Troilus (English: /ˈtrɔɪləs/ or /ˈtroʊələs/; Ancient Greek:
Τρωΐλος, translit. Troïlos; Latin: Troilus) is a
legendary character associated with the story of the Trojan War. The
first surviving reference to him is in Homer's Iliad, which some
scholars theorize was composed by bards and sung in the late 9th or
8th century BC.
In Greek mythology,
Troilus is a young Trojan prince, one of the sons
Priam (or Apollo) and Hecuba. Prophecies link Troilus' fate to
Troy and so he is ambushed and murdered by Achilles. Sophocles
was one of the writers to tell this tale. It was also a popular theme
among artists of the time. Ancient writers treated
Troilus as the
epitome of a dead child mourned by his parents. He was also regarded
as a paragon of youthful male beauty.
In Western European medieval and
Renaissance versions of the legend,
Troilus is the youngest of Priam's five legitimate sons by Hecuba.
Despite his youth he is one of the main Trojan war leaders. He dies in
battle at Achilles' hands. In a popular addition to the story,
originating in the 12th century,
Troilus falls in love with Cressida,
whose father has defected to the Greeks.
Cressida pledges her love to
Troilus but she soon switches her affections to the Greek hero
Diomedes when sent to her father in a hostage exchange.
Shakespeare are among the authors who wrote works telling the story of
Troilus and Cressida. Within the medieval tradition,
regarded as a paragon of the faithful courtly lover and also of the
virtuous pagan knight. Once the custom of courtly love had faded, his
fate was regarded less sympathetically.
Little attention was paid to the character during the 18th and 19th
Troilus has reappeared in 20th and 21st century
retellings of the
Trojan War by authors who have chosen elements from
both the classical and medieval versions of his story.
1 The story in the ancient world
1.1 The standard myth: the beautiful youth murdered
1.2 Ancient literary sources supporting the standard myth
Homer and the missing texts of the archaic and classical periods
1.2.2 The Alexandra
1.2.3 Other written sources
1.3 Ancient art and artifact sources
1.4 A variant myth: the boy-soldier overwhelmed
Virgil and other Latin sources
1.4.2 Greek writers in the boy-soldier tradition
2 The story in the medieval and
2.1 The second Hector, wall of Troy
2.1.2 Description in medieval texts
Knight and war leader
2.2 The lover
2.2.1 The story of
Troilus and Cressida
2.2.2 Benoît and Guido
Chaucer and his successors
Shakespeare and Dryden
3 Modern versions
3.1 Once more a man-boy
3.2 Reinventing the love story
4 Notes and references
5 Annotated bibliography
6 External links
The story in the ancient world
Polyxena fleeing. Kylix, by C-painter, c. 570–565 BC,
Louvre (CA 6113), black-figure Attic. That there are two horses shown
side by side can most clearly be seen by looking at their legs and
Achilles about to pursue
Polyxena from his position behind
the well-house (reverse side of above).
For the ancient Greeks, the tale of the
Trojan War and the surrounding
events appeared in its most definitive form in the
Epic Cycle of eight
narrative poems from the archaic period in Greece (750 BC – 480
BC). The story of
Troilus is one of a number of incidents that helped
provide structure to a narrative that extended over several decades
and 77 books from the beginning of the
Cypria to the end of the
Telegony. The character's death early in the war and the prophecies
surrounding him demonstrated that all Trojan efforts to defend their
home would be in vain. His symbolic significance is evidenced by
linguistic analysis of his Greek name "Troilos". It can be interpreted
as an elision of the names of Tros and Ilos, the legendary founders of
Troy, as a diminutive or pet name "little Tros" or as an elision of
Troië (Troy) and lyo (to destroy). These multiple possibilities
emphasise the link between the fates of
Troilus and of the city where
he lived. On another level, Troilus' fate can also be seen as
foreshadowing the subsequent deaths of his murderer Achilles, and of
Astyanax and sister Polyxena, who, like Troilus, die at the
altar in at least some versions of their stories.
Given this, it is unfortunate that the Cypria—the part of the Epic
Cycle that covers the period of the
Trojan War of Troilus'
death—does not survive. Indeed, no complete narrative of his story
remains from archaic times or the subsequent classical period
(479–323 BC). Most of the literary sources from before the
Hellenistic age (323–30 BC) that even referred to the character are
lost or survive only in fragments or summary. The surviving ancient
and medieval sources, whether literary or scholarly, contradict each
other, and many do not tally with the form of the myth that scholars
now believe to have existed in the archaic and classical periods.
Partially compensating for the missing texts are the physical
artifacts that remain from the archaic and classical periods. The
story of the circumstances around Troilus' death was a popular theme
among pottery painters. (The Beazley Archive website lists 108 items
of Attic pottery alone from the 6th to 4th centuries BC containing
images of the character.)
Troilus also features on other works of
art and decorated objects from those times. It is a common practice
for those writing about the story of
Troilus as it existed in ancient
times to use both literary sources and artifacts to build up an
understanding of what seems to have been the most standard form of the
myth and its variants. The brutality of this standard form of the
myth is highlighted by commentators such as Alan Sommerstein, an
expert on ancient Greek drama, who describes it as "horrific" and
"[p]erhaps the most vicious of all the actions traditionally
attributed to Achilles."
The standard myth: the beautiful youth murdered
Troilus by the hair as the youth attempts to flee the
ambush at the fountain. Etruscan amphora of the Pontic group, ca.
540–530 BC. From Vulci.
Troilus is an adolescent boy or ephebe, the son of Hecuba, queen of
Troy. As he is so beautiful,
Troilus is taken to be the son of the god
Apollo. However, Hecuba's husband, King Priam, treats him as his own
A prophecy says that
Troy will not fall if
Troilus lives into
adulthood. So the goddess
Athena encourages the Greek warrior Achilles
to seek him out early in the Trojan War. The youth is known to take
great delight in his horses.
Achilles ambushes him and his sister
Polyxena when he has ridden with her for water from a well in the
Thymbra – an area outside
Troy where there is a temple of Apollo.
It is the fleeing
Troilus whom swift-footed
dragging him by the hair from his horse. The young prince takes refuge
in the nearby temple. But the warrior follows him in, and beheads him
at the altar before help can arrive. The murderer then mutilates the
boy's body. The mourning of the Trojans at Troilus' death is great.
This sacrilege leads to Achilles’ own death, when
himself by helping Paris strike
Achilles with the arrow that pierces
Ancient literary sources supporting the standard myth
Homer and the missing texts of the archaic and classical periods
The earliest surviving literary reference to
Troilus is in Homer's
Iliad, which formed one part of the Epic Cycle. It is believed that
Troilus' name was not invented by
Homer and that a version of his
story was already in existence. Late in the poem,
his surviving sons, and compares them unfavourably to their dead
brothers including Trôïlon hippiocharmên. The interpretation of
hippiocharmên is controversial but the root hipp- implies a
connection with horses. For the purpose of the version of the myth
given above, the word has been taken as meaning "delighting in
horses". Sommerstein believes that
Homer wishes to imply in this
Troilus was killed in battle, but argues that Priam's
later description of
Achilles as andros paidophonoio ("boy-slaying
man") indicates that
Homer was aware of the story of
Troilus as a
murdered child; Sommerstein believes that
Homer is playing here on the
ambiguity of the root paido- meaning boy in both the sense of a young
male and of a son.
Ancient written sources for Troilus
Full length descriptions in mythological literature
Stasinus of Cyprus?
late 7th century BC (lost)
6th–5th century BC (lost)
5th century BC (lost)
5th–4th century BC (lost)
de excidio Trojae historia
parts written 1st–6th century?
Briefer references in mythological literature
8th–7th century BC
possibly in Iliupersis
7th–6th century BC (lost)
unknown text of which only a few words survive
late 6th century BC
5th century BC (lost)
3rd century BC?
Seneca the Younger
Ephemeridos belli Trojani
Quintus of Smyrna
Late 4th century?
Literary allusions to Troilus
late 6th century BC
3rd century BC
3rd–2nd century BC
Odes Book 2
Late 1st century
Ancient and medieval academic commentaries on and summaries of ancient
Various anonymous authors
Scholia to the Iliad
5th century BC to 9th century?
1st century BC – 1st century AD
Scholia to the Aeneid
Late 4th century
First Vatican Mythographer
Eustathius of Thessalonica
Scholia to the Iliad
Scholia to the Alexandra
Troilus' death was also described in the Cypria, one of the parts of
Epic Cycle that is no longer extant. The poem covered the events
Trojan War and the first part of the war itself up to
the events of the Iliad. Although the
Cypria does not survive, most of
an ancient summary of the contents, thought to be by Eutychius
Proclus, remains. Fragment 1 mentions that
Achilles killed Troilus,
but provides no more detail. However, Sommerstein takes the verb
used to describe the killing (phoneuei) as meaning that Achilles
In Athens, the early tragedians Phrynicus and
Sophocles both wrote
plays called Troilos and the comic playwright
Strattis wrote a parody
of the same name. Of the esteemed
Nine lyric poets
Nine lyric poets of the archaic and
Stesichorus may have referred to Troilus' story in
his Iliupersis and
Ibycus may have written in detail about the
character. With the exception of these authors, no other
Hellenistic written source is known to have considered
Unfortunately, all that remains of these texts are the smallest
fragments or summaries and references to them by other authors. What
does survive can be in the form of papyrus fragments, plot summaries
by later authors or quotations by other authors. In many cases these
are just odd words in lexicons or grammar books with an attribution to
the original author. Reconstructions of the texts are necessarily
speculative and should be viewed with "wary but sympathetic
scepticism". In Ibycus' case all that remains is a parchment
fragment containing a mere six or seven words of verse accompanied
with a few lines of scholia.
