CASSANDRA. [Within] Cry, Troyans, cry.

PRIAM. What noise, what shriek is this?

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

CASSANDRA. [Within] Cry, Troyans.



Enter CASSANDRA, raving

CASSANDRA. Cry, Troyans, cry. Lend me ten thousand eyes, And I will fill them with prophetic tears.

HECTOR. Peace, sister, peace.

CASSANDRA. Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled eld, Soft infancy, that nothing canst but cry, Add to my clamours. Let us pay betimes A moiety of that mass of moan to come. Cry, Troyans, cry. Practise your eyes with tears. Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilion stand; Our firebrand brother, Paris, burns us all. Cry, Troyans, cry, A Helen and a woe! Cry, cry. Troy burns, or else let Helen go.


HECTOR. Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains Of divination in our sister work Some touches of remorse, or is your blood So madly hot that no discourse of reason, Nor fear of bad success in a bad cause, Can qualify the same?

TROILUS. Why, brother Hector, We may not think the justness of each act Such and no other than event doth form it; Nor once deject the courage of our minds Because Cassandra's mad. Her brain-sick raptures Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel Which hath our several honours all engag'd To make it gracious. For my private part, I am no more touch'd than all Priam's sons; And Jove forbid there should be done amongst us Such things as might offend the weakest spleen To fight for and maintain.

PARIS. Else might the world convince of levity As well my undertakings as your counsels; But I attest the gods, your full consent Gave wings to my propension, and cut of All fears attending on so dire a project. For what, alas, can these my single arms? What propugnation is in one man's valour To stand the push and enmity of those This quarrel would excite? Yet, I protest, Were I alone to pass the difficulties, And had as ample power as I have will, Paris should ne'er retract what he hath done Nor faint in the pursuit.

PRIAM. Paris, you speak Like one besotted on your sweet delights. You have the honey still, but these the gall; So to be valiant is no praise at all.

PARIS. Sir, I propose not merely to myself The pleasures such a beauty brings with it; But I would have the soil of her fair rape Wip'd off in honourable keeping her. What treason were it to the ransack'd queen, Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me, Now to deliver her possession up On terms of base compulsion! Can it be That so degenerate a strain as this Should once set footing in your generous bosoms? There's not the meanest spirit on our party Without a heart to dare or sword to draw When Helen is defended; nor none so noble Whose life were ill bestow'd or death unfam'd 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.

HECTOR. Paris and Troilus, you have both said well; And on the cause and question now in hand Have gloz'd, but superficially; not much Unlike young men, whom Aristode thought Unfit to hear moral philosophy. The reasons you allege do more conduce To the hot passion of distemp'red blood 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 rend'red to their owners. Now, What nearer debt in all humanity Than wife is to the husband? If this law Of nature be corrupted through affection; And that great minds, of partial indulgence To their benumbed wills, resist the same; There is a law in each well-order'd nation To curb those raging appetites that are Most disobedient and refractory. 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 return'd. Thus to persist In doing wrong extenuates not wrong, But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion Is this, in way of truth. Yet, ne'er the less, My spritely brethren, I propend to you In resolution to keep Helen still; For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependence Upon our joint and several dignities.

TROILUS. Why, there you touch'd the life of our design. Were it not glory that we more affected Than the performance of our heaving spleens, I would not wish a drop of Troyan blood Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector, She is a theme of honour and renown, A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds, Whose present courage may beat down our foes, And fame in time to come canonize us; For I presume brave Hector would not lose So rich advantage of a promis'd glory As smiles upon the forehead of this action For the wide world's revenue.

HECTOR. I am yours, You valiant offspring of great Priamus. I have a roisting challenge sent amongst The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits. I was advertis'd their great general slept, Whilst emulation in the army crept. This, I presume, will wake him.


William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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