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Encyclopedia > Troilus and Cressida
A Scene from Troilus and Cressida (1789) by Angelica Kauffmann
A Scene from Troilus and Cressida (1789) by Angelica Kauffmann

Troilus and Cressida is a play by William Shakespeare. The play (usually described as one of Shakespeare's so-called problem plays) is not a conventional tragedy, since its protagonist (Troilus) does not die, but it does end on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus and Cressida. Throughout, the tone lurches wildly between bawdy comedy and tragic gloom, and readers and theatre-goers have frequently found it difficult to understand how one is meant to respond to the characters. However, several characteristic elements of the play (the most notable being its constant questioning of intrinsic values such as hierarchy, honor and love) have often been viewed as distinctly "modern", as in the following remarks on the play by author and literary scholar Joyce Carol Oates; Troilus and Criseyde is Geoffrey Chaucers poem in rhyme royal re-telling the tragic love story of Troilus, a Trojan prince, and Criseyde. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Angelica Kauffmann Miranda and Ferdinand in The Tempest, 1782. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... In Shakespeare studies, the term problem plays normally refers to three comedies that William Shakespeare wrote between the late 1590s and the first years of the seventeenth century: Alls Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida, although some critics would extend the term to other... See List of King Priams children Hector brought back to Troy. ...

Troilus and Cressida, that most vexing and ambiguous of Shakespeare's plays, strikes the modern reader as a contemporary document—its investigation of numerous infidelities, its criticism of tragic pretensions, above all, its implicit debate between what is essential in human life and what is only existential are themes of the twentieth century. [...] This is tragedy of a special sort—the "tragedy" the basis of which is the impossibility of conventional tragedy.[1]

Contents

Textual Questions

The Quarto edition labels it a history play with the title The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid, but the First Folio classed it with the tragedies, under the title The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida. The confusion is compounded by the fact that in the original pressing of the First Folio, the play's pages are unnumbered, and the title has obviously been squeezed into the Table of Contents. Based on this evidence, scholars believe it was a very late addition to the Folio, and therefore may have been added wherever there was room. Quarto has several meanings: In bookbinding and publishing, quarto indicates the book size which results when four leaves of the book are created from a standard size sheet of paper. ... Traditionally, the works of William Shakespeare have been grouped into three categories: tragedies, comedies, and histories. ... The title page of the First Folio with the famous engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout The First Folio is the name given by modern scholars to the first published collection of William Shakespeares plays; its actual title is Mr. ... For other uses, see Tragedy (disambiguation). ...


Sources

Cressida by Edward J. Poynter
Cressida by Edward J. Poynter

The story of Troilus and Cressida is a medieval tale that is not part of Greek mythology; Shakespeare drew on a number of sources for this plotline, in particular Chaucer's version of the tale, Troilus and Criseyde, but also John Lydgate's Troy Book and Caxton's translation of the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye[2]. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The bust of Zeus found at Otricoli (Sala Rotonda, Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican) Greek mythology is the body of stories belonging to the Ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. ... Chaucer: Illustration from Cassells History of England, circa 1902 Chanticleer the rooster from an outdoor production of Chanticleer and the Fox at Ashby_de_la_Zouch castle Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. ... Troilus and Criseyde is Geoffrey Chaucers poem in rhyme royal re-telling the tragic love story of Troilus, a Trojan prince, and Criseyde. ... John Lydgate (1370?-1451?); Monk and poet, born in Lidgate, Suffolk, England. ... Caxton may refer to: Caxton, Cambridgeshire, a village in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom William Caxton This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


The story of the persuasion of Achilles into battle is drawn from Homer's Iliad (perhaps in the translation by George Chapman), and from various medieval and Renaissance retellings. title page of the Rihel edition of ca. ... This article is about George Chapman the English literary figure; see George Chapman (murderer) for the Victorian poisoner of the same name. ...


The story was a popular one for dramatists in the early 1600s and Shakespeare may have been inspired by contemporary plays. Thomas Heywood's two-part play The Iron Age also depicts the Trojan war and the story of Troilus and Cressida, but it is not certain whether his or Shakespeare's play was written first. In addition, Thomas Dekker and Henry Chettle wrote a play called Troilus and Cressida at around the same time as Shakespeare, but this play survives only as a fragmentary plot outline. Many inventions and institutions are created, including Hans Lippershey with the telescope (1608, used by Galileo the next year), the newspaper Avisa Relation oder Zeitung in Augsburg, and Cornelius Drebbel with the thermostat (1609). ... Thomas Heywood (died approx. ... Thomas Dekker, (c. ... Henry Chettle (1564?-1607?) was an English dramatist and miscellaneous writer of the Elizabethan era. ...


