The Canterbury Tales and Other Poems
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
[In several respects, the story of "Troilus and Cressida" may be
regarded as Chaucer's noblest poem. Larger in scale than any
other of his individual works -- numbering nearly half as many
lines as The Canterbury Tales contain, without reckoning the
two in prose -- the conception of the poem is yet so closely and
harmoniously worked out, that all the parts are perfectly
balanced, and from first to last scarcely a single line is
superfluous or misplaced. The finish and beauty of the poem as
a work of art, are not more conspicuous than the knowledge of
human nature displayed in the portraits of the principal
characters. The result is, that the poem is more modern, in form
and in spirit, than almost any other work of its author; the
chaste style and sedulous polish of the stanzas admit of easy
change into the forms of speech now current in England; while
the analytical and subjective character of the work gives it, for
the nineteenth century reader, an interest of the same kind as
that inspired, say, by George Eliot's wonderful study of
character in "Romola." Then, above all, "Troilus and Cressida"
is distinguished by a purity and elevation of moral tone, that
may surprise those who judge of Chaucer only by the coarse
traits of his time preserved in The Canterbury Tales, or who
may expect to find here the Troilus, the Cressida, and the
Pandarus of Shakspeare's play. It is to no trivial gallant, no
woman of coarse mind and easy virtue, no malignantly
subservient and utterly debased procurer, that Chaucer
introduces us. His Troilus is a noble, sensitive, generous, pure-
souled, manly, magnanimous hero, who is only confirmed and
stimulated in all virtue by his love, who lives for his lady, and
dies for her falsehood, in a lofty and chivalrous fashion. His
Cressida is a stately, self-contained, virtuous, tender-hearted
woman, who loves with all the pure strength and trustful
abandonment of a generous and exalted nature, and who is
driven to infidelity perhaps even less by pressure of
circumstances, than by the sheer force of her love, which will go
on loving -- loving what it can have, when that which it would
rather have is for the time unattainable. His Pandarus is a
gentleman, though a gentleman with a flaw in him; a man who,
in his courtier-like good-nature, places the claims of
comradeship above those of honour, and plots away the virtue
of his niece, that he may appease the love-sorrow of his friend;
all the time conscious that he is not acting as a gentleman
should, and desirous that others should give him that
justification which he can get but feebly and diffidently in
himself. In fact, the "Troilus and Cressida" of Chaucer is the
"Troilus and Cressida" of Shakespeare transfigured; the
atmosphere, the colour, the spirit, are wholly different; the older
poet presents us in the chief characters to noble natures, the
younger to ignoble natures in all the characters; and the poem
with which we have now to do stands at this day among the
noblest expositions of love's workings in the human heart and
life. It is divided into five books, containing altogether 8246
lines. The First Book (1092 lines) tells how Calchas, priest of
Apollo, quitting beleaguered Troy, left there his only daughter
Cressida; how Troilus, the youngest brother of Hector and son
of King Priam, fell in love with her at first sight, at a festival
the temple of Pallas, and sorrowed bitterly for her love; and
how his friend, Cressida's uncle, Pandarus, comforted him by
the promise of aid in his suit. The Second Book (1757 lines)
relates the subtle manoeuvres of Pandarus to induce Cressida to
return the love of Troilus; which he accomplishes mainly by
touching at once the lady's admiration for his heroism, and her
pity for his love-sorrow on her account. The Third Book (1827
lines) opens with an account of the first interview between the
lovers; ere it closes, the skilful stratagems of Pandarus have
placed the pair in each other's arms under his roof, and the
lovers are happy in perfect enjoyment of each other's love and
trust. In the Fourth Book (1701 lines) the course of true love
ceases to run smooth; Cressida is compelled to quit the city, in
ransom for Antenor, captured in a skirmish; and she sadly
departs to the camp of the Greeks, vowing that she will make
her escape, and return to Troy and Troilus within ten days. The
Fifth Book (1869 lines) sets out by describing the court which
Diomedes, appointed to escort her, pays to Cressida on the way
to the camp; it traces her gradual progress from indifference to
her new suitor, to incontinence with him, and it leaves the
deserted Troilus dead on the field of battle, where he has sought
an eternal refuge from the new grief provoked by clear proof of
his mistress's infidelity. The polish, elegance, and power of the
style, and the acuteness of insight into character, which mark
the poem, seem to claim for it a date considerably later than that
adopted by those who assign its composition to Chaucer's
youth: and the literary allusions and proverbial expressions with
which it abounds, give ample evidence that, if Chaucer really
wrote it at an early age, his youth must have been precocious
beyond all actual record. Throughout the poem there are
repeated references to the old authors of Trojan histories who
are named in "The House of Fame"; but Chaucer especially
mentions one Lollius as the author from whom he takes the
groundwork of the poem. Lydgate is responsible for the
assertion that Lollius meant Boccaccio; and though there is no
authority for supposing that the English really meant to
designate the Italian poet under that name, there is abundant
internal proof that the poem was really founded on the
"Filostrato" of Boccaccio. But the tone of Chaucer's work is
much higher than that of his Italian "auctour;" and while in
some passages the imitation is very close, in all that is
characteristic in "Troilus and Cressida," Chaucer has fairly
thrust his models out of sight. In the present edition, it has been
possible to give no more than about one-fourth of the poem --
274 out of the 1178 seven-line stanzas that compose it; but
pains have been taken to convey, in the connecting prose
passages, a faithful idea of what is perforce omitted.]
THE FIRST BOOK.
THE double sorrow <1> of Troilus to tell,
That was the King Priamus' son of Troy,
In loving how his adventures* fell *fortunes
From woe to weal, and after* out of joy, *afterwards
My purpose is, ere I you parte froy.* *from
Tisiphone,<2> thou help me to indite
These woeful words, that weep as I do write.
To thee I call, thou goddess of torment!
Thou cruel wight, that sorrowest ever in pain;
Help me, that am the sorry instrument
That helpeth lovers, as I can, to plain.* *complain
For well it sits,* the soothe for to sayn, *befits
Unto a woeful wight a dreary fere,* *companion
And to a sorry tale a sorry cheer.* *countenance
For I, that God of Love's servants serve,
Nor dare to love for mine unlikeliness,* <3> *unsuitableness
Praye for speed,* although I shoulde sterve,** *success
So far I am from his help in darkness;
But natheless, might I do yet gladness
To any lover, or any love avail,* *advance
Have thou the thank, and mine be the travail.
But ye lovers that bathen in gladness,
If any drop of pity in you be,
Remember you for old past heaviness,
For Godde's love, and on adversity
That others suffer; think how sometime ye
Founde how Love durste you displease;
Or elles ye have won it with great ease.
And pray for them that been in the case
Of Troilus, as ye may after hear,
That Love them bring in heaven to solace;* *delight,
And for me pray also, that God so dear
May give me might to show, in some mannere,
Such pain or woe as Love's folk endure,
In Troilus' *unseely adventure* *unhappy
And pray for them that eke be despair'd
In love, that never will recover'd be;
And eke for them that falsely be appair'd* *slandered
Through wicked tongues, be it he or she:
Or thus bid* God, for his benignity, *pray
To grant them soon out of this world to pace,* *pass,
That be despaired of their love's grace.
And bid also for them that be at ease
In love, that God them grant perseverance,
And send them might their loves so to please,
That it to them be *worship and pleasance;* *honour
For so hope I my soul best to advance,
To pray for them that Love's servants be,
And write their woe, and live in charity;
And for to have of them compassion,
As though I were their owen brother dear.
Now listen all with good entention,* *attention
For I will now go straight to my mattere,
In which ye shall the double sorrow hear
Of Troilus, in loving of Cresside,
And how that she forsook him ere she died.
In Troy, during the siege, dwelt "a lord of great authority, a
great divine," named Calchas; who, through the oracle of
Apollo, knew that Troy should be destroyed. He stole away
secretly to the Greek camp, where he was gladly received, and
honoured for his skill in divining, of which the besiegers hoped
to make use. Within the city there was great anger at the
treason of Calchas; and the people declared that he and all his
kin were worthy to be burnt. His daughter, whom he had left in
the city, a widow and alone, was in great fear for her life.
Cressida was this lady's name aright;
*As to my doom,* in alle Troy city *in
So fair was none, for over ev'ry wight
So angelic was her native beauty,
That like a thing immortal seemed she,
As sooth a perfect heav'nly creature,
That down seem'd sent in scorning of Nature.
In her distress, "well nigh out of her wit for pure fear," she
appealed for protection to Hector; who, "piteous of nature,"
and touched by her sorrow and her beauty, assured her of
safety, so long as she pleased to dwell in Troy. The siege went
on; but they of Troy did not neglect the honour and worship of
their deities; most of all of "the relic hight Palladion, <4> that
was their trust aboven ev'ry one." In April, "when clothed is the
mead with newe green, of jolly Ver [Spring] the prime," the
Trojans went to hold the festival of Palladion -- crowding to
the temple, "in all their beste guise," lusty knights, fresh ladies,
and maidens bright.
Among the which was this Cresseida,
In widow's habit black; but natheless,
Right as our firste letter is now A,
In beauty first so stood she makeless;* *matchless
Her goodly looking gladded all the press;* *crowd
Was never seen thing to be praised derre,* *dearer,
Nor under blacke cloud so bright a sterre,* *star
As she was, as they saiden, ev'ry one
That her behelden in her blacke weed;* *garment
And yet she stood, full low and still, alone,
Behind all other folk, *in little brede,* *inconspicuously*
And nigh the door, ay *under shame's drede;* *for
dread of shame*
Simple of bearing, debonair* of cheer, *gracious
With a full sure* looking and mannere. *assured
Dan Troilus, as he was wont to guide
His younge knightes, led them up and down
In that large temple upon ev'ry side,
Beholding ay the ladies of the town;
Now here, now there, for no devotioun
Had he to none, to *reave him* his rest, *deprive
But gan to *praise and lacke whom him lest;* *praise
whom he pleased*
And in his walk full fast he gan to wait* *watch,
If knight or squier of his company
Gan for to sigh, or let his eyen bait* *feed
On any woman that he could espy;
Then he would smile, and hold it a folly,
And say him thus: "Ah, Lord, she sleepeth soft
For love of thee, when as thou turnest oft.
"I have heard told, pardie, of your living,
Ye lovers, and your lewed* observance, *ignorant,
And what a labour folk have in winning
Of love, and in it keeping with doubtance;* *doubt
And when your prey is lost, woe and penance;* *suffering
Oh, very fooles! may ye no thing see?
Can none of you aware by other be?"
But the God of Love vowed vengeance on Troilus for that
despite, and, showing that his bow was not broken, "hit him at
Within the temple went he forth playing,
This Troilus, with ev'ry wight about,
On this lady and now on that looking,
Whether she were of town, or *of without;* *from
beyond the walls*
And *upon cas* befell, that through the rout* *by
His eye pierced, and so deep it went,
Till on Cresside it smote, and there it stent;* *stayed
And suddenly wax'd wonder sore astoned,* *amazed
And gan her bet* behold in busy wise: *better
"Oh, very god!" <5> thought he; "where hast thou woned* *dwelt
That art so fair and goodly to devise?* *describe
Therewith his heart began to spread and rise;
And soft he sighed, lest men might him hear,
And caught again his former *playing cheer.* *jesting
*She was not with the least of her stature,* *she
But all her limbes so well answering
Were to womanhood, that creature
Was never lesse mannish in seeming.
And eke *the pure wise of her moving* *by
very the way
She showed well, that men might in her guess she moved*
Honour, estate,* and womanly nobless. *dignity
Then Troilus right wonder well withal
Began to like her moving and her cheer,* *countenance
Which somedeal dainous* was, for she let fall *disdainful
Her look a little aside, in such mannere
Ascaunce* "What! may I not stande here?" *as
if to say <6>
And after that *her looking gan she light,* *her
That never thought him see so good a sight. more pleasant*
And of her look in him there gan to quicken
So great desire, and strong affection,
That in his hearte's bottom gan to sticken
Of her the fix'd and deep impression;
And though he erst* had pored** up and down, *previously
Then was he glad his hornes in to shrink;
Unnethes* wist he how to look or wink. *scarcely
Lo! he that held himselfe so cunning,
And scorned them that Love's paines drien,* *suffer
Was full unware that love had his dwelling
Within the subtile streames* of her eyen; *rays,
That suddenly he thought he felte dien,
Right with her look, the spirit in his heart;
Blessed be Love, that thus can folk convert!
She thus, in black, looking to Troilus,
Over all things he stoode to behold;
But his desire, nor wherefore he stood thus,
He neither *cheere made,* nor worde told; *showed
by his countenance*
But from afar, *his manner for to hold,* *to
observe due courtesy*
On other things sometimes his look he cast,
And eft* <7> on her, while that the service last.** *again
And after this, not fully all awhaped,* *daunted
Out of the temple all easily be went,
Repenting him that ever he had japed* *jested
Of Love's folk, lest fully the descent
Of scorn fell on himself; but what he meant,
Lest it were wist on any manner side,
His woe he gan dissemble and eke hide.
Returning to his palace, he begins hypocritically to smile and
jest at Love's servants and their pains; but by and by he has to
dismiss his attendants, feigning "other busy needs." Then, alone
in his chamber, he begins to groan and sigh, and call up again
Cressida's form as he saw her in the temple -- "making a mirror
of his mind, in which he saw all wholly her figure." He thinks no
travail or sorrow too high a price for the love of such a goodly
woman; and, "full unadvised of his woe coming,"
Thus took he purpose Love's craft to sue,* *follow
And thought that he would work all privily,
First for to hide his desire all *in mew* *in
a cage, secretly
From every wight y-born, all utterly,
*But he might aught recover'd be thereby;* *unless
he gained by it*
Rememb'ring him, that love *too wide y-blow* *too
much spoken of*
Yields bitter fruit, although sweet seed be sow.
And, over all this, muche more he thought
What thing to speak, and what to holden in;
And what to arten* her to love, he sought; *constrain
And on a song anon right to begin,
And gan loud on his sorrow for to win;* *overcome
For with good hope he gan thus to assent* *resolve
Cressida for to love, and not repent.
The Song of Troilus. <9>
"If no love is, O God! why feel I so?
And if love is, what thing and which is he?
If love be good, from whence cometh my woe?
If it be wick', a wonder thinketh me
Whence ev'ry torment and adversity
That comes of love *may to me savoury think:* *seem
acceptable to me*
For more I thirst the more that I drink.
"And if I *at mine owen luste bren* *burn
by my own will*
From whence cometh my wailing and my plaint?
If maugre me,<10> *whereto plain I* then? *to what avail do I complain?*
I wot ner* why, unweary, that I faint. *neither
O quicke death! O sweete harm so quaint!* *strange
How may I see in me such quantity,
But if that I consent that so it be?
"And if that I consent, I wrongfully
Complain y-wis: thus pushed to and fro,
All starreless within a boat am I,
Middes the sea, betwixte windes two,
That in contrary standen evermo'.
Alas! what wonder is this malady! --
For heat of cold, for cold of heat, I die!"
Devoting himself wholly to the thought of Cressida -- though he
yet knew not whether she was woman or goddess -- Troilus, in
spite of his royal blood, became the very slave of love. He set
naught every other charge, but to gaze on her as often as he
could; thinking so to appease his hot fire, which thereby only
burned the hotter. He wrought marvellous feats of arms against
the Greeks, that she might like him the better for his renown;
then love deprived him of sleep, and made his food his foe; till
he had to "borrow a title of other sickness," that men might not
know he was consumed with love. Meantime, Cressida gave no
sign that she heeded his devotion, or even knew of it; and he
was now consumed with a new fear -- lest she loved some other
man. Bewailing his sad lot -- ensnared, exposed to the scorn of
those whose love he had ridiculed, wishing himself arrived at
the port of death, and praying ever that his lady might glad him
with some kind look -- Troilus is surprised in his chamber by his
friend Pandarus, the uncle of Cressida. Pandarus, seeking to
divert his sorrow by making him angry, jeeringly asks whether
remorse of conscience, or devotion, or fear of the Greeks, has
caused all this ado. Troilus pitifully beseeches his friend to leave
him to die alone, for die he must, from a cause which he must
keep hidden; but Pandarus argues against Troilus' cruelty in
hiding from a friend such a sorrow, and Troilus at last confesses
that his malady is love. Pandarus suggests that the beloved
object may be such that his counsel might advance his friend's
desires; but Troilus scouts the suggestion, saying that Pandarus
could never govern himself in love.
