Troilus and Cressida
Bring to text knowledge of the Trojan War: Helen of Troy kidnapped by Trojan prince Paris, was
wife of Greek warrior prince Menelaus. Sources of Chaucer and translated Homer (latin). Purpose of
Trojan war: getting Helen back and war prizes for others.
Act I: seven years into a ten year war. Trojan epic is tragic, not comedic. Romance set as a comic
twist inside tragic epic? Tragic comedy, dark comedy, a mixture of comedy. They both like each
other, Pandarus her uncle—he will woo her for him—Greeks not an issue because they are outside
the walls. Cressida/Pandarus on walls watch Greek warriors go by, like Helen on walls pointing out
who is who in Homer. Troilus doesn’t have access to Cressida, but Pandarus as uncle does. He is
tired of being the go between.
Link between Troilus and Cressida and two sets of Greek warriors that won’t fight [Achilles and
Patroclus, and Ajax and Thersites]. Respect from peers by winning. Seven years and haven’t won,
not united, no allegiance—many are there for war prizes and glory. Also the gods aren’t all on board
with the Greeks [fate and free will]—third generation Olympians. Love relationship inside the
context of Troy—private element inside well-known Greek epics/characters.
Ulysses famous Act I soliloquy—deals with Elizabethan world view. Confidence to navigate
Shakespeare because of great reputation as a writer. Shakespeare takes freedom with attacking the
Trojan war: Ulysses reading a book (oral tradition for Homer)—no reading, telling war
stories/epics—reflection of Shakespeare’s time not Homer’s. Troilus doesn’t want to fight because
he is in love—too distracting.
Ajax not the same as in Homer—illiterate—not as smart as other characters—not educated, a good
soldier—all that matters—used as a took to make Achilles mad and jealous—he is expendable and
Achilles is not.
Achilles and Ulysses conversation: what is clear to Achilles is not clear to Ulysses—Ulysses is
known as the man with words, able to persuade others—discussion of philosophy and matter in the
universe, Ulysses pretend ignorance or not? Use Ajax to explain the shifting status of Achilles, in
words ajax cannot understand, Ajax a clown is getting all the praise when he doesn’t seem to
deserve it—image of Ajax vanquishing Hector, while Achilles sits and does nothing. (no indication
of Achilles war prize being take—only have what Shakespeare gives)