Troilus is described in the poem as
godlike and is killed outside Troy. From the scholia, he is clearly a
boy. The scholia also refer to a sister, someone "watching out" and a
murder in the sanctuary of Thymbrian Apollo. While acknowledging that
these details may have been reports of other later sources,
Sommerstein thinks it probable that
Ibycus told the full ambush story
and is thus the earliest identifiable source for it. Of Phrynicus,
one fragment remains considered to refer to Troilus. This speaks of
"the light of love glowing on his reddening cheeks".
Of all these fragmentary pre-
Hellenistic sources, the most is known of
Sophocles Troilos. Even so, only 54 words have been identified as
coming from the play. Fragment 619 refers to
Troilus as an
andropais, a man-boy. Fragment 621 indicates that
Troilus was going to
a spring with a companion to fetch water or to water his horses. A
scholion to the Iliad states that
Achilles while exercising his horses in the Thymbra. Fragment 623
Achilles mutilated Troilus' corpse by a method known as
maschalismos. This involved preventing the ghost of a murder victim
from returning to haunt their killer by cutting off the corpse's
extremities and stringing them under its armpits.
thought to have also referred to the maschalismos of
Troilus in a
fragment taken to be from an earlier play Polyxene.
Sommerstein attempts a reconstruction of the plot of the Troilos, in
which the title character is incestuously in love with
tries to discourage the interest in marrying her shown by both
Achilles and Sarpedon, a Trojan ally and son of Zeus. Sommerstein
Troilus is accompanied on his fateful journey to his
death, not by Polyxena, but by his tutor, a eunuch Greek slave.
Certainly there is a speaking role for a eunuch who reports being
castrated by Hecuba and someone reports the loss of their
adolescent master. The incestuous love is deduced by Sommerstein
from a fragment of Strattis' parody, assumed to partially quote
Sophocles, and from his understanding that the
Sophocles play intends
to contrast barbarian customs, including incest, with Greek ones.
Sommerstein also sees this as solving what he considers the need for
an explanation of Achilles' treatment of Troilus' corpse, the latter
being assumed to have insulted
Achilles in the process of warning him
off Polyxena. Italian professor of English and expert on Troilus,
Piero Boitani, on the other hand, considers Troilus' rejection of
Achilles' sexual advances towards him as sufficient motive for the
The first surviving text with more than the briefest mention of
Troilus is a
Hellenistic poem dating from no earlier than the 3rd
century BC: the Alexandra by the tragedian
Lycophron or a namesake of
his. The poem consists of the obscure prophetic ravings of
Ay! me, for thee fair-fostered flower, too, I groan, O lion whelp,
sweet darling of thy kindred, who didst smite with fiery charm of
shafts the fierce dragon and seize for a little loveless while in
unescapable noose him that was smitten, thyself unwounded by thy
victim: thou shalt forfeit thy head and stain thy father’s
altar-tomb with thy blood.
This passage is explained in the
Byzantine writer John Tzetzes'
scholia as a reference to
Troilus seeking to avoid the unwanted sexual
Achilles by taking refuge in his father Apollo's temple.
When he refuses to come out,
Achilles goes in and kills him on the
altar. Lycophron's scholiast also says that
Apollo started to plan
Achilles' death after the murder. This begins to build up the
elements of the version of Troilus' story given above: he is young,
much loved and beautiful; he has divine ancestry, is beheaded by his
rejected Greek lover and, we know from Homer, had something to do with
horses. The reference to
Troilus as a "lion whelp" hints at his having
the potential to be a great hero, but there is no explicit reference
to a prophecy linking the possibility of
Troilus reaching adulthood
Troy then surviving.
Other written sources
No other extended passage about
Troilus exists from before the
Augustan Age by which time other versions of the character's story
have emerged. The remaining sources compatible with the standard myth
are considered below by theme.
Achilles to attack Troilus. A feature of the tale not
available from written sources. Detail of an Etruscan red-figure
stamnos (from a pair known as “Fould stamnoi”), ca. 300 BC. From
An example of
Troilus with only one horse. Reverse side of above
The Apollodorus responsible for the Library lists
Troilus last of
Priam and Hecuba's sons – a detail adopted in the later tradition
– but then adds that it is said that the boy was fathered by
Apollo. On the other hand,
Troilus in the middle
of a list of Priam's sons without further comment. In the early
Christian writings the Clementine Homilies, it is suggested that
Apollo was Troilus' lover rather than his father.
Horace emphasises Troilus' youth by calling him inpubes ("unhairy",
i.e. pre-pubescent or, figuratively, not old enough to bear arms).
Dio Chrysostom derides
Achilles in his Trojan discourse, complaining
that all that the supposed hero achieved before
Homer was the capture
Troilus who was still a boy.
First Vatican Mythographer reports a prophecy that
Troy will not
Troilus reaches the age of twenty and gives that as a reason
for Achilles' ambush. In Plautus, Troilus' death is given as one
of three conditions that must be met before
Troy would fall.
Ibycus, in seeking to praise his patron, compares him to Troilus, the
most beautiful of the Greeks and the Trojans. Dio Chrysostom
Troilus as one of many examples of different kinds of
Statius compares a beautiful dead slave missed by his
master to Troilus.
Object of pederastic love
Servius, in his scholia to the passage from
Virgil discussed below,
Troilus to him with a gift of doves. Troilus
then dies in the Greek's embrace. Robert Graves interprets this as
evidence of the vigour of Achilles' love-making but Timothy Gantz
considers that the "how or why" of Servius' version of Troilus' death
is unclear. Sommerstein favours Graves's interpretation saying
that murder was not a part of ancient pederastic relations and that
Servius suggests an intentional killing.
Location of ambush and death
A number of reports have come down of Troilus' death variously
mentioning water, exercising horses and the Thymbra, though they do
not necessarily build into a coherent whole: the First Vatican
Mythographer reports that
Troilus was exercising outside
Achilles attacked him; a commentator on
Ibycus says that Troilus
was slain by
Achilles in the Thymbrian precinct outside Troy;
Eustathius of Thessalonica's commentary on the
Iliad says that Troilus
was exercising his horses there; Apollodorus says that Achilles
Troilus inside the temple of Thymbrian Apollo; finally,
Statius reports that
Troilus was speared to death as he fled
around Apollo's walls. Gantz struggles to make sense of what he
sees as contradictory material, feeling that Achilles' running down of
Troilus' horse makes no sense if
Troilus was just fleeing to the
nearby temple building. He speculates that the ambush at the well and
the sacrifice in the temple could be two different versions of the
story or, alternatively, that
Troilus to the temple to
sacrifice him as an insult to Apollo.
Trojan and, especially, Troilus' own family's mourning at his death
seems to have epitomised grief at the loss of a child in classical
civilization. Horace, Callimachus and Cicero all refer to
Troilus in this way.
Ancient art and artifact sources
Polyxena at the fountain, Laconian black-figured dinos,
Rider Painter, 560–540 BC.,
Louvre E662, Campana Collection 1861
Achilles lying in wait, part of the same illustration
Ancient Greek art, as found in pottery and other remains, frequently
depicts scenes associated with Troilus' death: the ambush, the
pursuit, the murder itself and the fight over his body. Depictions
Troilus in other contexts are unusual. One such exception, a
red-figure vase painting from Apulia c.340BC, shows
Troilus as a child
In the ambush,
Polyxena approach a fountain where Achilles
lies in wait. This scene was familiar enough in the ancient world for
a parody to exist from c.400BC showing a dumpy
Troilus leading a mule
to the fountain. In most serious depictions of the scene, Troilus
rides a horse, normally with a second next to him. He is usually,
but not always, portrayed as a beardless youth. He is often shown
naked; otherwise he wears a cloak or tunic.
Achilles is always armed
and armoured. Occasionally, as on the vase picture at , or the
fresco from the
Tomb of the Bulls
Tomb of the Bulls shown at the head of this article,
Polyxena is absent, indicating how the ambush is
linked to each of their stories. In the earliest definitely identified
version of this scene, (a Corinthian vase c.580BC),
Troilus is bearded
Priam is also present. Both these features are unusual. More
common is a bird sitting on the fountain; normally a raven, symbol of
Apollo and his prophetic powers and thus a final warning to
his doom; sometimes a cock, a common love gift suggesting that
Achilles attempted to seduce Troilus. In some versions, for
example an Attic amphora in the
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston dating
from c.530BC (seen here )
Troilus has a dog running with him. On
one Etruscan vase from the 6th century BC, doves are flying from
Achilles to Troilus, suggestive of the love gift in Servius. The
fountain itself is conventionally decorated with a lion motif.