"Yea, Troilus, hearken to me," quoth Pandare,
"Though I be nice;* it happens often so, *foolish
That one that access* doth full evil fare, *in
an access of fever
By good counsel can keep his friend therefro'.
I have my selfe seen a blind man go
Where as he fell that looke could full wide;
A fool may eke a wise man often guide.
"A whetstone is no carving instrument,
But yet it maketh sharpe carving tooles;
And, if thou know'st that I have aught miswent,* *erred,
Eschew thou that, for such thing to thee school* is. *schooling,
Thus oughte wise men to beware by fooles;
If so thou do, thy wit is well bewared;
By its contrary is everything declared.
"For how might ever sweetness have been know
To him that never tasted bitterness?
And no man knows what gladness is, I trow,
That never was in sorrow or distress:
Eke white by black, by shame eke worthiness,
Each set by other, *more for other seemeth,* *its
quality is made
As men may see; and so the wise man deemeth." more obvious by
Troilus, however, still begs his friend to leave him to mourn in
peace, for all his proverbs can avail nothing. But Pandarus
insists on plying the lover with wise saws, arguments,
reproaches; hints that, if he should die of love, his lady may
impute his death to fear of the Greeks; and finally induces
Troilus to admit that the well of all his woe, his sweetest foe,
called Cressida. Pandarus breaks into praises of the lady, and
congratulations of his friend for so well fixing his heart; he
makes Troilus utter a formal confession of his sin in jesting at
lovers and bids him think well that she of whom rises all his
woe, hereafter may his comfort be also.
"For thilke* ground, that bears the weedes wick' *that
Bears eke the wholesome herbes, and full oft
Next to the foule nettle, rough and thick,
The lily waxeth,* white, and smooth, and soft; *grows
And next the valley is the hill aloft,
And next the darke night is the glad morrow,
And also joy is next the fine* of sorrow." *end,
Pandarus holds out to Troilus good hope of achieving his
desire; and tells him that, since he has been converted from his
wicked rebellion against Love, he shall be made the best post of
all Love's law, and most grieve Love's enemies. Troilus gives
utterance to a hint of fear; but he is silenced by Pandarus with
another proverb -- "Thou hast full great care, lest that the carl
should fall out of the moon." Then the lovesick youth breaks
into a joyous boast that some of the Greeks shall smart; he
mounts his horse, and plays the lion in the field; while Pandarus
retires to consider how he may best recommend to his niece the
suit of Troilus.
THE SECOND BOOK.
IN the Proem to the Second Book, the poet hails the clear
weather that enables him to sail out of those black waves in
which his boat so laboured that he could scarcely steer -- that
"the tempestuous matter of despair, that Troilus was in; but
now of hope the kalendes begin." He invokes the aid of Clio;
excuses himself to every lover for what may be found amiss in a
book which he only translates; and, obviating any lover's
objection to the way in which Troilus obtained his lady's grace
- through Pandarus' mediation -- says it seems to him no
"For ev'ry wighte that to Rome went
Held not one path, nor alway one mannere;
Eke in some lands were all the game y-shent
If that men far'd in love as men do here,
As thus, in open dealing and in cheer,
In visiting, in form, or saying their saws;* *speeches
For thus men say: Each country hath its laws.
"Eke scarcely be there in this place three
That have in love done or said *like in all;"* *alike in all respects*
And so that which the poem relates may not please the reader --
but it actually was done, or it shall yet be done. The Book sets
out with the visit of Pandarus to Cressida:--
In May, that mother is of monthes glade,* *glad
When all the freshe flowers, green and red,
Be quick* again, that winter deade made, *alive
And full of balm is floating ev'ry mead;
When Phoebus doth his brighte beames spread
Right in the white Bull, so it betid* *happened
As I shall sing, on Maye's day the thrid, <11>
That Pandarus, for all his wise speech,
Felt eke his part of Love's shottes keen,
That, could he ne'er so well of Love preach,
It made yet his hue all day full green;* *pale
So *shope it,* that him fell that day a teen* *it
In love, for which full woe to bed he went,
And made ere it were day full many a went.* *turning
The swallow Progne, <13> with a sorrowful lay,
When morrow came, gan make her waimenting,* *lamenting
Why she foshapen* was; and ever lay *transformed
Pandare a-bed, half in a slumbering,
Till she so nigh him made her chittering,
How Tereus gan forth her sister take,
That with the noise of her he did awake,
And gan to call, and dress* him to arise, *prepare
Rememb'ring him his errand was to do'n
From Troilus, and eke his great emprise;
And cast, and knew in *good plight* was the Moon *favourable
To do voyage, and took his way full soon
Unto his niece's palace there beside
Now Janus, god of entry, thou him guide!
Pandarus finds his niece, with two other ladies, in a paved
parlour, listening to a maiden who reads aloud the story of the
Siege of Thebes. Greeting the company, he is welcomed by
Cressida, who tells him that for three nights she has dreamed of
him. After some lively talk about the book they had been
reading, Pandarus asks his niece to do away her hood, to show
her face bare, to lay aside the book, to rise up and dance, "and
let us do to May some observance." Cressida cries out, "God
forbid!" and asks if he is mad -- if that is a widow's life, whom
better becomes to sit in a cave and read of holy saints' lives.
Pandarus intimates that he could tell her something which could
make her merry; but he refuses to gratify her curiosity; and, by
way of the siege and of Hector, "that was the towne's wall, and
Greekes' yerd" or scourging-rod, the conversation is brought
round to Troilus, whom Pandarus highly extols as "the wise
worthy Hector the second." She has, she says, already heard
Troilus praised for his bravery "of them that her were liefest
praised be" [by whom it would be most welcome to her to be
"Ye say right sooth, y-wis," quoth Pandarus;
For yesterday, who so had with him been,
Might have wonder'd upon Troilus;
For never yet so thick a swarm of been* *bees
Ne flew, as did of Greekes from him flee'n;
And through the field, in ev'ry wighte's ear,
There was no cry but 'Troilus is here.'
"Now here, now there, he hunted them so fast,
There was but Greekes' blood; and Troilus
Now him he hurt, now him adown he cast;
Ay where he went it was arrayed thus:
He was their death, and shield of life for us,
That as that day there durst him none withstand,
While that he held his bloody sword in hand."
Pandarus makes now a show of taking leave, but Cressida
detains him, to speak of her affairs; then, the business talked
over, he would again go, but first again asks his niece to arise
and dance, and cast her widow's garments to mischance,
because of the glad fortune that has befallen her. More curious
than ever, she seeks to find out Pandarus' secret; but he still
parries her curiosity, skilfully hinting all the time at her good
fortune, and the wisdom of seizing on it when offered. In the
end he tells her that the noble Troilus so loves her, that with
it lies to make him live or die -- but if Troilus dies, Pandarus
shall die with him; and then she will have "fished fair." <14> He
beseeches mercy for his friend:
"*Woe worth* the faire gemme virtueless! <15> *evil
Woe worth the herb also that *doth no boot!* *has
no remedial power*
Woe worth the beauty that is rutheless!* *merciless
Woe worth that wight that treads each under foot!
And ye that be of beauty *crop and root* *perfection
If therewithal in you there be no ruth,* *pity
Then is it harm ye live, by my truth!"
Pandarus makes only the slight request that she will show
Troilus somewhat better cheer, and receive visits from him, that
his life may be saved; urging that, although a man be soon going
to the temple, nobody will think that he eats the images; and
that "such love of friends reigneth in all this town."
Cressida, which that heard him in this wise,
Thought: "I shall feele* what he means, y-wis;" *test
"Now, eme* quoth she, "what would ye me devise? *uncle
What is your rede* that I should do of this?" *counsel,
"That is well said," quoth he;" certain best it is
That ye him love again for his loving,
As love for love is *skilful guerdoning.* *reasonable
"Think eke how elde* wasteth ev'ry hour *age
In each of you a part of your beauty;
And therefore, ere that age do you devour,
Go love, for, old, there will no wight love thee
Let this proverb a lore* unto you be: *lesson
'"Too late I was ware," quoth beauty when it past;
And *elde daunteth danger* at the last.' *old
age overcomes disdain*
"The kinge's fool is wont to cry aloud,
When that he thinks a woman bears her high,
'So longe may ye liven, and all proud,
Till crowes' feet be wox* under your eye! *grown
And send you then a mirror *in to pry* *to
In which ye may your face see a-morrow!* *in
*I keep then wishe you no more sorrow.'"* *I
care to wish you
Weeping, Cressida reproaches her uncle for giving her such
counsel; whereupon Pandarus, starting up, threatens to kill
himself, and would fain depart, but that his niece detains him,
and, with much reluctance, promises to "make Troilus good
cheer in honour." Invited by Cressida to tell how first he know
her lover's woe, Pandarus then relates two soliloquies which he
had accidentally overheard, and in which Troilus had poured
out all the sorrow of his passion.
With this he took his leave, and home he went
Ah! Lord, so was he glad and well-begone!* *happy
Cresside arose, no longer would she stent,* *stay
But straight into her chamber went anon,
And sat her down, as still as any stone,
And ev'ry word gan up and down to wind
That he had said, as it came to her mind.
And wax'd somedeal astonish'd in her thought,
Right for the newe case; but when that she
*Was full advised,* then she found right naught *had fully considered*
Of peril, why she should afeared be:
For a man may love, of possibility,
A woman so, that his heart may to-brest,* *break
And she not love again, *but if her lest.* *unless
it so please her*
But as she sat alone, and thoughte thus,
In field arose a skirmish all without;
And men cried in the street then:"
Troilus hath right now put to flight the Greekes' rout."* *host
With that gan all the meinie* for to shout: *(Cressida's)
"Ah! go we see, cast up the lattice wide,
For through this street he must to palace ride;
"For other way is from the gates none,
Of Dardanus,<18> where open is the chain." <19>
With that came he, and all his folk anon,
An easy pace riding, in *routes twain,* *two
Right as his *happy day* was, sooth to sayn: *good
For which men say may not disturbed be
What shall betiden* of necessity. *happen
This Troilus sat upon his bay steed
All armed, save his head, full richely,
And wounded was his horse, and gan to bleed,
For which he rode a pace full softely
But such a knightly sighte* truly *aspect
As was on him, was not, withoute fail,
To look on Mars, that god is of Battaile.
So like a man of armes, and a knight,
He was to see, full fill'd of high prowess;
For both he had a body, and a might
To do that thing, as well as hardiness;* *courage
And eke to see him in his gear* him dress, *armour
So fresh, so young, so wieldy* seemed he, *active
It was a heaven on him for to see.* *look
His helmet was to-hewn in twenty places,
That by a tissue* hung his back behind; *riband
His shield to-dashed was with swords and maces,
In which men might many an arrow find,
That thirled* had both horn, and nerve, and rind; <21> *pierced
And ay the people cried, "Here comes our joy,
And, next his brother, <22> holder up of Troy."
For which he wax'd a little red for shame,
When he so heard the people on him cryen
That to behold it was a noble game,
How soberly he cast adown his eyen:
Cresside anon gan all his cheer espien,
And let it in her heart so softly sink,
That to herself she said, "Who gives me drink?"<23>
For of her owen thought she wax'd all red,
Rememb'ring her right thus: "Lo! this is he
Which that mine uncle swears he might be dead,
But* I on him have mercy and pity:" *unless
And with that thought for pure shame she
Gan in her head to pull, and that full fast,
While he and all the people forth by pass'd.
And gan to cast,* and rollen up and down *ponder
Within her thought his excellent prowess,
And his estate, and also his renown,
His wit, his shape, and eke his gentleness
But most her favour was, for his distress
Was all for her, and thought it were ruth
To slay such one, if that he meant but truth.
. . . . . . . . . .
And, Lord! so gan she in her heart argue
Of this mattere, of which I have you told
And what to do best were, and what t'eschew,
That plaited she full oft in many a fold.<24>
Now was her hearte warm, now was it cold.
And what she thought of, somewhat shall I write,
As to mine author listeth to endite.
She thoughte first, that Troilus' person
She knew by sight, and eke his gentleness;
And saide thus: *"All were it not to do'n,'* *although
To grant him love, yet for the worthiness impossible*
It were honour, with play* and with gladness, *pleasing
In honesty with such a lord to deal,
For mine estate,* and also for his heal.** *reputation
"Eke well I wot* my kinge's son is he; *know
And, since he hath to see me such delight,
If I would utterly his sighte flee,
Parauntre* he might have me in despite, *peradventure
Through which I mighte stand in worse plight. <25>
Now were I fool, me hate to purchase* *obtain
Withoute need, where I may stand in grace,* *favour
"In ev'rything, I wot, there lies measure;* *a
For though a man forbidde drunkenness,
He not forbids that ev'ry creature
Be drinkeless for alway, as I guess;
Eke, since I know for me is his distress,
I oughte not for that thing him despise,
Since it is so he meaneth in good wise.
"Now set a case, that hardest is, y-wis,
Men mighte deeme* that he loveth me; *believe
What dishonour were it unto me, this?
May I *him let of* that? Why, nay, pardie! *prevent
I know also, and alway hear and see,
Men love women all this town about;
Be they the worse? Why, nay, withoute doubt!
"Nor me to love a wonder is it not;
For well wot I myself, so God me speed! --
*All would I* that no man wist of this thought -- *although
I am one of the fairest, without drede,* *doubt
And goodlieste, who so taketh heed;
And so men say in all the town of Troy;
What wonder is, though he on me have joy?
"I am mine owen woman, well at ease,
I thank it God, as after mine estate,
Right young, and stand untied in *lusty leas,* *pleasant
Withoute jealousy, or such debate: (of love)*
Shall none husband say to me checkmate;
For either they be full of jealousy,
Or masterful, or love novelty.
"What shall I do? to what fine* live I thus? *end
Shall I not love, in case if that me lest?
What? pardie! I am not religious;<26>
And though that I mine hearte set at rest
And keep alway mine honour and my name,
By all right I may do to me no shame."
But right as when the sunne shineth bright
In March, that changeth oftentime his face,
And that a cloud is put with wind to flight,
Which overspreads the sun as for a space;
A cloudy thought gan through her hearte pace,* *pass
That overspread her brighte thoughtes all,
So that for fear almost she gan to fall.
The cloudy thought is of the loss of liberty and security, the
stormy life, and the malice of wicked tongues, that love entails:
[But] after that her thought began to clear,
And saide, "He that nothing undertakes
Nothing achieveth, be him *loth or dear."* *unwilling
And with another thought her hearte quakes;
Then sleepeth hope, and after dread awakes,
Now hot, now cold; but thus betwixt the tway* *two
She rist* her up, and wente forth to play.** *rose
Adown the stair anon right then she went
Into a garden, with her nieces three,
And up and down they made many a went,* *winding,
Flexippe and she, Tarke, Antigone,
To playe, that it joy was for to see;
And other of her women, a great rout,* *troop
Her follow'd in the garden all about.
This yard was large, and railed the alleys,
And shadow'd well with blossomy boughes green,
And benched new, and sanded all the ways,
In which she walked arm and arm between;
Till at the last Antigone the sheen* *bright,
Gan on a Trojan lay to singe clear,
That it a heaven was her voice to hear.
Antigone's song is of virtuous love for a noble object; and it is
singularly fitted to deepen the impression made on the mind of
Cressida by the brave aspect of Troilus, and by her own
cogitations. The singer, having praised the lover and rebuked
the revilers of love, proceeds:
"What is the Sunne worse of his *kind right,* *true
Though that a man, for feebleness of eyen,
May not endure to see on it for bright? <27>
Or Love the worse, tho' wretches on it cryen?
No weal* is worth, that may no sorrow drien;** <28> *happiness **endure
And forthy,* who that hath a head of verre,** *therefore
From cast of stones ware him in the werre. <30>
"But I, with all my heart and all my might,
As I have lov'd, will love unto my last
My deare heart, and all my owen knight,
In which my heart y-growen is so fast,
And his in me, that it shall ever last
*All dread I* first to love him begin, *although
Now wot I well there is no pain therein."
