— 5.3 —
Hector, armed and ready for battle, stood in front of the palace of his father, Priam, in Troy. With him was his wife, Andromache.
“When was my lord so much unkindly tempered that he would stop his ears against admonishment?” Andromache said. “Disarm, disarm, and do not fight today.”
“You tempt me to offend you,” Hector replied. “Get inside the palace. By all the everlasting gods, I’ll go and fight today!”
“My dreams will, I am sure, prove to be ominous signs for this day.”
“Tell me no more, I say.”
As Cassandra walked over to Andromache, she asked, “Where is my brother Hector?”
“Here he is, sister-in-law,” Andromache replied. “He is armed, and bloodthirsty in intent. Join with me in loud and heartfelt petition. Let’s pursue him on our knees; for I have dreamed of bloody turbulence, and this whole night’s dreams have been filled with the shapes and forms of slaughter.”
“Oh, your dreams are true,” Cassandra said.
Cassandra had the gift of prophecy — she was able to foretell the future.
“Let my trumpet sound!” Hector called to his trumpeter.
“Sound no notes of sally, for the Heavens, sweet brother,” Cassandra pleaded.
A sally announced an attack.
“Be gone, I say,” Hector said. “The gods have heard me swear an oath that I would do battle today.”
“The gods are deaf to hot and headstrong vows,” Cassandra said. “Such vows are polluted offerings to the gods; they are more abhorred than spotted livers in the sacrifice.”
In a sacrifice, an animal was killed and its entrails were then examined. A spotted liver was a diseased liver — an ominous sign.
“Oh, be persuaded to stay in Troy today!” Andromache said. “Do not count it holy to hurt your loved ones by being just: it is as lawful to violently commit thefts and robberies simply so you can give lots of money to charity.”
“It is the purpose that makes strong the vow; however, vows to every purpose must not hold,” Cassandra said. “If one makes a vow for a bad purpose, that vow is not holy and ought not to be kept. Disarm, sweet Hector. Stay in Troy today.”
“Calm yourself, I say,” Hector said. “My honor keeps to the windward side of my fate — my honor takes precedence over my fated death. Every man holds life dear, but the brave man regards honor as far more precious and dearer than life.”
The windward side is the favorable side.
Troilus walked over to him.
Seeing that Troilus looked very angry, Hector asked him, “How are you now, young man? Do you mean to fight today?”
Andromache said, “Cassandra, call my father-in-law, Priam, here so he can persuade Hector, my husband, to stay here in Troy today.”
Cassandra left to get Priam.
Knowing that fighting while very angry can be dangerous because anger can lead one to take unnecessary risks, Hector said, “No, indeed, young Troilus; take off your armor, youth. I am today in the mood to fight chivalrously. I intend to do gallant deeds in battle today. Let your muscles grow until their knots are strong, and do not yet risk the hostile battles of the war. Disarm yourself, go, and don’t doubt, brave boy, that I’ll stand today for you and me and Troy.”
“Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you, which better befits a lion than a man,” Troilus replied.
A proverb stated, “The lion spares the suppliant.”
“What vice is that, good Troilus?” Hector asked. “Criticize me for having it.”
“Many times a conquered Greek falls, knocked over by the fanning wind of your fair sword, and then you bid them rise, and live.”
“That is fair play,” Hector replied.
“It is fool’s play, by Heaven, Hector.”
“For the love of all the gods, let’s leave the holy hermit called pity home with our mother, and when we have our armor buckled on, then let the venomous vengeance ride upon our swords. We will spur our swords to do work that will make others feel pity; we will use our reins to keep our swords away from the feeling of pity.”
“No, savage, no!” Hector replied.
“Hector, this is war.”
“Troilus, I don’t want you to fight today.”
“Who or what is able to keep me from fighting today?” Troilus said. “Not fate, not obedience, not the hand of fiery Mars beckoning me with his truncheon to retire from the fight. Not Priam and Hecuba on their knees, their eyes inflamed with the streaming of tears. Not you, my brother, with your true sword drawn, opposed to me with the intent to keep me from the battlefield, will keep me from fighting, unless you kill me.”
