Troilus and Cressida - William Shakespeare - ebook
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Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. The play (also described as one of Shakespeare's problem plays) is not a conventional tragedy, since its protagonist (Troilus) does not die. The play ends instead on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus and Cressida. Throughout the play, 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. 

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Troilus and Cressida

William Shakespeare

Published: 1602Categorie(s): Fiction, Drama
About Shakespeare:

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623 two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

Act I

PROLOGUE

In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece The princes orgulous, their high blood chafed, Have to the port of Athens sent their ships, Fraught with the ministers and instruments Of cruel war: sixty and nine, that wore Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen, With wanton Paris sleeps; and that's the quarrel. To Tenedos they come; And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge Their warlike fraughtage: now on Dardan plains The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch Their brave pavilions: Priam's six-gated city, Dardan, and Tymbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien, And Antenorides, with massy staples And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts, Sperr up the sons of Troy. Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits, On one and other side, Trojan and Greek, Sets all on hazard: and hither am I come A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited In like conditions as our argument, To tell you, fair beholders, that our play Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils, Beginning in the middle, starting thence away To what may be digested in a play. Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are: Now good or bad, 'tis but the chance of war.

SCENE I. 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 unpractised 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 needs 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 sufferance 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 is she thence?

PANDARUS

Well, she looked 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 black-a-moor; '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 fair, When with your blood you daily paint her thus. I cannot fight upon this argument; It is too starved a subject for my sword. But Pandarus,—O gods, how do you plague me! I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar; And he's as tetchy to be woo'd to woo. As she is stubborn-chaste against all suit. Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne's love, What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we? Her bed is India; there she lies, a pearl: Between our Ilium and where she resides, Let it be call'd the wild and wandering flood, Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar Our doubtful hope, our convoy and our bark.

Alarum. Enter AENEAS

AENEAS

How now, Prince Troilus! wherefore not afield?

TROILUS

Because not there: this woman's answer sorts, For womanish it is to be from thence. What news, AEneas, from the field to-day?

AENEAS

That Paris is returned home and hurt.

TROILUS

By whom, AEneas?

AENEAS

Troilus, by Menelaus.

TROILUS

Let Paris bleed; 'tis but a scar to scorn; Paris is gored with Menelaus' horn.

Alarum

AENEAS

Hark, what good sport is out of town to-day!

TROILUS

Better at home, if 'would I might' were 'may.' But to the sport abroad: are you bound thither?

AENEAS

In all swift haste.

TROILUS

Come, go we then together.

Exeunt

SCENE II. The Same. A street.

Enter CRESSIDA and ALEXANDER

CRESSIDA

Who were those went by?

ALEXANDER

Queen Hecuba and Helen.

CRESSIDA

And whither go they?

ALEXANDER

Up to the eastern tower, Whose height commands as subject all the vale, To see the battle. Hector, whose patience Is, as a virtue, fix'd, to-day was moved: He chid Andromache and struck his armourer, And, like as there were husbandry in war, Before the sun rose he was harness'd light, And to the field goes he; where every flower Did, as a prophet, weep what it foresaw In Hector's wrath.

CRESSIDA

What was his cause of anger?

ALEXANDER

The noise goes, this: there is among the Greeks A lord of Trojan blood, nephew to Hector; They call him Ajax.

CRESSIDA

Good; and what of him?

ALEXANDER

They say he is a very man per se, And stands alone.

CRESSIDA

So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs.

ALEXANDER

This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their particular additions; he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant: a man into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his valour is crushed into folly, his folly sauced with discretion: there is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it: he is melancholy without cause, and merry against the hair: he hath the joints of every thing, but everything so out of joint that he is a gouty Briareus, many hands and no use, or purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.

CRESSIDA

But how should this man, that makes me smile, make Hector angry?

ALEXANDER

They say he yesterday coped Hector in the battle and struck him down, the disdain and shame whereof hath ever since kept Hector fasting and waking.

CRESSIDA

Who comes here?

ALEXANDER

Madam, your uncle Pandarus.

Enter PANDARUS

CRESSIDA

Hector's a gallant man.

ALEXANDER

As may be in the world, lady.

PANDARUS

What's that? what's that?

CRESSIDA

Good morrow, uncle Pandarus.

PANDARUS

Good morrow, cousin Cressid: what do you talk of? Good morrow, Alexander. How do you, cousin? When were you at Ilium?

CRESSIDA

This morning, uncle.

PANDARUS

What were you talking of when I came? Was Hector armed and gone ere ye came to Ilium? Helen was not up, was she?

CRESSIDA

Hector was gone, but Helen was not up.

PANDARUS

Even so: Hector was stirring early.

CRESSIDA

That were we talking of, and of his anger.

PANDARUS

Was he angry?

