Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Troy. Ancient city in Asia Minor that is ruled by King Priam. Faced with an unrelenting siege by the more powerful Greeks, the Trojans debate the wisdom of continuing their resistance. Troilus, who loves the Greek woman Cressida, represents the Trojans, who idealize love as integral to chivalrous behavior. Hector, a reasonable man epitomizing Troy’s best values and strengths, urges his brothers to abandon the war as neither justified nor worth the cost.
Greek camp. Military encampment outside Troy, which the Greeks have been besieging for seven years. In contrast to the idealistic Trojans, the Greeks, who are soldiers, not courtiers, are pragmatic and ego-centered—differences reflected in the play’s two centers. Lack of progress in the siege has demoralized the Greek leaders, whom Agamemnon, the overall commander, tries to hearten by declaring that the long siege has been a test of Greek stamina. Ulysses argues that the problems of the Greeks lie in a lack of order and discipline, not in Trojan strength. Rather than debate their motive for war, the leaders urge their greatest hero, Achilles, to fight.
Battlefield. The two sides meet with the strength initially on the Trojan side. The Greek victory spells the end of Troy and its chivalric code as well.
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Barroll, J. Leeds, ed. Shakespeare Studies VI. Dubuque, Iowa: William C. Brown, 1970. Part of an annual series of Shakespearean review anthologies. “The Traditions of the Troy-Story Heroes and the Problem of Satire in Troilus and Cressida,” by Mark Sacharoff, considers the story of the play and its earlier sources in light of previous criticism.
Barroll, J. Leeds, ed. Shakespeare Studies VIII. New York: Burt Franklin, 1975. A later volume in the above-cited series. In “Cressida and the World of the Play,” by Grant L. Voth and Oliver H. Evans, the role of Cressida is considered in terms of her calculating ways, which are seen as a direct response to Troilus’ temporary infatuation.
Bullough, Geoffrey, ed. Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. Vol. 6. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966. Part of a six-volume series of critical essays concerning the sources of Shakespeare’s plays. Troilus and Cressida is discussed in a forty-page introduction, which is followed by the actual texts and translations of the sources Shakespeare would have known.
Donaldson, E. Talbot. The Swan at the Well: Shakespeare Reading Chaucer. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985. A comparison between several of Shakespeare’s plays and their sources in Chaucer’s poems. There are two chapters dealing with Troilus and Cressida, comparing the play to its literary source, Chaucer’s poem Troilus and Criseyde.
Lloyd Evans, Gareth. The Upstart Crow: An Introduction to Shakespeare’s Plays. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1982. A comprehensive discussion of the dramatic works of William Shakespeare. Although the major emphasis is on critical reviews of the plays, there are also discussions of sources as well as material on the circumstances surrounding the writing of the plays.