The earliest identified version of the pursuit or chase is from the
third quarter of the 7th century BC. Next chronologically is the
best known version on the
François Vase by Kleitias. The
number of characters shown on pottery scenes varies with the size and
shape of the space available. The
François Vase is decorated with
several scenes in long narrow strips. This means that the Troilus
frieze is heavily populated. In the centre, (which can be seen at the
Perseus Project at ,) is the fleeing Troilus, riding one horse
with the reins of the other in his hand. Below them is the
Polyxena (partially missing), who is ahead of him, has
Achilles is largely missing but it is clear that he is
armoured. They are running towards
Troy  where
Hector and Polites, brothers of Troilus, emerge from
the city walls in the hope of saving Troilus. Behind
Achilles  are
a number of deities, Athena,
Thetis (Achilles' mother), Hermes, and
Apollo (just arriving). Two Trojans are also present, the woman
gesturing to draw the attention of a youth filling his vase. As the
deities appear only in pictorial versions of the scene, their role is
subject to interpretation. Boitani sees
Athena as urging
Thetis as worried by the arrival of
Apollo who, as Troilus'
protector, represents a future threat to Achilles. He does not
indicate what he thinks
Hermes may be talking to
Thetis about. The
classicist and art historian Professor Thomas H. Carpenter sees Hermes
as a neutral observer,
Thetis as urging
Achilles on, and
the arrival of
Apollo as the artist's indication of the god's future
role in Achilles' death. As
Athena is not traditionally a patron
of Achilles, Sommerstein sees her presence in this and other
portrayals of Troilus' death as evidence of the early standing of the
prophetic link between Troilus' death and the fall of Troy, Athena
being driven, above all, by her desire for the city's destruction.
Achilles pursues Troilus, black-figure Attic hydria, ca. 510 BC,
Staatliche Antikensammlungen (Inv. 1722)
The standard elements in the pursuit scene are Troilus, Achilles,
Polyxena, the two horses and the fallen vase. On two tripods, an
amphora and a cup,
Achilles already has
Troilus by the hair. A
famous vase in the British Museum, which gave the Troilos Painter the
name by which he is now known, shows the two Trojans looking back in
fear, as the beautiful youth whips his horse on. This vase can be seen
Perseus Project site . The water spilling from the
shattered vase below Troilus' horse, symbolises the blood he is about
The iconography of the eight legs and hooves of the horses can be used
Troilus on pottery where his name does not appear; for
example, on a Corinthian vase where
Troilus is shooting at his
pursuers and on a peaceful scene on a Chalcidian krater where the
couples Paris and Helen,
Andromache are labelled, but the
youth riding one of a pair of horses is not.
A later Southern Italian interpretation of the story is on vases held
respectively at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Hermitage
Museum in St Petersburg. On the krater from c.380-70BC at  Troilus
can be seen with just one horse trying to defend himself with a
throwing spear; on the hydria from c.325-320BC at [permanent dead
Achilles is pulling down the youth's horse.
Achilles about to behead
Troilus at the altar. Red-figured kylix c.
510BC, signed by Euphronios. Now in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.
Note how the size of the figures is used to emphasise the brutality of
The earliest known depictions of the death or murder of
Troilus are on
shield bands from the turn of the 7th into the 6th century BC found at
Olympia. On these, a warrior with a sword is about to stab a naked
youth at an altar. On one,
Troilus clings to a tree (which Boitani
takes for the laurel sacred to Apollo). A crater contemporary with
Achilles at the altar holding the naked
Troilus upside down
Aeneas and an otherwise unknown Trojan Deithynos arrive
in the hope of saving the youth. In some depictions
Troilus is begging
for mercy. On an amphora,
Achilles has the struggling
over his shoulder as he goes to the altar. Boitani, in his survey
of the story of
Troilus through the ages, considers it of significance
that two artifacts (a vase and a sarcophagus) from different periods
link Troilus' and Priam's death by showing them on the two sides of
the same item, as if they were the beginning and end of the story of
the fall of Troy.
Achilles is the father of Neoptolemus, who slays
Priam at the altar during the sack of Troy. Thus the war opens with a
father killing a son and closes with a son killing a father.
Some pottery shows Achilles, already having killed Troilus, using his
victim's severed head as a weapon as
Hector and his companions arrive
too late to save him; some includes the watching Athena, occasionally
with Hermes. At  is one such picture showing
Hector over the altar. Troilus' body is slumped and the boy's head is
either flying through the air, or stuck to the end of Achilles' spear.
Hermes look on.
Aeneas and Deithynos are behind Hector.
Sometimes details of the closely similar deaths of
Astyanax are exchanged.  shows one such image where it is
unclear which murder is portrayed. The age of the victim is often an
indicator of which story is being told and the relative small size
here might point towards the death of Astyanax, but it is common to
Troilus as much smaller than his murderer, (as is the case
with the kylix pictured to the above right). Other factors in this
case are the presence of
Priam (suggesting Astyanax), that of Athena
(suggesting Troilus) and the fact that the scene is set outside the
Troy (again suggesting Troilus).
A variant myth: the boy-soldier overwhelmed
A different version of Troilus' death appears on a red-figure cup by
Troilus is on his knees, still in the process of drawing his
sword when Achilles' spear has already stabbed him and
too late to save him.
Troilus wears a helmet, but it is pushed up to
reveal a beautiful young face. This is the only such depiction of
Troilus' death in early figurative art. However, this version of
Troilus as a youth defeated in battle appears also in written sources.
Virgil and other Latin sources
This version of the story appears in Virgil's Aeneid, in a passage
describing a series of paintings decorating the walls of a temple of
Juno. The painting immediately next to the one depicting
the death of Rhesus, another character killed because of prophecies
linked to the fall of Troy. Other pictures are similarly calamitous.
A Roman illustration still showing
Achilles having run down a mounted
Troilus. Detail of bronze breastplate of a statue of Germanicus. 2nd
century. From Perugia.
In a description whose pathos is heightened by the fact that it is
seen through a compatriot's eyes,
Troilus is infelix puer
("unhappy boy") who has met
Achilles in "unequal" combat. Troilus'
horses flee while he, still holding their reins, hangs from the
chariot, his head and hair trailing behind while the backward-pointing
spear scribbles in the dust. (The First Vatican Mythographer
elaborates on this story, explaining that Troilus's body is dragged
right to the walls of Troy.)
In his commentary on the Aeneid, Servius considers this story as a
deliberate departure from the "true" story, bowdlerized to make it
more suitable for an epic poem. He interprets it as showing Troilus
overpowered in a straight fight. Gantz, however, argues that this
might be a variation of the ambush story. For him,
Troilus is unarmed
because he went out not expecting combat and the backward pointing
spear was what
Troilus was using as a goad in a manner similar to
characters elsewhere in the Aeneid. Sommerstein, on the other hand
believes that the spear is Achilles' that has struck
Troilus in the
back. The youth is alive but mortally wounded as he is being dragged
An issue here is the ambiguity of the word congressus ("met"). It
often refers to meeting in a conventional combat but can have
reference to other types of meetings too. A similar ambiguity appears
in Seneca and in Ausonius' 19th epitaph, narrated by Troilus
himself. The dead prince tells how he has been dragged by his horses
after falling in unequal battle with Achilles. A reference in the
epitaph comparing Troilus' death to Hector's suggests that Troilus
dies later than in the traditional narrative, something that,
according to Boitani, also happens in Virgil.
Greek writers in the boy-soldier tradition
Quintus of Smyrna, in a passage whose atmosphere Boitani describes as
sad and elegiac, retains what for Boitani are the two important issues
of the ancient story, that
Troilus is doomed by Fate and that his
failure to continue his line symbolises Troy's fall. In this case,
there is no doubt that
Troilus entered battle knowingly, for in the
Posthomerica Troilus's armour is one of the funerary gifts after
Achilles' own death. Quintus repeatedly emphasises Troilus's youth: he
is beardless, virgin of a bride, childlike, beautiful, the most
godlike of all Hecuba's children. Yet he was lured by Fate to war when
he knew no fear and was struck down by Achilles' spear just as a
flower or corn that has borne no seed is killed by the gardener.
In the Ephemeridos belli Trojani (Journal of the Trojan War),
supposedly written by Dictys the Cretan during the
Trojan War itself,
Troilus is again a defeated warrior, but this time captured with his
Achilles vindictively orders that their throats be
slit in public, because he is angry that
Priam has failed to advance
talks over a possible marriage to Polyxena. Dictys' narrative is free
from gods and prophecy but he preserves Troilus' loss as something to
be greatly mourned:
The Trojans raised a cry of grief and, mourning loudly, bewailed the
Troilus had met so grievous a death, for they remembered how
young he was, who being in the early years of his manhood, was the
people's favourite, their darling, not only because of his modesty and
honesty, but more especially because of his handsome appearance.
The story in the medieval and
Troilus and Cressida: 1609 quarto, title page
In the sources considered so far, Troilus' only narrative function is
his death. The treatment of the character changes in two ways in
the literature of the medieval and renaissance periods. First, he
becomes an important and active protagonist in the pursuit of the
Trojan War itself. Second, he becomes an active heterosexual lover,
rather than the passive victim of Achilles' pederasty. By the time of
John Dryden's neo-classical adaptation of Shakespeare's
Cressida it is the ultimate failure of his love affair that defines
For medieval writers, the two most influential ancient sources on the
Trojan War were the purported eye-witness accounts of
Phrygian, and Dictys the Cretan, which both survive in Latin versions.
In Western Europe the Trojan side of the war was favoured and
Dares was preferred over Dictys. Although Dictys'
account positions Troilus' death later in the war than was
traditional, it conforms to antiquity's view of him as a minor warrior
if one at all. Dares' De excidio Trojae historia (History of the Fall
of Troy) introduces the character as a hero who takes part in
events beyond the story of his death.
