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That ever Hector and Achilles meet;

For both our honour and our shame, in this,
Are dogg'd with two strange followers.

NEST. I fee them not with my old eyes; what
are they?

ULYSS. What glory our Achilles fhares from
Hector,

Were he not proud, we all fhould fhare' with him:
But he already is too infolent;

And we were better parch in Africk fun,
Than in the pride and falt fcorn of his eyes,
Should he 'fcape Hector fair: If he were foil'd,
Why, then we did our main opinion crush
In taint of our beft man. No, make a lottery;
And, by device, let blockish Ajax' draw

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-bare-] So the quarto. The folio-wear. JOHNSON. our main opinion-] is, our general eftimation or character. See Vol. VIII. p. 585, n. 7. Opinion has already been

ufed in this fcene in the fame fenfe. MALONE.

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-blockish Ajax-] Shakspeare on this occafion has deferted Lydgate, who gives a very different character of Ajax :

"Another Ajax (furnamed Telamon)

"There was, a man that learning did adore," &c.
"Who did fo much in eloquence abound,

Again:

"That in his time the like could not be found."

"And one that hated pride and flattery," &c.

Our author appears to have drawn his portrait of the Grecian chief from the invectives thrown out against him by Ulysses in the thirteenth book of Ovid's Metamorphofis, tranflated by Golding, 1587; or from the prologue to Harrington's Metamorphofis of Ajax, 1596, in which he is reprefented as strong, heady, boisterous, and a terrible fighting fellow, but neither wife, learned, staide, nor polliticke." STEEVENS.

"

I fufpect that Shak speare confounded Ajax Telamonius with Ajax Oileus. The characters of each of them are given by Lydgate. Shakspeare knew that one of the Ajaxes was Hector's nephew, the fon of his fifter; but perhaps did not know that he was Ajax Telamonius, and in confequence of not attending to this circumftance has attributed to the perfon whom he has introduced in this

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The fort to fight with Hector: Among ourfelves, Give him allowance for the better man,

play part of the character which Lydgate had drawn for Ajax Oileus:

"Oileus Ajax was right corpulent;

"To be well cladde he fet all his entent.
"In rich aray he was full curyous,

"Although he were of body corfyous.

"Of armes great, with shoulders fquare and brode;
"It was of him almost a horse-lode.

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High of ftature, and boyftrous in a pres,

"And of his fpeech rude, and rechless.

"Full many worde in ydel hym afterte,

"And but a coward was he of his herte."

Ajax Telamonius he thus defcribes:

"An other Ajax Thelamonyius

"There was alfo, diferte and virtuous;

"Wonder faire and femely to behold,

"Whofe heyr was black and upward ay gan folde,
"In compas wife round as any fphere;

"And of mufyke was there none

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yet had he good practike

his pere.

"In armes eke, and was a noble knight.

"No man more orped, nor hardyer for to fight,
"Nor defirous for to have victorye;

"Devoyde of pomp, hating all vayn glorye,
"All ydle laud fpent and blowne in vayne.'

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Lydgate's Auncient Hiftorie, &c. 1555. There is not the fmallest ground in Lydgate for what the author of the Rifacimento of this poem published in 1614, has introduced, concerning his eloquence and adoring learning. See Mr. Steevens's

note.

Perhaps, however, The Deftruction of Troy led Shakspeare to give this reprefentation; for the author of that book, defcribing thefe two perfons, improperly calls Ajax Oileus, fimply Ajax, as the more eminent of the two:

"Ajax was of a huge ftature, great and large in the fhoulders, great armes, and always was well clothed, and very richly; and was of no great enterprife, and fpake very quicke. Thelamon Ajax was a marvellous faire knight; he had black hayres, and he hadde great pleasure in muficke, and he fang him felfe very well: he was of greate proweffe, and a valiant man of warre, and without pompe."

Mr. Malone obferves, that there is not the fmalleft ground, &c.

For that will phyfick the great Myrmidon,
Who broils in loud applaufe; and make him fall
His creft, that prouder than blue Iris bends.
If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
We'll dress him up in voices: If he fail,
Yet go we under our opinion' ftill,

That we have better men. But, hit or mifs,
Our project's life this fhape of fenfe affumes,-
Ajax, employ'd, plucks down Achilles' plumes.
NEST. Ulyffes,

Now I begin to relish thy advice ; *

And I will give a taste of it forthwith

To Agamemnon: go we to him ftraight.
Two curs fhall tame each other; Pride alone
Must tarre the mastiffs on,' as 'twere their bone.