Cressida sighs, and asks Antigone whether there is such bliss
among these lovers, as they can fair endite; Antigone replies
confidently in the affirmative; and Cressida answers nothing,
"but every worde which she heard she gan to printen in her
hearte fast." Night draws on:
The daye's honour, and the heaven's eye,
The nighte's foe, -- all this call I the Sun, --
Gan westren* fast, and downward for to wry,** *go
west <31> **turn
As he that had his daye's course y-run;
And white thinges gan to waxe dun
For lack of light, and starres to appear;
Then she and all her folk went home in fere.* *in
So, when it liked her to go to rest,
And voided* were those that voiden ought, *gone
out (of the house)
She saide, that to sleepe well her lest.* *pleased
Her women soon unto her bed her brought;
When all was shut, then lay she still and thought
Of all these things the manner and the wise;
Rehearse it needeth not, for ye be wise.
A nightingale upon a cedar green,
Under the chamber wall where as she lay,
Full loude sang against the moone sheen,
Parauntre,* in his birde's wise, a lay *perchance
Of love, that made her hearte fresh and gay;
Hereat hark'd* she so long in good intent, *listened
Till at the last the deade sleep her hent.* *seized
And as she slept, anon right then *her mette* *she
How that an eagle, feather'd white as bone,
Under her breast his longe clawes set,
And out her heart he rent, and that anon,
And did* his heart into her breast to go'n, *caused
Of which no thing she was *abash'd nor smert;* *amazed
And forth he flew, with hearte left for heart.
Leaving Cressida to sleep, the poet returns to Troilus and his
zealous friend -- with whose stratagems to bring the two lovers
together the remainder of the Second Book is occupied.
Pandarus counsels Troilus to write a letter to his mistress,
telling her how he "fares amiss," and "beseeching her of ruth;"
he will bear the letter to his niece; and, if Troilus will ride
Cressida's house, he will find his mistress and his friend sitting
at a window. Saluting Pandarus, and not tarrying, his passage
will give occasion for some talk of him, which may make his
ears glow. With respect to the letter, Pandarus gives some
"Touching thy letter, thou art wise enough,
I wot thou *n'ilt it dignely endite* *wilt
not write it haughtily*
Or make it with these argumentes tough,
Nor scrivener-like, nor craftily it write;
Beblot it with thy tears also a lite;* *little
And if thou write a goodly word all soft,
Though it be good, rehearse it not too oft.
"For though the beste harper *pon live* *alive
Would on the best y-sounded jolly harp
That ever was, with all his fingers five
Touch ay one string, or *ay one warble harp,* *always
play one tune*
Were his nailes pointed ne'er so sharp,
He shoulde maken ev'ry wight to dull* *to
To hear his glee, and of his strokes full.
"Nor jompre* eke no discordant thing y-fere,** *jumble
As thus, to use termes of physic;
In love's termes hold of thy mattere
The form alway, and *do that it be like;* *make
For if a painter woulde paint a pike
With ass's feet, and head it as an ape,<32>
It *'cordeth not,* so were it but a jape." *is
Troilus writes the letter, and next morning Pandarus bears it to
Cressida. She refuses to receive "scrip or bill that toucheth such
mattere;" but he thrusts it into her bosom, challenging her to
throw it away. She retains it, takes the first opportunity of
escaping to her chamber to read it, finds it wholly good, and,
under her uncle's dictation, endites a reply telling her lover that
she will not make herself bound in love; "but as his sister, him
to please, she would aye fain [be glad] to do his heart an ease."
Pandarus, under pretext of inquiring who is the owner of the
house opposite, has gone to the window; Cressida takes her
letter to him there, and tells him that she never did a thing with
more pain than write the words to which he had constrained
her. As they sit side by side, on a stone of jasper, on a cushion
of beaten gold, Troilus rides by, in all his goodliness. Cressida
waxes "as red as rose," as she sees him salute humbly, "with
dreadful cheer, and oft his hues mue [change];" she likes "all
y-fere, his person, his array, his look, his cheer, his goodly
manner, and his gentleness;" so that, however she may have
been before, "to goode hope now hath she caught a thorn, she
shall not pull it out this nexte week." Pandarus, striking the iron
when it is hot, asks his niece to grant Troilus an interview; but
she strenuously declines, for fear of scandal, and because it is
too soon to allow him so great a liberty -- her purpose being to
love him unknown of all, "and guerdon [reward] him with
nothing but with sight." Pandarus has other intentions; and,
while Troilus writes daily letters with increasing love, he
contrives the means of an interview. Seeking out Deiphobus,
the brother of Troilus, he tells him that Cressida is in danger
violence from Polyphete, and asks protection for her.
Deiphobus gladly complies, promises the protection of Hector
and Helen, and goes to invite Cressida to dinner on the morrow.
Meantime Pandarus instructs Troilus to go to the house of
Deiphobus, plead an access of his fever for remaining all night,
and keep his chamber next day. "Lo," says the crafty promoter
of love, borrowing a phrase from the hunting-field; "Lo, hold
thee at thy tristre [tryst <33>] close, and I shall well the deer
unto thy bowe drive." Unsuspicious of stratagem, Cressida
comes to dinner; and at table, Helen, Pandarus, and others,
praise the absent Troilus, until "her heart laughs" for very pride
that she has the love of such a knight. After dinner they speak
of Cressida's business; all confirm Deiphobus' assurances of
protection and aid; and Pandarus suggests that, since Troilus is
there, Cressida shall herself tell him her case. Helen and
Deiphobus alone accompany Pandarus to Troilus' chamber;
there Troilus produces some documents relating to the public
weal, which Hector has sent for his opinion; Helen and
Deiphobus, engrossed in perusal and discussion, roam out of
the chamber, by a stair, into the garden; while Pandarus goes
down to the hall, and, pretending that his brother and Helen are
still with Troilus, brings Cressida to her lover. The Second
Book leaves Pandarus whispering in his niece's ear counsel to
be merciful and kind to her lover, that hath for her such pain;
while Troilus lies "in a kankerdort," <34> hearing the
whispering without, and wondering what he shall say for this
"was the first time that he should her pray of love; O! mighty
God! what shall he say?"
THE THIRD BOOK.
To the Third Book is prefixed a beautiful invocation of Venus,
under the character of light:
O Blissful light, of which the beames clear
Adornen all the thirde heaven fair!
O Sunne's love, O Jove's daughter dear!
Pleasance of love, O goodly debonair,* *lovely
In gentle heart ay* ready to repair!** *always
**enter and abide
O very* cause of heal** and of gladness, *true
Y-heried* be thy might and thy goodness! *praised
In heav'n and hell, in earth and salte sea.
Is felt thy might, if that I well discern;
As man, bird, beast, fish, herb, and greene tree,
They feel in times, with vapour etern, <35>
God loveth, and to love he will not wern forbid
And in this world no living creature
Withoute love is worth, or may endure. <36>
Ye Jove first to those effectes glad,
Through which that thinges alle live and be,
Commended; and him amorous y-made
Of mortal thing; and as ye list,* ay ye *pleased
Gave him, in love, ease* or adversity, *pleasure
And in a thousand formes down him sent
For love in earth; and *whom ye list he hent.* *he
seized whom you
Ye fierce Mars appeasen of his ire,
And as you list ye make heartes dign* <37> *worthy
Algates* them that ye will set afire, *at
They dreade shame, and vices they resign
Ye do* him courteous to be, and benign; *make,
And high or low, after* a wight intendeth, *according
The joyes that he hath your might him sendeth.
Ye holde realm and house in unity;
Ye soothfast* cause of friendship be also; *true
Ye know all thilke *cover'd quality* *secret
Of thinges which that folk on wonder so,
When they may not construe how it may go
She loveth him, or why he loveth her,
As why this fish, not that, comes to the weir.*<38> *fish-trap
Knowing that Venus has set a law in the universe, that whoso
strives with her shall have the worse, the poet prays to be
taught to describe some of the joy that is felt in her service;
the Third Book opens with an account of the scene between
Troilus and Cressida:
Lay all this meane while Troilus
Recording* his lesson in this mannere; *memorizing
*"My fay!"* thought he, "thus will I say, and thus; *by
Thus will I plain* unto my lady dear; *make
That word is good; and this shall be my cheer
This will I not forgetten in no wise;"
God let him worken as he can devise.
And, Lord! so as his heart began to quap,* *quake,
Hearing her coming, and *short for to sike;* *make
And Pandarus, that led her by the lap,* *skirt
Came near, and gan in at the curtain pick,* *peep
And saide: "God do boot* alle sick! *afford
a remedy to
See who is here you coming to visite;
Lo! here is she that is *your death to wite!"* *to blame for your
Therewith it seemed as he wept almost.
"Ah! ah! God help!" quoth Troilus ruefully;
"Whe'er* me be woe, O mighty God, thou know'st! *whether
Who is there? for I see not truely."
"Sir," quoth Cresside, "it is Pandare and I;
"Yea, sweete heart? alas, I may not rise
To kneel and do you honour in some wise."
And dressed him upward, and she right tho* *then
Gan both her handes soft upon him lay.
"O! for the love of God, do ye not so
To me," quoth she; "ey! what is this to say?
For come I am to you for causes tway;* *two
First you to thank, and of your lordship eke
Continuance* I woulde you beseek."** *protection
This Troilus, that heard his lady pray
Him of lordship, wax'd neither quick nor dead;
Nor might one word for shame to it say, <39>
Although men shoulde smiten off his head.
But, Lord! how he wax'd suddenly all red!
And, Sir, his lesson, that he *ween'd have con,* *thought
To praye her, was through his wit y-run. by heart*
Cresside all this espied well enow, --
For she was wise, -- and lov'd him ne'er the less,
All n'ere he malapert, nor made avow,
Nor was so bold to sing a foole's mass;<40>
But, when his shame began somewhat to pass,
His wordes, as I may my rhymes hold,
I will you tell, as teache bookes old.
In changed voice, right for his very dread,
Which voice eke quak'd, and also his mannere
Goodly* abash'd, and now his hue is red, *becomingly
Now pale, unto Cresside, his lady dear,
With look downcast, and humble *yielden cheer,* *submissive
Lo! *altherfirste word that him astert,* *the
first word he said*
Was twice: "Mercy, mercy, my dear heart!"
And stent* a while; and when he might *out bring,* *stopped
The nexte was: "God wote, for I have,
*As farforthly as I have conning,* *as
far as I am able*
Been youres all, God so my soule save,
And shall, till that I, woeful wight, *be grave;* *die*
And though I dare not, cannot, to you plain,
Y-wis, I suffer not the lesse pain.
"This much as now, O womanlike wife!
I may *out bring,* and if it you displease, *speak
That shall I wreak* upon mine owne life, *avenge
Right soon, I trow, and do your heart an ease,
If with my death your heart I may appease:
But, since that ye have heard somewhat say,
Now reck I never how soon that I dey." *die
Therewith his manly sorrow to behold
It might have made a heart of stone to rue;
And Pandare wept as he to water wo'ld, <41>
And saide, "Woe-begone* be heartes true," *in
And procur'd* his niece ever new and new, *urged
"For love of Godde, make *of him an end,* *put
him out of pain*
Or slay us both at ones, ere we wend."* *go
"Ey! what?" quoth she; "by God and by my truth,
I know not what ye woulde that I say;"
"Ey! what?" quoth he; "that ye have on him ruth,* *pity
For Godde's love, and do him not to dey." *die
"Now thenne thus," quoth she, "I would him pray
To telle me the *fine of his intent;* *end
of his desire*
Yet wist* I never well what that he meant." *knew
"What that I meane, sweete hearte dear?"
Quoth Troilus, "O goodly, fresh, and free!
That, with the streames* of your eyne so clear, *beams,
Ye woulde sometimes *on me rue and see,* *take
pity and look on me*
And then agreen* that I may be he, *take
in good part
Withoute branch of vice, in any wise,
In truth alway to do you my service,
"As to my lady chief, and right resort,
With all my wit and all my diligence;
And for to have, right as you list, comfort;
Under your yerd,* equal to mine offence, *rod,
As death, if that *I breake your defence;* *do
And that ye deigne me so much honour, forbid <42>*
Me to commanden aught in any hour.
"And I to be your very humble, true,
Secret, and in my paines patient,
And evermore desire, freshly new,
To serven, and be alike diligent,
And, with good heart, all wholly your talent
Receive in gree,* how sore that me smart; *gladness
Lo, this mean I, mine owen sweete heart."
. . . . . . . . . .
With that she gan her eyen on him* cast, <43> *Pandarus
Full easily and full debonairly,* *graciously
*Advising her,* and hied* not too fast, *considering*
With ne'er a word, but said him softely,
"Mine honour safe, I will well truely,
And in such form as ye can now devise,
Receive him* fully to my service; *Troilus
"Beseeching him, for Godde's love, that he
Would, in honour of truth and gentleness,
As I well mean, eke meane well to me;
And mine honour, with *wit and business,* *wisdom
Aye keep; and if I may do him gladness,
From henceforth, y-wis I will not feign:
Now be all whole, no longer do ye plain.
"But, natheless, this warn I you," quoth she,
"A kinge's son although ye be, y-wis,
Ye shall no more have sovereignety
Of me in love, than right in this case is;
Nor will I forbear, if ye do amiss,
To wrathe* you, and, while that ye me serve, *be
angry with, chide
To cherish you, *right after ye deserve.* *as
"And shortly, deare heart, and all my knight,
Be glad, and drawe you to lustiness,* *pleasure
And I shall truely, with all my might,
Your bitter turnen all to sweeteness;
If I be she that may do you gladness,
For ev'ry woe ye shall recover a bliss:"
And him in armes took, and gan him kiss.
Pandarus, almost beside himself for joy, falls on his knees to
thank Venus and Cupid, declaring that for this miracle he hears
all the bells ring; then, with a warning to be ready at his call
meet at his house, he parts the lovers, and attends Cressida
while she takes leave of the household -- Troilus all the time
groaning at the deceit practised on his brother and Helen. When
he has got rid of them by feigning weariness, Pandarus returns
to the chamber, and spends the night with him in converse. The
zealous friend begins to speak "in a sober wise" to Troilus,
reminding him of his love-pains now all at an end.
"So that through me thou standest now in way
To fare well; I say it for no boast;
And know'st thou why? For, shame it is to say,
For thee have I begun a game to play,
Which that I never shall do eft* for other,** *again
Although he were a thousand fold my brother.
"That is to say, for thee I am become,
Betwixte game and earnest, such a mean* *means,
As make women unto men to come;
Thou know'st thyselfe what that woulde mean;
For thee have I my niece, of vices clean,* *pure,
So fully made thy gentleness* to trust, *nobility
That all shall be right *as thyselfe lust.* *as
"But God, that *all wot,* take I to witness, *knows
That never this for covetise* I wrought, *greed
But only to abridge* thy distress, *abate
For which well nigh thou diedst, as me thought;
But, goode brother, do now as thee ought,
For Godde's love, and keep her out of blame;
Since thou art wise, so save thou her name.
"For, well thou know'st, the name yet of her,
Among the people, as who saith hallow'd is;
For that man is unborn, I dare well swear,
That ever yet wist* that she did amiss; *knew
But woe is me, that I, that cause all this,
May thinke that she is my niece dear,
And I her eme,* and traitor eke y-fere.** *uncle
<17> **as well
"And were it wist that I, through mine engine,* *arts,
Had in my niece put this fantasy* *fancy
To do thy lust,* and wholly to be thine, *pleasure
Why, all the people would upon it cry,
And say, that I the worste treachery
Did in this case, that ever was begun,
And she fordone,* and thou right naught y-won." *ruined
Therefore, ere going a step further, Pandarus prays Troilus to
give him pledges of secrecy, and impresses on his mind the
mischiefs that flow from vaunting in affairs of love. "Of
kind,"[by his very nature] he says, no vaunter is to be believed:
"For a vaunter and a liar all is one;
As thus: I pose* a woman granteth me *suppose,
Her love, and saith that other will she none,
And I am sworn to holden it secre,
And, after, I go tell it two or three;
Y-wis, I am a vaunter, at the least,
And eke a liar, for I break my hest.*<44> *promise
"Now looke then, if they be not to blame,
Such manner folk; what shall I call them, what?
