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In Shakespeare's fancy, the Trojan War is a whore's war. All started by the infidel and coquettish Helen. Troilus willingly wooed by the calculating bitch Cressida. Hector killed because of Achilles' masculine whore Patroclus. Without whores, war should be tedious, and that's why warriors chase after whores. And isn't war nothing but lust expressing itself through violence?
Isn't love nothing but lust with a tinge of coquettishness? Is love a generation of vipers? View 1 comment. Shelves: comedy. Shakespeare's farcical take on the Iliad 22 May This is one of Shakespeare's stranger plays, and though the characters of the title do play a role in the play albeit it is a quite minor one. The play is set during the Trojan War and basically follows the plot of the Iliad , though Shakespeare adds some quite comic twists to the main characters.
Troilus and Cressida are two Trojans who are in love, but Cressida is given over to the Greeks in exchange for a prisoner. Troilus then sneaks into th Shakespeare's farcical take on the Iliad 22 May This is one of Shakespeare's stranger plays, and though the characters of the title do play a role in the play albeit it is a quite minor one. Troilus then sneaks into the Greek camp to discover that his beloved is flirting with a Greek and his heart is broken. However, this, as mentioned, is only a minor part of the play as the major part is focused not so much on the wrath of Achillies, but rather on the sulking of Achillies.
Achillies spends most of the time in the play sulking over the fact that Agamemnon took a woman that he wanted and as such refuses to fight. Hector, the Trojan hero, taunts the Greeks seeking a one on one combat, but Achillies, the Greek hero, refuses to fight. Ajax is then chosen, however he does not get the opportunity to actually fight as Achilles' lover, Patroclus, steals Achilles' armour and goes to fight in his place.
Hector kills Patroclus which snaps Achilles out of his misery and brings him back onto battlefield. However, Achillies does not actually lay the killing blow but rather orders his troops to surround Hector and kill him. While in many cases this play is a tragedy, it is quite farcical. The character of Achillies is actually quite pathetic. He spends most of the play in his tent sulking as he does in The Iliad , and when he finally emerges to show the Trojans that he is actually a great warrior, he doesn't actually do anything: rather gets his men to do his dirty work. Thus Achillies is not portrayed in all that great a light.
It is quite possible that this was the thought that went through Shakespeare's head when he considered the original text, though the source is most likely Chaucer 's Troilus and Criseyde as opposed to the Iliad which Shakespeare could not read as he could not read Greek.
Further, to me, Achillies does not seem to be a truly heroic character because in the epic poem he spends most of his time sulking over a slave girl and having a spat with Agamemnon. Still, the Greek idea of heroism is quite different from ours because Odysseus does not come out as a very admirable character in the Odyssey. In fact, for a man who was married to a very loyal wife, he is not the most faithful of people. I guess that is the nature of a male dominated society: the woman is praised for her chastity while the male is praised for his virility.
I was probably a bit hasty in suggesting that Shakespeare did not read the Iliad simply because it is one of those foundational works of Western Literature.
As such, I would be surprised if there were not a Latin, or even an English translation to which Shakespeare had access. If you look at the characters in the play you will note that the Latin spellings are used Ulysses instead of Odysseus and Hecube instead of Hecabe. I also have noticed that pretty much every character that appears in the Iliad makes an appearance in this play, and some, such as Aeneas, seem to play a larger role. Now that I have read Chaucer's poem, I have to say that my feelings are that there are some significant differences.
Okay, Chaucer divides his poem into five sections in the same way that Shakespeare divides his plays into five acts, but Shakespeare had always been doing this and if you look at other plays of the period, such as those by Marlowe, you will notice a similar structure. The Chaucer poem seems to revolve around the love affair between Troilus and Cressida, where as this play jumps between the love affair and a re-enactment of the Iliad.
While my knowledge of literary history back in those days is limited, I suspect that the audience would have been familiar with the Iliad, or at least the story. The reason I suggest this is because theatre was one of the main forms of entertainment in those days. Even in the late 19th century the masses were still visiting the theatre, and if you have been to London, you will know that there are quite a lot of theatres dotting the West End. There was no television and there was no sport and as such this was the only form of mass entertainment available.