Cassandra returned with Priam.
“Lay hold on Hector, Priam,” Cassandra said. “Hold him fast. He is your crutch; if you now lose your prop and support, you who lean on Hector, and all Troy that leans on you, fall all together.”
“Come, Hector, come, and go back into the palace,” Priam said. “Your wife has dreamed ominous dreams; your mother has had visions; Cassandra foresees bad things happening; and I myself am like a prophet suddenly inspired to tell you that this day is ominous. Therefore, come back and go into the palace.”
“Aeneas is on the battlefield, and I have promised many Greeks, and even pledged my valor, that I will appear before them on the battlefield this morning. If I don’t appear on the battlefield, I will lose the valor that I have pledged.”
“To pledge” is “to make a solemn promise.” “A pledge” is “something given as security that a contract or a promise will be kept.”
“Yes, but you shall not go,” Priam said.
“I must not break my word,” Hector said. “You know that I am dutiful; therefore, dear sir, let me not shame the respect I owe you, but instead give me permission to go to the battlefield with your consent and approval, which you here and now forbid me, royal Priam.”
“Oh, Priam, do not yield to him!” Cassandra requested.
“Do not, dear father-in-law,” Andromache said.
“Andromache, I am offended by you,” Hector said. “By the love you bear me, go inside the palace.”
An obedient wife, Andromache went inside the palace.
“This foolish, dreaming, superstitious girl — Cassandra — makes all these ominous prophecies,” Troilus said.
“Oh, farewell, dear Hector!” Cassandra said.
Visualizing the future, she said, “Look, how you die! Look, how your eye turns pale! Look, how your wounds bleed at many openings! Listen, how Troy roars! How Hecuba cries out! How poor Andromache shrills her pain forth! Behold, distraction, frenzy, and amazement, as if they were witless buffoons, meet one another, and they all cry, ‘Hector! Hector’s dead! Oh, Hector!”
“Go away! Go away!” Troilus yelled.
“Farewell — yet wait a moment!” Cassandra said. “Hector! I take my leave. You do yourself and all our Troy deceive.”
Hector was the greatest Trojan warrior. If he were to die, Troy would soon fall.
Hector said to Priam, his father, “You are stunned, my liege, at her exclamations. Go in and cheer up the town. We’ll go forth and fight, do deeds worthy of praise, and tell you about them this night.”
“Farewell,” Priam said. “May the gods stand around you and keep you safe!”
Priam went into the palace, and Hector left to go to the battlefield. Military trumpets announced action on the battlefield.
Troilus said to himself, “They are fighting, listen! Proud Diomedes, believe me, I am coming to fight you. I will lose my arm, or win my sleeve.”
Carrying a letter, Pandarus walked over to Troilus.
Pandarus said, “Have you heard, my lord? Have you heard?”
“Heard what?” Troilus asked.
“Here’s a letter come from yonder poor girl, Cressida,” he replied.
“Let me read it.”
As Troilus read the letter, Pandarus complained, “A vile cough, a vile rascally cough so troubles me, and the foolish fortune of this girl; and what with one thing, and what with another, one of these days I shall die and leave you, and I have a watery discharge from my eyes, too, and such an ache in my bones that, unless a man were cursed, I cannot tell what to think about it.”
Some of his complaints, such as an ache in the bones, were symptoms of syphilis.
He then asked, “What does Cressida say in the letter there?”
“Words, words, mere words,” Troilus said. “There is nothing from her heart. She intended to cause a certain result from the letter, but her letter affects me in a different way.”
He tore up the letter and tossed the pieces into the air, saying, “Go, wind, to wind, there turn and change together. She continues to feed my love with words and lies, but she benefits another man with her deeds.”
— 5.4 —
Alone on the battlefield, Thersites said to himself, “Now they are clapper-clawing — beating up — one another. I’ll go and watch. That dissembling abominable varlet Diomedes has got that same scurvy doting foolish young Trojan knave’s sleeve displayed in his helmet. I would like to see them meet so that that same young Trojan ass, who loves the whore there, might send that Greek whore-masterly and lecherous villain, who has the sleeve, back to the dissembling lecherous drab. Yes, let Troilus send Diomedes back to the lustful whore Cressida from a sleeveless — futile and fruitless — errand.