That them avaunt of women, and by name,
That never yet behight* them this nor that, *promised
Nor knowe them no more than mine old hat? less granted)
No wonder is, so God me sende heal,* *prosperity
Though women dreade with us men to deal!
"I say not this for no mistrust of you,
Nor for no wise men, but for fooles nice;* *silly
And for the harm that in the world is now,
As well for folly oft as for malice;
For well wot I, that in wise folk that vice
No woman dreads, if she be well advised;
For wise men be by fooles' harm chastised."* *corrected,
So Pandarus begs Troilus to keep silent, promises to be true all
his days, and assures him that he shall have all that he will in
love of Cressida: "thou knowest what thy lady granted thee; and
day is set the charters up to make."
Who mighte telle half the joy and feast
Which that the soul of Troilus then felt,
Hearing th'effect of Pandarus' behest?
His olde woe, that made his hearte swelt,* *faint,
Gan then for joy to wasten and to melt,
And all the reheating <46> of his sighes sore
At ones fled, he felt of them no more.
But right so as these *holtes and these hayes,* *woods
That have in winter deade been and dry,
Reveste them in greene, when that May is,
When ev'ry *lusty listeth* best to play; *pleasant
Right in that selfe wise, sooth to say,
Wax'd suddenly his hearte full of joy,
That gladder was there never man in Troy.
Troilus solemnly swears that never, "for all the good that God
made under sun," will he reveal what Pandarus asks him to keep
secret; offering to die a thousand times, if need were, and to
follow his friend as a slave all his life, in proof of his gratitude.
"But here, with all my heart, I thee beseech,
That never in me thou deeme* such folly *judge
As I shall say; me thoughte, by thy speech,
That this which thou me dost for company,* *friendship
I shoulde ween it were a bawdery;* *a
*I am not wood, all if I lewed be;* *I
am not mad, though
It is not one, that wot I well, pardie! I be unlearned*
"But he that goes for gold, or for richess,
On such messages, call him *as thee lust;* *what
And this that thou dost, call it gentleness,
Compassion, and fellowship, and trust;
Depart it so, for widewhere is wist
How that there is diversity requer'd
Betwixte thinges like, as I have lear'd. <47>
"And that thou know I think it not nor ween,* *suppose
That this service a shame be or a jape, *subject
I have my faire sister Polyxene,
Cassandr', Helene, or any of the frape;* *set
Be she never so fair, or well y-shape,
Telle me which thou wilt of ev'ry one,
To have for thine, and let me then alone."
Then, beseeching Pandarus soon to perform out the great
enterprise of crowning his love for Cressida, Troilus bade his
friend good night. On the morrow Troilus burned as the fire, for
hope and pleasure; yet "he not forgot his wise governance [self-
But in himself with manhood gan restrain
Each rakel* deed, and each unbridled cheer,** *rash
That alle those that live, sooth to sayn,
Should not have wist,* by word or by mannere, *suspicion
What that he meant, as touching this mattere;
From ev'ry wight as far as is the cloud
He was, so well dissimulate he could.
And all the while that I now devise* *describe,
This was his life: with all his fulle might,
By day he was in Marte's high service,
That is to say, in armes as a knight;
And, for the moste part, the longe night
He lay, and thought how that he mighte serve
His lady best, her thank* for to deserve. *gratitude
I will not swear, although he laye soft,
That in his thought he n'as somewhat diseas'd;* *troubled
Nor that he turned on his pillows oft,
And would of that him missed have been seis'd;* *possessed
But in such case men be not alway pleas'd,
For aught I wot, no more than was he;
That can I deem* of possibility. *judge
But certain is, to purpose for to go,
That in this while, as written is in gest,* *the
He saw his lady sometimes, and also these events
She with him spake, when that she *durst and lest;* *dared and pleased*
And, by their both advice,* as was the best, *consultation
*Appointed full warily* in this need, *made
So as they durst, how far they would proceed.
But it was spoken in *so short a wise, *so briefly, and always in
In such await alway, and in such fear, vigilance and fear of being
Lest any wight divinen or devise* found out by anyone*
Would of their speech, or to it lay an ear,
*That all this world them not so lefe were,* *they
wanted more than
As that Cupido would them grace send anything in the world*
To maken of their speeches right an end.
But thilke little that they spake or wrought,
His wise ghost* took ay of all such heed, *spirit
It seemed her he wiste what she thought
Withoute word, so that it was no need
To bid him aught to do, nor aught forbid;
For which she thought that love, all* came it late, *although
Of alle joy had open'd her the gate.
Troilus, by his discretion, his secrecy, and his devotion, made
ever a deeper lodgment in Cressida's heart; so that she thanked
God twenty thousand times that she had met with a man who,
as she felt, "was to her a wall of steel, and shield from ev'ry
displeasance;" while Pandarus ever actively fanned the fire. So
passed a "time sweet" of tranquil and harmonious love the only
drawback being, that the lovers might not often meet, "nor
leisure have, their speeches to fulfil." At last Pandarus found
occasion for bringing them together at his house unknown to
anybody, and put his plan in execution.
For he, with great deliberation,
Had ev'ry thing that hereto might avail* *be
Forecast, and put in execution,
And neither left for cost nor for travail;* *effort
Come if them list, them shoulde nothing fail,
*Nor for to be in aught espied there,
That wiste he an impossible were.* *he
knew it was impossible*
that they could be discovered there*
And dreadeless* it clear was in the wind *without
Of ev'ry pie, and every let-game; <49>
Now all is well, for all this world is blind,
In this mattere, bothe fremd* and tame; <50> *wild
This timber is all ready for to frame;
Us lacketh naught, but that we weete* wo'ld *know
A certain hour in which we come sho'ld. <51>
Troilus had informed his household, that if at any time he was
missing, he had gone to worship at a certain temple of Apollo,
"and first to see the holy laurel quake, or that the godde spake
out of the tree." So, at the changing of the moon, when "the
welkin shope him for to rain," [when the sky was preparing to
rain] Pandarus went to invite his niece to supper; solemnly
assuring her that Troilus was out of the town -- though all the
time he was safely shut up, till midnight, in "a little stew,"
whence through a hole he joyously watched the arrival of his
mistress and her fair niece Antigone, with half a score of her
women. After supper Pandaras did everything to amuse his
niece; "he sung, he play'd, he told a tale of Wade;" <52> at last
she would take her leave; but
The bente Moone with her hornes pale,
Saturn, and Jove, in Cancer joined were, <53>
That made such a rain from heav'n avail,* *descend
That ev'ry manner woman that was there
Had of this smoky rain <54> a very fear;
At which Pandarus laugh'd, and saide then
"Now were it time a lady to go hen!"* *hence
He therefore presses Cressida to remain all night; she complies
with a good grace; and after the sleeping cup has gone round,
all retire to their chambers -- Cressida, that she may not be
disturbed by the rain and thunder, being lodged in the "inner
closet" of Pandarus, who, to lull suspicion, occupies the outer
chamber, his niece's women sleeping in the intermediate
apartment. When all is quiet, Pandarus liberates Troilus, and by
a secret passage brings him to the chamber of Cressida; then,
going forward alone to his niece, after calming her fears of
discovery, he tells her that her lover has "through a gutter, by
privy went," [a secret passage] come to his house in all this rain,
mad with grief because a friend has told him that she loves
Horastes. Suddenly cold about her heart, Cressida promises that
on the morrow she will reassure her lover; but Pandarus scouts
the notion of delay, laughs to scorn her proposal to send her
ring in pledge of her truth, and finally, by pitiable accounts of
Troilus' grief, induces her to receive him and reassure him at
once with her own lips.
This Troilus full soon on knees him set,
Full soberly, right by her bedde's head,
And in his beste wise his lady gret* *greeted
But Lord! how she wax'd suddenly all red,
And thought anon how that she would be dead;
She coulde not one word aright out bring,
So suddenly for his sudden coming.
Cressida, though thinking that her servant and her knight should
not have doubted her truth, yet sought to remove his jealousy,
and offered to submit to any ordeal or oath he might impose;
then, weeping, she covered her face, and lay silent. "But now,"
exclaims the poet --
But now help, God, to quenchen all this sorrow!
So hope I that he shall, for he best may;
For I have seen, of a full misty morrow,* *morn
Followen oft a merry summer's day,
And after winter cometh greene May;
Folk see all day, and eke men read in stories,
That after sharpe stoures* be victories. *conflicts,
Believing his mistress to be angry, Troilus felt the cramp of
death seize on his heart, "and down he fell all suddenly in
swoon." Pandarus "into bed him cast," and called on his niece to
pull out the thorn that stuck in his heart, by promising that she
would "all forgive." She whispered in his ear the assurance that
she was not wroth; and at last, under her caresses, he recovered
consciousness, to find her arm laid over him, to hear the
assurance of her forgiveness, and receive her frequent kisses.
Fresh vows and explanations passed; and Cressida implored
forgiveness of "her own sweet heart," for the pain she had
caused him. Surprised with sudden bliss, Troilus put all in God's
hand, and strained his lady fast in his arms. "What might or may
the seely [innocent] larke say, when that the sperhawk
[sparrowhawk] hath him in his foot?"
Cressida, which that felt her thus y-take,
As write clerkes in their bookes old,
Right as an aspen leaf began to quake,
When she him felt her in his armes fold;
But Troilus, all *whole of cares cold,* *cured of painful sorrows*<55>
Gan thanke then the blissful goddes seven. <56>
Thus sundry paines bringe folk to heaven.
This Troilus her gan in armes strain,
And said, "O sweet, as ever may I go'n,* *prosper
Now be ye caught, now here is but we twain,
Now yielde you, for other boot* is none." *remedy
To that Cresside answered thus anon,
"N' had I ere now, my sweete hearte dear,
*Been yolden,* y-wis, I were now not here!" *yielded
O sooth is said, that healed for to be
Of a fever, or other great sickness,
Men muste drink, as we may often see,
Full bitter drink; and for to have gladness
Men drinken often pain and great distress!
I mean it here, as for this adventure,
That thorough pain hath founden all his cure.
And now sweetnesse seemeth far more sweet,
That bitterness assayed* was beforn; *tasted
For out of woe in blisse now they fleet,* *float,
None such they felte since that they were born;
Now is it better than both two were lorn! <58>
For love of God, take ev'ry woman heed
To worke thus, if it come to the need!
Cresside, all quit from ev'ry dread and teen,* *pain
As she that juste cause had him to trust,
Made him such feast,<59> it joy was for to see'n,
When she his truth and *intent cleane wist;* *knew
And as about a tree, with many a twist, of his purpose*
*Bitrent and writhen* is the sweet woodbind, *plaited
Gan each of them in armes other wind.* *embrace,
And as the *new abashed* nightingale, *newly-arrived
That stinteth,* first when she beginneth sing, *stops
When that she heareth any *herde's tale,* *the
talking of a shepherd*
Or in the hedges any wight stirring;
And, after, sicker* out her voice doth ring; *confidently
Right so Cressida, when *her dreade stent,* *her
Open'd her heart, and told him her intent.* *mind
And might as he that sees his death y-shapen,* *prepared
And dien must, *in aught that he may guess,* *for
all he can tell*
And suddenly *rescouse doth him escapen,* *he is
rescued and escapes*
And from his death is brought *in sickerness;* *to
For all the world, in such present gladness
Was Troilus, and had his lady sweet;
With worse hap God let us never meet!
Her armes small, her straighte back and soft,
Her sides longe, fleshly, smooth, and white,
He gan to stroke; and good thrift* bade full oft *blessing
On her snow-white throat, her breastes round and lite;* *small
Thus in this heaven he gan him delight,
And therewithal a thousand times her kist,
That what to do for joy *unneth he wist.* *he
The lovers exchanged vows, and kisses, and embraces, and
speeches of exalted love, and rings; Cressida gave to Troilus a
brooch of gold and azure, "in which a ruby set was like a heart;"
and the too short night passed.
"When that the cock, commune astrologer, <60>
Gan on his breast to beat, and after crow,
And Lucifer, the daye's messenger,
Gan for to rise, and out his beames throw;
And eastward rose, to him that could it know,
Fortuna Major, <61> then anon Cresseide,
With hearte sore, to Troilus thus said:
"My hearte's life, my trust, and my pleasance!
That I was born, alas! that me is woe,
That day of us must make disseverance!
For time it is to rise, and hence to go,
Or else I am but lost for evermo'.
O Night! alas! why n'ilt thou o'er us hove,* *hover
As long as when Alcmena lay by Jove? <62>
"O blacke Night! as folk in bookes read
That shapen* art by God, this world to hide, *appointed
At certain times, with thy darke weed,* *robe
That under it men might in rest abide,
Well oughte beastes plain, and folke chide,
That where as Day with labour would us brest,* *burst,
There thou right flee'st, and deignest* not us rest.* *grantest
"Thou dost, alas! so shortly thine office,* *duty
Thou rakel* Night! that God, maker of kind, *rash,
Thee for thy haste and thine unkinde vice,
So fast ay to our hemisphere bind,
That never more under the ground thou wind;* *turn,
For through thy rakel hieing* out of Troy *hasting
Have I forgone* thus hastily my joy!" *lost
This Troilus, that with these wordes felt,
As thought him then, for piteous distress,
The bloody teares from his hearte melt,
As he that never yet such heaviness
Assayed had out of so great gladness,
Gan therewithal Cresside, his lady dear,
In armes strain, and said in this mannere:
"O cruel Day! accuser of the joy
That Night and Love have stol'n, and *fast y-wrien!* *closely
Accursed be thy coming into Troy! concealed*
For ev'ry bow'r* hath one of thy bright eyen: *chamber
Envious Day! Why list thee to espyen?
What hast thou lost? Why seekest thou this place?
There God thy light so quenche, for his grace!
"Alas! what have these lovers thee aguilt?* *offended,
Dispiteous* Day, thine be the pains of hell! *cruel,
For many a lover hast thou slain, and wilt;
Thy peering in will nowhere let them dwell:
What! proff'rest thou thy light here for to sell?
Go sell it them that smalle seales grave!* *cut
We will thee not, us needs no day to have."
And eke the Sunne, Titan, gan he chide,
And said, "O fool! well may men thee despise!
That hast the Dawning <63> all night thee beside,
And suff'rest her so soon up from thee rise,
For to disease* us lovers in this wise! *annoy
What! hold* thy bed, both thou, and eke thy Morrow! *keep
I bidde* God so give you bothe sorrow!" *pray
The lovers part with many sighs and protestations of
unswerving and undying love; Cressida responding to the vows
of Troilus with the assurance --
"That first shall Phoebus* falle from his sphere, *the
And heaven's eagle be the dove's fere,
And ev'ry rock out of his place start,
Ere Troilus out of Cressida's heart."
When Pandarus visits Troilus in his palace later in the day, he
warns him not to mar his bliss by any fault of his own:
"For, of Fortune's sharp adversity,
The worste kind of infortune is this,
A man to have been in prosperity,
And it remember when it passed is.<64>
Thou art wise enough; forthy,*" do not amiss; *therefore
Be not too rakel,* though thou sitte warm; *rash,
For if thou be, certain it will thee harm.
"Thou art at ease, and hold thee well therein;
For, all so sure as red is ev'ry fire,
As great a craft is to keep weal as win; <65>
Bridle alway thy speech and thy desire,
For worldly joy holds not but by a wire;
That proveth well, it breaks all day so oft,
Forthy need is to worke with it soft."
Troilus sedulously observes the counsel; and the lovers have
many renewals of their pleasure, and of their bitter chidings of
the Day. The effects of love on Troilus are altogether refining
and ennobling; as may be inferred from the song which he sung
often to Pandarus:
The Second Song of Troilus.
"Love, that of Earth and Sea hath governance!
Love, that his hestes* hath in Heaven high! *commandments
Love, that with a right wholesome alliance
Holds people joined, as him list them guy!* *guide
Love, that knitteth law and company,
And couples doth in virtue for to dwell,
Bind this accord, that I have told, and tell!