Authors of the 12th and 13th centuries such as
Joseph of Exeter and
Albert of Stade
Albert of Stade continued to tell the legend of the
Trojan War in
Latin in a form that follows Dares' tale with
Troilus remaining one of
the most important warriors on the Trojan side. However, it was two of
Benoît de Sainte-Maure in his French verse
Guido delle Colonne
Guido delle Colonne in his Latin prose history, both also
admirers of Dares, who were to define the tale of
Troy for the
remainder of the medieval period. The details of their narrative of
the war were copied, for example, in the
Troy Books of Laud and
Lydgate and also Raoul Lefevre's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye.
Lefevre, through Caxton's 1474 printed translation, was in turn to
become the best known retelling of the
Troy story in Renaissance
England and influenced
Shakespeare among others. The story of Troilus
as a lover, invented by Benoît and retold by Guido, generated a
second line of influence. It was taken up as a tale that could be told
in its own right by Boccaccio and then by
Chaucer who established a
tradition of retelling and elaborating the story in English-language
literature, which was to be followed by
Henryson and Shakespeare.
The second Hector, wall of Troy
As indicated above, it was through the writings of
Dares the Phrygian
that the portrayal of
Troilus as an important warrior was transmitted
to medieval times. However, some authors have argued that the
Troilus as a warrior may be older. The passage from the
Iliad described above is read by Boitani as implying that Priam
Troilus on a par with the very best of his warrior sons. The
description of him in that passage as hippiocharmên is rendered by
some authorities as meaning a warrior charioteer rather than merely
someone who delights in horses. The many missing and partial
literary sources might include such a hero. Yet only the one ancient
Troilus as a warrior falling in a conventional battle.
The descent of
Trojan War Literature in the Middle Ages
Followers of Dares
Joseph of Exeter
De bello Troiano
late 12th century
(Two other versions)
Followers of Dictys
(Eight largely in Greek)
Dares and Dictys
Benoît de Sainte-Maure
Roman de Troie
finished c. 1184
Followers of Benoît
Guido delle Colonne
Historia destructionis Troiae
(at least 19 other versions)
Followers of Guido
Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye
(at least 16 other versions)
Followers of Lefevre
printed translation of the Recuyell
Troilus and Cressida
(Several other versions)
Troilus is the youngest of Priam's royal sons, bellicose
when peace or truces are suggested and the equal of
Hector in bravery,
"large and most beautiful... brave and strong for his age, and eager
for glory." He slaughters many Greeks, wounds
Menelaus, routs the
Myrmidons more than once before his horse falls
and traps him and
Achilles takes the opportunity to put an end to his
life. Memnon rescues the body, something that didn't happen in many
later versions of the tale. Troilus' death comes near the end of the
war not at its beginning. He now outlives
Hector and succeeds him as
the Trojans' great leader in battle. Now it is in reaction to
Troilus's death that
Hecuba plots Achilles' murder.
As the tradition of
Troilus the warrior advances through time, the
weaponry and the form of combat change. Already in
Dares he is a
mounted warrior, not a charioteer or foot warrior, something
anachronistic to epic narrative. In later versions he is a knight
with armour appropriate to the time of writing who fights against
other knights and dukes. His expected conduct, including his romance,
conforms to courtly or other values contemporary to the writing.
Description in medieval texts
The medieval texts follow Dares' structuring of the narrative in
Troilus after his parents and four royal brothers Hector,
Deiphobus and Helenus.
Joseph of Exeter, in his Daretis Phrygii Ilias
De bello Troiano
De bello Troiano (The
Dares the Phrygian on the Trojan War), describes the
character as follows:
The limbs of
Troilus expand and fill his space.
In mind a giant, though a boy in years, he yields
to none in daring deeds with strength in all his parts
his greater glory shines throughout his countenance.
Benoît de Sainte-Maure's description in Le
Roman de Troie
Roman de Troie (The
Romance of Troy) is too long to quote in full, but influenced the
descriptions that follow. Benoît goes into details of character and
facial appearance avoided by other writers. He tells that
"the fairest of the youths of Troy" with:
fair hair, very charming and naturally shining, eyes bright and full
of gaiety... He was not insolent or haughty, but light of heart and
gay and amorous. Well was he loved, and well did he love...
Guido delle Colonne's
Historia destructionis Troiae
Historia destructionis Troiae (History of the
Destruction of Troy) says:
The fifth and last was named Troilus, a young man as courageous as
possible in war, about whose valour there are many tales which the
present history does not omit later on.
The youngest doughti Troylus
A doughtier man than he was on
Of hem alle was neuere non,-
Save Ector, that was his brother
There never was goten suche another.
The boy who in the ancient texts was never Achilles' match has now
become a young knight, a worthy opponent to the Greeks.
Knight and war leader
In the medieval and renaissance tradition,
Troilus is one of those who
argue most for war against the Greeks in Priam's council. In several
texts, for example the Laud
Troy Book, he says that those who disagree
with him are better suited to be priests. Guido, and writers who
follow him, have Hector, knowing how headstrong his brother can be,
Troilus not to be reckless before the first battle.
In the medieval texts,
Troilus is a doughty knight throughout the war,
taking over, as in Dares, after Hector's death as the main warrior on
the Trojan side. Indeed he is named as a second
Lydgate. These two poets follow Boccaccio in reporting that
Troilus kills thousands of Greeks. However, the comparison with
Hector can be seen as acknowledging Troilus' inferiority to his
brother through the very need to mention him.
Troilus is greater than Alexander, Hector, Tydeus, Bellona
and even Mars, and kills seven Greeks with one blow of his club. He
does not strike at opponents' legs because that would demean his
victory. He only fights knights and nobles, and disdains facing the
Albert of Stade
Albert of Stade saw
Troilus as so important that he is the title
character of his version of the Trojan War. He is "the wall of his
homeland, Troy's protection, the rose of the military...."
The list of Greek leaders
Troilus wounds expands in the various
re-tellings of the war from the two in
Dares to also include
Diomedes and Menelaus. Guido, in keeping his promise to
tell of all Troilus' valorous deeds, describes many incidents. Troilus
is usually victorious but is captured in an early battle by Menestheus
before his friends rescue him. This incident reappears in the
imitators of Guido, such as Lefevre and the Laud and Lydgate Troy
Within the medieval Trojan tradition,
Achilles withdraws from fighting
in the war because he is to marry Polyxena. Eventually, so many of his
followers are killed that he decides to rejoin the battle leading to
Troilus' death and, in turn, to Hecuba,
Polyxena and Paris plotting
15th-century Dutch tapestry of the deaths of Troilus,
Paris. Near the top of the left panel, the raised sword is held by
Achilles who is about to behead the helpless Troilus. At the bottom,
he is dragging the headless body behind his horse.
Albert and Joseph follow
Dares in having
Troilus as he
tries to rise after his horse falls. In Guido and authors he
Achilles specifically seeks out
Troilus to avenge a
previous encounter where
Troilus has wounded him. He therefore
Myrmidons to find Troilus, surround him and cut him off
In the Laud
Troy Book, this is because
Achilles almost killed Troilus
in the previous fight but the Trojan was rescued.
Achilles wants to
make sure that this does not happen again. This second combat is
fought as a straight duel between the two with Achilles, the greater
In Guido, Lefevre and Lydgate Troilus' killer's behaviour is very
different, shorn of any honour.
Achilles waits until his men have
killed Troilus' horse and cut loose his armour. Only then
And when he sawe how
Troilus nakid stod,
Of longe fightyng awaped and amaat
And from his folke alone disolat
Troy Book, iv, 2756-8.
Achilles attack and behead him.
In an echo of the Iliad,
Achilles drags the corpse behind his horse.
Thus, the comparison with the Homeric
Hector is heightened and, at the
same time, aspects of the classical Troilus's fate are echoed.
Pre-Raphaelite interpretation by
Edward Burne-Jones in the Kelmscott
Chaucer, designed by William Morris.
The last aspect of the character of
Troilus to develop in the
tradition has become the one for which he is best known. Chaucer's
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare's
Cressida both focus
Troilus in his role as a lover. This theme is first introduced by
Benoît de Sainte-Maure in the
Roman de Troie
Roman de Troie and developed by Guido
delle Colonne. Boccaccio's
Il Filostrato is the first book to take the
love-story as its main theme. Robert
John Dryden are
other authors who dedicate works to it.
The story of Troilus' romance developed within the context of the
male-centred conventions of courtly love and thus the focus of
sympathy was to be
Troilus and not his beloved. As different
authors recreated the romance, they would interpret it in ways
affected both by the perspectives of their own times and their
individual preoccupations. The story as it would later develop through
the works of Boccaccio,
Shakespeare is summarised below.
The story of
Troilus and Cressida
Troilus used to mock the foolishness of other young men's love
affairs. But one day he sees
Cressida in the temple of
falls in love with her. She is a young widow and daughter of the
Calchas who has defected to the Greek camp.
Embarrassed at having become exactly the sort of person he used to
Troilus tries to keep his love secret. However, he pines for
Cressida and becomes so withdrawn that his friend
Pandarus asks why he
is unhappy and eventually persuades
Troilus to reveal his love.
Pandarus offers to act as a go-between, even though he is Cressida's
relative and should be guarding her honour.
Cressida to admit that she returns Troilus' love and, with Pandarus's
help, the two are able to consummate their feelings for each other.
Their happiness together is brought to an end when
Agamemnon to arrange Cressida's return to him as part of a hostage
exchange in which the captive Trojan
Antenor is freed. The two lovers
are distraught and even think of eloping together but they finally
cooperate with the exchange. Despite Cressida's initial intention to
remain faithful to Troilus, the Greek warrior
Diomedes wins her heart.