Date and Text

Title page of one of the two 1609 quarto editions of the play
Title page of one of the two 1609 quarto editions of the play

The play is believed to have been written around 1602, shortly after the completion of Hamlet. It was published in quarto in two separate editions, both in 1609. It is not known whether the play was ever performed in its own time, because the two editions contradict each other: one announces on the title page that the play had been recently performed on stage; the other claims in a preface that it is a new play that has never been staged. The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company on Feb. 7, 1603 by the bookseller and printer James Roberts, with a mention that the play was acted by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's company. No publication followed, however, until 1609; the stationers Richard Bonian and Henry Walley re-registered the play on Jan. 28, 1609, and later that year issued the first quarto, but in two "states." The first says the play was "acted by the King's Majesty's servants at the Globe;" the second version omits the mention of the Globe Theatre, and prefaces the play with a long Epistle that claims that Troilus and Cressida is "a new play, never stal'd with the stage...."[3] Image File history File links Size of this preview: 370 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (391 × 633 pixel, file size: 109 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Title page of one of the two 1609 quartos of Shakespeares Troilus and Cressida The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 370 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (391 × 633 pixel, file size: 109 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Title page of one of the two 1609 quartos of Shakespeares Troilus and Cressida The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is... Quarto has several meanings: In bookbinding and publishing, quarto indicates the book size which results when four leaves of the book are created from a standard size sheet of paper. ... This page is about the year. ... Hamlet and Horatio in the cemetery by Eugène Delacroix For other uses, see Hamlet (disambiguation). ... Quarto has several meanings: In bookbinding and publishing, quarto indicates the book size which results when four leaves of the book are created from a standard size sheet of paper. ... // Events April 4 – King of Spain signs an edit of expulsion of all moriscos from Spain April 9 – Spain recognizes Dutch independence May 23 - Official ratification of the Second Charter of Virginia. ... The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. ... The Lord Chamberlains Men was the playing company that William Shakespeare worked for as actor and playwright for most of his career. ... The size of a specific book is measured from the head to tail of the spine, and from edge to edge across the covers. ... This article is about the Globe Theatre of Shakespeare (commonly known as Shakespeares Globe Theatre). ...


Some commentators (like Georg Brandes, the Danish Shakespeare scholar of the late nineteenth century) have attempted to reconcile these contradictory claims by arguing that the play was composed originally around 1600-02, but heavily revised shortly before its 1609 printing. The play is noteworthy for its bitter and caustic nature, similar to the works that Shakespeare was writing in the 1605-8 period, King Lear, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens. In this view, the original version of the play was a more positive romantic comedy of the type Shakespeare wrote ca. 1600, like As You Like It and Twelfth Night, while the later revision injected the darker material – leaving the result a hybrid jumble of tones and intents. King Lear and the Fool in the Storm by William Dyce (1806-1864) King Lear is a play by William Shakespeare, considered one of his greatest tragedies, based on the legend of King Lear of Britain. ... Gaius Marcius Coriolanus was a 5th century BC Roman general. ... For other uses, see Timon (disambiguation). ... Walter Deverell,The Mock Marriage of Orlando and Rosalind, 1853 William Shakespeares As You Like It is a pastoral comedy written in 1599 or early 1600. ... Twelfth Night has at least three meanings: Twelfth Night (holiday), celebrated by some Christians Twelfth Night, or What You Will, a comedic play by William Shakespeare Twelfth Night (band), a progressive rock band This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share...


Performance history

The play's puzzling and intriguing nature has meant that Troilus and Cressida has rarely been popular on stage, and neither during Shakespeare's own life time nor between 1734 and 1898 is there any recorded performance of the play. In the Restoration, John Dryden rewrote it. Dryden announces that he intended to uncover the "jewels" of Shakespeare's verse, hidden beneath a "heap of rubbish" (not only some "ungrammatical" and indecorous expressions, but also much of the plot.) In addition to his "improvements" to the language, Dryden streamlined the council scenes and sharpened the rivalry between Ajax and Achilles. Dryden's largest change, though, was in the character of Cressida, who in his play is loyal to Troilus throughout. King Charles II, the first monarch to rule after the English Restoration. ... John Dryden John Dryden (August 19 {August 9 O.S.}, 1631 - May 12 {May 1 O.S.}, 1700) was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator and playwright, who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles...