“On the other side, the Greek side, the cunning stratagem of those crafty swearing rascals, that stale old mouse-eaten dry cheese, Nestor, and that same cunning male-fox, Ulysses, has proven not to be worth a blackberry. They made a plan to set that mongrel cur, Ajax, against that dog of as bad a kind, Achilles. The result now is that the cur Ajax is prouder than the cur Achilles, and Ajax will not arm himself and fight today; whereupon the Greeks begin to proclaim and embrace ignorant barbarism, and political policy is beginning to have a bad reputation.
“Wait! Here comes the sleeve, and here comes the other one.”
Diomedes backed into view, with Troilus following him.
“Don’t run away,” Troilus said. “Even if you were to jump into the Styx, a river in Hell, I would jump in, too, and swim after you.”
“You are misinterpreting my strategic retreat,” Diomedes said. “I am not fleeing from you. My concern to get an advantage in battle led me to withdraw from a place where Trojans were more numerous than Greeks. Now let’s fight!”
As the two warriors fought, Thersites said to himself, “Fight for your whore, Greek! Now fight for your whore, Trojan! Now fight for the sleeve, the sleeve!”
The combat between Troilus and Diomedes carried them away from Thersites.
Hector appeared and asked Thersites, “Who are you, Greek? Are you an opponent for Hector? Do you have an honorable and noble birth? Is it appropriate for me to fight you?”
“No, no, I am a rascal,” Thersites replied. “I am a scurvy railing knave. I am a very filthy rogue.”
“I believe you,” Hector said. “You may continue to live.”
He exited to find an honorable opponent to fight.
“I thank God that you believed me,” Thersites said, “but I hope that a plague will break your neck because you frightened me! What’s become of the wenching rogues? I think they have swallowed one another. I would laugh at that miracle, yet it is true in a way that lechery eats itself. Lechery leads to venereal disease, which eats the body. I’ll go and seek them.”
— 5.5 —
Diomedes said to a servant, “Go, go, my servant, take Troilus’ horse with you and present the fair steed to my lady, Cressida. Fellow, commend my service to her beauty. Tell her I have chastised the amorous Trojan, and tell her that I am her knight by proof. By defeating Troilus in battle, I have proven through combat that I, not Troilus, am her knight.”
“I am going, my lord,” the servant said.
Agamemnon arrived and said to Diomedes, “Regroup! Regroup! The Trojans are overwhelming us! The fierce Polydamashas beaten down Menon. The bastard Margarelonhas taken Doreus prisoner,and he stands like a colossus, waving his spear that is as huge as a beam, over the battered corpses of KingEpistrophus and King Cedius. Polyxenes has been slain,Amphimachus and Thoas are mortally wounded,Patroclus has been captured or slain, and Palamedesis very hurt and bruised. The dreadful Sagittary, the Centaur who is a gifted archer, terrifiesour soldiers. We must hasten, Diomedes,to reinforce the army, or we all will perish.”
Nestor arrived with some soldiers who were carrying the corpse of Patroclus. He told the soldiers, “Go, carry Patroclus’ body to Achilles, and tell the snail-paced Ajax to arm himself for shame.A thousand Hectors seem to be on the battlefield. Now he fights here on Galathe, his horse,and when he lacks work on horseback, soon he’s there on foot,and the Greeks flee or die, like scattering schools of fish fleeing the spouting whale. Then Hector is yonder,and there the Greeks, like wisps of straw ripe for his sword’s edge,fall down before him, like the mower’s swath.Here, there, and everywhere, he leaves — spares — a life and then he takes a life. His dexterity so obeys his desirethat he does whatever he wants to do to us, and he does so muchthat proof is called impossibility. Although we see his deeds on the battlefield, it is impossible to believe what we see.”
