Today we’re going to take a look at this fantastic Hector Monologue from Act 4, Scene 5 of Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare. This is a great monologue for exploring themes of honour, family and trust. This is a great audition piece for when you need high stakes without the mental breakdowns that usually come with such a monologue. Let’s take a look…
Our play begins in the midst of the Trojan War. The Trojans are at war with the greeks. We learn that a Greek warrior named Ajax has managed to overcome Prince Hector in combat and that Hector is now fighting furiously to regain his composure.
Fast forward to the Greek camp where we find a number of Officers and higher ups discussing strategy and other war stuff when all of a sudden a group of Trojan soldiers arrive with a challenge from Hector. He says he will defeat a champion of their choice to fight in one on one battle. The Greeks decide that Ajax will fight Hector.
Not long after this back in Troy, the court argues about whether or not to let Helen, a prisoner, go back to the Greeks. Hector argues that there is no reason to keep her as it only will mean more bloodshed, but ultimately they decide she is too valuable to lose.
Then finally the day of the fight comes and Ajax and Hector prepare to face off against one another. After a volley of blows Hector, not having his whole heart in the fight, learning that Ajax is his kin, says this…
Why, then will I no more.
Thou art, great lord, my father’s sister’s son,
A cousin-german to great Priam’s seed.
The obligation of our blood forbids
A gory emulation ’twixt us twain.
Were thy commixtion Greek and Trojan so
That thou couldst say, ‘This hand is Grecian all,
And this is Trojan; the sinews of this leg
All Greek, and this all Troy; my mother’s blood
Runs on the dexter cheek, and this sinister
Bounds in my father’s’, by Jove multipotent,
Thou shouldst not bear from me a Greekish member
Wherein my sword had not impressure made
Of our rank feud. But the just gods gainsay
That any drop thou borrowed’st from thy mother,
My sacred aunt, should by my mortal sword
Be drained. Let me embrace thee, Ajax.
By him that thunders, thou hast lusty arms!
Hector would have them fall upon him thus.
Cousin, all honour to thee!
Well then I won’t fight anymore.
You are my cousin, great Lord.
And you’re the first cousin to all of Priam’s sons.
The blood connection we have doesn’t allow us to fight to the death.
If you could separate your Trojan and Greek parts and say:
‘This hand is Greek and this one is Trojan. The muscles in my leg are Trojan and the muscles in the other are Greek. My Mothers blood runs in my left cheek and my Fathers in my right.’
Then I swear to God you wouldn’t leave here today with a Greek part on your body.
But the God’s forbid that any of the blood you borrowed from your Mother, my Aunt, is spilled by my sword. Let me embrace you Ajax. By god you have strong arms and I would rather they embrace me than fight me. You deserve honour, cousin!
Notes on Performance
This speech is all about honour. Hector knowing that he doesn’t want to fight his cousin has to put a lot on the line here. If this speech doesn’t go down well it could mean his demise. So keep in mind when performing this that Hector doesn’t know what way this will go.
Stake stakes stakes. As I said before this is a life or death moment so don’t let this be too low stakes. Remember what your given circumstances are. You’re in an arena surrounded by bloodthirsty spectators. Remember what you wan’t. For neither of you to die in battle against one another. Connect to that and make it happen on the floor.
For More Male Shakespeare Monologues