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Troilus and Cressida
Prologue

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Set during the Trojan War, Troilus and Cressida recounts the love affair of its title characters. Inside the besieged city of Troy,…

Preface

This preface appears in some copies of the play’s first printing in quarto in 1609.

Prologue

Act 1, scene 1

Troilus refuses to fight because he is too disturbed by his unrequited love for Cressida. Pandarus, her uncle, complains of…

Act 1, scene 2

Cressida gossips with her servant Alexander, and then with Pandarus, who strives to interest her in Troilus. After Pandarus and…

Act 1, scene 3

As the general, Agamemnon, and his councillors Nestor and Ulysses discuss the refusal of their principal warriors, Achilles and Ajax,…

Act 2, scene 1

Ajax beats Thersites for refusing to tell him the terms of the challenge, terms that are provided by Achilles when…

Act 2, scene 2

The Trojan leaders discuss whether to keep Helen and thereby continue the war. They decide to do so in spite…

Act 2, scene 3

Thersites rails against Achilles and Ajax, and then, joined by Achilles and Patroclus, ridicules them to their faces. As Agamemnon…

Act 3, scene 1

Pandarus asks Paris to make excuses for Troilus’s absence from his father Priam’s supper table that night. At Helen’s insistence,…

Act 3, scene 2

Pandarus brings together Troilus and a seemingly reluctant Cressida, who finally acknowledges her love for Troilus.

Act 3, scene 3

Calchas asks the Greek leaders to demand his daughter Cressida from the Trojans in exchange for Antenor, whom the Greeks…

Act 4, scene 1

Aeneas, summoned to Priam’s palace, meets Paris and a deputation from the Greek camp bringing Antenor to be exchanged for…

Act 4, scene 2

As morning breaks after Troilus and Cressida’s night of lovemaking, Troilus, Pandarus, and Cressida each learn in turn that Cressida…

Act 4, scene 3

Paris sends Troilus to bring Cressida to Diomedes.

Act 4, scene 4

As Troilus and Cressida part, he urges her to be faithful to him, and he promises to visit her in…

Act 4, scene 5

The Greek leaders, Menelaus and Ulysses excepted, kiss Cressida as Diomedes brings her to the Greek camp. After Hector and…

Act 5, scene 1

Achilles receives a letter from Queen Hecuba of Troy requiring him to keep an oath he has sworn to seek…

Act 5, scene 2

Diomedes pressures Cressida to keep her promise to have sex with him; they are overheard by an enraged Troilus, an…

Act 5, scene 3

Andromache and Cassandra enlist Priam in their efforts to persuade Hector to refrain from battle. He, in turn, futilely attempts…

Act 5, scene 4

A railing Thersites watches Troilus and Diomedes go off fighting and, surprised by Hector, escapes death only through the Trojan’s…

Act 5, scene 5

Diomedes sends the horse he has won from Troilus to Cressida. Agamemnon and Nestor recount the slaughter of Greeks by…

Act 5, scene 6

Troilus fights both Diomedes and Ajax. Hector bests Achilles but allows him to live, and pursues another Greek in order…

Act 5, scene 7

Achilles, now accompanied by Myrmidons, searches for Hector.

Act 5, scene 8

Thersites comments on the combat between Menelaus and Paris. Then, surprised by Priam’s bastard son, Thersites escapes by refusing to…

Act 5, scene 9

Hector, having killed the Greek in the splendid armor, unarms himself and is surprised by Achilles, who orders his Myrmidons…

Act 5, scene 10

The rest of the Greek forces hear the shouts of the Myrmidons announcing Hector’s death.

Act 5, scene 11

Troilus announces Hector’s death to the Trojans. Marching back to Troy, Troilus meets Pandarus and reviles him.

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Enter the Prologue in armor.

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
5 Of cruel war. Sixty and nine, that wore
 Their crownets regal, from th’ Athenian bay
 Put forth toward Phrygia, and their vow is made
 To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures
 The ravished Helen, Menelaus’ queen,
10 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 unbruisèd Greeks do pitch
15 Their brave pavilions. Priam’s six-gated city—
 Dardan and Timbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien,
 And Antenorides—with massy staples
 And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts,
 Spar up the sons of Troy.
20 Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits
 On one and other side, Trojan and Greek,
 Sets all on hazard. And hither am I come,
 A prologue armed, but not in confidence
 Of author’s pen or actor’s voice, but suited
25 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.
30 Like, or find fault; do as your pleasures are.
 Now, good or bad, ’tis but the chance of war.
Prologue exits.
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