Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida

by William Shakespeare


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Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. The play (also described as one of Shakespeare's problem plays) is not a conventional tragedy, since its protagonist (Troilus) does not die. The play ends instead on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus and Cressida. Throughout the play, the tone lurches wildly between bawdy comedy and tragic gloom, and readers and theatre-goers have frequently found it difficult to understand how one is meant to respond to the characters.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781696171731
Publisher: Independently published
Publication date: 09/28/2019
Pages: 494
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Toby Widdicombe is Professor of English, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Date of Death:


Place of Birth:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Place of Death:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Read an Excerpt

Troilus and Cressida


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-79698-7



Scene I. Troy. Before Priam's Palace.

Enter Pandarus and Troilus

Troilus. Call here my varlet;
I'll unarm again:
Why should I war without the walls of Troy,
That find such cruel battle here within?
Each Trojan that is master of his heart,
Let him to field; Troilus, alas, hath none!

Pan. Will this gear ne'er be mended?

Tro. The Greeks are strong and skilful to their strength,
Fierce to their skill and to their fierceness valiant,
But I am weaker than a woman's tear,
Tamer than sleep, fonder than ignorance,
Less valiant than the virgin in the night,
And skilless as unpractised infancy.

Pan. Well, I have told you enough of this: for my part, I'll not meddle nor make no farther. He that will have a cake out of the wheat must needs tarry the grinding.

Tro. Have I not tarried?

Pan. Ay, the grinding; but you must tarry the bolting.

Tro. Have I not tarried?

Pan. Ay, the bolting; but you must tarry the leavening.

Tro. Still have I tarried.

Pan. Ay, to the leavening; but here's yet in the word "hereafter," the kneading, the making of the cake, the heating of the oven, and the baking; nay, you must stay the cooling too, or you may chance to burn your lips.

Tro. Patience herself, what goddess e'er she be,
Doth lesser blench at sufferance than I do.
At Priam's royal table do I sit;
And when fair Cressid comes into my thoughts, —
So, traitor! — "When she comes!" — When is she thence?

Pan. Well, she looked yesternight fairer than ever I saw her look, or any woman else.

Tro. I was about to tell thee: — when my heart,
As wedged with a sigh, would rive in twain,
Lest Hector or my father should perceive me,
I have, as when the sun doth light a storm,
Buried this sigh in wrinkle of a smile:
But sorrow, that is couch'd in seeming gladness,
Is like that mirth fate turns to sudden sadness.

Pan. An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen's — well, go to — there were no more comparison between the women: but, for my part, she is my kinswoman; I would not, as they term it, praise her: but I would somebody had heard her talk yesterday, as I did. I will not dispraise your sister Cassandra's wit, but —

Tro. O Pandarus! I tell thee, Pandarus, —
When I do tell thee, there my hopes lie drown'd,
Reply not in how many fathoms deep
They lie indrench'd. I tell thee, I am mad
In Cressid's love: thou answer'st "she is fair;"
Pour'st in the open ulcer of my heart
Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice,
Handlest in thy discourse, O, that her hand,
In whose comparison all whites are ink
Writing their own reproach, to whose soft seizure
The cygnet's down is harsh, and spirit of sense
Hard as the palm of ploughman: this thou tell'st me,
As true thou tell'st me, when I say I love her;
But, saying thus, instead of oil and balm,
Thou lay'st in every gash that love hath given me
The knife that made it.

Pan. I speak no more than truth.

Tro. Thou dost not speak so much.

Pan. Faith, I'll not meddle in 't. Let her be as she is: if she be fair, 't is the better for her; an she be not, she has the mends in her own hands.

Tro. Good Pandarus, how now, Pandarus!

Pan. I have had my labour for my travail; ill-thought on of her, and ill-thought on of you: gone between and between, but small thanks for my labour.

Tro. What, art thou angry, Pandarus? what, with me?

Pan. Because she's kin to me, therefore she's not so fair as Helen: an she were not kin to me, she would be as fair on Friday as Helen is on Sunday. But what care I? I care not an she were a black-a-moor; 't is all one to me.

Tro. Say I she is not fair?

Pan. I do not care whether you do or no. She's a fool to stay behind her father; let her to the Greeks; and so I'll tell her the next time I see her: for my part, I'll meddle nor make no more i' the matter.

Tro. Pandarus, —

Pan. Not I.

Tro. Sweet Pandarus, —

Pan. Pray you, speak no more to me: I will leave all as I found it, and there an end. [Exit. An alarum.