In a way, a play at the Globe in the 16th Century would be like going to the cinema, and a play by Shakespeare would be similar to a movie by Spielburg. In many ways the plays were not targeted at the intellectual aristocrats but rather to the common people and as such one can expect a lot of vulgarity. As a friend said to me today people have actively cleaned up Shakespearian plays for the purpose of allowing children to read them, though these days much of the vulgarity in these plays would be lost to us.
As an example, I will finish off by quoting my favourite lines from this play. However, before I do that, I want to say a few things about the character of Thersities.
Apparently Thersities does appear in the Iliad, and is a not a minor character in Greek mythology. As suggested in Wikipedia , Thersities does not have a last name in the Iliad suggesting that he is a commoner, however in other epics he does. He is a strange character: very crude, rude, and abusive. Some have suggested that he is the Shakespearian fool in this play, but a part of me feels that he is so much more than a fool.
Yes, he appears as a means of light comic relief, but remember Troilus and Cresida is not a tragedy, if anything it is a tragi-comedy, or we could use the more modern term black comedy.enter
Troilus and Cressida
However I do not actually think it is as such because in Troilus and Cressida, we are not laughing at death, we are laughing at the stupidity of the characters on stage, which is broken up by the romance of the Troilus and Cressida, and then are heartbroken when we see Cressida discard Troilus for the Greeks and we have a very strange scene in this play where Cressida is passed around the Greek generals where they all get the opportunity to 'kiss' her.
I seem to have wondered off topic, but as I promised, here is the quote: Thersites : Prithee, be silent, boy; I profit not by thy talk. Thou art said to be Achille's male varlet. Patroclus : Male varlet, you rogue. What's that? Thersites : Why, his masculine whore. I'm not quite sure how this went from a "It's going to be a slog!! So I would have to say, in big , that this a very topical play.
Aug 14, Cindy Rollins rated it liked it Shelves: , , shakespeareaudio , shakespeare , audiobooks. This is Shakespeare's look at the Trojan War and a play I will probably do more research on. It is a very odd play. Perhaps it is a farce. It is a bit cynical. The main characters are not really the thing and in the end it seems that Cressida is unworthy of Troilus's love. Besides the obvious source of the Iliad it appears this story of Troilus and Cressida comes from Chaucer.
I can only wonder how many inside jokes I missed by not being an Elizabethan. May 15, M. Shakespeare, the Trojan War, biting black humor, heaps of moral ambiguity, and bold defiance of genre make this one of my favorite plays from the period. Feb 18, Vanessa J. Troilus and Cressida are in love, but their happiness does not last long because Cressida goes with the Greeks in exchange of a prisoner.
There, Troilus spies on her and sees her flirting with Diomedes. Of course, jealousy gets in the way.
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- Troilus and Cressida Synopsis;
The previously described plot is what gives the name to the play, but that one is not the centre of it. Things revolve around the Trojan wars and all the characters involved in it. For example, there's Achilles, Hector, Menelaus and Paris. Troilus is also prese Troilus and Cressida are in love, but their happiness does not last long because Cressida goes with the Greeks in exchange of a prisoner. Troilus is also present in this subplot, but his role is not as important as, say, Achilles' one.
I didn't find this as tragic. Based on what I've read, that's the general opinion. I actually found this quite like a comedy. For example, Ajax and Thersites insulting each other was incredibly ridiculous and laughable; Troilus' ingenuity and jealousy was also kind of funny. Where is the tragedy? I guess that is only present when we are told that Hector was killed, but again, no one grieves him, so what's the point? Anyway, this was a good read that I by no means regret doing. I wish there were more writers like Shakespeare in this century, but oh well, I guess I'm content with just reading his works.
May 20, Shiloah rated it it was amazing Shelves: personal-reading-challenge , british , classic-theater. Loved it! Reminds me so much of my journey through the Iliad and the Odyssey, but with the wit and wisdom that only the Bard can offer. So pretty much everything Mr. Buck Mulligan writes in his review is spot-on. I wanted to say much of the same things as he does but he does it quite elegantly and probingly and thus you out there in Goodreads-land who are reading this would be well advised to check his review out He on point, kid.