It was also condemned by the Victorians for its explicit sexual references. It was not staged in its original form until the early twentieth century, but since then, it has become increasingly popular due to its cynical depiction of people's immorality and disillusionment especially after the First World War. Its popularity reached a peak in the 1960s when public discontent with the Vietnam War increased exponentially. The play's main overall themes about a long period of war, the cynical breaking of one's public oaths, and the lack of morality among Cressida and the Greeks resonated strongly with a discontented public and led to numerous stagings of this play since it highlighted the gulf between one's ideals and the bleak reality. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ... Ypres, 1917, in the vicinity of the Battle of Passchendaele. ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000... Cressida is a character who appears in many Medieval and Renaissance retellings of the story of the Trojan War. ...


Dramatis Personae

Trojans

Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598. ... Andromache grieves the loss of Hector In Greek mythology, Andromache was the wife of Hector and daughter of Eetion, sister to Podes. ... Antenor was an Athenian sculptor, of the latter part of the 6th century BC. He was the creator of the joint statues of the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton, set up by the Athenians on the expulsion of Hippias. ... In Greek mythology, Kalchas Thestórides (son of Thestor), or Calchas (brazen) for short, a loyal Argive, was a powerful seer, a gift of Apollo: as an augur, Calchas had no rival in the camp (Iliad i, E.V. Rieu translation) Calchas prophesized that in order to gain a favourable... Cressida is a character who appears in many Medieval and Renaissance retellings of the story of the Trojan War. ... It has been suggested that Thomas Alexander be merged into this article or section. ... In Homers Iliad, Pandarus or Pandaros is the son of Lycaon and a famous archer. ... King Priam killed by Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, detail of an Attic red-figure amphora In Greek mythology, Priam (Greek Πρίαμος, Priamos) was the king of Troy during the Trojan War, and youngest son of Laomedon. ... For other uses, see Cassandra (disambiguation). ... See List of King Priams children Hector brought back to Troy. ... Troilus is a character in medieval and Renaissance versions of the legend of the Trojan War. ... Statue of Paris in the British Museum This article is about the prince of Troy. ... In Greek mythology, Deiphobus was a son of Priam and Hecuba. ... Helenus was a Trojan soldier in the Trojan War. ...

Greeks

  • Agamemnon, King of the Greeks and leader of the Greek invasion
  • Achilles, prince
  • Ajax, prince
  • Diomedes, prince
  • Nestor, wise and talkative prince
  • Ulysses (Odysseus), prince
  • Menelaus, King of Sparta, brother to Agamemnon
  • Helen, wife to Menelaus, living with Paris
  • Thersites, a deformed and scurrilous low-class "fool"
  • Patroclus, friend (or "masculine whore") of Achilles

For other uses, see Achilles (disambiguation). ... Ajax Ajax or Aias (ancient Greek: ) was a mythological Greek hero, the son of Telamon and Periboea and king of Salamis. ... Diomēdēs or Diomed (Gk:Διομήδης - God-like cunning or advised by Zeus) is a hero in Greek mythology, mostly known for his participation in the Trojan War. ... The word may have one of the following meanings. ... For other meanings, see Odysseus crater, 1143 Odysseus “Ulysses” redirects here. ... Menelaus regains Helen, detail of an Attic red-figure crater, ca. ... “Helen of Troy” redirects here. ... In Greek mythology, Thersites, son of Agrius, was a rank-and-file soldier of the Greek army during the Trojan War. ... A cup depicting Achilles bandaging Patroklos arm, by the Sosias Painter. ...

Synopsis

The play is set during the Trojan War, and essentially has two plots. In one Troilus, a Trojan prince, woos Cressida, has sex with her, and professes undying love just before she is traded to the Greeks for a prisoner of war. Trying to visit her in the Greek camp, he sees her with Diomedes, and decides she is a whore. The fall of Troy, by Johann Georg Trautmann (1713–1769). ... Troilus is a character in medieval and Renaissance versions of the legend of the Trojan War. ... For other uses of Troy or Ilion, see Troy (disambiguation) and Ilion (disambiguation). ... Cressida is a character who appears in many Medieval and Renaissance retellings of the story of the Trojan War. ... Diomēdēs or Diomed (Gk:Διομήδης - God-like cunning or advised by Zeus) is a hero in Greek mythology, mostly known for his participation in the Trojan War. ...


Despite being the titular story, this plot takes up very few scenes: most of the play revolves around a scheme by Nestor and Ulysses to get the proud Achilles back into battle to fight for the Greeks. The word may have one of the following meanings. ... For other meanings, see Odysseus crater, 1143 Odysseus “Ulysses” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Achilles (disambiguation). ...


The play ends with a series of battle skirmishes between the two sides, and the death of the Trojan hero Hector. See List of King Priams children Hector brought back to Troy. ...


