Back at the Greek camp, Thersites rants and raves about how much he hates that "elephant Ajax." He rags on Achilles, too, and asks the gods to destroy the entire Greek army. Better yet, he says, he wishes the whole Greek army would get the "Neapolitan bone-ache."
Brain Snack: What the heck's the "Neapolitan bone-ache"? That would be syphilis, which was thought to have originated in Naples. We told you there was a lot of talk about disease in this play.
According to Thersites, syphilis would be a fitting punishment for a bunch of guys who have gone to war over a "placket." ("Placket" is a slang term for "woman." It literally means a "slit" in a petticoat so, Thersites is being pretty gross here.) Patroclus and Achilles come out from Achilles' tent, and Thersites just can't keep his mouth shut. When Agamemnon and his posse finally show up, Achilles runs back into his tent and refuses to come out and talk to anyone. Patroclus is all "Sorry, Achilles is sick and can't leave the tent." (We hope he doesn't have the dreaded "Neapolitan bone-ache!" J/K. We know he's totally faking.)
Ulysses is all "Gee. If Achilles is so ill, why did I just see him standing outside his tent?" Ajax isn't buying any of this either. He says Achilles is "sick" all right—"Lion-sick." (Read: Achilles is way too proud.)
Ajax takes Agamemnon aside and they whisper privately. Then, Agamemnon has Patroclus deliver a message to Achilles, which sounds like this: Dear Achilles: You're acting like a big baby by refusing to come out of your tent to fight. Get your butt out here ASAP... or we'll disown you. Love, Agamemnon.
Finally, Ulysses goes inside the tent to work his own persuasive magic.
Meanwhile, Ajax is all "Hey Agamemnon, is Achilles really as good as he says he is?
Like, say, as good as I am?" Insecure, much?Agamemnon wants to puff up Ajax's ego so he tells him that he thinks he's awesome.
Ajax sneers that he totally hates "proud" men. Nestor LOLs at that, since Ajax is one of the proudest guys around.
And here comes Ulysses, back from Achilles's tent. The guy doesn't have a good excuse for not returning to battle. He just flat out refuses.
Agamemnon suggests that maybe Ajax should try talking to Achilles, but Ulysses says this is a bad idea because Ajax is too awesome and important to stoop to such a low level.
The guys stand around pumping up Ajax's ego until the dude's about ready to burst. Sorry, Ajax. They totally snicker behind your back when you leave.