Tro. Peace, you ungracious clamours! peace, rude sounds!
Fools on both sides! Helen must needs be fair,
When with your blood you daily paint her thus.
I cannot fight upon this argument;
It is too starved a subject for my sword.
But Pandarus — O gods, how do you plague me!
I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar;
And he's as tetchy to be woo'd to woo
As she is stubborn-chaste against all suit.
Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne's love,
What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we.
Her bed is India; there she lies, a pearl:
Between our Ilium and where she resides,
Let it be call'd the wild and wandering flood,
Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar
Our doubtful hope, our convoy and our bark.

Alarum. Enter Æneas

Æne. How now, Prince Troilus! wherefore not afield?

Tro. Because not there: this woman's answer sorts, For womanish it is to be from thence. What news, Æneas, from the field to-day?

Æne. That Paris is returned home, and hurt.

Tro. By whom, Æneas?

Æne. Troilus, by Menelaus.

Tro. Let Paris bleed: 't is but a scar to scorn; Paris is gored with Menelaus' horn. [Alarum.

Æne. Hark, what good sport is out of town to-day!

Tro. Better at home, if "would I might" were "may." But to the sport abroad: are you bound thither?

Æne. In all swift haste.

Tro. Come, go we then together.


Scene II. The Same. A Street.

Enter Cressida and Alexander her man

Cres. Who were those went by?

Alex. Queen Hecuba and Helen.

Cres. And whither go they?

Alex. Up to the eastern tower,
Whose height commands as subject all the vale,
To see the battle. Hector, whose patience
Is as a virtue fix'd, to-day was moved:
He chid Andromache and struck his armourer;
And, like as there were husbandry in war,
Before the sun rose he was harness'd light,
And to the field goes he; where every flower
Did, as a prophet, weep what it foresaw
In Hector's wrath.

Cres. What was his cause of anger?

Alex. The noise goes, this: there is among the Greeks A lord of Trojan blood, nephew to Hector; They call him Ajax.

Cres. Good; and what of him?

Alex. They say he is a very man per se, And stands alone.

Cres. So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs.

Alex. This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their particular additions; he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant: a man into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his valour is crushed into folly, his folly sauced with discretion: there is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it: he is melancholy without cause and merry against the hair: he hath the joints of every thing; but every thing so out of joint that he is a gouty Briareus, many hands and no use, or purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.

Cres. But how should this man, that makes me smile, make Hector angry?

Alex. They say he yesterday coped Hector in the battle and struck him down, the disdain and shame whereof hath ever since kept Hector fasting and waking.

Enter Pandarus

Cres. Who comes here?

Alex. Madam, your uncle Pandarus.

Cres. Hector's a gallant man.

Alex. As may be in the world, lady.

Pan. What's that? what's that?

Cres. Good morrow, uncle Pandarus.

Pan. Good morrow, cousin Cressid: what do you talk of? Good morrow, Alexander. How do you, cousin? When were you at Ilium?

Cres. This morning, uncle.

Pan. What were you talking of when I came? Was Hector armed and gone ere you came to Ilium? Helen was not up, was she?

Cres. Hector was gone; but Helen was not up.

Pan. E'en so: Hector was stirring early.

Cres. That were we talking of, and of his anger.

Pan. Was he angry?

Cres. So he says here.

Pan. True, he was so; I know the cause too; he'll lay about him to-day, I can tell them that: and there's Troilus will not come far behind him; let them take heed of Troilus, I can tell them that too.

Cres. What, is he angry too?

Pan. Who, Troilus? Troilus is the better man of the two.

Cres. O Jupiter! there's no comparison.

Pan. What, not between Troilus and Hector? Do you know a man if you see him?

Cres. Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him.

Pan. Well, I say Troilus is Troilus.

Cres. Then you say as I say; for, I am sure, he is not Hector.

Pan. No, nor Hector is not Troilus in some degrees.

Cres. 'T is just to each of them; he is himself.

Pan. Himself! Alas, poor Troilus! I would he were.

Cres. So he is.

Pan. Condition, I had gone barefoot to India.

Cres. He is not Hector.

Pan. Himself! no, he's not himself: would a' were himself! Well, the gods are above; time must friend or end: well, Troilus, well, I would my heart were in her body! No, Hector is not a better man than Troilus.

Cres. Excuse me.

Pan. He is elder.

Cres. Pardon me, pardon me.

Pan. Th' other's not come to 't; you shall tell me another tale, when th' other's come to 't. Hector shall not have his wit this year.

Cres. He shall not need it, if he have his own.

Pan. Nor his qualities.

Cres. No matter.

Pan. Nor his beauty.

Cres. 'T would not become him; his own 's better.

Pan. You have no judgement, niece: Helen herself swore th' other day, that Troilus, for a brown favour — for so 't is, I must confess, — not brown neither, —

Cres. No, but brown.

Pan. Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown.

Cres. To say the truth, true and not true. 90

Pan. She praised his complexion above Paris.

Cres. Why, Paris hath colour enough.

Pan. So he has.

