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We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
A prince called 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,
Mid-way between your tents and walls of Troy,
To rouse a Grecian that is true in love:
any come, Hector shall honour him ;
If none, he'll say in Troy, when he retires,
The Grecian dames are sun-burn'd, and not worth
The splinter of a lance. Even so much.
Agamemnon. This shall be told our lovers, lord Æneas;
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 be
And in my vantbracel put this wither'd brawn;
1 An armour for the arm.
And, meeting him, will tell him, That my lady
Was fairer than his grandame, and as chaste
be in the world: His youth in flood,
this truth with my three drops of blood. Àneas. Now heaven forbid such scarcity of youth! Ulysses. Amen. Agamemnon. Fair lord Æneas, let me touch your
To our pavilion shall I lead you,
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.
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.
It is most meet: Whom may you else
That can from Hector bring those honours 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 fin'st palate: And trust to me, Ulysses,
Our imputation shall be oddly pois'd
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 points
To their subsequent volumes, there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large. It is suppos’d,
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 forth us all, a man distillid
Out of her virtues; Who miscarrying,
What heart receives from hence a 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 shall exceed,
By showing the worst first. 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
eyes; 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;
2 Size, measure.
And we were better parch in Africk sun,
Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,
Should he 'scape Hector fair: If he were foild,
Why, then we did our main opinion 3 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 physick 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.
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.
SCENE I.--Another part of the GRECIAN Camp.
Enter AJAX and THERSITES.
Ajax. Thersites, learn me the proclamation.
Thersites. Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.
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 barkest at him.
3 Estimation of character.
Ajax. Mistress Thersites!
Thersites. Thou shouldest strike him.
Thersites. He would pun? thee into shivers with his fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit. Ajax. You cur!
[Beating 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 assinego 8 may tutor thee: Thou scurvy valiant ass! thou art here put to thrash Trojans; 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 ! Ajacc. You cur!
[Beating him. Thersites. Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel, do, do
Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS. Achilles. Why, how now, Ajax? wherefore do you
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
Achilles. So I do; What's the matter?
Thersites. Nay, but regard him well.
Achilles. Well, why I do so.
Thersites. But yet you look not well upon him : for whosoever
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 1 Pound.
Ass, a cant term for a foolish fellow.