Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Hector tells them their reasons owed more to passion than to a judicious decision between right and wrong. He adds that Nature craved all dues be rendered to their owners and wonders what nearer debt there could be in human nature than that of a wife to her husband. If this law of nature was corrupted through lust as opposed to reason, there were laws in orderly nations to restrain these raging appetites. These very moral laws of nature and of nations pronounced that Helen, wife of the king of Sparta, be returned. He says, that taken absolutely, it was wrong to keep Helen and continue the War; but on the other hand, honor was also involved, and their honor would be impugned if they did not keep Helen.
Troilus says they may be canonized by fame and adds that he assumes Hector would not lose such a chance. Hector throws his lot with Troilus and Paris. He then tells them his challenge to the Greeks.
On Patroclus return without Achilles, Agamemnon sends Ulysses to talk to Achilles. Ajax asks Agamemnon if he thinks Achilles considers himself a better man than he himself is and with this begins the scene of the Greek leadership’s deluding of Ajax. Ajax like Achilles is over proud but cannot see that quality in himself. Ulysses conveys the message that Achilles will not go to the field the following day. He says Achilles is so proud that he disdains speech. Agamemnon tells them to let Ajax go to Achilles, but Ulysses says that would be pandering to Achilles.
In a clever speech intended to stoke Ajax’s pride he says that Achilles shouldn’t be ‘worshipp’d’ by someone who is held in higher regard that himself as that would make him even more proud. Ajax falls for the bait and threatens to bash Achilles’ face if he goes to him. The Greeks who are literally playing with Ajax make their actual opinion known in asides. When Ajax comments about Achilles overweening pride, Ulysses compares the scenario to that of a raven chiding blackness. He even says that even if wise Nestor were as young as Ajax and his brain so composed he would not have been superior to him. Ajax is so taken in by all this that he turns to Nestor and asks: ‘Shall I call you father?’ Ulysses suggests that they send Ajax to fight Hector.
In the first scene of Act III, Pandarus conveys Troilus’s message to Paris that if Priam calls for him at supper, some excuse should be made. Paris tells Pandarus that he would have gone into battle on that day but Helen, whom he addresses affectionately as ‘Nell’, wouldn’t allow it. As Paris and Helen make their way to Priam’s hall where she is to help unarm Hector, Paris tells her: ‘above thought I love thee.’