Troilus learns of this, he seeks revenge on
Diomedes and the
Greeks and dies in battle. Just as
Cressida betrayed Troilus, Antenor
was later to betray Troy.
Benoît and Guido
In the Roman de Troie, the daughter of
Troilus loves is
called Briseis. Their relationship is first mentioned once the hostage
exchange has been agreed:
Whoever had joy or gladness,
Troilus suffered affliction and grief.
That was for the daughter of Calchas, for he loved her deeply. He had
set his whole heart on her; so mightily was he possessed by his love
that he thought only of her. She had given herself to him, both her
body and her love. Most men knew of that.
In Guido, Troilus' and Diomedes' love is now called Briseida. His
version (a history) is more moralistic and less touching, removing the
psychological complexity of Benoît's (a romance) and the focus in his
retelling of the love triangle is firmly shifted to the betrayal of
Troilus by Briseida. Although
Diomedes are most
negatively caricatured by Guido's moralising, even
Troilus is subject
to criticism as a "fatuous youth" prone, as in the following, to
Troilus, however, after he had learned of his father's intention to go
ahead and release
Briseida and restore her to the Greeks, was
overwhelmed and completely wracked by great grief, and almost entirely
consumed by tears, anguished sighs, and laments, because he cherished
her with the great fervour of youthful love and had been led by the
excessive ardour of love into the intense longing of blazing passion.
There was no one of his dear ones who could console him.
Briseis, at least for now, is equally affected by the possibility of
separation from her lover.
Troilus goes to her room and they spend the
night together, trying to comfort each other.
Troilus is part of the
escort to hand her over the next day. Once she is with the Greeks,
Diomedes is immediately struck by her beauty. Although she is not
hostile, she cannot accept him as her lover. Meanwhile
her to accept for herself that the gods have decreed Troy's fall and
that she is safer now she is with the Greeks.
A battle soon takes place and
Troilus from his horse.
The Greek sends it as a gift to Briseis/
Briseida with an explanation
that it had belonged to her old lover. In Benoît,
at Diomedes' seeking to woo her by humbling Troilus, but in Guido all
that remains of her long speech in Benoît is that she "cannot hold
him in hatred who loves me with such purity of heart."
Diomedes soon does win her heart. In Benoît, it is through his
display of love and she gives him her glove as a token.
him out in battle and utterly defeats him. He saves Diomedes' life,
only so that he can bring her a message of Troilus' contempt. In
Guido, Briseida's change of heart comes after
Troilus wounds Diomedes
Diomedes and then decides to take him as her
lover, because she does not know if she will ever meet
In later medieval tellings of the war, the episode of
Cressida is acknowledged and often given as a reason for
Troilus to seek each other out in battle. The love story
also becomes one that is told separately.
The opening of Canto 2 from a 14th-century manuscript of Il
Filostrato. The illustration shows
unrequited love has made him take to his bed. Codex Christianei, Ex
Bibliotheca Gymnasii Altonani (Hamburg).
Main article: Il Filostrato
The first major work to take the story of Troilus' failed love as its
central theme is Giovanni Boccaccio's Il Filostrato. The title
means "the one struck down by love". There is an overt purpose to
the text. In the proem, Boccaccio himself is Filostrato and addresses
his own love who has rejected him.
Boccaccio introduces a number of features of the story that were to be
taken up by Chaucer. Most obvious is that Troilus' love is now called
Criseida or Cressida. An innovation in the narrative is the
introduction of the go-between Pandarus.
Troilus is characterised as a
young man who expresses whatever moods he has strongly, weeping when
his love is unsuccessful, generous when it is.
Boccaccio fills in the history before the hostage exchange as follows.
Troilus mocks the lovelorn glances of other men who put their trust in
women before falling victim to love himself when he sees Cressida,
here a young widow, in the Palladium, the temple of Athena. Troilus
keeps his love secret and is made miserable by it. Pandarus, Troilus'
best friend and Cressida's cousin in this version of the story, acts
as go-between after persuading
Troilus to explain his distress. In
accordance with the conventions of courtly love, Troilus' love remains
secret from all except Pandarus, until
divines the reason for Troilus' subsequent distress.
After the hostage exchange is agreed,
Troilus suggests elopement, but
Cressida argues that he should not abandon
Troy and that she should
protect her honour. Instead, she promises to meet him within ten days.
Troilus spends much of the intervening time on the city walls, sighing
in the direction where
Cressida has gone. No horses or sleeves, as
used by Guido or Benoît, are involved in Troilus' learning of
Cressida's change of heart. Instead a dream hints at what has
happened, and then the truth is confirmed when a brooch – previously
a gift from
Cressida – is found on Diomedes' looted
clothing. In the mean time,
Cressida has kept up the pretence in their
correspondence that she still loves Troilus. After Cressida's betrayal
Troilus becomes ever fiercer in battle.
Chaucer and his successors
Troilus and Criseyde
Chaucer reciting his Troilus. Frontispiece from early 15th-century
Troilus and Criseyde, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Troilus and Criseyde reflects a more humorous
world-view than Boccaccio's poem.
Chaucer does not have his own
wounded love to display and therefore allows himself an ironic
detachment from events and Criseyde is more sympathetically
portrayed. In contrast to Boccaccio's final canto, which returns
to the poet's own situation, Chaucer's palinode has
down laughing from heaven, finally aware of the meaninglessness of
earthly emotions. About a third of the lines of the
adapted from the much shorter Il Filostrato, leaving room for a more
detailed and characterised narrative.
Chaucer's Criseyde is swayed by
Diomedes playing on her fear. Pandarus
is now her uncle, more worldly-wise and more active in what happens
Troilus is more passive. This passivity is given comic
Troilus passes out in Criseyde's bedroom and is lifted
into her bed by Pandarus. Troilus' repeated emotional paralysis is
comparable to that of Hamlet who may have been based on him. It can be
seen as driven by loyalty both to Criseyde and to his homeland, but
has also been interpreted less kindly.
Another difference in Troilus' characterisation from the Filostrato is
that he is no longer misogynistic in the beginning. Instead of mocking
lovers because of their putting trust in women, he mocks them because
of how love affects them. Troilus' vision of love is stark: total
commitment offers total fulfilment; any form of failure means total
rejection. He is unable to comprehend the subtleties and complexities
that underlie Criseyde's vacillations and Pandarus' manoeuvrings.
In his storytelling
Chaucer links the fates of
Troy and Troilus, the
mutual downturn in fortune following the exchange of Criseyde for the
Antenor being the most significant parallel. Little
has changed in the general sweep of the plot from Boccaccio. Things
are just more detailed, with Pandarus, for example, involving Priam's
Deiphobus during his attempts to unite
Cressida. Another scene that
Chaucer adds was to be reworked by
Shakespeare. In it,
Pandarus seeks to persuade
Cressida of Troilus'
virtues over those of Hector, before uncle and niece witness Troilus
returning from battle to public acclaim with much damage to his
Chaucer also includes details from the earlier narratives. So,
reference is made not just to Boccaccio's brooch, but to the glove,
the captured horse and the battles of the two lovers in Benoît and
Because of the great success of the Troilus, the love story was
popular as a free standing tale to be retold by English-language
writers throughout the 15th and 16th centuries and into the 17th
century. The theme was treated either seriously or in burlesque. For
many authors, true Troilus, false Cresseid and pandering Pandarus
became ideal types eventually to be referred to together as such in
During the same period, English retellings of the broader theme of the
Trojan War tended to avoid Boccaccio's and Chaucer's additions to the
story, though their authors, including Caxton, commonly acknowledged
Chaucer as a respected predecessor. John Lydgate's
Troy Book is an
Pandarus is one of the elements from Chaucer's poem
that Lydgate incorporates, but Guido provides his overall narrative
framework. As with other authors, Lydgate's treatment contrasts
Troilus' steadfastness in all things with Cressida's fickleness. The
events of the war and the love story are interwoven. Troilus' prowess
in battle markedly increases once he becomes aware that
beginning to win Cressida's heart, but it is not long after Diomedes
final victory in love when
Achilles and his Myrmidon's treacherously
attack and kill
Troilus and maltreat his corpse, concluding Lydgate's
treatment of the character as an epic hero, who is the purest of
all those who appear in the
Of all the treatments of the story of
Troilus and, especially,
Cressida in the period between
Chaucer and Shakespeare, it is Robert
Henryson's that receives the most attention from modern critics. His
The Testament of Cresseid
The Testament of Cresseid is described by the Middle English
expert C. David Benson as the "only fifteenth century poem written in
Great Britain that begins to rival the moral and artistic complexity
of Chaucer's Troilus". In the Testament the title-character is
Diomedes and then afflicted with leprosy so that she
becomes unrecognizable to Troilus. He pities the lepers she is with
and is generous to her because she reminds him of the idol of her in
his mind, but he remains the virtuous pagan knight and does not
achieve the redemption that she does. Even so, following Henryson
Troilus was seen as a representation of generosity.
Shakespeare and Dryden
Troilus and Cressida
Cressida in Pandarus' orchard. Valentine Walter Bromley
Another approach to Troilus' love story in the centuries following
Chaucer is to treat
Troilus as a fool, something
Shakespeare does in
allusions to him in plays leading up to
Troilus and Cressida. In
Shakespeare's "problem play" there are elements of
fool. However, this can be excused by his age. He is an almost
beardless youth, unable to fully understand the workings of his own
emotions, in the middle of an adolescent infatuation, more in love
with love and his image of
Cressida than the real woman herself.
