Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
During the Trojan War, Troilus, younger son of Priam, king of Troy, falls in love with the lovely and unapproachable Cressida, daughter of Calchas, a Trojan priest who went over to the side of the Greeks. Troilus, frustrated by his unrequited love, declares to Pandarus, a Trojan lord and uncle of Cressida, that he will refrain from fighting the Greeks as long as there is such turmoil in his heart. Pandarus adds to Troilus’s misery by praising the incomparable beauty of Cressida; Troilus impatiently chides Pandarus, who answers that for all it matters to him Cressida can join her father in the Greek camp.
Later, Pandarus overhears Cressida and her servant discussing Hector’s anger at receiving a blow in battle from Ajax, a mighty Greek warrior of Trojan blood. Pandarus extols Troilus’s virtues to Cressida, who is all but indifferent. As the two discourse, the Trojan forces return from the field. Pandarus praises several Trojan warriors—Aeneas, Antenor, Hector, Paris, Helenus—as they pass by Cressida’s window, all the while anticipating, for Cressida’s benefit, the passing of young Troilus. When the prince passes, Pandarus is lavish in his praise, but Cressida appears to be bored. As Pandarus leaves her to join Troilus, Cressida soliloquizes that she is charmed, indeed, by Troilus, but that she is in no haste to reveal the state of her affections.
In the Greek camp, meanwhile, Agamemnon, commander of the Greek forces in Ilium,...
(The entire section is 1414 words.)
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The play opens within the walled city of Troy, which is besieged by Greek armies intent on recovering Helen. Helen has been abducted from Menelaus, her elderly Greek husband, by the younger Paris, son of Priam and brother of the renowned Trojan warrior Hector. In the opening scene, Troilus, the younger brother of Paris and Hector, debates whether or not to arm himself for the daily skirmish over Helen between the Trojan and Greek soldiers when he is engaged in his own romantic siege of Cressida's affections (Cressida is the daughter of the Trojan priest Calchas, who has taken sides with the Greeks). Troilus is finally convinced to arm himself that day by Aeneas, another famous Trojan warrior. Pandarus, Cressida's uncle, has been acting as a go-between for the two young Trojan lovers, and he advises Troilus to be patient. In an effort to convince Cressida that Troilus is mature and noble beyond his years, Pandarus tells Cressida that Helen loves Troilus even more than she loves Paris. Paris then situates Cressida so that she may see the Trojan warriors as they pass over the stage, returning from battle. Not only is this scene a clever theatrical device for acquainting the audience with some of the major characters but it also provides Pandarus with an opportunity to extol Troilus's virtues as Troilus is favorably compared to each returning warrior. Cressida is consistently resistant to and dismissive of Pandarus's praise of Troilus, but when her...
(The entire section is 1876 words.)