ACHILLES. Go call Thersites hither, sweet

PATROCLUS. I'll send the fool to Ajax, and desire him T' invite the Troyan lords, after the combat, To see us here unarm'd. 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.

Enter THERSITES A labour sav'd!

THERSITES. A wonder!


THERSITES. Ajax goes up and down the field asking for himself.


THERSITES. He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that he raves in saying nothing.

ACHILLES. How can that be?

THERSITES. Why, 'a stalks up and down like a peacock-a stride and a stand; ruminaies 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 this 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 leather jerkin.

ACHILLES. Thou must be my ambassador to him,


THERSITES. 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 his demands to me, you shall see the pageant of



PATROCLUS. Tell him I humbly desire the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarm'd to my tent; and to procure safe conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honour'd Captain General of the Grecian army, et cetera,


PATROCLUS. Jove bless great Ajax!


PATROCLUS. I come from the worthy Achilles-


PATROCLUS. Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent-


PATROCLUS. And to procure safe conduct from


THERSITES. Agamemnon!

PATROCLUS. Ay, my lord.


PATROCLUS. What you say to't?

THERSITES. God buy you, with all my heart.

PATROCLUS. Your answer, sir.

THERSITES. If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven of the clock it will go one way or other. Howsoever, he shall pay for me ere he has me.

PATROCLUS. Your answer, sir.

THERSITES. Fare ye well, with all my heart.

ACHILLES. Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?

THERSITES. No, but he's out a tune thus. What music will be in him when Hector has knock'd out his brains I know not; but, I am sure, none; unless the fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.

ACHILLES. Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.

THERSITES. Let me carry another to his horse; for that's the more capable creature.

ACHILLES. My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirr'd; And I myself see not the bottom of it.


THERSITES. 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.


William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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