Ulysses arrived and said, “Oh, have courage, have courage, Princes! Great Achillesis arming himself, weeping, cursing, and vowing vengeance. Patroclus’ wounds have roused his drowsy blood,together with his mangled Myrmidons,who noseless, handless, hacked and chipped, come to him,crying against Hector. Ajax has lost a friendand foams at the mouth, and he is armed and on the battlefield,roaring for Troilus, who has done todaymad and fantastic slaughter,engaging himself in battle and getting out alive. He directs his efforts at hurting Greeks and not at being chivalric toward them like Hector, and he fightsas if his lust for bloodshed, despite Greek cunning in the use of weapons,bade him conquer every Greek.”
Ajax arrived and shouted, “Troilus! You coward Troilus!”
Then he exited.
Diomedes said, “Yes, there, there.”
Diomedes, who also wanted to find and fight Troilus, followed Ajax.
Nestor said, “So, so, we draw together. We begin to fight together.”
Achilles arrived and asked, “Where is Hector?”
He shouted, “Come, come, you boy-killer, show your face! Know what it is to meet Achilles when I am angry!Hector? Where’s Hector? I will fight nobody but Hector!”
— 5.6 —
Ajax shouted, “Troilus, you coward Troilus, show your head!”
Diomedes arrived and shouted, “Troilus, I say! Where’s Troilus?”
“What do you want with Troilus?” Ajax asked.
“I want to correct — punish — him by hurting him,” Diomedes replied.
“If I were the general, I would give you that position before I would allow you — and not me — to hurt Troilus,” Ajax said.
He shouted, “Troilus, I say! Where are you, Troilus?”
Troilus heard the shouts and showed up, saying, “Oh, traitor Diomedes! Turn your false face toward me, you traitor, and pay me your life that you owe me in return for my horse!”
To call a knight a traitor is the worst kind of insult — one that must be responded to with fighting.
“Ha, is that you there?” Diomedes asked.
“I’ll fight him alone,” Ajax said. “Stand aside, Diomedes.”
“He is my prize,” Diomedes replied. “I will not stand aside and be a spectator.”
“Come, both of you lying Greeks,” Troilus said. “I’ll fight you both!”
Hector arrived and said, “Troilus? Yes! Oh, well fought, my youngest brother!”
Achilles arrived and said, “Now I see you, Hector! Let’s fight!”
Troilus fought Diomedes and Ajax, while Hector fought Achilles. During the fighting, the two groups became separated.
Hector had been fighting hard, and he said to Achilles, who was winded, “We can pause in our fighting, if you are willing.”
“I do disdain your courtesy, proud Trojan,” Achilles said. “I feel contempt for your courtesy. Be happy that my arms are out of shape. I have spent too much time in my tent and not fighting. My rest and negligence befriend you now, but you shall soon hear from me again. Until then, go and seek your fortune.”
Hector said, “Fare you well. I would have held myself back and been a much fresher man had I expected to fight you.”
Seeing Troilus coming toward him, he said, “How are you now, my brother!”
“Ajax has captured Aeneas!” Troilus replied. “Shall this be allowed to happen? No, by the flame — the Sun — of glorious Heaven, Ajax shall not carry him away. I’ll be captured, too, or else I will rescue Aeneas! Fate, hear what I say! I don’t care if I die today!”
A Greek wearing splendid armor arrived.
Hector said, “Stand, stand and fight, you Greek; you are a splendid target.”
Frightened by Hector, the Greek ran away.
“No? You won’t stay and fight?” Hector said. “I like your armor well; I’ll smash it and tear off the rivets, but I’ll be the owner of it. Won’t you, beast, stay? Why, then flee; I’ll hunt you for your hide.”
He ran after the Greek wearing splendid armor.
— 5.7 —
Achilles said to his warriors, who were known as Myrmidons, “Come here around me, my Myrmidons. Listen carefully to what I say. Follow me while I search for Hector. Strike not a stroke against the Trojans, but keep yourselves in breath, and when I have found the bloodthirsty Hector, surround him with your weapons. In the cruelest manner, use your weapons on him. Follow me, sirs, and all my proceedings eye. It is decreed that Hector the great must die.”
They exited to search for Hector.
In another part of the battlefield, Menelaus and Paris were fighting while Thersites watched and provided commentary.