Cres. Then Troilus should have too much: if she praised him above, his complexion is higher than his; he having colour enough, and the other higher, is too flaming a praise for a good complexion. I had as lief Helen's golden tongue had commended Troilus for a copper nose.

Pan. I swear to you, I think Helen loves him better than Paris.

Cres. Then she's a merry Greek indeed.

Pan. Nay, I am sure she does. She came to him th' other day into the compassed window, — and, you know, he has not past three or four hairs on his chin, —

Cres. Indeed, a tapster's arithmetic may soon bring his particulars therein to a total.

Pan. Why, he is very young: and yet will he, within three pound, lift as much as his brother Hector.

Cres. Is he so young a man and so old a lifter?

Pan. But, to prove to you that Helen loves him: she came and puts me her white hand to his cloven chin, —

Cres. Juno have mercy! how came it cloven?

Pan. Why, you know, 't is dimpled: I think his smiling becomes him better than any man in all Phrygia.

Cres. O, he smiles valiantly.

Pan. Does he not?

Cres. O yes, an 't were a cloud in autumn.

Pan. Why, go to, then: but to prove to you that Helen loves Troilus, —

Cres. Troilus will stand to the proof, if you'll prove it so.

Pan. Troilus! why, he esteems her no more than I esteem an 120 addle egg.

Cres. If you love an addle egg as well as you love an idle head, you would eat chickens i' the shell.

Pan. I cannot choose but laugh, to think how she tickled his chin; indeed, she has a marvellous white hand, I must needs confess, —

Cres. Without the rack.

Pan. And she takes upon her to spy a white hair on his chin.

Cres. Alas, poor chin! many a wart is richer.

Pan. But there was such laughing! Queen Hecuba laughed, 130 that her eyes ran o'er.

Cres. With mill-stones.

Pan. And Cassandra laughed.

Cres. But there was more temperate fire under the pot of her eyes: did her eyes run o'er too?

Pan. And Hector laughed.

Cres. At what was all this laughing?

Pan. Marry, at the white hair that Helen spied on Troilus' chin.

Cres. An 't had been a green hair, I should have laughed too.

Pan. They laughed not so much at the hair as at his pretty answer.

Cres. What was his answer?

Pan. Quoth she, "Here's but two and fifty hairs on your chin, and one of them is white."

Cres. This is her question.

Pan. That's true; make no question of that. "Two and fifty hairs," quoth he, "and one white: that white hair is my father, and all the rest are his sons." "Jupiter!" quoth she, "which of these hairs is Paris my husband?" "The forked one," quoth he, 0 "pluck't out, and give it him." But there was such laughing! and Helen so blushed, and Paris so chafed, and all the rest so laughed, that it passed.

Cres. So let it now; for it has been a great while going by.

Pan. Well, cousin, I told you a thing yesterday; think on't.

Cres. So I do.

Pan. I'll be sworn 't is true; he will weep you, an 't were a man born in April.

Cres. And I'll spring up in his tears, an 't were a nettle against May. [A retreat sounded.

Pan. Hark! they are coming from the field: shall we stand up here, and see them as they pass toward Ilium? good niece, do, sweet niece Cressida.

Cres. At your pleasure.

Pan. Here, here, here's an excellent place; here we may see most bravely: I'll tell you them all by their names as they pass by; but mark Troilus above the rest.

Æneas passes

Cres. Speak not so loud.

Pan. That's Æneas: is not that a brave man? he's one of the flowers of Troy, I can tell you: but mark Troilus; you shall see anon.

Cres. Who's that?

Antenor passes

Pan. That's Antenor: he has a shrewd wit, I can tell you; and he's a man good enough: he's one o' the soundest judgements Troy, whosoever, and a proper man of person. When comes Troilus? I'll show you Troilus anon: if he see me, you shall see him nod at me.

Cres. Will he give you the nod?

Pan. You shall see.

Cres. If he do, the rich shall have more.

Hector passes

Pan. That's Hector, that, that, look you, that; there's a fellow! thy way, Hector! There's a brave man, niece. O brave Hector! Look how he looks! there's a countenance! is 't not a brave man?

Cres. O, a brave man!

Pan. Is a' not? it does a man's heart good. Look you what hacks are on his helmet! look you yonder, do you see? look you there: there's no jesting; there's laying on, take't off who will, as they say: there be hacks!

Cres. Be those with swords?

Pan. Swords! any thing, he cares not; an the devil come to him, it's all one: by God's lid,4 it does one's heart good. Yonder comes Paris, yonder comes Paris.

Paris passes

Look ye yonder, niece; is't not a gallant man too, is't not? Why, this is brave now. Who said he came hurt home to-day? he's not hurt: why, this will do Helen's heart good now, ha! Would I could see Troilus now! you shall see Troilus anon.