Themes and motifs

  • Sex / War

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the titular plot hinges around sexual relations during war, (and the whole war revolves around who has the right to sleep with Helen) sex and battle are linked constantly within the play. For example, a frustrated Troilus moans at the beginning: "I cannot fight upon this argument/ It is too starved a subject for my sword" -"sword" being an obvious phallic symbol. Similarly, the word "unarm" appears frequently in relation to the fighting; slang for losing an erection. When Troilus is about to have sex with Cressida, he fears the experience will be such bliss that "I shall lose distinction in my joys;/ As doth a battle, when they charge on heaps/ The enemy flying." This comparison makes sex seem a loveless, physical, almost brutal activity. “Helen of Troy” redirects here. ... Mural of Mercury in Pompeii. ...

  • Thwarted expectations

From the very beginning of the play, the audience's expectations are constantly thwarted. Despite a Prologue claiming the emphasis of the play is militancy, it opens with a procrastinating Troilus calling for someone to "unarm" him. Despite being called "Troilus and Cressida", Cressida rarely appears. Despite being set in the Trojan War, there is virtually no fighting for the first four acts; just political maneuvering and petty squabbles. The Greek and Trojan heroes depicted are markedly different from their portrayals in the Homeric epics. Troilus is little like the betrayed lover in Chaucer. Having got used to the philosophy and punning comedy of the first four acts, we do not expect a harsh, unglamourized battle in the fifth. This experience of the audience is mirrored by most of the characters. Agamemnon tries to rouse his disillusioned generals by telling them that expectations are always thwarted: "the ample proposition that hope makes/In all designs... /Fails in the promis'd largeness". For other uses, see Homer (disambiguation). ... The so-called Mask of Agamemnon. Discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 at Mycenae. ...


Adaptations and cultural references

In his semi-autobiographical novel My Brother Jack, George Johnston refers to his second wife as Cressida, implying that he himself is Troilus. This 'sets the stage' for their relationship, which is tumultuous and unconventional. My Brother Jack is a classic Australian novel by writer George Johnston. ... George Henry Johnston (July 20, 1912–July 22, 1970) was an Australian journalist and novelist. ...


The First Doctor Doctor Who Episode The Myth Makers has one of the Doctor's companions, Vicki, meet and fall for Troilus. She remains behind after the Doctor leaves, and renames herself Cressida. The Myth Makers is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from October 16 to November 6, 1965. ...


Musical Adaptations

The story has been adapted as an opera, Troilus and Cressida, by William Walton in 1954. Troilus and Cressida is the most important opera by William Walton. ... Sir William Turner Walton, OM (March 29, 1902–March 8, 1983) was a British composer whose style was influenced by the works of Stravinsky, Sibelius and jazz. ...


References

  1. ^ Oates, Joyce Carol (1966/1967). The Tragedy of Existence: Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. Originally published as two separate essays, in Philological Quarterly, Spring 1967, and Shakespeare Quarterly, Spring 1966.
  2. ^ Palmer, Kenneth (ed.) (1982). Troilus and Cressida (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series). Methuen: London.
  3. ^ Halliday, F.E. (1964). A Shakespeare Companion 1564-1964, Penguin: Baltimore, pp. 501-3.

External links

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Other play information Shakespeare's plays | Shakespeare in performance | Chronology of Shakespeare plays | Oxfordian chronology | Shakespeare on screen | BBC Television Shakespeare | Titles based on Shakespeare | List of characters | Problem Plays | List of historical characters | Ghost characters

  Results from FactBites:
 
Troilus and Cressida - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1051 words)
The History of Troilus and Cressida is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1602, shortly after the completion of Hamlet.
In one Troilus, a Trojan prince, woos Cressida, has sex with her, and professes never-dying love just before she is traded with the Greeks for a prisoner of war.
The story of Troilus and Cressida is a medieval fable that has no basis in Greek mythology; Shakespeare drew on a number of sources for this plotline, in particular Chaucer's version of the tale, Troilus and Criseyde.
Troilus and Cressida - definition of Troilus and Cressida in Encyclopedia (581 words)
The main characters are Troilus, a Trojan prince; Cressida, the daughter of a Trojan priest and defector; Pandarus, Cressida's pandering uncle; Thersites, an acid-tongued servant of Achilles; Diomedes, a Greek soldier; and a number of more recognised characters from the Iliad - Achilles, Agamemnon, Ulysses, Hector, Priam, Ajax etc.
Pandarus quickly grows angry with Troilus' complaining, and exclaims "I care not an she were a fl-a-moor; 'tis all one to me." We are then introduced to Cressida, who holds a lively conversation with one 'Alexander' concerning the qualities of various Trojan heroes.
Troilus and Cressida is also an opera by William Walton; see Troilus and Cressida (opera).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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