He displays a mixture of idealism about eternally faithful lovers and
of realism, condemning Hector's "vice of mercy". His concept of
love involves both a desire for immediate sexual gratification and a
belief in eternal faithfulness. He also displays a mixture of
constancy, (in love and supporting the continuation of war) and
inconsistency (changing his mind twice in the first scene on whether
to go to battle or not). More a Hamlet than a Romeo, by the end
of the play his illusions of love shattered and
Hector dead, Troilus
might show signs of maturing, recognising the nature of the world,
Pandarus and focusing on revenge for his brother's death
rather than for a broken heart or a stolen horse. The novelist
and academic Joyce Carol Oates, on the other hand, sees
beginning and ending the play in frenzies – of love and then hatred.
Troilus is unable to achieve the equilibrium of a tragic hero
despite his learning experiences, because he remains a human-being who
belongs to a banal world where love is compared to food and cooking
and sublimity cannot be achieved.
Troilus and Cressida's sources include Chaucer, Lydgate,
Homer, but there are creations of Shakespeare's own too and his
tone is very different.
Shakespeare wrote at a time when the
traditions of courtly love were dead and when England was undergoing
political and social change. Shakespeare's treatment of the theme
of Troilus' love is much more cynical than Chaucer's, and the
Pandarus is now grotesque. Indeed, all the heroes of the
Trojan War are degraded and mocked. Troilus' actions are subject
to the gaze and commentary of both the venal
Pandarus and of the
Thersites who tells us:
...That dissembling abominable varlet Diomed has got that same scurvy,
doting, foolish knave's sleeve of
Troy there in his helm. I would fain
see them meet, that that same young Trojan ass, that loves the whore
there, might send that Greekish whoremasterly villain with the sleeve
back to the dissembling luxurious drab of a sleeveless errand...
Thersites (far left with torch) watches Ulysses restraining
Diomedes seduces Cressida. Painted by
Angelica Kauffman in 1789, and
Luigi Schiavonetti for the Boydell
illustrated edition of
Cressida in 1795.
The action is compressed and truncated, beginning in medias res with
Pandarus already working for
Troilus and praising his virtues to
Cressida over those of the other knights they see returning from
battle, but comically mistaking him for Deiphobus. The Trojan lovers
are together only one night before the hostage exchange takes place.
They exchange a glove and a sleeve as love tokens, but the next night
Troilus to Calchas' tent, significantly near Menelaus'
tent. There they witness
Diomedes successfully seducing Cressida
after taking Troilus' sleeve from her. The young Trojan struggles with
what his eyes and ears tell him, wishing not to believe it. Having
previously considered abandoning the senselessness of war in favour of
his role of lover and having then sought to reconcile love and
knightly conduct, he is now left with war as his only role.
Both the fights between
Diomedes from the traditional
narrative of Benoît and Guido take place the next day in
Diomedes captures Troilus' horse in the first
fight and sends it to Cressida. Then the Trojan triumphs in the
Diomedes escapes. But in a deviation from this
narrative it is Hector, not Troilus, whom the
Myrmidons surround in
the climatic battle of the play and whose body is dragged behind
Troilus himself is left alive vowing revenge for
Hector's death and rejecting Pandarus. Troilus' story ends, as it
began, in medias res with him and the remaining characters in his
love-triangle remaining alive.
Some seventy years after Shakespeare's
Troilus was first presented,
John Dryden re-worked it as a tragedy, in his view strengthening
Troilus' character and indeed the whole play, by removing many of the
unresolved threads in the plot and ambiguities in Shakespeare's
portrayal of the protagonist as a believable youth rather than a
clear-cut and thoroughly sympathetic hero. Dryden described this
as "remov[ing] that heap of Rubbish, under which many excellent
thoughts lay bury'd." His
Troilus is less passive on stage about
the hostage exchange, arguing with
Hector over the handing over of
Cressida, who remains faithful. Her scene with
Diomedes that Troilus
witnesses is her attempt "to deceive deceivers". She throws
herself at her warring lovers' feet to protect
Troilus and commits
suicide to prove her loyalty. Unable to leave a still living Troilus
on the stage, as
Shakespeare did, Dryden restores his death at the
Achilles and the
Myrmidons but only after
Troilus has killed
Diomedes. According to P. Boitani, Dryden goes to "the opposite
extreme of Shakespeare's... solv[ing] all problems and therefore
kill[ing] the tragedy".
After Dryden's Shakespeare,
Troilus is almost invisible in literature
until the 20th century.
Keats does refer to
the context of the "sovereign power of love" and Wordsworth
translated some of
Chaucer but, as a rule, love was portrayed in ways
far different from how it is in the
Boitani sees the two
World Wars and the 20th century's engagement "in
the recovery of all sorts of past myths" as contributing to a
rekindling of interest in
Troilus as a human being destroyed by events
beyond his control. Similarly Foakes sees the aftermath of one World
War and the threat of a second as key elements for the successful
revival of Shakespeare's
Troilus in two productions in the first half
of the 20th century, and one of the authors discussed below names
Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly: From
Troy to Vietnam as the
trigger for his wish to retell the Trojan war.
Boitani discusses the modern use of the character of
Troilus in a
Eros and Thanatos. Love and death, the latter
either as a tragedy in itself or as an epic symbol of Troy's own
destruction, therefore, are the two core elements of the
for the editor of the first book-length survey of it from ancient to
modern times. He sees the character as incapable of transformation on
a heroic scale in the manner of Ulysses and also blocked from the
possibility of development as an archetypal figure of troubled youth
by Hamlet. Troilus' appeal for the 20th and 21st century is his very
Belief in the medieval tradition of the
Trojan War that followed
Dares survived the Revival of Learning in the Renaissance
and the advent of the first English translation of the
Iliad in the
form of Chapman's Homer. (
Shakespeare used both
Homer and Lefevre as
sources for his Troilus.) However the two supposedly eye-witness
accounts were finally discredited by Jacob Perizonius in the early
years of the 18th century. With the chief source for his
portrayal as one of the most active warriors of the Trojan War
Troilus has become an optional character in modern Trojan
fiction, except for those that retell the love story itself. Lindsay
Clarke and Phillip Parotti, for example, omit
Hilary Bailey includes a character of that name in Cassandra: Princess
Troy but little remains of the classical or medieval versions
except that he fights Diomedes. However, some of the over sixty
re-tellings of the
Trojan War since 1916 do feature the
Once more a man-boy
One consequence of the reassessment of sources is the reappearance of
Troilus in his ancient form of andropais.
Troilus takes this form
in Giraudoux's The
Trojan War Will Not Take Place, his first
successful reappearance in the 20th century.
Troilus is a
fifteen-year-old boy whom Helen has noticed following her around.
After turning down the opportunity to kiss her when she offers and
when confronted by Paris, he eventually accepts the kiss at the end of
the play just as
Troy has committed to war. He is thus a symbol of the
whole city's fatal fascination with Helen.
Troilus, in one of his ancient manifestations as a boy-soldier
overwhelmed, reappears both in works Boitani discusses and those he
Christa Wolf in her Kassandra features a seventeen-year-old
Troilus, first to die of all the sons of Priam. The novel's treatment
of the character's death has features of both medieval and ancient
Troilus has just gained his first love, once more
called Briseis. It is only after his death that she is to betray him.
On the first day of the war,
Troilus out and forces him
into battle with the help of the Myrmidons.
Troilus tries to fight in
the way he has been taught princes should do, but
Achilles strikes the
boy down and leaps on top of him, before attempting to throttle him.
Troilus escapes and runs to the sanctuary of the temple of Apollo
where he is helped to take his armour off. Then, in "some of the most
powerful and hair-raising" words ever written on Troilus' death,
Wolf describes how
Achilles enters the temple, caresses then
half-throttles the terrified boy, who lies on the altar, before
finally beheading him like a sacrificial victim. After his death, the
Trojan council propose that
Troilus be officially declared to have
been twenty in the hope of avoiding the prophecy about him but Priam,
in his grief, refuses as this would insult his dead son further. In
"exploring the violent underside of sexuality and the sexual underside
of violence", Wolf revives a theme suggested by the ancient vases
where an "erotic aura seems to pervade representations of a fully
Achilles pursuing or butchering a naked, boyish Troilus".
Colleen McCullough is another author who incorporates both the
medieval Achilles' seeking
Troilus out in battle and the ancient
butchery at the altar. Her The Song of
Troy includes two characters,
Troilos and Ilios, who are Priam's youngest children – both
with prophecies attached and both specifically named for the city's
founders. They are eight and seven respectively when Paris leaves for
Greece and somewhere in their late teens when killed. Troilos is made
Priam's heir after Hector's death, against the boy's will. Odysseus's
spies learn of the prophecy that
Troy will not fall if Troilos comes
Achilles therefore seeks him out in the next battle and kills
him with a spear-cast to his throat. In a reference to the medieval
Troilus as the second Hector,
Automedon observes that "with
a few more years added, he might have made another Hektor." Ilios
is the last son of
Priam to die, killed at the altar in front of his
parents by Neoptolemos.
Marion Zimmer Bradley's
The Firebrand features an even younger
Troilus, just twelve when he becomes Hector's charioteer. (His brother
wants to keep a protective eye on him now he is ready for war.)
