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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Priam tells Paris that he speaks like a man besotted by his ‘‘sweet delights’.’ He is still honey-sweet but what he is saying it just the opposite: To be valiant in this way was no merit at all. Paris says he would wipe off the soil of Helen’s rape by keeping her honorably. He says it would be treason to the Queen who was carried off as plunder, disgrace to Priam’s great worth and shame to himself to now return Helen on being compelled. He wonders if such a degenerate strain could really find place in their noble bosoms. Even the meanest spirit in the Trojan side had the heart to dare and drew his sword when Helen was being defended. He adds that there wasn’t one so noble whose life was ill bestowed or death unframed where Helen was concerned. He ends by saying that they must fight for Helen as they like everyone else know that she is incomparable in the whole wide world.

Hector tells Paris and Troilus that they have both spoken well on the case though they have commented only superficially on the question at hand - not unlike the young men whom Aristotle thought unfit to hear about moral philosophy. Hector tells them that the reasons they put forward owed more to the hot passion of disturbed, diseased, deranged blood than to a judicial decision between right and wrong. He adds that pleasure and revenge had ears that were more deaf than adders to the voice of any true decision. Nature craved all dues be rendered to their owners, so Hector wonders what nearer debt there could be in all of human nature than of a wife to her husband.


He continues that if this law of nature was corrupted through passion and lust as opposed to reason, and if great minds gratified the desires of their insentient wills, there were laws in orderly nations to restrain these raging appetites that were disobedient and stubborn, rebellious and perverse. If Helen is wife to the king of Sparta - as everybody knows she is, these very moral laws of nature and of nations pronounce that she be returned: To persist in doing wrong does not extenuate the wrong, but makes it much worse. Hector then admits both an absolute and a relative standard: 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 that Hector had touched on the very point that they had been making. He says that were it not fame that they aimed at and aspired to, but operation of proud tempers, he would not wish that a drop more of Trojan blood be spent in Helen’s defense. But she is a motive for actions of honor and renown, a spur to brave and noble deeds, whose current sprit and boldness may beat down their foes. He says that in such a case, they may be canonized by fame. He then says that he assumes the brave Hector would not lose such a rich advantage of promised glory as the one that smiles on the beginning of this action.

Hector says he is with them. He then tells them that he has sent a boisterous challenge among the dull and fighting nobles of the Greeks and will strike amazement in their drowsy spirits.

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