AGAMEMNON. Where is Achilles?

PATROCLUS. Within his tent; but ill-dispos'd, my lord.

AGAMEMNON. Let it be known to him that we are here. He shent our messengers; and we lay by Our appertainings, visiting of him. Let him be told so; lest, perchance, he think We dare not move the question of our place Or know not what we are.

PATROCLUS. I shall say so to him.


ULYSSES. We saw him at the opening of his tent. He is not sick.

AJAX. 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 a cause. A word, my lord. [Takes AGAMEMNON aside]

NESTOR. What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?

ULYSSES. Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.

NESTOR. Who, Thersites?


NESTOR. Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument

ULYSSES. No; you see he is his argument that has his argument-


NESTOR. All the better; their fraction is more our wish than their faction. But it was a strong composure a fool could disunite!

ULYSSES. The amity that wisdom knits not, folly may easily untie.

Re-enter PATROCLUS Here comes


NESTOR. No Achilles with him.

ULYSSES. The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy; his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.

PATROCLUS. Achilles bids me say he is much sorry If any thing more than your sport and pleasure 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.

AGAMEMNON. Hear you,

PATROCLUS. We are too well acquainted with these answers; But his evasion, wing'd thus swift with scorn, Cannot outfly our apprehensions. Much attribute he hath, and much the reason Why we ascribe it to him. Yet all his virtues, Not virtuously on his own part beheld, Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss; Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish, Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him We come 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 Than in the note of judgment; and worthier than himself Here tend the savage strangeness he puts on, Disguise the holy strength of their command, And underwrite in an observing kind His humorous predominance; yea, watch His pettish lunes, his ebbs, his flows, as if The passage and whole carriage of this action Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and ad That if he overhold his price so much We'll none of him, but let him, like an engine Not portable, lie under this report: Bring action hither; this cannot go to war. A stirring dwarf we do allowance give Before a sleeping giant. Tell him so.

PATROCLUS. I shall, and bring his answer presently.


AGAMEMNON. In second voice we'll not be satisfied; We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you.


AJAX. What is he more than another?

AGAMEMNON. No more than what he thinks he is.

AJAX. Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself a better man than I am?

AGAMEMNON. No question.

AJAX. Will you subscribe his thought and say he is?

AGAMEMNON. No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as valiant, as wise, no less noble, much more gentle, and altogether more tractable.

AJAX. Why should a man be proud? How doth pride grow? I know not what pride is.

AGAMEMNON. 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 chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed devours the deed in the praise.

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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