Troilus helps kill Patroclus. Although he manages to escape the
immediate aftermath of Hector's death, he is wounded. After the
Trojans witness Achilles' treatment of Hector's body,
on rejoining the battle despite his wounds and Hecuba's attempts to
Achilles kills him with an arrow. The mourning Hecuba
comments that he did not want to live because he blamed himself for
Reinventing the love story
A feature already present in the treatments of the love story by
Shakespeare and Dryden is the repeated reinvention
of its conclusion. Boitani sees this as a continuing struggle by
authors to find a satisfying resolution to the love triangle. The
major difficulty is the emotional dissatisfaction resulting from how
the tale, as originally invented by Benoît, is embedded into the
pre-existing narrative of the
Trojan War with its demands for the
characters to meet their traditional fates. This narrative has
Troilus, the sympathetic protagonist of the love story, killed by
Achilles, a character totally disconnected from the love triangle,
Diomedes survive to return to Greece victorious, and Cressida
disappear from consideration as soon as it is known that she has
fallen for the Greek. Modern authors continue to invent their own
Cressida is the best known and most
successful of a clutch of 20th-century operas on the subject after the
composers of previous eras had ignored the possibility of setting the
story. Christopher Hassall's libretto blends elements of Chaucer
Shakespeare with inventions of its own arising from a wish to
tighten and compress the plot, the desire to portray
sympathetically and the search for a satisfactory ending. Antenor
is, as usual, exchanged for
Cressida but, in this version of the tale,
his capture has taken place while he was on a mission for Troilus.
Cressida agrees to marry
Diomedes after she has not heard from
Troilus. His apparent silence, however, is because his letters to her
have been intercepted.
Troilus arrives at the Greek camp just before
the planned wedding. When faced with her two lovers,
Troilus. He is then killed by
Calchas with a knife in the back.
Diomedes sends his body back to
Calchas in chains. It is
now the Greeks who condemn "false Cressida" and seek to keep her but
she commits suicide.
Cressida kills herself she sings to
...turn on that cold river's brim
beyond the sun's far setting.
Look back from the silent stream
of sleep and long forgetting.
Turn and consider me
and all that was ours;
you shall no desert see
but pale unwithering flowers.
This is one of three references in 20th century literature to Troilus
on the banks of the
River Styx that Boitani has identified. Louis
MacNeice's long poem The Stygian Banks explicitly takes its name from
Shakespeare who has
Troilus compare himself to "a strange soul upon
the Stygian banks" and call upon
Pandarus to transport him "to those
fields where I may wallow in the lily beds". In MacNeice's poem
the flowers have become children, a paradoxical use of the
traditionally sterile Troilus who
Patrols the Stygian banks, eager to cross,
But the value is not on the further side of the river,
The value lies in his eagerness. No communion
In sex or elsewhere can be reached and kept
Perfectly for ever. The closed window,
The river of Styx, the wall of limitation
Beyond which the word beyond loses its meaning,
Are the fertilising paradox, the grille
That, severing, joins, the end to make us begin
Again and again, the infinite dark that sanctions
Our growing flowers in the light, our having children...
The third reference to the Styx is in Christopher Morley's The Trojan
Horse. A return to the romantic comedy of
Chaucer is the solution that
Boitani sees to the problem of how the love story can survive
Shakespeare's handling of it. Morley gives us such a treatment in
a book that revels in its anachronism. Young Lieutenant (soon to be
Troilus lives his life in 1185 BC where he has carefully
timetabled everything from praying, to fighting, to examining his own
mistakes. He falls for
Cressida after seeing her, as ever, in the
Athena where she wears black, as if mourning the defection
of her father, the economist Dr Calchas. The flow of the plot follows
the traditional story, but the ending is changed once again. Troilus'
discovery of Cressida's change of heart happens just before Troy
falls. (Morley uses Boccaccio's version of the story of a brooch, or
in this case a pin, attached to a piece of Diomedes' armour as the
evidence that convinces the Trojan.)
Diomedes as he
exits the Trojan Horse, stabbing him in the throat where the captured
piece of armour should have been. Then
Achilles kills Troilus. The
book ends with an epilogue. The Trojan and Greek officers exercise
together by the River Styx, all enmities forgotten. A new arrival
Diomedes and wonders why they seem
familiar to her. What Boitani calls "a rather dull, if pleasant,
ataraxic eternity" replaces Chaucer's Christian version of the
In Eric Shanower's graphic novel Age of Bronze, currently still being
Troilus is youthful but not the youngest son of
Hecuba. In the first two collected volumes of this version of the
Trojan War, Shanower provides a total of six pages of sources covering
the story elements of his work alone. These include most of the
fictional works discussed above from Guido and Boccaccio down to
Morley and Walton. Shanower begins Troilus' love story with the youth
making fun of Polyxena's love for
Hector and in the process
accidentally knocking aside Cressida's veil. He follows the latter
into the temple of
Athena to gawp at her.
Pandarus is the widow
Cressida's uncle encouraging him.
Cressida rejects Troilus' initial
advances not because of wanting to act in a seemly manner, as in
Chaucer or Shakespeare, but because she thinks of him as just a boy.
However, her uncle persuades her to encourage his affection, in the
hope that being close to a son of
Priam will protect against the
hostility of the Trojans to the family of the traitor Calchas.
Troilus' unrequited love is used as comic relief in an otherwise
serious retelling of the
Trojan War cycle. The character is portrayed
as often indecisive and ineffectual as on the second page of this
episode sample at the official site . It remains to be seen how
Shanower will further develop the story.
Troilus is rewarded a rare happy ending in the early
Doctor Who story
The Myth Makers. The script was written by
Donald Cotton who had
previously adapted Greek tales for the BBC Third Programme. The
general tone is one of high comedy combined with a "genuine atmosphere
of doom, danger and chaos" with the BBC website listing A Funny Thing
Happened on the Way to the Forum as an inspiration together with
Homer and Virgil.
Troilus is again an
andropais "seventeen next birthday" described as "looking too
young for the military garb". Both "Cressida" and "Diomede" are
the assumed names of the Doctor's companions. Thus Troilus' jealousy
of Diomede, whom he believes also loves Cressida, is down to confusion
about the real situation. In the end "Cressida" decides to leave the
Troilus and saves the latter from the fall of
finding an excuse to get him away from the city. In a reversal of the
usual story, he is able to avenge
Hector by killing
Achilles when they
meet outside Troy. (The story was originally intended to end more
conventionally, with "Cressida", despite her love for him, apparently
abandoning him for "Diomede", but the producers declined to renew
co-star Maureen O'Brien's contract, requiring that her character Vicki
be written out.)
Notes and references
^ Also spelled Troilos or Troylus.
^ Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Le monde d'Homère, Perrin 2000, p19
^ For simplicity's sake, the
Iliad and the
Odyssey are here treated as
part of the Epic Cycle, though the term is often used to describe
solely the non-Homeric works.
^ Boitani, (1989: pp.4–5).
^ Burgess (2001: pp.144–5).
^ Beazley Archive databases accessible from . Link accessed
12-25-2007. Note: The databases are intended only for research and
^ Examples of this practice are the section "Troilos and Lykaon" by
Gantz (1993: pp.597–603) and the chapter "Antiquity and Beyond: The
Death of Troilus" by Boitani (1989: pp.1–19).
^ Sommerstein (2007: pp. 197,196).
^ This Homeric epithet is picked out as applying to
Achilles in this
context both in March (1998: p.389) and Sommerstein (2007: p.197).
^ Burgess (2001: p.64).
Iliad (XXIV, 257) The text for the whole passage in Greek,
with hotlinks to parallel English translations, is available at .
(Verified 1 August 2007.)
^ a b Carpenter (1991: p.17), March (1998: p.389), Gantz (1993: p.597)
and Lattimore's translation at "Archived copy". Archived from the
original on 2007-09-04. Retrieved 2007-08-15. (and maybe
Woodford (1993: p.55) interpret hippiocharmên as horse-loving;
Boitani (1989: p.1), who quotes Alexander Pope's translation of the
Iliad and the
Liddell and Scott lexicon and translations available at
Perseus Project (checked 1 August 2007) interpret the word as
meaning chariot warrior. Sommerstein (2007) wavers between the two
meanings giving each in different places in the same book (p.44,
p.197). The confusion over the meaning dates back to ancient times.
Scholia D (available in Greek at  link checked 14 August 2007)
says that the word can mean either a horse warrior or someone who
takes delight in horses (p.579). Other scholia argue that
Troilus a boy, either because he is considered one of
the best or because he is described as a horse-warrior. (Scholia
S-I24257a and S-I24257b respectively, available in Greek at . Link
checked 14 August 2007.)
^ Sommerstein (2007: pp. 44, 197–8).
^ The text is available at . (Verified 1 August 2007.)
^ Sommerstein (2007: p.198).
^ All these literary sources are discussed in Boitani (1989: p.16),
Sommerstein (2007) and/or Gantz (1993: p597, p.601).
^ Sommerstein (2007:pp. xviii–xx).
^ Malcolm Health on page 111 of "Subject Reviews: Greek Literature",
Greece & Rome Vol.54, No 1. (2007), pp.111–6, (link checked 1
August 2007). On pages 112–3 Heath reviews Sommerstein et al.
^ Sommerstein (2007: pp.199–200).
^ 3 fr 13 Sn, cited in Gantz (1993: p.597), Sommerstein (2007: p.201)
and Boitani (1989: p.16).