"That the worlde, with faith which that is stable,
Diverseth so, his *stoundes according;* *according
to its seasons*
That elementes, that be discordable,* *discordant
Holden a bond perpetually during;
That Phoebus may his rosy day forth bring;
And that the Moon hath lordship o'er the night; --
All this doth Love, ay heried* be his might! *praised
"That the sea, which that greedy is to flowen,
Constraineth to a certain ende* so *limit
His floodes, that so fiercely they not growen
To drenchen* earth and all for evermo'; *drown
And if that Love aught let his bridle go,
All that now loves asunder shoulde leap,
And lost were all that Love holds now *to heap.* *together
"So woulde God, that author is of kind,
That with his bond Love of his virtue list
To cherish heartes, and all fast to bind,
That from his bond no wight the way out wist!
And heartes cold, them would I that he twist,* *turned
To make them love; and that him list ay rue* *have
On heartes sore, and keep them that be true."
But Troilus' love had higher fruits than singing:
In alle needes for the towne's werre* *war
He was, and ay the first in armes dight,* *equipped,
And certainly, but if that bookes err,
Save Hector, most y-dread* of any wight; *dreaded
And this increase of hardiness* and might *courage
Came him of love, his lady's grace to win,
That altered his spirit so within.
In time of truce, a-hawking would he ride,
Or elles hunt the boare, bear, lioun;
The smalle beastes let he go beside;<67>
And when he came riding into the town,
Full oft his lady, from her window down,
As fresh as falcon coming out of mew,* *cage
Full ready was him goodly to salue.* *salute
And most of love and virtue was his speech,
And *in despite he had all wretchedness* *he
held in scorn all
And doubtless no need was him to beseech despicable actions*
To honour them that hadde worthiness,
And ease them that weren in distress;
And glad was he, if any wight well far'd,
That lover was, when he it wist or heard.
For he held every man lost unless he were in Love's service;
and, so did the power of Love work within him, that he was ay
[always] humble and benign, and "pride, envy, ire, and avarice,
he gan to flee, and ev'ry other vice."
THE FOURTH BOOK
A BRIEF Proem to the Fourth Book prepares us for the
treachery of Fortune to Troilus; from whom she turned away
her bright face, and took of him no heed, "and cast him clean
out of his lady's grace, and on her wheel she set up Diomede."
Then the narrative describes a skirmish in which the Trojans
were worsted, and Antenor, with many of less note, remained in
the hands of the Greeks. A truce was proclaimed for the
exchange of prisoners; and as soon as Calchas heard the news,
he came to the assembly of the Greeks, to "bid a boon." Having
gained audience, he reminded the besiegers how he had come
from Troy to aid and encourage them in their enterprise; willing
to lose all that he had in the city, except his daughter Cressida,
whom he bitterly reproached himself for leaving behind. And
now, with streaming tears and pitiful prayer, he besought them
to exchange Antenor for Cressida; assuring them that the day
was at hand when they should have both town and people. The
soothsayer's petition was granted; and the ambassadors charged
to negotiate the exchange, entering the city, told their errand
King Priam and his parliament.
This Troilus was present in the place
When asked was for Antenor Cresside;
For which to change soon began his face,
As he that with the wordes well nigh died;
But natheless he no word to it seid;* *said
Lest men should his affection espy,
With manne's heart he gan his sorrows drie;* *endure
And, full of anguish and of grisly dread,
Abode what other lords would to it say,
And if they woulde grant, -- as God forbid! --
Th'exchange of her, then thought he thinges tway:* *two
First, for to save her honour; and what way
He mighte best th'exchange of her withstand;
This cast he then how all this mighte stand.
Love made him alle *prest to do her bide,* *eager
to make her stay*
And rather die than that she shoulde go;
But Reason said him, on the other side,
"Without th'assent of her, do thou not so,
Lest for thy worke she would be thy foe;
And say, that through thy meddling is y-blow* *divulged,
Your bothe love, where it was *erst unknow."* *previously
For which he gan deliberate for the best,
That though the lordes woulde that she went,
He woulde suffer them grant what *them lest,* *they
And tell his lady first what that they meant;
And, when that she had told him her intent,
Thereafter would he worken all so blive,* *speedily
Though all the world against it woulde strive.
Hector, which that full well the Greekes heard,
For Antenor how they would have Cresseide,
Gan it withstand, and soberly answer'd;
"Sirs, she is no prisoner," he said;
"I know not on you who this charge laid;
But, for my part, ye may well soon him tell,
We use* here no women for to sell." *are
The noise of the people then upstart at once,
As breme* as blaze of straw y-set on fire *violent,
For Infortune* woulde for the nonce *Misfortune
They shoulde their confusion desire
"Hector," quoth they, "what ghost* may you inspire *spirit
This woman thus to shield, and *do us* lose *cause
Dan Antenor? -- a wrong way now ye choose, --
"That is so wise, and eke so bold baroun;
And we have need of folk, as men may see
He eke is one the greatest of this town;
O Hector! lette such fantasies be!
O King Priam!" quoth they, "lo! thus say we,
That all our will is to forego Cresseide;"
And to deliver Antenor they pray'd.
Though Hector often prayed them "nay," it was resolved that
Cressida should be given up for Antenor; then the parliament
dispersed. Troilus hastened home to his chamber, shut himself
up alone, and threw himself on his bed.
And as in winter leaves be bereft,
Each after other, till the tree be bare,
So that there is but bark and branch y-left,
Lay Troilus, bereft of each welfare,
Y-bounden in the blacke bark of care,
Disposed *wood out of his wit to braid,* *to
go out of his senses*
*So sore him sat* the changing of Cresseide. *so
ill did he bear*
He rose him up, and ev'ry door he shet,* *shut
And window eke; and then this sorrowful man
Upon his bedde's side adown him set,
Full like a dead image, pale and wan,
And in his breast the heaped woe began
Out burst, and he to worken in this wise,
In his woodness,* as I shall you devise.** *madness
Right as the wilde bull begins to spring,
Now here, now there, y-darted* to the heart, *pierced
with a dart
And of his death roareth in complaining;
Right so gan he about the chamber start,
Smiting his breast aye with his fistes smart;* *painfully,
His head to the wall, his body to the ground,
Full oft he swapt,* himselfe to confound. *struck,
His eyen then, for pity of his heart,
Out streameden as swifte welles* tway; *fountains
The highe sobbes of his sorrow's smart
His speech him reft; unnethes* might he say, *scarcely
"O Death, alas! *why n'ilt thou do me dey?* *why
will you not
Accursed be that day which that Nature make me die?*
Shope* me to be a living creature!" *shaped
Bitterly reviling Fortune, and calling on Love to explain why his
happiness with Cressicla should be thus repealed, Troilus
declares that, while he lives, he will bewail his misfortune in
solitude, and will never see it shine or rain, but will end his
sorrowful life in darkness, and die in distress.
"O weary ghost, that errest to and fro!
Why n'ilt* thou fly out of the woefulest *wilt
Body that ever might on grounde go?
O soule, lurking in this woeful nest!
Flee forth out of my heart, and let it brest,* *burst
And follow alway Cresside, thy lady dear!
Thy righte place is now no longer here.
"O woeful eyen two! since your disport* *delight
Was all to see Cressida's eyen bright,
What shall ye do, but, for my discomfort,
Stande for naught, and weepen out your sight,
Since she is quench'd, that wont was you to light?
In vain, from this forth, have I eyen tway
Y-formed, since your virtue is away!
"O my Cresside! O lady sovereign
Of thilke* woeful soule that now cryeth! *this
Who shall now give comfort to thy pain?
Alas! no wight; but, when my hearte dieth,
My spirit, which that so unto you hieth,* *hasteneth
Receive *in gree,* for that shall ay you serve; *with
*Forthy no force is* though the body sterve.* *therefore
"O ye lovers, that high upon the wheel
Be set of Fortune, in good adventure,
God lene* that ye find ay** love of steel,<69> *grant
And longe may your life in joy endure!
But when ye come by my sepulture,* *sepulchre
Remember that your fellow resteth there;
For I lov'd eke, though I unworthy were.
"O old, unwholesome, and mislived man,
Calchas I mean, alas! what ailed thee
To be a Greek, since thou wert born Trojan?
O Calchas! which that will my bane* be, *destruction
In cursed time wert thou born for me!
As woulde blissful Jove, for his joy,
That I thee hadde where I would in Troy!"
Soon Troilus, through excess of grief, fell into a trance; in
which he was found by Pandarus, who had gone almost
distracted at the news that Cressida was to be exchanged for
Antenor. At his friend's arrival, Troilus "gan as the snow against
the sun to melt;" the two mingled their tears a while; then
Pandarus strove to comfort the woeful lover. He admitted that
never had a stranger ruin than this been wrought by Fortune:
"But tell me this, why thou art now so mad
To sorrow thus? Why li'st thou in this wise,
Since thy desire all wholly hast thou had,
So that by right it ought enough suffice?
But I, that never felt in my service
A friendly cheer or looking of an eye,
Let me thus weep and wail until I die. <70>
"And over all this, as thou well wost* thy selve, *knowest
This town is full of ladies all about,
And, *to my doom,* fairer than suche twelve *in
As ever she was, shall I find in some rout,* *company
Yea! one or two, withouten any doubt:
Forthy* be glad, mine owen deare brother! *therefore
If she be lost, we shall recover another.
"What! God forbid alway that each pleasance
In one thing were, and in none other wight;
If one can sing, another can well dance;
If this be goodly, she is glad and light;
And this is fair, and that can good aright;
Each for his virtue holden is full dear,
Both heroner, and falcon for rivere. <71>
"And eke as writ Zausis,<72> that was full wise,
The newe love out chaseth oft the old,
And upon new case lieth new advice; <73>
Think eke thy life to save thou art hold;* *bound
Such fire *by process shall of kinde cold;* *shall
grow cold by
For, since it is but casual pleasance, process of nature*
Some case* shall put it out of remembrance. *chance
"For, all so sure as day comes after night,
The newe love, labour, or other woe,
Or elles seldom seeing of a wight,
Do old affections all *over go;* *overcome*
And for thy part, thou shalt have one of tho* *those
T'abridge with thy bitter paine's smart;
Absence of her shall drive her out of heart."
These wordes said he *for the nones all,* *only
for the nonce*
To help his friend, lest he for sorrow died;
For, doubteless, to do his woe to fall,* *make
his woe subside*
He raughte* not what unthrift** that he said; *cared
But Troilus, that nigh for sorrow died,
Took little heed of all that ever he meant;
One ear it heard, at th'other out it went.
But, at the last, he answer'd and said,
"Friend, This leachcraft, or y-healed thus to be,
Were well sitting* if that I were a fiend, *recked
To traisen* her that true is unto me: *betray
I pray God, let this counsel never the,* *thrive
But do me rather sterve* anon right here, *die
Ere I thus do, as thou me wouldest lear!"* *teach
Troilus protests that his lady shall have him wholly hers till
death; and, debating the counsels of his friend, declares that
even if he would, he could not love another. Then he points out
the folly of not lamenting the loss of Cressida because she had
been his in ease and felicity -- while Pandarus himself, though
he thought it so light to change to and fro in love, had not done
busily his might to change her that wrought him all the woe of
his unprosperous suit.
"If thou hast had in love ay yet mischance,
And canst it not out of thine hearte drive,
I that lived in lust* and in pleasance *delight
With her, as much as creature alive,
How should I that forget, and that so blive?* *quickly
O where hast thou been so long hid in mew,*<74> *cage
That canst so well and formally argue!"
The lover condemns the whole discourse of his friend as
unworthy, and calls on Death, the ender of all sorrows, to come
to him and quench his heart with his cold stroke. Then he distils
anew in tears, "as liquor out of alembic;" and Pandarus is silent
for a while, till he bethinks him to recommend to Troilus the
carrying off of Cressida. "Art thou in Troy, and hast no
hardiment [daring, boldness] to take a woman which that loveth
thee?" But Troilus reminds his counsellor that all the war had
come from the ravishing of a woman by might (the abduction of
Helen by Paris); and that it would not beseem him to withstand
his father's grant, since the lady was to be changed for the
town's good. He has dismissed the thought of asking Cressida
from his father, because that would be to injure her fair fame,
no purpose, for Priam could not overthrow the decision of "so
high a place as parliament;" while most of all he fears to perturb
her heart with violence, to the slander of her name -- for he
must hold her honour dearer than himself in every case, as
lovers ought of right:
"Thus am I in desire and reason twight:* *twisted
Desire, for to disturbe her, me redeth;* *counseleth
And Reason will not, so my hearte dreadeth."* *is
Thus weeping, that he coulde never cease
He said, "Alas! how shall I, wretche, fare?
For well feel I alway my love increase,
And hope is less and less alway, Pandare!
Increasen eke the causes of my care;
So well-away! *why n' ill my hearte brest?* *why
For us in love there is but little rest." my heart break?*
Pandare answered, "Friend, thou may'st for me
Do as thee list;* but had I it so hot, *please
And thine estate,* she shoulde go with me! *rank
Though all this town cried on this thing by note,
I would not set* all that noise a groat; *value
For when men have well cried, then will they rown,* *whisper
Eke wonder lasts but nine nights ne'er in town.
"Divine not in reason ay so deep,
Nor courteously, but help thyself anon;
Bet* is that others than thyselfe weep; *better
And namely, since ye two be all one,
Rise up, for, by my head, she shall not go'n!
And rather be in blame a little found,
Than sterve* here as a gnat withoute wound! *die
"It is no shame unto you, nor no vice,
Her to withholde, that ye loveth most;
Parauntre* she might holde thee for nice,** *peradventure
To let her go thus unto the Greeks' host;
Think eke, Fortune, as well thyselfe wost,
Helpeth the hardy man to his emprise,
And weiveth* wretches for their cowardice. *forsaketh
"And though thy lady would a lite* her grieve, *little
Thou shalt thyself thy peace thereafter make;
But, as to me, certain I cannot 'lieve
That she would it as now for evil take:
Why shoulde then for fear thine hearte quake?
Think eke how Paris hath, that is thy brother,
A love; and why shalt thou not have another?
"And, Troilus, one thing I dare thee swear,
That if Cressida, which that is thy lief,* *love
Now loveth thee as well as thou dost her,
God help me so, she will not take agrief* *amiss
Though thou *anon do boot in* this mischief; *provide
And if she willeth from thee for to pass, immediately*
Then is she false, so love her well the lass.* *less
"Forthy,* take heart, and think, right as a knight, *therefore
Through love is broken all day ev'ry law;
Kithe* now somewhat thy courage and thy might; *show
Have mercy on thyself, *for any awe;* *in
spite of any fear*
Let not this wretched woe thine hearte gnaw;
But, manly, set the world on six and seven, <75>
And, if thou die a martyr, go to heaven."
Pandarus promises his friend all aid in the enterprise; it is agreed
that Cressida shall be carried off, but only with her own
consent; and Pandarus sets out for his niece's house, to arrange
an interview. Meantime Cressida has heard the news; and,
caring nothing for her father, but everything for Troilus, she
burns in love and fear, unable to tell what she shall do.
But, as men see in town, and all about,
That women use* friendes to visite, *are
So to Cresside of women came a rout,* *troop
For piteous joy, and *weened her delight,* *thought
to please her*
And with their tales, *dear enough a mite,* *not
worth a mite*
These women, which that in the city dwell,
They set them down, and said as I shall tell.
Quoth first that one, "I am glad, truely,
Because of you, that shall your father see;"
Another said, "Y-wis, so am not I,
For all too little hath she with us be."* *been
Quoth then the third, "I hope, y-wis, that she
Shall bringen us the peace on ev'ry side;
Then, when she goes, Almighty God her guide!"
Those wordes, and those womanishe thinges,
She heard them right as though she thennes* were, *thence;
For, God it wot, her heart on other thing is; other place
Although the body sat among them there,
Her advertence* is always elleswhere; *attention
For Troilus full fast her soule sought;
Withoute word, on him alway she thought.
These women that thus weened her to please,
Aboute naught gan all their tales spend;
Such vanity ne can do her no ease,
As she that all this meane while brenn'd
Of other passion than that they wend;* *weened,
So that she felt almost her hearte die
For woe, and weary* of that company. *weariness
For whiche she no longer might restrain
Her teares, they began so up to well,
That gave signes of her bitter pain,
In which her spirit was, and muste dwell,
Rememb'ring her from heav'n into which hell
She fallen was, since she forwent* the sight *lost
Of Troilus; and sorrowfully she sight.* *sighed
And thilke fooles, sitting her about,
Weened that she had wept and siked* sore, *sighed
Because that she should out of that rout* *company
Depart, and never playe with them more;
And they that hadde knowen her of yore
Saw her so weep, and thought it kindeness,
And each of them wept eke for her distress.
