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Troilus and Criseyde. A Romantic Tragedy By Geoffrey Chaucer Presented by Adam Smith. Origins. Geoffrey Chaucer Born around 1343 English Experienced in the military, diplomacy, and courtly affairs Renowned in his own time

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troilus and criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde

A Romantic Tragedy

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Presented by Adam Smith

  • Geoffrey Chaucer
      • Born around 1343
      • English
      • Experienced in the military, diplomacy, and courtly affairs
      • Renowned in his own time
      • By some considered the greatest English poet ever to live and write at any time

“One eare it heard, at the other out it went.”

~ Troilus and Criseyde, Act IV, ll. 435

troilus basics
Troilus Basics
  • Most likely written during the 1380s, the same time when Chaucer wrote Knight’s Tale and translated Teseida from Italian.
  • Intended to be a “Psychological Romance” – a first for English literature.
  • Composed in lyric verse.
  • Based heavily upon Boccaccio’s Filostrato.
more origins
More Origins
  • Chaucer’s Possible References
      • Boccaccio’s Filostrato (The Love-Stricken One)
      • Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy
      • Gualliume and Jean’s The Romance of the Rose
      • Dante’s Comedy
      • Virgil’s Aeneid
      • Ovid’s Metamorphoses
      • And more….
    • Ironically… not Homer
rhythm rhyme and form
Rhythm, Rhyme, and Form
  • Written in “Rhythm Royal”
      • Seven lines per stanza
      • Usually Iambic Pentameter
      • Standard scheme:

A – B – A – B – B – C - C

        • Some variation was allowed, especially for a work of this length

ACT III, ll. 8-14:

In hevene and helle, in erthe and salte see

Is felt thi myght, if that I wel descerne;

As man, bird, best, fissh, herbe, and grene tree

Thee fele in tymes with vapour eterne.

God loveth, and to love wol nought werne;

And in this world no lyves creature

Withouten love is worth, or may endure.

the players
The Players
  • Troilus:
      • Son of King Priam of Troy
      • Handsome and Valiant knight, second only to Hector
      • Fatal Flaw: Scorn for love
  • Criseyde:
      • Daughter of Calchas, a foreteller
      • Beautiful Beyond Description
      • Rich and Widowed
      • Fatal Flaw: Faithlessness
the lesser players
The Lesser Players
  • Pandarus
      • Uncle of Criseyde
      • Friend of Troilus
      • Acts on behalf of Troilus to Criseyde
      • Morally Dubious
  • Calchas
      • Criseyde’s Father
      • Has a premonition about the Fall of Troy
      • Leaves the city and later called a traitor
act i or the setup
Act I or “The Setup”
  • Calchas’ Premonition
      • Foresees Troy’s Fall and flees to the Greek camp
      • Leaves Criseyde to wrathful citizens
  • Feast of Palladium
      • Troilus is scornful of love and lovers
      • Eros takes his revenge: Troilus is smitten with Criseyde
  • Troilus Despairs
      • Tries to conceal his changed feelings
      • Admits to himself he’s in love, but has no idea what to do
  • Pandarus to the Rescue
      • During a visit Pandarus senses distress and learns the truth
      • Promises to help Troilus win Criseyde
      • Troilus is improved by love
act ii or schemes and suffering
Act II or “Schemes and Suffering”
  • Pandarus’ Secret
      • After some teasing, reveals Troilus’ love to Criseyde
      • Speaks well of Troilus
  • Criseyde’s Consideration
      • Criseyde sees Troilus in the street and is intrigued
      • Still indecisive
  • Criseyde’s Consent
      • Upon hearing a song of love sung by her niece Antigone, Criseyde is swayed to show interest in Troilus
  • Meeting and Mail
      • Troilus writes a love letter to Criseyde and receives a positive reply
      • Pandarus sets up a meeting between the two
act iii or as good as it gets
Act III or “As Good as it Gets”
  • Tentative Contact
      • Troilus and Criseyde meet
      • She consents to be his lover provided her honor is unstained
  • Pandarus Plots Again
      • By guile Pandarus gets Criseyde and Troilus together
      • They talk, he faints, and is tucked into bed with Criseyde
  • Consummation
      • Troilus wakes up and their love is consummated
  • Elysium… for a while
      • They enjoy a happy affair
      • Troilus is further improved by love
      • They are truly happy
act iv or i d like to buy a vowel
Act IV or “I’d like to buy a vowel”
  • Prisoner Exchange
      • Antenore, a Trojan, is captured in battle
      • Calchas convinces the Greeks to trade him for Criseyde
  • Manacles of Honor
      • The lovers hear of the trade and are at a loss
      • Honor and position prevent the lovers from fleeing
  • Separation Anxiety
      • The lovers meet the night before, dreading the dawn
      • Criseyde plans to return by wit and manipulation
act v or the wheel hits bottom
Act V or “The Wheel Hits Bottom”
  • Abandonment
      • Criseyde is unable to return
      • Troilus is miserable at her absence
  • Betrayal
      • Criseyde is wooed by Diomede
      • After initial resistance Criseyde is won over
  • Dead Man Walking
      • Troilus despairs of life and joins in the battle seeking Diomede
      • Troilus is killed by Achilles
      • Troilus’ soul ascends to be purified and he looks down upon the earth, laughing
trojan courtly love
Trojan Courtly Love?
  • Aristocratic - Yes
  • Do not Marry - Yes
  • Speak through go-between - Yes
  • Lover Suffers - Yes
  • Must be Secret - No
  • Unconsummated - No
  • Ennobling Force - Yes
  • Lady is Dominant – Yes

Overall: YES

final notes
Final Notes
  • Composed in Middle English
      • Many words easily visible in their early forms
      • Widely varied spellings make reading out-loud in your head the best way to read it – like Mallory
  • Available in Modern English at the library
      • Loses some charm in the transition, but easier to read
      • Library section PR 1895 (Modern Trans. is L8) – 3rd floor