A couple of things I'd like to point out just for the hell of it Prelude: People who don't dig on the classics except in THEORY or cultural capital or bourgeoise prudery generally don't realize that they are not, in fact, uniformly neuter and ethically propitious but are indeed fashioned in the 'foul rag and bone shop of the heart' as much as any human product and hence are, and can be, as extra-nasty as they wanna be. Phyhllis Schafly and gamblin' man Bill Bennett can pontificate all they please.
Questions abide; thine art free. I'm the farthest thing from a Shakespeare expert but a couple of possibly interesting points to ponder came to me as I made my way through this text. Point the first: A lot of people have honestly speculated that Shakespeare was, or became, There's some really interesting and sort of out-of-the-blue anguish expressed and contains more than a whiff of disgust at the sexual act Hamlet, anyone?
I mean, considering the hygiene and rather free-floating sexual mores of the time, it's certainly not a total stretch. Troilus and Cressida is a play where the seemingly sincere if naive love of the former becomes sort of a grotesque, slimy, pervy opportunity for plenty of creepy sexual puns and rather livid and uncalled-for imagery. For one example, pederastic Pandarus, who has spent the majority of the play veritably hopping from one foot to the other, crotch in hand, and slobbering all over the protracted courtship of the sweet but dreadfully earnest Troilus and the sharp but gullible Cressida which seems to strike him most clearly as an excersize in social porno pretty much sends the curtain down without much in the way of dramatic closure or even comment but with a longish and cantankerous description of how his aching, syphilitic joints are just a bitch and a half these days, especially at his advanced age.
Bedeepbedeepbedeep th-th-th-that's all, folks! It's like the minute these two get together there's unctuous old Pandarus, at it again, asking how big his dick was and if that "maidenhead" is, er, still intact. We all know how dirty Shakespeare can be, and it wasn't just to sell more tickets to the groundlings, there's a near gobsmacking delight on the part of both character and author, hard it may be to determine, I'm going with yes on this taken in this kind of compulsive, logohrreic lechery and raunchy puns. The war's no different- The august Trojan War seems pretty much to be the opportunity for endless dick-swinging: references to cockfights and chest-thumping and throbbing egomania abound.
I wouldn't say the original wasn't exactly bereft of it, but Shakespeare's sure turning up the stank herein. Homeric characters become sort of smarmy parodies of themselves, literally shouting at the top of their lungs that they've got the biggest set of stones in town, and all but openly daring the nearest antagonist in sight to drop trou and start swingin' sack. I know that 17th Century Elizabethan diction is a thing quite apart from the bluer bits of, say, Eminem or ODB, but trust me when I say the metaphors are, er, thinly veiled.
When Cressida is hauled off and made the concubine of the Greek forces, they pretty much maul her at first sight. Granted, she is essentially just war spoils and they haven't seen a woman in a while and these are red-blooded fellows, but some of the background notes are fairly plain about how the whole scene is tantamount to gang rape. Ulysses "crafty old", etc pretty much up and calls her a slutty cocktease bitch when Cressida snaps back at him when he aggressively propositions for a "kiss".
It's definitely ambiguous as to how much Cressida holds her own and how much she lets it happen, but sentimental old me saw her as holding her own and repelling the freaks with quick wit and outraged dignity. Her Troilus is gonna sneak over that wall every night, and if he can't see her again he'd just about up and die, wamp wamp wamp This edition RSC is quality, by the way, really attractively formatted and designed and given excellent, illuminating and diverse scholarly context, plus the suggested retail price was, like, 7 bucks!
Some see her as a feminist heroine kicking against the pricks in an ugly, egomanical, patriarchical man's world while others saw her as a decent if unworldly sort who slowly understands just how comfortable she is with being a sex object- "surprised by her own superficiality", as one actress puts it.
Interesting stuff. But yeah, to get back to my main point, I think it could be fairly said that Troilus and Cressida sure seems like a play put together with more than a sense that sex turns to porn and disease more than buttercups and moons in June. Hadn't expected to see this, not really, since I grabbed it on a whim on account of needing some reading material for a long stretch of time.
Point the Second: Ok, so go with me on this one. It's just idle speculation here but I think someone somewhere might be already interested in this idea. So y'all know by now that many scholars have speculated that the 'fair youth' of sonnets is actually The Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothseley, right?