And busily they gonnen* her comfort *began
Of thing, God wot, on which she little thought;
And with their tales weened her disport,
And to be glad they her besought;
But such an ease therewith they in her wrought,
Right as a man is eased for to feel,
For ache of head, to claw him on his heel.
But, after all this nice* vanity, *silly
They took their leave, and home they wenten all;
Cressida, full of sorrowful pity,
Into her chamber up went out of the hall,
And on her bed she gan for dead to fall,
In purpose never thennes for to rise;
And thus she wrought, as I shall you devise.* *narrate
She rent her sunny hair, wrung her hands, wept, and bewailed
her fate; vowing that, since, "for the cruelty," she could handle
neither sword nor dart, she would abstain from meat and drink
until she died. As she lamented, Pandarus entered, making her
complain a thousand times more at the thought of all the joy
which he had given her with her lover; but he somewhat
soothed her by the prospect of Troilus's visit, and by the
counsel to contain her grief when he should come. Then
Pandarus went in search of Troilus, whom he found solitary in a
temple, as one that had ceased to care for life:
For right thus was his argument alway:
He said he was but lorne,* well-away! *lost,
"For all that comes, comes by necessity;
Thus, to be lorn,* it is my destiny. *lost,
"For certainly this wot I well," he said,
"That foresight of the divine purveyance* *providence
Hath seen alway me to forgo* Cresseide, *lose
Since God sees ev'ry thing, *out of doubtance,* *without
And them disposeth, through his ordinance,
In their merites soothly for to be,
As they should come by predestiny.
"But natheless, alas! whom shall I 'lieve?
For there be greate clerkes* many one *scholars
That destiny through argumentes preve, *prove
And some say that needly* there is none, *necessarily
But that free choice is giv'n us ev'ry one;
O well-away! so sly are clerkes old,
That I n'ot* whose opinion I may hold. <76> *know
"For some men say, if God sees all beforn,
Godde may not deceived be, pardie!
Then must it fallen,* though men had it sworn, *befall,
That purveyance hath seen before to be;
Wherefore I say, that from etern* if he *eternity
Hath wist* before our thought eke as our deed, *known
We have no free choice, as these clerkes read.* *maintain
"For other thought, nor other deed also,
Might never be, but such as purveyance,
Which may not be deceived never mo',
Hath feeled* before, without ignorance; *perceived
For if there mighte be a variance,
To writhen out from Godde's purveying,
There were no prescience of thing coming,
"But it were rather an opinion
Uncertain, and no steadfast foreseeing;
And, certes, that were an abusion,* *illusion
That God should have no perfect clear weeting,* *knowledge
More than we men, that have *doubtous weening;* *dubious
But such an error *upon God to guess,* *to
impute to God*
Were false, and foul, and wicked cursedness.* *impiety
"Eke this is an opinion of some
That have their top full high and smooth y-shore, <77>
They say right thus, that thing is not to come,
For* that the prescience hath seen before *because
That it shall come; but they say, that therefore
That it shall come, therefore the purveyance
Wot it before, withouten ignorance.
"And, in this manner, this necessity
*Returneth in his part contrary again;* *reacts
in the opposite
For needfully behoves it not to be, direction*
That thilke thinges *fallen in certain,* *certainly
That be purvey'd; but needly, as they sayn,
Behoveth it that thinges, which that fall,
That they in certain be purveyed all.
"I mean as though I labour'd me in this
To inquire which thing cause of which thing be;
As, whether that the prescience of God is
The certain cause of the necessity
Of thinges that to come be, pardie!
Or if necessity of thing coming
Be cause certain of the purveying.
"But now *enforce I me not* in shewing *I
do not lay stress*
How th'order of causes stands; but well wot I,
That it behoveth, that the befalling
Of thinges wiste* before certainly, *known
Be necessary, *all seem it not* thereby, *though
it does not appear*
That prescience put falling necessair
To thing to come, all fall it foul or fair.
"For, if there sit a man yond on a see,* *seat
Then by necessity behoveth it
That certes thine opinion sooth be,
That weenest, or conjectest,* that he sit; *conjecturest
And, furtherover, now againward yet,
Lo! right so is it on the part contrary;
As thus, -- now hearken, for I will not tarry; --
"I say that if th'opinion of thee
Be sooth, for that he sits, then say I this,
That he must sitte by necessity;
And thus necessity in either is,
For in him need of sitting is, y-wis,
And, in thee, need of sooth; and thus forsooth
There must necessity be in you both.
"But thou may'st say he sits not therefore
That thine opinion of his sitting sooth
But rather, for the man sat there before,
Therefore is thine opinion sooth, y-wis;
And I say, though the cause of sooth of this
Comes of his sitting, yet necessity
Is interchanged both in him and thee.
"Thus in the same wise, out of doubtance,
I may well maken, as it seemeth me,
My reasoning of Godde's purveyance,
And of the thinges that to come be;
By whiche reason men may well y-see
That thilke* thinges that in earthe fall,** *those
That by necessity they comen all.
"For although that a thing should come, y-wis,
Therefore it is purveyed certainly,
Not that it comes for it purveyed is;
Yet, natheless, behoveth needfully
That thing to come be purvey'd truely;
Or elles thinges that purveyed be,
That they betide* by necessity. *happen
"And this sufficeth right enough, certain,
For to destroy our free choice ev'ry deal;
But now is this abusion,* to sayn *illusion,
That falling of the thinges temporel
Is cause of Godde's prescience eternel;
Now truely that is a false sentence,* *opinion,
That thing to come should cause his prescience.
"What might I ween, an'* I had such a thought, *if
But that God purveys thing that is to come,
For that it is to come, and elles nought?
So might I ween that thinges, all and some,
That *whilom be befall and overcome,* *have
Be cause of thilke sov'reign purveyance, in times past*
That foreknows all, withouten ignorance.
"And over all this, yet say I more thereto, --
That right as when I wot there is a thing,
Y-wis, that thing must needfully be so;
Eke right so, when I wot a thing coming,
So must it come; and thus the befalling
Of thinges that be wist before the tide,* *time
They may not be eschew'd* on any side." *avoided
While Troilus was in all this heaviness, disputing with himself
this matter, Pandarus joined him, and told him the result of the
interview with Cressida; and at night the lovers met, with what
sighs and tears may be imagined. Cressida swooned away, so
that Troilus took her for dead; and, having tenderly laid out her
limbs, as one preparing a corpse for the bier, he drew his sword
to slay himself upon her body. But, as God would, just at that
moment she awoke out of her swoon; and by and by the pair
began to talk of their prospects. Cressida declared the opinion,
supporting it at great length and with many reasons, that there
was no cause for half so much woe on either part. Her
surrender, decreed by the parliament, could not be resisted; it
was quite easy for them soon to meet again; she would bring
things about that she should be back in Troy within a week or
two; she would take advantage of the constant coming and
going while the truce lasted; and the issue would be, that the
Trojans would have both her and Antenor; while, to facilitate
her return, she had devised a stratagem by which, working on
her father's avarice, she might tempt him to desert from the
Greek camp back to the city. "And truly," says the poet, having
fully reported her plausible speech,
And truely, as written well I find,
That all this thing was said *of good intent,* *sincerely*
And that her hearte true was and kind
Towardes him, and spake right as she meant,
And that she starf* for woe nigh when she went, *died
And was in purpose ever to be true;
Thus write they that of her workes knew.
This Troilus, with heart and ears y-sprad,* *all
Heard all this thing devised to and fro,
And verily it seemed that he had
*The selfe wit;* but yet to let her go *the
His hearte misforgave* him evermo'; *misgave
But, finally, he gan his hearte wrest* *compel
To truste her, and took it for the best.
For which the great fury of his penance* *suffering
Was quench'd with hope, and therewith them between
Began for joy the amorouse dance;
And as the birdes, when the sun is sheen, *bright
Delighten in their song, in leaves green,
Right so the wordes that they spake y-fere* *together
Delighten them, and make their heartes cheer.* *glad
Yet Troilus was not so well at ease, that he did not earnestly
entreat Cressida to observe her promise; for, if she came not
into Troy at the set day, he should never have health, honour, or
joy; and he feared that the stratagem by which she would try to
lure her father back would fail, so that she might be compelled
to remain among the Greeks. He would rather have them steal
away together, with sufficient treasure to maintain them all their
lives; and even if they went in their bare shirt, he had kin and
friends elsewhere, who would welcome and honour them.
Cressida, with a sigh, right in this wise
Answer'd; "Y-wis, my deare hearte true,
We may well steal away, as ye devise,
And finde such unthrifty wayes new;
But afterward full sore *it will us rue;* *we
will regret it*
And help me God so at my moste need
As causeless ye suffer all this dread!
"For thilke* day that I for cherishing *that
Or dread of father, or of other wight,
Or for estate, delight, or for wedding,
Be false to you, my Troilus, my knight,
Saturne's daughter Juno, through her might,
As wood* as Athamante <78> do me dwell *mad
Eternally in Styx the pit of hell!
"And this, on ev'ry god celestial
I swear it you, and eke on each goddess,
On ev'ry nymph, and deity infernal,
On Satyrs and on Faunes more or less,
That *halfe goddes* be of wilderness; *demigods
And Atropos my thread of life to-brest,* *break
If I be false! now trow* me if you lest.** *believe
"And thou Simois, <79> that as an arrow clear
Through Troy ay runnest downward to the sea,
Bear witness of this word that said is here!
That thilke day that I untrue be
To Troilus, mine owen hearte free,
That thou returne backward to thy well,
And I with body and soul sink in hell!"
Even yet Troilus was not wholly content, and urged anew his
plan of secret flight; but Cressida turned upon him with the
charge that he mistrusted her causelessly, and demanded of him
that he should be faithful in her absence, else she must die at
return. Troilus promised faithfulness in far simpler and briefer
words than Cressida had used.
"Grand mercy, good heart mine, y-wis," quoth she;
"And blissful Venus let me never sterve,* *die
Ere I may stand *of pleasance in degree in a position to reward
To quite him* that so well can deserve; him well with pleasure*
And while that God my wit will me conserve,
I shall so do; so true I have you found,
That ay honour to me-ward shall rebound.
"For truste well that your estate* royal, *rank
Nor vain delight, nor only worthiness
Of you in war or tourney martial,
Nor pomp, array, nobley, nor eke richess,
Ne made me to rue* on your distress; *take
But moral virtue, grounded upon truth,
That was the cause I first had on you ruth.* *pity
"Eke gentle heart, and manhood that ye had,
And that ye had, -- as me thought, -- in despite
Every thing that *sounded unto* bad, *tended
unto, accorded with*
As rudeness, and peoplish* appetite, *vulgar
And that your reason bridled your delight;
This made, aboven ev'ry creature,
That I was yours, and shall while I may dure.
"And this may length of yeares not fordo,* *destroy,
Nor remuable* Fortune deface; *unstable
But Jupiter, that of his might may do
The sorrowful to be glad, so give us grace,
Ere nightes ten to meeten in this place,
So that it may your heart and mine suffice!
And fare now well, for time is that ye rise."
The lovers took a heart-rending adieu; and Troilus, suffering
unimaginable anguish, "withoute more, out of the chamber
THE FIFTH BOOK.
APPROACHE gan the fatal destiny
That Jovis hath in disposition,
And to you angry Parcae,* Sisters three, *The
Committeth to do execution;
For which Cressida must out of the town,
And Troilus shall dwelle forth in pine,* *pain
Till Lachesis his thread no longer twine.* *twist
The golden-tressed Phoebus, high aloft,
Thries* had alle, with his beames clear, *thrice
The snowes molt,* and Zephyrus as oft *melted
Y-brought again the tender leaves green,
Since that *the son of Hecuba the queen* *Troilus
Began to love her first, for whom his sorrow
Was all, that she depart should on the morrow
In the morning, Diomede was ready to escort Cressida to the
Greek host; and Troilus, seeing him mount his horse, could with
difficulty resist an impulse to slay him -- but restrained himself,
lest his lady should be also slain in the tumult. When Cressida
was ready to go,
This Troilus, in guise of courtesy,
With hawk on hand, and with a huge rout* *retinue,
Of knightes, rode, and did her company,
Passing alle the valley far without;
And farther would have ridden, out of doubt,
Full fain,* and woe was him to go so soon, *gladly
But turn he must, and it was eke to do'n.
And right with that was Antenor y-come
Out of the Greekes' host, and ev'ry wight
Was of it glad, and said he was welcome;
And Troilus, *all n'ere his hearte light,* *although
He pained him, with all his fulle might, was not light*
Him to withhold from weeping at the least;
And Antenor he kiss'd and made feast.
And therewithal he must his leave take,
And cast his eye upon her piteously,
And near he rode, his cause* for to make *excuse,
To take her by the hand all soberly;
And, Lord! so she gan weepe tenderly!
And he full soft and slily gan her say,
"Now hold your day, and *do me not to dey."* *do
not make me die*
With that his courser turned he about,
With face pale, and unto Diomede
No word he spake, nor none of all his rout;
Of which the son of Tydeus <81> tooke heed,
As he that couthe* more than the creed <82> *knew
In such a craft, and by the rein her hent;* *took
And Troilus to Troye homeward went.
This Diomede, that led her by the bridle,
When that he saw the folk of Troy away,
Thought, "All my labour shall not be *on idle,* *in
If that I may, for somewhat shall I say;
For, at the worst, it may yet short our way;
I have heard say eke, times twice twelve,
He is a fool that will forget himselve."
But natheless, this thought he well enough,
That "Certainly I am aboute naught,
If that I speak of love, or *make it tough;* *make
For, doubteless, if she have in her thought immediate effort*
Him that I guess, he may not be y-brought
So soon away; but I shall find a mean,
That she *not wit as yet shall* what I mean." *shall
not yet know*
So he began a general conversation, assured her of not less
friendship and honour among the Greeks than she had enjoyed
in Troy, and requested of her earnestly to treat him as a brother
and accept his service -- for, at last he said, "I am and shall
ay, while that my life may dure, your own, aboven ev'ry
"Thus said I never e'er now to woman born;
For, God mine heart as wisly* gladden so! *surely
I loved never woman herebeforn,
As paramours, nor ever shall no mo';
And for the love of God be not my foe,
All* can I not to you, my lady dear, *although
Complain aright, for I am yet to lear.* *teach
"And wonder not, mine owen lady bright,
Though that I speak of love to you thus blive;* *soon
For I have heard ere this of many a wight
That loved thing he ne'er saw in his live;
Eke I am not of power for to strive
Against the god of Love, but him obey
I will alway, and mercy I you pray."
Cressida answered his discourses as though she scarcely heard
them; yet she thanked him for his trouble and courtesy, and
accepted his offered friendship -- promising to trust him, as well
she might. Then she alighted from her steed, and, with her heart
nigh breaking, was welcomed to the embrace of her father.
Meanwhile Troilus, back in Troy, was lamenting with tears the
loss of his love, despairing of his or her ability to survive the
days, and spending the night in wailing, sleepless tossing, and
troublous dreams. In the morning he was visited by Pandarus,
to whom he gave directions for his funeral; desiring that the
powder into which his heart was burned should be kept in a
golden urn, and given to Cressida. Pandarus renewed his old
counsels and consolations, reminded his friend that ten days
were a short time to wait, argued against his faith in evil
dreams, and urged him to take advantage of the truce, and
beguile the time by a visit to King Sarpedon (a Lycian Prince
who had come to aid the Trojans). Sarpedon entertained them
splendidly; but no feasting, no pomp, no music of instruments,
no singing of fair ladies, could make up for the absence of
Cressida to the desolate Troilus, who was for ever poring upon
her old letters, and recalling her loved form. Thus he "drove to
an end" the fourth day, and would have then returned to Troy,
but for the remonstrances of Pandarus, who asked if they had
visited Sarpedon only to fetch fire? At last, at the end of a
week, they returned to Troy; Troilus hoping to find Cressida
again in the city, Pandarus entertaining a scepticism which he
concealed from his friend. The morning after their return,
Troilus was impatient till he had gone to the palace of Cressida;
but when he found her doors all closed, "well nigh for sorrow
adown he gan to fall."
