pageant of Ajax.
To him, Patroclus. Tell him I humbly desire
the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to
come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe-conduct
for his person of the magnanimous and most
illustrious six-or-seven-times-honoured captain-general
of the Grecian army, Agamemnon, et cetera.
Jove bless great Ajax.
I come from the worthy Achilles –
Who most humbly desires you to invite
Hector to his tent –
And to procure safe-conduct from
Ay, my lord.
What say you to't?
God buy you, with all my heart.
Your answer, sir.
If tomorrow be a fair day, by eleven o'clock it
will go one way or other; howsoever, he shall pay for
me ere he has me.
Your answer, sir.
Fare you well, with all my heart.
Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?
No, but he's out o' tune thus. What music
will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains,
I know not; but I am sure, none, unless the fiddler
Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.
Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.
Let me carry another to his horse, for that's
the more capable creature.
My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred,
And I myself see not the bottom of it.
Exeunt Achilles and Patroclus
Would the fountain of your mind were clear
again, that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be a
tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.