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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Thersites comments that Achilles and Patroclus might run mad from excess of passion, but that they should go mad from excess of brain, is as likely as him becoming a curer of madmen. He catches sight of Agamemnon, and in his present mood of quiet comment calls him ‘an honest fellow enough’, but one who ‘has not so much brain as ear-wax.’ He then refers to Agamemnon’s brother Menelaus ‘the bull’ - as a representation of the archetype of all horned beasts or cuckolds. He goes on to call him a proper shoeing horn, a not-to-be-shaken-off hanger-on of his brother rather like a shoeing horn that hung onto a man’s leg by a chain. He comments that Menelaus is already beyond the reach of satirical exaggeration - he is both a fool and a cuckold. Thersites says he wouldn’t care if he was a ‘dog, a mule, a cat, a fitchook, a toad, a lizard, an owl, a puttock, or a herring without a roe....but to be Menelaus I would conspire against destiny.’ He means the threat of being Menelaus would be enough to make him conspire against his fate. He wouldn’t mind being the louse on a leper as long as he wasn’t Menelaus. He then spots the torches of the approaching party of Hector, Troilus, Ajax, Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Menelaus and Diomedes. Agamemnon who seems a little high with wine says that they are going the wrong way and Ajax says that the lights are just ahead. Ever solicitous Hector asks if he is putting them to any trouble and Ajax unusually polite says ‘No, not a whit.’


Achilles enters. Ulysses says that Achilles himself has come to guide them to his tent. Achilles welcomes Hector and the Greek princes. Agamemnon takes his leave and says that Ajax has told the guard to look after him. Hector thanks them and bids them good night and repeats the same to ‘sweet Lord Menelaus.’ In an aside Thersites exclaims ‘Sweet draught!.’ ‘Draught’ is another word for a cesspool, privy or sink. Achilles says good night to those who leave and welcomes those who visit.

Agamemnon and Menelaus exit. Achilles asks Nestor and Diomedes to keep Hector company for a hour or two. Diomedes says he cannot wait as he has important business to attend to and bids Hector good night. Ulysses tells Troilus to follow Diomedes’ torch, and that he is going to Calchas’ tent. Hector bids Diomedes good night and the latter exits followed by Ulysses and Troilus

Achilles invites the remaining party into his tent and they all exit except for Thersites. Thersites calls Diomedes a ‘false-hearted rogue, a most unjust knave: I will no more trust him when he leers than I will a serpent when he hisses.’ He says that it is known that Diomedes keeps ‘a Trojan drab, and uses the traitor Calchas’ tent.’ He decides to follow Diomedes and exits.

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