Therewith, when he was ware, and gan behold
How shut was ev'ry window of the place,
As frost him thought his hearte *gan to cold;* *began
to grow cold*
For which, with changed deadly pale face,
Withoute word, he forth began to pace;
And, as God would, he gan so faste ride,
That no wight of his countenance espied.
Then said he thus: "O palace desolate!
O house of houses, *whilom beste hight!* *formerly
O palace empty and disconsolate!
O thou lantern, of which quench'd is the light!
O palace, whilom day, that now art night!
Well oughtest thou to fall, and I to die,
Since she is gone that wont was us to guy!* *guide,
"O palace, whilom crown of houses all,
Illumined with sun of alle bliss!
O ring, from which the ruby is out fall!
O cause of woe, that cause hast been of bliss!
Yet, since I may no bet, fain would I kiss
Thy colde doores, durst I for this rout;
And farewell shrine, of which the saint is out!"
. . . . . . . . . . .
From thence forth he rideth up and down,
And ev'ry thing came him to remembrance,
As he rode by the places of the town,
In which he whilom had all his pleasance;
"Lo! yonder saw I mine own lady dance;
And in that temple, with her eyen clear,
Me caughte first my righte lady dear.
"And yonder have I heard full lustily
My deare hearte laugh; and yonder play:
Saw I her ones eke full blissfully;
And yonder ones to me gan she say,
'Now, goode sweete! love me well, I pray;'
And yond so gladly gan she me behold,
That to the death my heart is to her hold.* *holden,
"And at that corner, in the yonder house,
Heard I mine allerlevest* lady dear, *dearest
So womanly, with voice melodious,
Singe so well, so goodly and so clear,
That in my soule yet me thinks I hear
The blissful sound; and in that yonder place
My lady first me took unto her grace."
Then he went to the gates, and gazed along the way by which
he had attended Cressida at her departure; then he fancied that
all the passers-by pitied him; and thus he drove forth a day or
two more, singing a song, of few words, which he had made to
lighten his heart:
"O star, of which I lost have all the light,
With hearte sore well ought I to bewail,
That ever dark in torment, night by night,
Toward my death, with wind I steer and sail;
For which, the tenthe night, if that I fail* *miss;
be left without
The guiding of thy beames bright an hour,
My ship and me Charybdis will devour."
By night he prayed the moon to run fast about her sphere; by
day he reproached the tardy sun -- dreading that Phaethon had
come to life again, and was driving the chariot of Apollo out of
its straight course. Meanwhile Cressida, among the Greeks, was
bewailing the refusal of her father to let her return, the certainty
that her lover would think her false, and the hopelessness of any
attempt to steal away by night. Her bright face waxed pale, her
limbs lean, as she stood all day looking toward Troy; thinking
on her love and all her past delights, regretting that she had not
followed the counsel of Troilus to steal away with him, and
finally vowing that she would at all hazards return to the city.
But she was fated, ere two months, to be full far from any such
intention; for Diomede now brought all his skill into play, to
entice Cressida into his net. On the tenth day, Diomede, "as
fresh as branch in May," came to the tent of Cressida, feigning
business with Calchas.
Cresside, at shorte wordes for to tell,
Welcomed him, and down by her him set,
And he was *eath enough to make dwell;* *easily
persuaded to stay*
And after this, withoute longe let,* *delay
The spices and the wine men forth him fet,* *fetched
And forth they speak of this and that y-fere,* *together
As friendes do, of which some shall ye hear.
He gan first fallen of the war in speech
Between them and the folk of Troye town,
And of the siege he gan eke her beseech
To tell him what was her opinioun;
From that demand he so descended down
To aske her, if that her strange thought
The Greekes' guise,* and workes that they wrought. *fashion
And why her father tarried* so long *delayed
To wedde her unto some worthy wight.
Cressida, that was in her paines strong
For love of Troilus, her owen knight,
So farforth as she cunning* had or might, *ability
Answer'd him then; but, as for his intent,* *purpose
It seemed not she wiste* what he meant. *knew
But natheless this ilke* Diomede *same
Gan *in himself assure,* and thus he said; *grow
"If I aright have *taken on you heed,* *observed
Me thinketh thus, O lady mine Cresside,
That since I first hand on your bridle laid,
When ye out came of Troye by the morrow,
Ne might I never see you but in sorrow.
"I cannot say what may the cause be,
But if for love of some Trojan it were;
*The which right sore would a-thinke me* *which
it would much
That ye for any wight that dwelleth there pain me to think*
Should [ever] spill* a quarter of a tear, *shed
Or piteously yourselfe so beguile;* *deceive
For dreadeless* it is not worth the while. *undoubtedly
"The folk of Troy, as who saith, all and some
In prison be, as ye yourselfe see;
From thence shall not one alive come
For all the gold betwixte sun and sea;
Truste this well, and understande me;
There shall not one to mercy go alive,
All* were he lord of worldes twice five. *although
. . . . . . . . . . . .
"What will ye more, lovesome lady dear?
Let Troy and Trojan from your hearte pace;
Drive out that bitter hope, and make good cheer,
And call again the beauty of your face,
That ye with salte teares so deface;
For Troy is brought into such jeopardy,
That it to save is now no remedy.
"And thinke well, ye shall in Greekes find
A love more perfect, ere that it be night,
Than any Trojan is, and more kind,
And better you to serve will do his might;
And, if ye vouchesafe, my lady bright,
I will be he, to serve you, myselve, --
Yea, lever* than be a lord of Greekes twelve!" *rather
And with that word he gan to waxe red,
And in his speech a little while he quoke,* *quaked;
And cast aside a little with his head,
And stint a while; and afterward he woke,
And soberly on her he threw his look,
And said, "I am, albeit to you no joy,
As gentle* man as any wight in Troy. *high-born
"But, hearte mine! since that I am your man,* *leigeman,
And [you] be the first of whom I seeke grace, (in love)
To serve you as heartily as I can,
And ever shall, while I to live have space,
So, ere that I depart out of this place,
Ye will me grante that I may, to-morrow,
At better leisure, telle you my sorrow."
Why should I tell his wordes that he said?
He spake enough for one day at the mest;* *most
It proveth well he spake so, that Cresseide
Granted upon the morrow, at his request,
Farther to speake with him, at the least,
So that he would not speak of such mattere;
And thus she said to him, as ye may hear:
As she that had her heart on Troilus
So faste set, that none might it arace;* *uproot
And strangely* she spake, and saide thus; *distantly,
"O Diomede! I love that ilke place
Where I was born; and Jovis, for his grace,
Deliver it soon of all that doth it care!* *afflict
God, for thy might, so *leave it* well to fare!" *grant
She knows that the Greeks would fain wreak their wrath on
Troy, if they might; but that shall never befall: she knows that
there are Greeks of high condition -- though as worthy men
would be found in Troy: and she knows that Diomede could
serve his lady well.
"But, as to speak of love, y-wis," she said,
"I had a lord, to whom I wedded was, <84>
He whose mine heart was all, until he died;
And other love, as help me now Pallas,
There in my heart nor is, nor ever was;
And that ye be of noble and high kindred,
I have well heard it tellen, out of dread.* *doubt
"And that doth* me to have so great a wonder *causeth
That ye will scornen any woman so;
Eke, God wot, love and I be far asunder;
I am disposed bet, so may I go,* *fare
Unto my death to plain and make woe;
What I shall after do I cannot say,
But truely as yet *me list not play.* *I
am not disposed
"Mine heart is now in tribulatioun;
And ye in armes busy be by day;
Hereafter, when ye wonnen have the town,
Parauntre* then, so as it happen may, *peradventure
That when I see that I never *ere sey,* *saw
Then will I work that I never ere wrought;
This word to you enough sufficen ought.
"To-morrow eke will I speak with you fain,* *willingly
So that ye touche naught of this mattere;
And when you list, ye may come here again,
And ere ye go, thus much I say you here:
As help me Pallas, with her haires clear,
If that I should of any Greek have ruth,
It shoulde be yourselfe, by my truth!
"I say not therefore that I will you love;
*Nor say not nay;* but, in conclusioun, *nor
say I that
I meane well, by God that sits above!" I will not*
And therewithal she cast her eyen down,
And gan to sigh, and said; "O Troye town!
Yet bid* I God, in quiet and in rest *pray
I may you see, or *do my hearte brest!"* *cause
my heart to break*
But in effect, and shortly for to say,
This Diomede all freshly new again
Gan pressen on, and fast her mercy pray;
And after this, the soothe for to sayn,
Her glove he took, of which he was full fain,
And finally, when it was waxen eve,
And all was well, he rose and took his leave.
Cressida retired to rest:
Returning in her soul ay up and down
The wordes of this sudden Diomede,<85>
His great estate,* the peril of the town, *rank
And that she was alone, and hadde need
Of friendes' help; and thus began to dread
The causes why, the soothe for to tell,
That she took fully the purpose for to dwell.* *remain
The morrow came, and, ghostly* for to speak, *plainly
This Diomede is come unto Cresseide;
And shortly, lest that ye my tale break,
So well he for himselfe spake and said,
That all her sighes sore adown he laid;
And finally, the soothe for to sayn,
He refte* her the great** of all her pain. *took
away **the greater
And after this, the story telleth us
That she him gave the faire baye steed
The which she ones won of Troilus;
And eke a brooch (and that was little need)
That Troilus' was, she gave this Diomede;
And eke, the bet from sorrow him to relieve,
She made him wear a pensel* of her sleeve. *pendant
I find eke in the story elleswhere,
When through the body hurt was Diomede
By Troilus, she wept many a tear,
When that she saw his wide woundes bleed,
And that she took to keepe* him good heed, *tend,
And, for to heal him of his sorrow's smart,
Men say, I n'ot,* that she gave him her heart. *know
And yet, when pity had thus completed the triumph of
inconstancy, she made bitter moan over her falseness to one of
the noblest and worthiest men that ever was; but it was now too
late to repent, and at all events she resolved that she would be
true to Diomede -- all the while weeping for pity of the absent
Troilus, to whom she wished every happiness. The tenth day,
meantime, had barely dawned, when Troilus, accompanied by
Pandarus, took his stand on the walls, to watch for the return of
Cressida. Till noon they stood, thinking that every corner from
afar was she; then Troilus said that doubtless her old father bore
the parting ill, and had detained her till after dinner; so they
went to dine, and returned to their vain observation on the
walls. Troilus invented all kinds of explanations for his
mistress's delay; now, her father would not let her go till eve;
now, she would ride quietly into the town after nightfall, not to
be observed; now, he must have mistaken the day. For five or
six days he watched, still in vain, and with decreasing hope.
Gradually his strength decayed, until he could walk only with a
staff; answering the wondering inquiries of his friends, by saying
that he had a grievous malady about his heart. One day he
dreamed that in a forest he saw Cressida in the embrace of a
boar; and he had no longer doubt of her falsehood. Pandarus,
however, explained away the dream to mean merely that
Cressida was detained by her father, who might be at the point
of death; and he counselled the disconsolate lover to write a
letter, by which he might perhaps get at the truth. Troilus
complied, entreating from his mistress, at the least, a "letter
hope;" and the lady answered, that she could not come now, but
would so soon as she might; at the same time "making him great
feast," and swearing that she loved him best -- "of which he
found but bottomless behest [which he found but groundless
promises]." Day by day increased the woe of Troilus; he laid
himself in bed, neither eating, nor drinking, nor sleeping, nor
speaking, almost distracted by the thought of Cressida's
unkindness. He related his dream to his sister Cassandra, who
told him that the boar betokened Diomede, and that,
wheresoever his lady was, Diornede certainly had her heart, and
she was his: "weep if thou wilt, or leave, for, out of doubt, this
Diomede is in, and thou art out." Troilus, enraged, refused to
believe Cassandra's interpretation; as well, he cried, might such
a story be credited of Alcestis, who devoted her life for her
husband; and in his wrath he started from bed, "as though all
whole had him y-made a leach [physician]," resolving to find
out the truth at all hazards. The death of Hector meanwhile
enhanced the sorrow which he endured; but he found time to
write often to Cressida, beseeching her to come again and hold
her truth; till one day his false mistress, out of pity, wrote him
again, in these terms:
"Cupide's son, ensample of goodlihead,* *beauty,
O sword of knighthood, source of gentleness!
How might a wight in torment and in dread,
And healeless,* you send as yet gladness? *devoid
I hearteless, I sick, I in distress?
Since ye with me, nor I with you, may deal,
You neither send I may nor heart nor heal.
"Your letters full, the paper all y-plainted,* *covered
Commoved have mine heart's pitt; complainings
I have eke seen with teares all depainted
Your letter, and how ye require me
To come again; the which yet may not be;
But why, lest that this letter founden were,
No mention I make now for fear.
"Grievous to me, God wot, is your unrest,
Your haste,* and that the goddes' ordinance *impatience
It seemeth not ye take as for the best;
Nor other thing is in your remembrance,
As thinketh me, but only your pleasance;
But be not wroth, and that I you beseech,
For that I tarry is *all for wicked speech.* *to
"For I have heard well more than I wend* *weened,
Touching us two, how thinges have stood,
Which I shall with dissimuling amend;
And, be not wroth, I have eke understood
How ye ne do but holde me on hand; <87>
But now *no force,* I cannot in you guess *no
But alle truth and alle gentleness.
"Comen I will, but yet in such disjoint* *jeopardy,
I stande now, that what year or what day position
That this shall be, that can I not appoint;
But in effect I pray you, as I may,
For your good word and for your friendship ay;
For truely, while that my life may dure,
As for a friend, ye may *in me assure.* *depend
"Yet pray I you, *on evil ye not take* *do
not take it ill*
That it is short, which that I to you write;
I dare not, where I am, well letters make;
Nor never yet ne could I well endite;
Eke *great effect men write in place lite;* *men
write great matter
Th' intent is all, and not the letter's space; in little space*
And fare now well, God have you in his grace!
"La Vostre C."
Though he found this letter "all strange," and thought it like "a
kalendes of change," <88> Troilus could not believe his lady so
cruel as to forsake him; but he was put out of all doubt, one day
that, as he stood in suspicion and melancholy, he saw a "coat-
armour" borne along the street, in token of victory, before
Deiphobus his brother. Deiphobus had won it from Diomede in
battle that day; and Troilus, examining it out of curiosity, found
within the collar a brooch which he had given to Cressida on the
morning she left Troy, and which she had pledged her faith to
keep for ever in remembrance of his sorrow and of him. At this
fatal discovery of his lady's untruth,
Great was the sorrow and plaint of Troilus;
But forth her course Fortune ay gan to hold;
Cressida lov'd the son of Tydeus,
And Troilus must weep in cares cold.
Such is the world, whoso it can behold!
In each estate is little hearte's rest;
God lend* us each to take it for the best! *grant
In many a cruel battle Troilus wrought havoc among the
Greeks, and often he exchanged blows and bitter words with
Diomede, whom he always specially sought; but it was not their
lot that either should fall by the other's hand. The poet's
purpose, however, he tells us, is to relate, not the warlike deeds
of Troilus, which Dares has fully told, but his love-fortunes:
Beseeching ev'ry lady bright of hue,
And ev'ry gentle woman, *what she be,* *whatsoever
Albeit that Cressida was untrue,
That for that guilt ye be not wroth with me;
Ye may her guilt in other bookes see;
And gladder I would writen, if you lest,
Of Penelope's truth, and good Alceste.
Nor say I not this only all for men,
But most for women that betrayed be
Through false folk (God give them sorrow, Amen!)
That with their greate wit and subtilty
Betraye you; and this commoveth me
To speak; and in effect you all I pray,
Beware of men, and hearken what I say.
Go, little book, go, little tragedy!
There God my maker, yet ere that I die,
So send me might to make some comedy!
But, little book, *no making thou envy,* *be envious of no poetry*
But subject be unto all poesy;
And kiss the steps, where as thou seest space,
Of Virgil, Ovid, Homer, Lucan, Stace.
And, for there is so great diversity
In English, and in writing of our tongue,
So pray I God, that none miswrite thee,
Nor thee mismetre for default of tongue!