Cres. Who's that?

Helenus passes

Pan. That's Helenus: I marvel where Troilus is. That's Helenus. I think he went not forth to-day. That's Helenus.

Cres. Can Helenus fight, uncle?

Pan. Helenus! no; yes, he'll fight indifferent well. I marvel where Troilus is. Hark! do you not hear the people cry "Troilus"? Helenus is a priest.

Cres. What sneaking fellow comes yonder?

Troilus passes

Pan. Where? yonder? that's Deiphobus. 'T is Troilus! there's a man, niece! Hem! Brave Troilus! the prince of chivalry!

Cres. Peace, for shame, peace!

Pan. Mark him; note him. O brave Troilus! Look well upon him, niece; look you how his sword is bloodied, and his helm more hacked than Hector's; and how he looks, and how he goes! O admirable youth! he never saw three-and-twenty. Go thy way, Troilus, go thy way! Had I a sister were a grace, or a daughter a goddess, he should take his choice. O admirable man! Paris? Paris is dirt to him; and, I warrant, Helen, to change, would give an eye to boot.

Common Soldiers pass

Cres. Here come more.

Pan. Asses, fools, dolts! chaff and bran, chaff and bran! porridge after meat! I could live and die i' the eyes of Troilus. Ne'er look, ne'er look; the eagles are gone: crows and daws, crows and daws! I had rather be such a man as Troilus than Agamemnon and all Greece.


Excerpted from Troilus and Cressida by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. Copyright © 2015 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations and conventions; Introduction: style and genre: heap of rubbish, salty comedy, or what?; The play in its time; Symmetrical structures; Interpreting the language; Cressida; Literary identity; Scepticism and speculation; The play in performance: the play in 2015 with Gretchen Minton; Staging the staging; Note on the text; The 1609 epistle to the reader; List of characters; The play; Textual analysis; Appendix: sources of the play; Reading list.

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Troilus and Cressida (Folger Shakespeare Library Series) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
BarbaraNYC on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorites of Shakespeare's work. It's been a LONG time since I've read it, so I plan to reread it at some point.
joririchardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't think that Shakespeare, one of my favorite authors, was even capable of writing a bad play. However, this one is far from perfect, especially when compared to his other works."Troilus and Cressida" is about a young man, Troilus, and his lover, Cressida. It is set during the Trojan War, and among other characters are the recognizable Achilles, Hector, Helen, and others.However, the main character's love story never seems very convincing. Troilus is constantly praising his beloved highly, while another character does his best to convince him of her low morals. And, the characters are never together all that often. Most of their supposed "romance" is via them talking or thinking about each other in separate scenes. The character of Cressida is not very built up at all. It takes a few scenes for her to enter the story, and once she does, virtually nothing about her is revealed. One catches fleeting glimpses of a feisty nature, but other than this, all we seem to really know of Cressida is that she is beautiful (as proclaimed by Troilus over and over). Shakespeare even goes so far as to say that her beauty rivals that of Helen's. I kept waiting for Shakespeare to focus a bit more on his female character, yet he never did. As a result, the love story here is not a very convincing one.Another thing that I disliked about this play was how much dialogue there was. About half the book was simply talking - and not about anything interesting, unless you love hearing about endless politics, battle strategies, and so on. These things can be interesting, but in this Renaissance play, they seemed oddly out of place. I couldn't resist skimming over them slightly, wondering where Troilus has gone to. These endless talks are not involved with the book's plot in any major way, save that the Trojan War is its setting, of course. They also seem to lead nowhere, and are simply dry and dull. I had never before seen Shakespeare write such dreadfully tedious scenes.And besides the endless talking, I disliked the ending, in which Cressida is caught being unfaithful by Troilus. After that, she simply disappears altogether! She is not brought back into the story again for the entire book, besides when a letter arrives from her. All in all, I disliked this one - something I was sure I would never say about a Shakespeare play.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He walks in and looks around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow its takes alot of talant to walk in twice without walkin out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone want to talk?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A girl with a purple butterfly mask and a silk purple dress walking in, her blue eyes scanning the crowd, while her elf ears twitched.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post your bios if you want.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Walks in wearing a short black dress with silver heels has her hair curled and a tiny bit of makeup with light pink lipstick and sits on the couch*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in in a sleeveless black dress.her purple hair is pinned up in a bun anf he waits for alivamari
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*walks in, wearing a blue shirt and black combat pants*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks in wearing black hitops,demin booty shorts,black batman shirt,a white belt, and a hoodie.. she has purple eyes and dark brown hair with black tips.. she is short about 4'8.. she walks to the wall and leans against it looking at her phone..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey, welcome to the dance. Come as yourself, or come as your alter ego. It doesn't matter, it's a dance right? Just have fun I guess.