Why not? He was, after all, androgynously handsome, to the manor born, and was without doubt a patron of Shakespeare. Check out the dedication page to "The Rape of Lucrece" for a little more than a "thanks for the greenbacks, your highness" sentiment. Ok, so Southampton might well have been Shakespeare's lover, if not merely his patron, friend, or social aquaintance. What's interesting to me is that around the time this play was written, , the Earl was just coming to the end of a long campaign slaughtering the Irish in the Nine Years War. According to Wikipedia god's gift to the curious and lay scholars among us he was getting in his, er, kicks at the time.
It was reported that Southampton "saw most of his active service in bed with a captain Piers Edmunds- he would cole and hug his captain in his arms, and 'play wantonly' with him. Reading the scene where Ulysses is complaining to Agamemnon that Achilles isn't doing very much of anything in camp, other than frisking around with his man-friend Patroclus: " Sometime, great Agamemnon, thy topless deputation he puts on, and, like a strutting player, whose conceit lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich to hear the wooden dialogue and sound 'twixt his stretched footing and the scaffoldage.
At this fusty stuff the large Achilles, on his pressed bed lolling, from his deep chest laughs out a loud applause, Cries 'Excellent! Obviously, Ulysses is saying this to get the other rather confused and generally restless warriors to snap to and take Troy for real. Pointing out to a bunch of macho, frustrated alpha males that someone- a peer, if not a superior- is making fun of them behind their backs is a pretty good way to get them pissed off in a productive way. It just seems interesting that Shakespeare would talk about a guy who was a well-reknowned solider Southampton had proved himself in several conflicts before and was also known as a bit of a libertine; a snarky, vain dandy among the high-born who seems to revel in mocking and idling around, suitably sure of his reputation and general untouchability and crassly making a mockery of the proceedings.
Shakespeare might well be commenting on this real-life political situation through the medium of the newly-published Chapman translation of The Iliad "many a goodly state and kingdom seen" and all that whose characters and dramatic situations he adapts freely, consistently and strangely indeed.
Interesting, no? If anybody out there in Goodreads-land has any special expertise on this please feel free to let me know I just thought I noticed a parallel. Jul 31, Marta rated it it was ok. There is a reason why this play is not staged often: it is a hot mess. Plot summary: Troilus loves Cressida. Ulysses makes long, sanctimonious speeches. Achilles and Ajax are ridiculed.
Cressida is taken to the Greeks. Ulysses makes long, sanctimonius speeches. Cressida betrays Troilus. Then, in the second half of the fifth act, the Iliad sort of happens in passing. The saving grace of the play are a few witty lines by Cressida in Act 1 and 3, and a co There is a reason why this play is not staged often: it is a hot mess.
The saving grace of the play are a few witty lines by Cressida in Act 1 and 3, and a couple romantic scenes. Troilus and Cressida barely show up - and their story is never developed. There are too many story lines, none tied up well. The beginning is painfully rambling, full of long speeches about nothing relevant. The end is a rushed melee. Shakespeare spends four and a half acts idling about, then tries to cram half the Iliad into half an act.
It is a badly constructed play that goes nowhere. Jan 01, Terence rated it liked it Shelves: shakespeare-stuff , the-plays-the-thing. Troilus and Cressida is a half-baked play. By that I mean that it reads like the conflation of two distinct plots tied together by the common character of Troilus. I've read it twice now and watched the BBC adaptation, and it grows on you. There are several powerful monologues and scenes where the dialog crackles but in the final analysis it remains "clunky" and its parts difficult to reconcile. As to the reasons why, Troilus and Cressida is a half-baked play.
It is worth noting that in the major tragedies that follow, the personal fate of the hero is inextricably bound up in the world of the state, and that in Troilus Shakespeare made his first real study of the relationship between the pressures of the public world and the survival of love.
Troilus, a son of Priam, has fallen desperately in love with Cressida, the daughter of Calchas, who has defected to the Greeks and lives among them. Unfortunately, after their one night of passion, they awake to learn that Cressida has been traded to the Greeks for the warrior Antenor. Cressida arrives at the Greek camp, where she succumbs to the advances of Diomedes, a Greek general.
Meanwhile, the Trojans are trying to decide if Helen is worth all the trouble. On one side is Hector, who counsels that they should give her back to the Greeks and be done with the whole affair. On the other is Troilus, who despises Helen but argues that honor can only be satisfied by defending her. In the Greek camp, the primary goal is to get Achilles to rejoin the battle.
