The Poem

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Calchas, a Trojan prophet who has divined that Troy is doomed to defeat, flees to the Greeks, leaving behind his beautiful daughter, Criseyde, a young widow. One day in April, the citizens of Troy are observing the rites of the spring festival. Among those in the temple is Troilus, a son of King Priam of Troy. Troilus, who has always been scornful of the Trojan swains and their lovesickness, sees Criseyde and falls deeply in love with her at first sight. Himself now sick with the love malady, Troilus invokes the god of love to have pity on him. Because he feels that he has no hope of winning Criseyde, he becomes the scourge of the Greeks on the battlefield.

Pandarus, Troilus’s friend, offers his advice and help when he learns that Troilus has lost his heart to a beautiful Trojan. When Troilus at length reveals that his lady is the fair Criseyde, Pandarus, who is Criseyde’s uncle, offers to become his mediator. Pandarus thereupon calls on his niece to gossip with her, and in their conversation he brings up the subject of Priam’s sons, praising the bravery of Troilus. Gradually he discloses to Criseyde that young Troilus is dying for love of her. Criseyde suspects that the intentions of neither Troilus nor Pandarus are honorable, and she cries out in distress, but Pandarus convinces her that Troilus’s love is pure. She feels herself drawn to the prince when she beholds his modesty as he rides past her house after a day of battle outside the walls of Troy. She decides, after much inner turmoil, that it would not be dishonorable to show friendship to Troilus to save the young man’s life.

At the suggestion of Pandarus, Troilus writes a letter to Criseyde, to which she responds in a restrained letter of her own. When Troilus, wishing to be with Criseyde, tires of this...

(The entire section is 737 words.)