Thersites said to himself, “The cuckold and the cuckold-maker — Menelaus and Paris — are at it. Now, bull! Now, dog! ’loo, Paris, ’loo! Now, my double-horned Spartan! ’loo, Paris, ’loo! The bull has the game: Beware the horns, ho!”
He was pretending that he was watching a dog bait — that is, torment — a bull in a “sport” similar to bear-baiting. Sometimes, the bear could kill a dog, but several dogs often attacked the bear all at the same time and the dogs usually won. Thersites called Menelaus a bull because he wore the horns of a cuckold. “’loo” was an abbreviated form of “Halloo” — a cry to encourage the dog. Menelaus, the King of Sparta, was a double-horned Spartan because he had the two horns of a cuckold and — in this “sport” — the two horns of a bull.
Paris and Menelaus exited while fighting, and the Trojan Margarelon showed up and said to Thersites, “Turn, slave, and fight.”
“Slave” was a major insult.
Thersites asked, “Who are you?”
“A bastard son of Priam’s,” Margarelon replied.
“I am a bastard, too,” Thersites said. “I love bastards. I am a bastard begot, bastard instructed, bastard in mind, bastard in valor. In everything I am illegitimate. One bear will not bite another bear, and so why should one bastard bite another bastard? Take heed, the quarrel’s most ominous to us: If the son of a whore fights for a whore, he tempts judgment. If we fight for that whore Helen, we can end up being damned to eternity in Hell. Farewell, bastard.”
Thersites walked away.
“May the Devil take you, coward!” Margarelon shouted at Thersites, who ignored him.
Margarelon left Thersites alone and went off in a different direction from the one that Thersites had taken.
— 5.8 —
Hector had killed the Greek soldier wearing the splendid armor. Now he said to the corpse, which was still wearing the armor, “Most putrefied core, so fair on the outside, your splendid armor has cost you your life. Now that my day’s work is done, I’ll catch my breath. Rest, sword; you have had your fill of blood and death.”
He took off and put down his sword, helmet, and shield, and some pieces of his armor.
Achilles and the Myrmidons found him and surrounded him, cutting him off from his weapons and armor.
“Look, Hector, how the Sun begins to set,” Achilles said. “Look at how ugly night comes breathing at the Sun’s heels. With the setting and darkening of the Sun to end the day, Hector’s life is ended and done.”
“I am unarmed,” Hector said. “Don’t take this kind of advantage, Greek.”
“Strike, fellows, strike,” Achilles said. “This is the man I seek.”
They killed Hector.
“So, Troy, you will fall next!” Achilles said. “Now, all of Troy, sink down in despair! Here lies your heart, your muscles, and your bone. On, Myrmidons, and all of you shout with all your might, ‘Achilles has slain the mighty Hector.’”
Trumpets sounded. Night was falling.
“Listen!” Achilles said. “The Greek trumpets announce the end of the battle!”
More trumpets sounded.
A Myrmidon said to Achilles, “The Trojan trumpets also announce the end of the battle, my lord.”
“The dragon wing of night overspreads the Earth,” Achilles said, “and, as if they were obeying a tournament marshal, the armies separate. My half-supped sword, that frankly would have fed on more, is pleased with this dainty bite, and thus it goes to bed.”
Achilles sheathed his sword and said, “Come, tie Hector’s body to my horse’s tail. Along the battlefield, I will the Trojan trail.”
— 5.9 —
On another part of the battlefield stood Agamemnon, Ajax, Menelaus, Nestor, Diomedes, and others. They were marching back to the Greek camp to the sound of military drums.
“Listen! Listen!” Agamemnon said. “What are they shouting?”
Nestor ordered, “Quiet, drums!”
The drummers stopped playing.
Soldiers shouted, “Achilles! Achilles! Hector’s slain! Achilles!”
Diomedes said, “The rumor is, Hector’s slain, and by Achilles.”
“If that is true, Achilles ought not to brag about it,” Ajax said. “Great Hector was a man as good as Achilles.”
“March patiently along,” Agamemnon said. “Let someone be sent to ask Achilles to see us at our tent. If the gods have befriended us and gifted us with Hector’s death, great Troy is ours, and our sharp and painful wars are ended.”