He has absented himself from the field because he made a promise to Polyxena, the daughter of Hecuba and sister to Hector and Troilus, not to fight her brothers. Unfortunately, without Achilles, the Greeks are demoralized and unable to overcome Troy. Ulysses comes up with a plan to shame Achilles into returning to the battle, taking advantage of a challenge Hector has made to fight a champion in single combat.
They nominate the dull-witted Ajax, and he fights an inconclusive duel with Hector. Achilles remains unmoved.
Troilus and Cressida Summary
As I wrote above, we have two stories taking place here: First there is the love affair of Troilus and Cressida. Death, I fear me, Swooning destruction, or some joy too fine, Too subtle-potent, tuned too sharp in sweetness, For the capacity of my ruder powers: I fear it much; and I do fear besides, That I shall lose distinction in my joys; As doth a battle, when they charge on heaps The enemy flying.
Chaff and bran, chaff and bran! Porridge after meat! I had rather be such a man as Troilus than Agamemnon and all Greece. P: Achilles! A drayman, a porter, a very camel. C: Well, well. Have you any eyes? Do you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and such like, the spice and salt that seasons a man? P: You are such a woman! One knows not at what ward you lie. C: Upon my back, to defend my belly; upon my wit, to defend my wiles; upon my secrecy, to defend mine honesty; my mask, to defend my beauty; and you, to defend all these: and at all these wards I lie, at a thousand watches.
P: Say one of your watches. P: You are such another! Prince Troilus, I have loved you night and day for many weary months…. Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord, With the first glance that ever — pardon me — If I confess much, you will play the tyrant. Before Achilles' tent. Act 3 Scene 1. Priam's palace. The same. Pandarus' orchard. Act 4 Scene 1. Court of Pandarus' house. Street before Pandarus' house. Scene 4.
Pandarus' house. Scene 5. Lists set out. Act 5 Scene 1. Here is the conversation in which Thersites lambastes Patroclus:. Because of its cynicism and mocking tone—as well as its depiction of legendary Greek heroes as stupid, petty, incompetent, or fickle— Troilus and Cressida resembles a dark comedy. This play is also classified as one of three of Shakespeare's " problem plays " along with Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well because of its presentation of heroes who are seriously flawed. Audiences used to applauding and identifying with admirable heroes and heroines find it difficult to applaud or identify with the flawed characters in Troilus and Cressida.
In the dialogue of Troilus and Cressida and other Shakespeare plays, characters sometimes speak wise or witty sayings, or epigrams, couched in memorable language. Among the more memorable sayings in Troilus and Cressida are the following:. To fear the worst oft cures the worse. He also uses a paradox saying that the strait is so narrow that only one person can swim abreast. But abreast refers to two or more people proceeding side by side. Following are examples of figures of speech in the play. For definitions of figures of speech, see Literary Terms.
If beauty have a soul. Hyperbole and Metaphor. Metaphor: Whites are ink. Mine honour keeps the weather of my fate.
Metaphor and Simile. He [Ajax] is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant. I will no more trust him when he leers than I will a serpent when he hisses. Allusions and References to Mythology. Because Troilus and Cressida unfolds in the age of Greek mythology, Shakespeare frequently alludesto, or refers directly to, the deities and other nonhuman beings from Greek myths. Among the beings to whom or which Shakespeare alludes are the following:.
Apollo 1. Argus 1. The messenger god, Hermes Roman name, Mercury killed him. Hera removed his eyes and placed them on the tail of the peacock. Arachne 5. Arachne spelled by Shakespeare as Ariachne had offended Athena by challenging her to a weaving contest and then making a magnicent tapestry, rivaling the excellence of Athena's work. Angry and jealous, Athena destroyed the tapestry. Arachne then hanged herself from a rope. Taking pity on the dead girl, Athena turned the rope into a cobweb and Arachne into a spider.
Boreas 1. Briareus 1. Cerberus 2. Cupid 3. Daphne 1. After she refused his advances and prayed for deliverance, her father, a river god, changed her into a laurel tree. Diana 5. Juno 1.
Jupiter 1. Mars 5. Mercury 2. Neptune 1. Niobe 5. Leto had only two children, the god Apollo and the goddess Diana Artemis.