ACT II
Scene 1.
 

The Grecian camp

Enter Ajax and THERSITES

AJAX
Thersites!

THERSITES
Agamemnon-how if he had boils full, an 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 there would come some matter from him;
I see none now.

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

[Strikes him]

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

AJAX
Speak, then, thou whinid'st 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 proclaim'd, 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
Proserpina's beauty-ay, that thou bark'st at him.

AJAX
Mistress Thersites!

THERSITES
Thou shouldst strike him.

AJAX
Cobloaf!

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

AJAX
You whoreson cur!

[Strikes him]

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 assinico may tutor thee. You
scurvy valiant ass! Thou art here but to thrash Troyans, 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
You cur!

[Strikes him]

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, so I do.

THERSITES
But yet you look not well upon him; for who some ever
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 bobb'd 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 ninth 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 strike 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, the fool's will shame it.

PATROCLUS
Good words, Thersites.

ACHILLES
What's the quarrel?

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

THERSITES
I serve thee not.

AJAX
Well, go to, go to.

THERSITES
I serve here voluntary.

ACHILLES
Your last service was suff'rance; '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 shall have a great catch
an 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 hang'd 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 lott'ry. Otherwise. He knew his
man.

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

Exeunt