CRESSIDA

So he says here.

PANDARUS

True, he was so: I know the cause too: he'll lay about him to-day, I can tell them that: and there's Troilus will not come far behind him: let them take heed of Troilus, I can tell them that too.

CRESSIDA

What, is he angry too?

PANDARUS

Who, Troilus? Troilus is the better man of the two.

CRESSIDA

O Jupiter! there's no comparison.

PANDARUS

What, not between Troilus and Hector? Do you know a man if you see him?

CRESSIDA

Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him.

PANDARUS

Well, I say Troilus is Troilus.

CRESSIDA

Then you say as I say; for, I am sure, he is not Hector.

PANDARUS

No, nor Hector is not Troilus in some degrees.

CRESSIDA

'Tis just to each of them; he is himself.

PANDARUS

Himself! Alas, poor Troilus! I would he were.

CRESSIDA

So he is.

PANDARUS

Condition, I had gone barefoot to India.

CRESSIDA

He is not Hector.

PANDARUS

Himself! no, he's not himself: would a' were himself! Well, the gods are above; time must friend or end: well, Troilus, well: I would my heart were in her body. No, Hector is not a better man than Troilus.

CRESSIDA

Excuse me.

PANDARUS

He is elder.

CRESSIDA

Pardon me, pardon me.

PANDARUS

Th' other's not come to't; you shall tell me another tale, when th' other's come to't. Hector shall not have his wit this year.

CRESSIDA

He shall not need it, if he have his own.

PANDARUS

Nor his qualities.

CRESSIDA

No matter.

PANDARUS

Nor his beauty.

CRESSIDA

'Twould not become him; his own's better.

PANDARUS

You have no judgment, niece: Helen herself swore th' other day, that Troilus, for a brown favour—for so 'tis, I must confess,— not brown neither,—

CRESSIDA

No, but brown.

PANDARUS

'Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown.

CRESSIDA

To say the truth, true and not true.

PANDARUS

She praised his complexion above Paris.

CRESSIDA

Why, Paris hath colour enough.

PANDARUS

So he has.

CRESSIDA

Then Troilus should have too much: if she praised him above, his complexion is higher than his; he having colour enough, and the other higher, is too flaming a praise for a good complexion. I had as lief Helen's golden tongue had commended Troilus for a copper nose.

PANDARUS

I swear to you. I think Helen loves him better than Paris.

CRESSIDA

Then she's a merry Greek indeed.

PANDARUS

Nay, I am sure she does. She came to him th' other day into the compassed window,—and, you know, he has not past three or four hairs on his chin,—

CRESSIDA

Indeed, a tapster's arithmetic may soon bring his particulars therein to a total.

PANDARUS

Why, he is very young: and yet will he, within three pound, lift as much as his brother Hector.

CRESSIDA

Is he so young a man and so old a lifter?

PANDARUS

But to prove to you that Helen loves him: she came and puts me her white hand to his cloven chin—

CRESSIDA

Juno have mercy! how came it cloven?

PANDARUS

Why, you know 'tis dimpled: I think his smiling becomes him better than any man in all Phrygia.

CRESSIDA

O, he smiles valiantly.

PANDARUS

Does he not?

CRESSIDA

O yes, an 'twere a cloud in autumn.

PANDARUS

Why, go to, then: but to prove to you that Helen loves Troilus,—

CRESSIDA

Troilus will stand to the proof, if you'll prove it so.

PANDARUS

Troilus! why, he esteems her no more than I esteem an addle egg.

CRESSIDA

If you love an addle egg as well as you love an idle head, you would eat chickens i' the shell.

PANDARUS

I cannot choose but laugh, to think how she tickled his chin: indeed, she has a marvellous white hand, I must needs confess,—

CRESSIDA

Without the rack.

PANDARUS

And she takes upon her to spy a white hair on his chin.

CRESSIDA

Alas, poor chin! many a wart is richer.

PANDARUS

But there was such laughing! Queen Hecuba laughed that her eyes ran o'er.

CRESSIDA

With mill-stones.

PANDARUS

And Cassandra laughed.

CRESSIDA

But there was more temperate fire under the pot of her eyes: did her eyes run o'er too?

PANDARUS

And Hector laughed.

CRESSIDA

At what was all this laughing?

PANDARUS

Marry, at the white hair that Helen spied on Troilus' chin.

CRESSIDA

An't had been a green hair, I should have laughed too.

PANDARUS

They laughed not so much at the hair as at his pretty answer.

CRESSIDA

What was his answer?

PANDARUS

Quoth she, 'Here's but two and fifty hairs on your chin, and one of them is white.

CRESSIDA

This is her question.

PANDARUS

That's true; make no question of that. 'Two and fifty hairs' quoth he, 'and one white: that white