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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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An alarm sounds and Hector and Ajax fight. Both sides cheer on their respective heroes. The fighting ceases. Ajax wants to continue but Hector refuses. Since Hector cannot divide Ajax’s Greek and Trojan blood, he does not want to continue to battle him. Ajax says ‘I came to kill thee, cousin, and bear hence/A great addition earned in thy death.’ Hector says that not even Neoptolemus, son of Achilles could promise himself honor torn from Hector. Ajax invites Hector to the Grecian tents. Diomedes says that Agamemnon hopes for his visit and adds that Achilles longs to see Hector unarmed. Hector asks Aeneas to call Troilus to him and to tell the rest of the Trojan party about the invitation, and to tell them to return home. He takes Ajax’s hand and says, ‘I will go eat with thee, and see your knights.’ He is warmly welcomed in the Greek camp.

Hector tells Ajax to introduce him to the worthiest in the Greek camp, except for Achilles whom he would recognize by his large size. Agamemnon calls him a worthy warrior who is as welcome as such a great man can be to one who wishes he were not an enemy. He says that the past and the future is full of destruction and depredation, but at this moment, he, Agamemnon, is free from all prejudice and deceit and bids the great Hector a very warm welcome straight from his heart.

Agamemnon tells Troilus that the same sentiments are extended to him as well.


Menelaus confirms his brother Agamemnon’s greeting and welcomes the two brothers.

Hector asks him who he is and Aeneas says he is Menelaus. Hector makes a faux pas by mentioning Helen to Menelaus. He tells him that wife Helen ‘swears still by Venus’ glove. She’s well, but bade me not commend her to you.’ Menelaus is peeved and tells Hector not to name Helen and that she is a ‘deadly theme’ - a matter for a mortal quarrel.

Nestor talks of Hector in heroic terms. It is obvious that the Greeks hold him in high regard. He recalls Hector’s magnificent performance in battle and says almost awe-struck that ‘thy countenance, still lock’d in steel, /I never saw till now.’ Nestor tells Hector that he had fought with his grandfather who was a good soldier ‘But by Mars, the captain of us all, /Never like thee.’ He embraces Hector and welcomes him to the Greek tents.

Aeneas introduces him as Nestor. Hector too makes to embrace Nestor and calls him ‘good old chronicle, /That hast so long walk’d hand in hand with Time.’ Good humor and affection mark the conversation. Ulysses wonders how Troy stands when ‘we have here her base and pillar by us?’ Hector recognizes Ulysses and tells him rather sadly that ‘many a Greek and Trojan dead, /Since first I saw yourself and Diomedus/In Ilion on your Greekish embassy.’

Ulysses says that he had foretold the destruction that would ensue and that his prophecy has only been half fulfilled. ‘For yonder walls that pertly front your town, /Yon towers, whose wanton tops do buss the clouds, /Must kiss their own feet’ and complete destruction must come to Troy. Hector replies that he must not believe. He says tells about the futility of the War. Ulysses drops the subject at that and then invites Hector to dinner after he has gone to the general’s tent. Achilles interrupts and tells Hector that he has now fed his eyes on him and examined him ‘joint by joint.’ When Hector learns that it is Achilles who is addressing him he asks him to stand open to views as he wants to look at him. That done, Achilles objects that Hector has been too brief in his study of him and says that he will observe him a second time.

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