Troilus and Cressida Act I
by William Shakespeare

Troilus and Cressida book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Troilus and Cressida Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Act I, Scene 1

ACT I.

SCENE 1. Troy. Before PRIAM'S palace

[Enter TROILUS armed, and PANDARUS.]

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.

PANDARUS.
Will this gear ne'er be mended?

TROILUS.
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 unpractis'd infancy.

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

TROILUS.
Have I not tarried?

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

TROILUS.
Have I not tarried?

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

TROILUS.
Still have I tarried.

PANDARUS.
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.

TROILUS.
Patience herself, what goddess e'er she be,
Doth lesser blench at suff'rance 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 she is thence?

PANDARUS.
Well, she look'd yesternight fairer than ever I saw her
look, or any woman else.

TROILUS.
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.

PANDARUS.
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--

TROILUS.
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.

PANDARUS.
I speak no more than truth.

TROILUS.
Thou dost not speak so much.

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

TROILUS.
Good Pandarus! How now, Pandarus!

PANDARUS.
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.

TROILUS.
What! art thou angry, Pandarus? What! with me?

PANDARUS.
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
blackamoor; 'tis all one to me.

TROILUS.
Say I she is not fair?

PANDARUS.
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.

TROILUS.
Pandarus

PANDARUS.
Not I.

TROILUS.
Sweet Pandarus--

PANDARUS.
Pray you, speak no more to me: I will leave all
as I found it, and there an end.

[Exit PANDARUS. An alarum.]

TROILUS.
Peace, you ungracious clamours! Peace, rude sounds!
Fools on both sides! Helen must needs be...

(The entire section is 6,315 words.)