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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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At the beginning Scene 4, Thersites comments that the warriors are now giving each other a drubbing. He notes that Diomedes is wearing Troilus’ sleeve in his helm and gleefully looks forward to their impending duel. He then comments on the ultimate uselessness of the scheming Nestor and that ‘same dog-fox Ulysses.’ Having set up Ajax against Achilles, Ajax had grown even more proud and was refusing to arm for battle. Diomedes and Troilus enter and exit fighting. Hector chances upon Thersites and asks him if he is ‘of blood and honor?’ ‘No, no: I am a rascal, a scurvy railing knave: a very filthy rogue.’ says Thersites who is then spared by Hector. Thersites thanks Hector who has exited for believing him, but wishes a plague on him for frightening him. He goes looking for Diomedes and Troilus.

At the beginning of Scene 5, we learn that Diomedes has defeated Troilus when he dispatches his servant to present Troilus’ horse to Cressida. Agamemnon calls on the Greeks to fight, and tells Diomedes to make haste with reinforcements. Nestor tells the soldiers to bear Patroclus’ body to Achilles and to bid Ajax to arm. ‘There is a thousand Hectors in the field’ he says and draws a picture of the warrior on his horse Galathe, wreaking destruction. Ulysses brings news that Achilles, roused by Patroclus’ wounds, is cursing and vowing vengeance, and arming himself. The loss of his friend and the state of his mangled Myrmidons infuriate him into action. Ajax who has lost a friend has also armed himself for battle and is roaring for Troilus who has wreaked ‘Mad and fantastic execution.’ Ajax enters screaming for Troilus. Diomedes follows him as he exits. Nestor comments that the Greeks are now in some measure co-operating even though their motive is merely personal revenge and not obedience to command. Achilles enters raging against Hector, the ‘boy- queller’ and exits in search of him.


In Scene 6, Ajax and Diomedes argue over who will fight with Troilus. Troilus calls them both cheating, deceitful Greeks, and says that he will fight them both. The three exit, fighting. Hector enters and comments that his youngest brother has fought well. Achilles enters and fights with Hector. After a while Hector for no apparent reason, says that Achilles can ‘Pause, if thou wilt’ and lets him go. Though Achilles disdains to accept Hector’s charity, he nevertheless stops fighting and exits. A warrior in sumptuous armor enters, and so impressed is Hector with the armor that he says he will beat it violently and unlock all its rivets and finally own it. ‘I’ll hunt thee for thy hide’ says Hector as he exits in pursuit of the Greek.

Scene 7 begins with Achilles instructing his Myrmidons to move in an arc, surround Hector and close him in with their weapons. Menelaus and Paris enter fighting, and Thersites, shouting encouragement, comments gleefully that: ‘The cuckold and the cuckold-maker are at it.’ After they exit, Margarelon ‘A bastard son of Priam’s’ enters and commands Thersites to fight. With a stroke of comic genius, Thersites manages to connect their status as bastards to forge a kinship bond between them, and so escapes eminent death.

In Scene 8, Hector has just killed the finely armored warrior and found a diseased body inside. Then considering his day’s work done, he decides to relax and setting his sword aside, he disarms.

Achilles and the Myrmidons enter and the Greek warrior tells Hector to look at how the sun was setting and how night ‘comes breathing at his heels.’ He says that as the sun sets at the close of day, Hector’s life too is done. Hector tells Achilles that he is unarmed and so should be spared. But Achilles is not the gentleman that Hector is, and he commands his Myrmidons to ‘Strike, fellows, strike, this is the man I seek.’ Hector falls. Achilles then commands his Myrmidons to tie his body to the tail of his horse so that it could be trailed along the battlefield.

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