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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 5 Summary

Diomedes and his servant enter. Diomedes tells his servant to take Troilus’ horse, present it to Cressida, and to tell her that he is now ‘her knight by proof.’ Diomedes’ tone is meant to be chivalric. The servant agrees to do as he is bid and exits. Agamemnon enters.

He calls on the Greeks to fight and to attack once more. He says Polydamas, a bastard son of Priam has beaten down Menon; the bastard son of Priam, Margarelon has taken Doreus prisoner and now stands like the colossus waving his spear upon the battered corpses of Epistrophus and Cedius. Polixenes is slain; Amphimacus and Thoas have been badly hurt; Patroclus has been taken prisoner or has been killed; and Palamedes has been badly hurt and bruised. The dreadful ‘Sagittary’ is wasting the Greek numbers. He tells Diomedes to make haste with reinforcements or else they will all perish.

Nestor enters with soldiers. Nestor tells them to bear Patroclus’ body to Achilles and to bid ‘the snail-pac’d 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 on the battlefield. Hector is compared to a belching whale devouring schools of fish and to a War machine cutting down Greeks ‘ripe for his edge, Fall down before him like a mower’s swath..’ They fall like grass before the sweep of the scythe. Here, there and everywhere he kills or spears at inclination ‘That what he will he does, and does so much/That proof is call’d impossibility.’


Ulysses enters. He tells the Greeks to take courage. He brings news that Achilles who is cursing and vowing vengeance is arming himself. Patroclus’ wounds have roused him into action - that and the state of his mangled Myrmidons. ‘That noseless, handless, hack’d and chipp’d, / come to him, /Crying on Hector.’ Ajax who has lost a friend and ‘foams at mouth’ has also finally armed himself for battle and is roaring for Troilus who has wreaked ‘Mad and fantastic execution.’

Ajax enters screaming for Troilus and then exits. Diomedes too goes after him for Troilus and exits. Nestor then 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. He calls for Hector and calls him a ‘boy-queller’, a murderer of boys, and howls for him to show his face and know what it is like to meet an angry Achilles. He says he will have ‘none but Hector’ and exits looking for him.

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