[Exeunt.

concerning his eloquence and adoring learning." But may we ask what interpretation this gentleman would give to the epithets

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- diferte and virtuous ?”

By the first word, (formed from the Latin difertus,) eloquence muft have been defigned; and by the latter, the artes ingenue, which in the age of Lydgate were often called the virtuous arts.

2 The fort-] i. e. the lot. STEEVENS.

So, in Lydgate's Auncient Hiftorie, &c.

"Calchas had experience

"Efpecially of calculation;

"Of forte alfo, and divynation." MALONE.

STEEVENS.

-under our opinion] Here again opinion means character.

MALONE.

4 Ulyffes, Now I begin &c.] The quarto and folio have-Now, Ulyffes, I begin, &c. The tranfpofition was made by Mr. Steevens.

MALONE.

5 Muft tarre the maftiffs on,] Tarre, an old English word fignifying to provoke or urge on. See King John, A&t IV. sc. i:

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- like a dog

"Snatch at his mafter that doth tarre him on." POPE.

ACT II.

SCENE I.

Another Part of the Grecian Camp.

Enter AJAX and THERSITES.

AJAX. Therfites,

THER. Agamemnon-how if he had boils? full, all over, generally?

AJAX. Therfites,

THER. And those boils did run?-Say fo,-did not the general run then? were not that a botchy core?

AJAX. Dog,

THER. Then would come fome matter from him; I fee none now.

AJAX. Thou bitch-wolf's fon, canst thou not hear? Feel then. [Strikes him. THER. The plague of Greece upon thee,' thou mongrel beef-witted lord! 8

6 A II.] This play is not divided into acts in any of the original editions. JOHNSON.

7 The plague of Greece upon thee,] Alluding perhaps to the plague fent by Apollo on the Grecian army. JOHNSON.

The following lines of Lydgate's Auncient Hiftorie of the Warres between the Trojans and the Grecians, 1555, were probably here in our author's thoughts:

"And in this whyle a great mortalyte,

"Both of fworde and of peftilence,

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Among Greekes, by fatal influence

"Of noyous hete and of corrupt eyre,
Engendred was, that tho in great dispayre

AJAX. Speak then, thou unfalted leaven, speak: I will beat thee into handfomeness.

"Of theyr life in the fyelde they leye,
"For day by day fodaynly they deye,
"Whereby theyr nombre faft gan dyferece;
"And whan they fawe that it ne wolde fece,
"By theyr advyfe the kyng Agamemnowne
"For a trewfe fent unto the towne,

"For thirty dayes, and Priamus the kinge
"Without abode graunted his axynge." MALONE.

Our author may as well be fuppofed to have caught this circumftance relative to the plague, from the first book of Hall's or Chapman's verfion of the Iliad. STEEVENS.

8thou mongrel beef-witted lord!] So, in Twelfth Night: I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit." STEEVENS.

He calls Ajax mongrel on account of his father's being a Grecian and his mother a Trojan. See Hector's speech to Ajax, in A&t IV. fc. v:

"Thou art, great lord, my father's fifter's fon," &c.

MALONE.

9 Speak then, thou unfalted leaven, Speak:] Unfalted leaven means. four without falt, malignity without wit. Shakspeare wrote first unfalted; but recollecting that want of falt was no fault in leaven, changed it to vinew'd. JOHNSON.

The want of falt is no fault in leaven; but leaven without the addition of falt will not make good bread: hence Shakspeare ufed it as a term of reproach. MALONE.

Unfalted is the reading of both the quartos. Francis Beaumont, in his letter to Speght on his edition of Chaucer's works, 1602, fays: Many of Chaucer's words are become as it were inew'd and hoarie with over long lying."

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Again, in Tho. Newton's Herbal to the Bible, 8vo. 1587:

"For being long kept they grow hore and vinewed." STEEVENS.

In the preface to James the Firft's Bible, the tranflators speak of fenowed (i. e. vinewed or mouldy) traditions. BLACKSTONE.

The folio has-thou whinid'ft leaven; a corruption undoubtedly of vinnerwedt, or vinniedft: that is, thou moft mouldy leaven. In Dorfetfhire they at this day call cheefe that is become mouldy, vinny cheese. MALONE.

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