In another part of the battlefield, Aeneas met some Trojans.
“Stand here! We are still masters of the battlefield,” Aeneas said. “Let’s not return to Troy; let’s stay the night here.”
Troilus arrived and said, “Hector is slain.”
“Hector! The gods forbid!” Aeneas said.
“He’s dead,” Troilus repeated, “and at the tail of the horse belonging to his murderer, he is being dragged as if he were a beast through the shameful battlefield. Frown on, you Heavens, effect your rage at Troy with speed! Sit, gods, upon your thrones, and smile at Troy! I say, at once let loose your plagues on us. If your plagues kill us quickly, you will show us mercy. We are sure to be destroyed, so we pray that you don’t destroy us slowly — instead, destroy us quickly!”
“My lord, you are discouraging all the soldiers!” Aeneas said.
“You misunderstand me when you tell me that,” Troilus replied. “I am not talking about flight, fear, and death; instead, I dare to face all approaching perils that gods and men can direct against us. Hector is dead and gone. Who shall tell Priam that, or tell Hecuba? Let him who will tell them be forever called a screech owl — a bird of bad omens. Go into Troy, and say there, ‘Hector’s dead.’ Those words will turn Priam to stone. They will make wells and Niobes of the maidens and wives; their eyes will well with tears, and the mothers will grieve like Niobe when her seven sons and seven daughters all died on the same day. They will make cold statues of the youths, and they will scare Troy out of itself. But, march away to Troy. Hector is dead; there is no more to say.
“But wait a moment.”
He looked at the Greek camp and said, “You vile abominable Greek tents, thus proudly set up on our Trojan plains, let Titan — the Sun — rise as early as he dares, I’ll charge through you and through you! And, you great-sized coward, Achilles, no space of earth shall separate our two hatreds of each other. I’ll constantly haunt you like a wicked conscience that creates goblins as swiftly as the thoughts of madness.”
He then said to his fellow Trojans, “Have the drums strike a quick march to Troy! March back to Troy, and take with you this comforting thought: Hope of revenge shall hide our inward woe.”
Aeneas, the drummers, and the other Trojans marched away.
Pandarus walked over to Troilus and said, “Listen! Listen!”
Bitterly, Troilus said to Pandarus, “Go away, broker-lackey — go-between and hanger-on! May ignominy and shame pursue you throughout your life, and may they always be associated with your name!”
Alone, Pandarus said bitterly to himself, “Troilus’ words are a ‘splendid medicine’ for my aching bones! Oh, world! World! World! Thus is the poor agent despised! Oh, traitors and bawds, how earnestly are you set to work, and how ill is your work rewarded! Why should our endeavor be so loved and the performance so loathed? What verse can express this? What example can I use? Let me see.”
He sang this song:
“Full merrily the bumblebee does sing,
“Until he has lost his honey and his sting;
“And being once subdued in armed tail,
“Sweet honey and sweet notes together fail.”
A bumblebee — that is, a man — can be happy and sing as long as his sting — his erect penis — can produce honey — semen. But when his tail — penis — no longer can get erect, then he can produce no honey and stops singing.
Pandarus then looked you readers of this book directly in the eyes and said, “Good traders in the flesh, write that song in your painted cloths.”
A painted cloth is a cheap substitute for a tapestry. Often, a painted cloth contains a moral of some kind.
Pandarus continued, “As many as be here in the pander’s hall — the place where you are reading this book — your eyes, half blind, should weep at Pandarus’ fall. But if you cannot weep, yet give some groans, though if you do not groan for me, you can still groan for your own aching bones.”
Aching bones are a symptom of syphilis.
“Brethren and sisters of the hold-door trade — my fellow bawds and panders who watch the door while fornicators are in the room — approximately two months from now my will shall here be revealed. That is when I expect to die. My will should be read out loud and you should receive your bequests now, but my fear is this: Some galled goose — syphilitic whore — of the nearby brothel district would hiss. Let it be known that a hiss is an inappropriate critical response to this book. Until I die I’ll sweat as a treatment for my venereal diseases and seek about for ways to ease the pain. For now I seek good eases, but when I die I bequeath to you my diseases.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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