ACT II. SCENE 3. The Grecian camp. Before the tent of ACHILLES

Enter THERSITES, solus

THERSITES. How now, Thersites! What, lost in the labyrinth of thy fury? Shall the elephant Ajax carry it thus? He beats me, and I rail at him. O worthy satisfaction! Would it were otherwise: that I could beat him, whilst he rail'd at me! 'Sfoot, I'll learn to conjure and raise devils, but I'll see some issue of my spiteful execrations. Then there's Achilles, a rare engineer! If Troy be not taken till these two undermine it, the walls will stand till they fall of themselves. O thou great thunder-darter of Olympus, forget that thou art Jove, the king of gods, and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy caduceus, if ye take not that little little less-than-little wit from them that they have! which short-arm'd ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce, it will not in circumvention deliver a fly from a spider without drawing their massy irons and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the Neapolitan bone-ache! for that, methinks, is the curse depending on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers; and devil Envy say 'Amen.' What ho! my Lord Achilles!


PATROCLUS. Who's there? Thersites! Good Thersites, come in and rail.

THERSITES. If I could 'a rememb'red a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipp'd 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 direction till thy death. Then if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where's Achilles?

PATROCLUS. What, art thou devout? Wast thou in prayer?

THERSITES. Ay, the heavens hear me!



ACHILLES. Who's there?

PATROCLUS. Thersites, my lord.

ACHILLES. Where, where? O, 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 Agamemnon?

THERSITES. Thy commander,

ACHILLES. Then tell me, Patroclus, what's Achilles?

PATROCLUS. Thy lord,

THERSITES. Then tell me, I pray thee, what's Thersites?

THERSITES. Thy knower,

PATROCLUS. Then tell me, Patroclus, what art thou?

PATROCLUS. Thou must tell that knowest.

ACHILLES. O, tell, tell,

THERSITES. I'll decline the whole question. Agamemnon commands Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus' knower; and Patroclus is a fool.

PATROCLUS. You rascal!

THERSITES. Peace, fool! I have not done.

ACHILLES. He is a privileg'd man. Proceed,


THERSITES. Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a fool; and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.

ACHILLES. Derive this; come.

THERSITES. Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool; and this Patroclus is a fool positive.

PATROCLUS. Why am I a fool?

THERSITES. Make that demand of the Creator. It suffices me thou art. Look you, who comes here?

ACHILLES. Come, Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody. Come in with me,



THERSITES. Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery. All the argument is a whore and a cuckold-a good quarrel to draw emulous factions and bleed to death upon. Now the dry serpigo on the subject, and war and lechery confound all!


William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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