A history of the reception of Thersites would be a fun project.
A prepping quote from Tristram Shandy:
And first, it may be said, there is a pelting kind of thersitical satire, as black as the very ink ’tis wrote with——(and by the bye, whoever says so, is indebted to the muster-master general of the Grecian army, for suffering the name of so ugly and foul-mouth’d a man as Thersites to continue upon his roll——for it has furnish’d him with an epithet)
And a sample of Shakespeare’s indulging in the thersitical vein, from Troilus and Cressida (5.1):
Prithee, be silent, boy; I profit not by thy talk:
thou art thought to be Achilles’ male varlet.
Male varlet, you rogue! what’s that?
Why, his masculine whore. Now, the rotten diseases
of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs,
loads o’ gravel i’ the back, lethargies, cold
palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, wheezing
lungs, bladders full of imposthume, sciaticas,
limekilns i’ the palm, incurable bone-ache, and the
rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take
again such preposterous discoveries!
Arden adds these enlightening but effect-deflating glosses:
guts-griping … palsies ‘colic or other spasms of the abdoment, hernias, common colds or other infections of nose and throat, severe cases of kidney stones, illnesses like stroke that result in torpor or inertness, severe termor and paralysis
(From Longer notes) …The list comprises: chronic eye inflammation, liver ailments like hepatitis, asthma, bladder infections caused by cysts or abscesses (impostumes), lower back pain (sciaticas), gout (which can produce white lumps in the joints and knuckles) or else psoriasis (causing dry, reddish itchy patches on the skin of the hand), bone-ache (including the ‘Neapolitan bone-ache’ or syphilis), and pustular outbreaks of the skin caused by herpes, impetigo, ringworm, etc. This last, the tetter, produces a rivelled fee-simple or irreversible wrinkling.