And read whereso thou be, or elles sung,
That thou be understanden, God I 'seech!* *beseech
But yet to purpose of my *rather speech.* *earlier
The wrath, as I began you for to say,
Of Troilus the Greekes boughte dear;
For thousandes his handes *made dey,* *made
As he that was withouten any peer,
Save in his time Hector, as I can hear;
But, well-away! save only Godde's will,
Dispiteously him slew the fierce Achill'.
And when that he was slain in this mannere,
His lighte ghost* full blissfully is went *spirit
Up to the hollowness of the seventh sphere <91>
In converse leaving ev'ry element;
And there he saw, with full advisement,* *observation,
Th' erratic starres heark'ning harmony,
With soundes full of heav'nly melody.
And down from thennes fast he gan advise* *consider,
This little spot of earth, that with the sea
Embraced is; and fully gan despise
This wretched world, and held all vanity,
*To respect of the plein felicity* *in
That is in heav'n above; and, at the last, the full felicity*
Where he was slain his looking down he cast.
And in himself he laugh'd right at the woe
Of them that wepte for his death so fast;
And damned* all our works, that follow so *condemned
The blinde lust, the which that may not last,
And shoulden* all our heart on heaven cast; *while
And forth he wente, shortly for to tell,
Where as Mercury sorted* him to dwell. *allotted
Such fine* hath, lo! this Troilus for love! *end
Such fine hath all his *greate worthiness!* *exalted
Such fine hath his estate royal above!
Such fine his lust,* such fine hath his nobless! *pleasure
Such fine hath false worlde's brittleness!* *fickleness,
And thus began his loving of Cresside,
As I have told; and in this wise he died.
O young and freshe folke, *he or she,* *of
In which that love upgroweth with your age,
Repaire home from worldly vanity,
And *of your heart upcaste the visage* *"lift
up the countenance
To thilke God, that after his image of your heart."*
You made, and think that all is but a fair,
This world that passeth soon, as flowers fair!
And love Him, the which that, right for love,
Upon a cross, our soules for to bey,* *buy,
First starf,* and rose, and sits in heav'n above; *died
For he will false* no wight, dare I say, *deceive,
That will his heart all wholly on him lay;
And since he best to love is, and most meek,
What needeth feigned loves for to seek?
Lo! here of paynims* cursed olde rites! *pagans
Lo! here what all their goddes may avail!
Lo! here this wretched worlde's appetites! *end
Lo! here the *fine and guerdon for travail,* of labour*
Of Jove, Apollo, Mars, and such rascaille* *rabble
Lo! here the form of olde clerkes' speech,
In poetry, if ye their bookes seech!* *seek,
L'Envoy of Chaucer.
O moral Gower! <94> this book I direct.
To thee, and to the philosophical Strode, <95>
To vouchesafe, where need is, to correct,
Of your benignities and zeales good.
And to that soothfast Christ that *starf on rood* *died
on the cross*
With all my heart, of mercy ever I pray,
And to the Lord right thus I speak and say:
"Thou One, and Two, and Three, *etern on live,* *eternally
That reignest ay in Three, and Two, and One,
Uncircumscrib'd, and all may'st circumscrive,* *comprehend
From visible and invisible fone* *foes
Defend us in thy mercy ev'ry one;
So make us, Jesus, *for thy mercy dign,* *worthy
of thy mercy*
For love of Maid and Mother thine benign!"
Explicit Liber Troili et Cresseidis. <96>
Notes to Troilus and Cressida
1. The double sorrow: First his suffering before his love was
successful; and then his grief after his lady had been separated
from him, and had proved unfaithful.
2. Tisiphone: one of the Eumenides, or Furies, who avenged on
men in the next world the crimes committed on earth. Chaucer
makes this grim invocation most fitly, since the Trojans were
under the curse of the Eumenides, for their part in the offence
of Paris in carrying off Helen, the wife of his host Menelaus,
and thus impiously sinning against the laws of hospitality.
3. See Chaucer's description of himself in "The House Of
Fame," and note 11 to that poem.
4. The Palladium, or image of Pallas (daughter of Triton and
foster-sister of Athena), was said to have fallen from heaven at
Troy, where Ilus was just beginning to found the city; and Ilus
erected a sanctuary, in which it was preserved with great
honour and care, since on its safety was supposed to depend the
safety of the city. In later times a Palladium was any statue of
the goddess Athena kept for the safeguard of the city that
5. "Oh, very god!": oh true divinity! -- addressing Cressida.
6. Ascaunce: as if to say -- as much as to say. The word
represents "Quasi dicesse" in Boccaccio. See note 5 to the
7. Eft: another reading is "oft."
8. Arten: constrain -- Latin, "arceo."
9. The song is a translation of Petrarch's 88th Sonnet, which
"S'amor non e, che dunque e quel ch'i'sento."
10. If maugre me: If (I burn) in spite of myself. The usual
reading is, "If harm agree me" = if my hurt contents me: but
evidently the antithesis is lost which Petrarch intended when,
after "s'a mia voglia ardo," he wrote "s'a mal mio grado" = if
against my will; and Urry's Glossary points out the probability
that in transcription the words "If that maugre me" may have
gradually changed into "If harm agre me."
11. The Third of May seems either to have possessed peculiar
favour or significance with Chaucer personally, or to have had a
special importance in connection with those May observances
of which the poet so often speaks. It is on the third night of
May that Palamon, in The Knight's Tale, breaks out of prison,
and at early morn encounters in the forest Arcita, who has gone
forth to pluck a garland in honour of May; it is on the third
night of May that the poet hears the debate of "The Cuckoo and
the Nightingale"; and again in the present passage the favoured
12. Went: turning; from Anglo-Saxon, "wendan;" German,
"wenden." The turning and tossing of uneasy lovers in bed is,
with Chaucer, a favourite symptom of their passion. See the
fifth "statute," in The Court of Love.
13. Procne, daughter of Pandion, king of Attica, was given to
wife to Tereus in reward for his aid against an enemy; but
Tereus dishonoured Philomela, Procne's sister; and his wife, in
revenge, served up to him the body of his own child by her.
Tereus, infuriated, pursued the two sisters, who prayed the
gods to change them into birds. The prayer was granted;
Philomela became a nightingale, Procne a swallow, and Tereus
14. Fished fair: a proverbial phrase which probably may be best
represented by the phrase "done great execution."
15. The fair gem virtueless: possessing none of the virtues
which in the Middle Ages were universally believed to be
inherent in precious stones.
16. The crop and root: the most perfect example. See note 29
to the Knight's Tale.
17. Eme: uncle; the mother's brother; still used in Lancashire.
Anglo-Saxon, "eame;" German, "Oheim."
18. Dardanus: the mythical ancestor of the Trojans, after whom
the gate is supposed to be called.
19. All the other gates were secured with chains, for better
defence against the besiegers.
20. Happy day: good fortune; French, "bonheur;" both "happy
day" and "happy hour" are borrowed from the astrological
fiction about the influence of the time of birth.
21. Horn, and nerve, and rind: The various layers or materials
of the shield -- called boagrion in the Iliad -- which was made
from the hide of the wild bull.
22. His brother: Hector.
23. Who gives me drink?: Who has given me a love-potion, to
charm my heart thus away?
24. That plaited she full oft in many a fold: She deliberated
carefully, with many arguments this way and that.
25. Through which I mighte stand in worse plight: in a worse
position in the city; since she might through his anger lose the
protection of his brother Hector.
26. I am not religious: I am not in holy vows. See the complaint
of the nuns in "The Court of Love."
27. The line recalls Milton's "dark with excessive bright."
28. No weal is worth, that may no sorrow drien: the meaning is,
that whosoever cannot endure sorrow deserves not happiness.
29. French, "verre;" glass.
30. From cast of stones ware him in the werre: let him beware
of casting stones in battle. The proverb in its modern form
warns those who live in glass houses of the folly of throwing
31. Westren: to west or wester -- to decline towards the west;
so Milton speaks of the morning star as sloping towards
heaven's descent "his westering wheel."
32. A pike with ass's feet etc.: this is merely another version
the well-known example of incongruity that opens the "Ars
Poetica" of Horace.
33. Tristre: tryst; a preconcerted spot to which the beaters
drove the game, and at which the sportsmen waited with their
34. A kankerdort: a condition or fit of perplexed anxiety;
probably connected with the word "kink" meaning in sea phrase
a twist in an rope -- and, as a verb, to twist or entangle.
35. They feel in times, with vapour etern: they feel in their
seasons, by the emission of an eternal breath or inspiration (that
God loves, &c.)
36. The idea of this stanza is the same with that developed in
the speech of Theseus at the close of The Knight's Tale; and it
probably derived from the lines of Boethius, quoted in note 91
to that Tale.
37. In this and the following lines reappears the noble doctrine
of the exalting and purifying influence of true love, advanced in
"The Court of Love," "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale," &c.
38. Weir: a trap or enclosed place in a stream, for catching fish.
See note 10 to The Assembly of Fowls.
39. Nor might one word for shame to it say: nor could he
answer one word for shame (at the stratagem that brought
Cressida to implore his protection)
40. "All n'ere he malapert, nor made avow
Nor was so bold to sing a foole's mass;"
i.e. although he was not over-forward and made no confession
(of his love), or was so bold as to be rash and ill-advised in his
declarations of love and worship.
41. Pandarus wept as if he would turn to water; so, in The
Squire's Tale, did Canace weep for the woes of the falcon.
42. If I breake your defence: if I transgress in whatever you may
forbid; French, "defendre," to prohibit.
43. These lines and the succeeding stanza are addressed to
Pandarus, who had interposed some words of incitement to
44. In "The Court of Love," the poet says of Avaunter, that
"his ancestry of kin was to Lier; and the stanza in which that
line occurs expresses precisely the same idea as in the text.
Vain boasters of ladies' favours are also satirised in "The House
45. Nice: silly, stupid; French, "niais."
46."Reheating" is read by preference for "richesse," which
stands in the older printed editions; though "richesse" certainly
better represents the word used in the original of Boccaccio --
"dovizia," meaning abundance or wealth.
47. "Depart it so, for widewhere is wist
How that there is diversity requer'd
Betwixte thinges like, as I have lear'd:"
i.e. make this distinction, for it is universally known that there
a great difference between things that seem the same, as I have
48. Frepe: the set, or company; French, "frappe," a stamp (on
coins), a set (of moulds).
49. To be "in the wind" of noisy magpies, or other birds that
might spoil sport by alarming the game, was not less desirable
than to be on the "lee-side" of the game itself, that the hunter's
presence might not be betrayed by the scent. "In the wind of,"
thus signifies not to windward of, but to leeward of -- that is,
the wind that comes from the object of pursuit.
50. Bothe fremd and tame: both foes and friends -- literally,
both wild and tame, the sporting metaphor being sustained.
51. The lovers are supposed to say, that nothing is wanting but
to know the time at which they should meet.
52. A tale of Wade: see note 5 to the Merchant's Tale.
53. Saturn, and Jove, in Cancer joined were: a conjunction that
54. Smoky rain: An admirably graphic description of dense rain.
55. For the force of "cold," see note 22 to the Nun's Priest's
56. Goddes seven: The divinities who gave their names to the
seven planets, which, in association with the seven metals, are
mentioned in The Canon's Yeoman's Tale.
57. Assayed: experienced, tasted. See note 6 to the Squire's
58. Now is it better than both two were lorn: better this happy
issue, than that both two should be lost (through the sorrow of
59. Made him such feast: French, "lui fit fete" -- made holiday
60. The cock is called, in "The Assembly of Fowls," "the
horologe of thorpes lite;" [the clock of little villages] and in
Nun's Priest's Tale Chanticleer knew by nature each ascension
of the equinoctial, and, when the sun had ascended fifteen
degrees, "then crew he, that it might not be amended." Here he
is termed the "common astrologer," as employing for the public
advantage his knowledge of astronomy.
61. Fortuna Major: the planet Jupiter.
62. When Jupiter visited Alcmena in the form of her husband
Amphitryon, he is said to have prolonged the night to the length
of three natural nights. Hercules was the fruit of the union.
63. Chaucer seems to confound Titan, the title of the sun, with
Tithonus (or Tithon, as contracted in poetry), whose couch
Aurora was wont to share.
64. So, in "Locksley Hall," Tennyson says that "a sorrow's
crown of sorrow is rememb'ring better things." The original is in
Dante's words:- -
"Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria." -- "Inferno," v. 121.
("There is no greater sorrow than to remember happy times
when in misery")
65. As great a craft is to keep weal as win: it needs as much
skill to keep prosperity as to attain it.
66. To heap: together. See the reference to Boethius in note 91
to the Knight's Tale.
67. The smalle beastes let he go beside: a charming touch,
indicative of the noble and generous inspiration of his love.
68. Mew: the cage or chamber in which hawks were kept and
carefully tended during the moulting season.
69. Love of steel: love as true as steel.
70. Pandarus, as it repeatedly appears, was an unsucsessful
71. "Each for his virtue holden is full dear,
Both heroner, and falcon for rivere":--
That is, each is esteemed for a special virtue or faculty, as the
large gerfalcon for the chase of heron, the smaller goshawk for
the chase of river fowl.
72. Zausis: An author of whom no record survives.
73. And upon new case lieth new advice: new counsels must be
adopted as new circumstances arise.
74. Hid in mew: hidden in a place remote from the world -- of
which Pandarus thus betrays ignorance.
75. The modern phrase "sixes and sevens," means "in
confusion:" but here the idea of gaming perhaps suits the sense
better -- "set the world upon a cast of the dice."
76. The controversy between those who maintained the doctrine
of predestination and those who held that of free-will raged
with no less animation at Chaucer's day, and before it, than it
has done in the subsequent five centuries; the Dominicans
upholding the sterner creed, the Franciscans taking the other
side. Chaucer has more briefly, and with the same care not to
commit himself, referred to the discussion in The Nun's Priest's
77. That have their top full high and smooth y-shore: that are
eminent among the clergy, who wear the tonsure.
78. Athamante: Athamas, son of Aeolus; who, seized with
madness, under the wrath of Juno for his neglect of his wife
Nephele, slew his son Learchus.
79. Simois: one of the rivers of the Troad, flowing into the
80. Troilus was the son of Priam and Hecuba.
81. The son of Tydeus: Diomedes; far oftener called Tydides,
after his father Tydeus, king of Argos.
82. Couthe more than the creed: knew more than the mere
elements (of the science of Love).
83. Arache: wrench away, unroot (French, "arracher"); the
opposite of "enrace," to root in, implant.
84. It will be remembered that, at the beginning of the first
book, Cressida is introduced to us as a widow.
85. Diomede is called "sudden," for the unexpectedness of his
assault on Cressida's heart -- or, perhaps, for the abrupt
abandonment of his indifference to love.
86. Penscel: a pennon or pendant; French, "penoncel." It was
the custom in chivalric times for a knight to wear, on days of
tournament or in battle, some such token of his lady's favour, or
badge of his service to her.
87. She has been told that Troilus is deceiving her.
88. The Roman kalends were the first day of the month, when a
change of weather was usually expected.
89. Maker, and making, words used in the Middle Ages to
signify the composer and the composition of poetry, correspond
exactly with the Greek "poietes" and "poiema," from "poieo," I
90. My rather speech: my earlier, former subject; "rather" is the
cormparative of the old adjective "rath," early.
91. Up to the hollowness of the seventh sphere: passing up
through the hollowness or concavity of the spheres, which all
revolve round each other and are all contained by God (see note
5 to the Assembly of Fowls), the soul of Troilus, looking
downward, beholds the converse or convex side of the spheres
which it has traversed.
92. Sorted: allotted; from Latin, "sors," lot, fortune.
93. Rascaille: rabble; French, "racaille" -- a mob or multitude,
the riff-raff; so Spencer speaks of the "rascal routs" of inferior
94. John Gower, the poet, a contemporary and friend of
Chaucer's; author, among other works, of the "Confessio
Amantis." See note 1 to the Man of Law's Tale.
95. Strode was an eminent scholar of Merton College, Oxford,
and tutor to Chaucer's son Lewis.
96. Explicit Liber Troili et Cresseidis: "The end of the book of
Troilus and Cressida."