Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Act 2, Scene I

SCENE I. A part of the Grecian camp.

Enter AJAX and THERSITES
AJAX
Thersites!

THERSITES
Agamemnon, how if he had boils? full, all over,
generally?

AJAX
Thersites!

THERSITES
And those boils did run? say so: did not the
general run then? were not that a botchy core?

AJAX
Dog!

THERSITES
Then would come some matter from him; I see none now.

AJAX
Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear?

Beating him

Feel, then.

THERSITES
The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel
beef-witted lord!

AJAX
Speak then, thou vinewedst leaven, speak: I will
beat thee into handsomeness.

THERSITES
I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holiness: but,
I think, thy horse will sooner con an oration than
thou learn a prayer without book. Thou canst strike,
canst thou? a red murrain o' thy jade's tricks!

AJAX
Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.

THERSITES
Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?

AJAX
The proclamation!

THERSITES
Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.

AJAX
Do not, porpentine, do not: my fingers itch.

THERSITES
I would thou didst itch from head to foot and I had
the scratching of thee; I would make thee the
loathsomest scab in Greece. When thou art forth in
the incursions, thou strikest as slow as another.

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 Proserpine's beauty, ay, that thou
barkest at him.

AJAX
Mistress Thersites!

THERSITES
Thou shouldest strike him.

AJAX
Cobloaf!

THERSITES
He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a
sailor breaks a biscuit.

AJAX
[Beating him] You whoreson cur!

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
may tutor thee: thou scurvy-valiant ass! thou art
here but 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!

AJAX
[Beating him] You cur!

THERSITES
Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.

Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS

ACHILLES
Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore do you thus? 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 him.

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 you
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 utters! his
evasions have ears thus long. I have bobbed his
brain more than he has beat my bones: I will buy
nine sparrows for a penny, and his pia mater is not
worth the nineth part of a sparrow. This lord,
Achilles, Ajax, who wears his wit in his belly and
his guts in his head, I'll tell you what I say of
him.

ACHILLES
What?

THERSITES
I say, this Ajax--

Ajax offers to beat him

ACHILLES
Nay, good Ajax.

THERSITES
Has not so much wit--

ACHILLES
Nay, I must hold you.

THERSITES
As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he
comes to fight.

ACHILLES
Peace, fool!

THERSITES
I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will
not: he there: that he: look you there.

AJAX
O thou damned cur! I shall--

ACHILLES
Will you set your wit to a fool's?

THERSITES
No, I warrant you; for a fools will shame it.

PATROCLUS
Good words, Thersites.

ACHILLES
What's the quarrel?

AJAX
I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor of the
proclamation, and he rails upon me.

THERSITES
I serve thee not.

AJAX
Well, go to, go to.

THERSITES
I serve here voluntarily.

ACHILLES
Your last service was sufferance, 'twas not
voluntary: no man is beaten voluntary: Ajax was
here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.

THERSITES
E'en so; a great deal of your wit, too, lies in your
sinews, or else there be liars. Hector have a great
catch, if he knock out either of your brains: a'
were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.

ACHILLES
What, with me too, Thersites?

THERSITES
There's Ulysses and old Nestor, whose wit was mouldy
ere your grandsires had nails on their toes, yoke you
like draught-oxen and make you plough up the wars.

ACHILLES
What, what?

THERSITES
Yes, good sooth: to, Achilles! to, Ajax! to!

AJAX
I shall cut out your tongue.

THERSITES
'Tis no matter! I shall speak as much as thou
afterwards.

PATROCLUS
No more words, Thersites; peace!

THERSITES
I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?

ACHILLES
There's for you, Patroclus.

THERSITES
I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come
any more to your tents: I will keep where there is
wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.

Exit

PATROCLUS
A good riddance.

ACHILLES
Marry, this, sir, is proclaim'd through all our host:
That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,
Will with a trumpet 'twixt our tents and Troy
To-morrow morning call some knight to arms
That hath a stomach; and such a one that dare
Maintain--I know not what: 'tis trash. Farewell.

AJAX
Farewell. Who shall answer him?

ACHILLES
I know not: 'tis put to lottery; otherwise
He knew his man.

AJAX
O, meaning you. I will go learn more of it.

Exeunt

William Shakespeare