Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare

Troilus and Cressida

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

Description

It is the seventh year of the Trojan War. The Greek army is camped outside Troy and Achilles - their military hero - refuses to fight. Inside the city Troilus, the Trojan King’s son, falls in love with Cressida, whose father has defected to the Greek camp. In an exchange of prisoners the couple are split - they believe forever. The honour of lovers and soldiers is tested as a fierce battle begins and heroes must prove their worth.


109 pages, with a reading time of ~3.5 hours (27,371 words), and first published in 1602. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

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!