^ Text available with parallel translation in Sommerstein (2007
Sophocles fragment 621. Text available in the Loeb edition or
Scholia S-I24257a available in Greek at . Link checked 14 August
2007. Translated and discussed in Sommerstein (2007: p.203).
^ Boitani (1989: p.15); Sommerstein (207: pp. 205–8).
Troilus Fragment 528. Text with translation Sommerstein
(2007: pp.74–5); discussed Sommerstein (2007: p.83).
^ Sommerstein (2007: pp.203–12).
^ Sommerstein (2007: pp.204–8).
^ Boitani (1989, p:18).
^ Boitani (1989: p.16).
^ Lycophron, Alexandra 307-13, translation by A. W. Mair, in edition
available from Loeb Classical Library. A PDF of a Greek manuscript is
available at . (Link verified 1 August 2007.)
^ Tzetzes' comments are not readily available but are discussed by
Gantz (1993: p.601) and Boitani (1989: p.17).
^ Sommerstein (2007: p.201).
^ Apollodorus Library(III.12.5). Greek text with link to parallel
English text available at . Link checked 2 August 2007.
Hyginus Fabulae 90. English translation at . Link checked 2
^ Clementine Homilies v. xv. 145. English translation available at
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved
2007-08-08. . Link checked 8/8/2007.
^ a b Horace, Odes ii. ix. 13–16. Latin Text with link to
translation available at . Link checked 2 August 2007.
Dio Chrysostom Discourses (XI, 91)
^ a b c VM (I, 120). The text is not easily available but is cited by
Gantz (1993: p.602) and Sommerstein (2007: p.200, p.202) among others.
^ Plautus, Bacchides 953-4. Text available in Latin with link to
English translation at . Link checked 2 August 2007.
Polycrates poem (l.41-5). Text available in Greek with
parallel German translation at . Link checked 2 August 2007.
Dio Chrysostom Or. 21.17
^ a b
Silvae 2.6 32-3. Latin text available at . Checked
29 July 2007.
^ Graves, (1955, 162.g).
^ Gantz (1993: p.602).
^ a b Servius' Latin text can be seen at . Link checked 2 August
^ Sommerstein (2007: pp.200–1).
^ Gantz (1993: p.597).
^ Eustathius on Homer's
Iliad XXIV 257, cited by J. G. Frazer in
footnote 79 to his translation of Apollodorus' Library. Available at
. (Link checked 2 August 2007). Eustathius follows Scholion
S-I24257a, available in Greek at . (Link checked 14 August 2007).
Epitome (3, 32) to the Library. The text in Greek with a
link to the English translation is available at [permanent dead
link]. Link checked 2 August 2007.
^ The meaning of this passage is disputed. Carlos Parada at his Greek
Mythology Link takes this as a reference to the walls of Apollo's
temple. (Link checked 2 August 2007.) The footnote to the Loeb
translation of this passage assumes this is a reference to Apollo
having built the walls of
Troy and that
Statius is following the
Virgilian version of the story.
^ Gantz (1993: p.601).
^ Callimachus, fragment 363 available in Loeb Edition. Cited by Cicero
at the reference below.
Tusculan Disputations I, xxxix, 93. Latin text available at
 Link checked 2 August 2007.
^ The contents of this subsection have been compiled from the
following sources:- Burgess, J. S. (2001); Carpenter, (1991); Woodford
(1993); and the parts of Boitani (1989) and Gantz (1993) specified for
this section of the article as a whole. All except the Gantz contain
illustrations. The Beazley Archive sites listed in External links was
also consulted. Images of the ambush and pursuit are shown at the
^ This picture is reproduced near the top of the entry for
Carlos Parada's Greek Mythology Link . (Checked 29 July 2007.)
^ a b Carpenter (1991: p.19).
^ Briggite Knittlmeyer has proposed that
Troilus was seen as an
idealised version of the noble ephebe, youths being often depicted on
pottery as mounted squires leading their warrior companions' horses.
(See this 1998 review of her Die Attische Aristokratie und ihre
Helden: Untersuchungen zu Darstellungen des trojanischen Sagenkreises
im 6. und frühen 5. Jahrhundert v. Chr (Heidelberg: Verlag
Archaeologie und Geschichte, 1997, ISBN 3-9804648-0-6) written by
Michael Anderson for the Bryn Mawr Classical Review . Link checked
29 July 2007.)
^ a b Carpenter (1991: p.18).
^ Boitani (1989: p.13).
^ Boitani: (1989: p17).
^ Boitani (1989: p.17); Sommerstein (2007: p.201).
^ March (1998: p.389).
^ The sections of this scene linked in the discussion are on the
Perseus Project website. (Links verified 1 August 2007.)
^ Woodford (1993: p.58).
^ Boitani (1989: pp.11–12).
^ Sommerstein (2007: p.202).
^ Gantz (1993: p.598, p.599).
^ Woodford (1993: pp.58–9).
^ Carpenter (1991: pp.19–20).
^ March (1998: p.389) talks of a "violent contrast made between the
huge attacking warrior and the small defenceless boy" and uses the
lower of these two pictures as illustration (on p.15).
^ Boitani (1989: p.11).
^ Gantz (1993: p.599).
^ Boitani (1989: p.5).
^ Carpenter (1991: p.20-21).
^ The image is further discussed at the Perseus website . Last
checked, 28 July 2007.
^ a b Boitani (1989: p.7).
^ Virgil, Aeneid: I, 474-8. The Latin text with links to English
translations can be seen at . Link verified 08/08/2007.
^ Boitani (1989: p.2).
^ Sommerstein (2007: p.200) takes the mythographer's version to imply
Troilus to his horses reins.
^ Gantz (1993: note 39, p.838).
^ Sommerstein (2007: p.200).
Agamemnon 748. The text in Latin, in which
Achilles too soon, is available at . Link
^ Ausonius, Epitapia, 19. Latin Text available at . Link verified
^ Boitani (1989: p.10).
^ Boitani (1989: pp.6–7).
^ Quintus of Smyrna,
Posthomerica iv, 470-90. English translation by
A.S.Way available at . Link verified 10/15/2007.
^ Full translated text available in Frazer (1966).
^ Dictys IV.9, translation by Frazer (1966: p.93).
^ Boitani (1989: p.7)
^ Gordon, R.K. (1934: p.x) in "Introduction" to The Story of Troilus
^ Available in Latin online at  (link checked 8/8/2007) and in
English at  (link checked 8/8/2007). Full translated text
available in Frazer (1966).
^ Boitani (1989: pp.1–2)
^ Compiled from Sommer (1894: pp.xv11-xxxiv). Only texts mentioned
elsewhere in this article are included by name.
^ Dares, De excidio Trojae Historia, 12.
^ Gantz (1993: p.39).
^ Joseph of Exeter, Daretis :Phrygii Ilias De Bello Troiano iv.
61-4. Quotation from translation by A. G. Rigg available at .
^ Quotation from excerpted translation in Gordon (1934: p.5-6).
^ Guido delle Colonne, Historia Destructionis Troiae v, 63–66,
translated by E. M. Meek.
Troy Book l. 1864-8
Guido delle Colonne
Guido delle Colonne Historia Destructionis Troiae 6. 294–301; Laud
Troy Book 2563-6. Lefevre The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, leaf
261 verso of
^ Historia Destructionis Troiae 15.34–43; Laud
Troy Book 4755-66.
^ "The wyse worthy Ector the secounde"
Troilus and Criseyde
Troy Book II.288.
^ Boccaccio il Filostrato viii.27;
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde V.258;
Troy Book 4.2041
^ Arner (2010)
Albert of Stade
Albert of Stade
Troilus iv. 329 quoted in Boitani (1989: p.7).
^ Guido Historia 15.293ff; Laud
Troy Book 5131ff; Lefevre Recuyell
leaf 290 verso; Lydgate
Troy Book 3.1020ff.
^ Eric Gelber: Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence, Art
critical.com, Spring 2002, ; link checked 5 August 2007
^ Roberto Antonelli (1989: pp.22).
^ Gordon (1934: p.8) translation.
^ Roberto Antonelli (1989: pp.46–8).
^ E. M. Meek translation ixx, 127–133.
^ E. M. Meek translation xx 90-1.
^ The Italian text is downloadable from . Link checked 17 August
2007. Translations are available in e.g. Havely, N.R. (ed.) Chaucer's
Boccaccio with some of Boccaccio's other writing, and in Gordon (1934)
with the complete
Troilus and extracts from Benoît.
^ Giulia Natali (p.51) "A Lyrical Version: Boccaccio's Filostrato" in
Boitani (1989: pp.49–73) points out that the etymology for this
meaning is faulty.
^ There is some debate among academics on who this woman was. Nevill
Coghill (1971: p.xvii) suggests Maria d'Aquino; Giulia Natali (1989:
p.51) rejects this idea and proposes that Boccaccio's beloved was
someone called Giovanna.
^ According to Frazer (1966: p.170), this is possibly influence by a
similar change in Armannino of Bologna's Fiorita.
^ Coghill (1971: p.xxii-xxiii) discussing Lewis (1936).
^ The full text is available at , link checked 17 August 2007.
^ Coghill (1971: pp.xvii-xviii).
^ Frazer (1966: p.5).
^ Windeatt (1989: p.128).
^ Jennifer R. Goodman "Nature as destiny in
Troilus and Criseyde",
Style, Fall, 1997
^ Gordon (1934: p.xiii).
^ Andrew (1989: p.91)
^ Benson (1980: p.137) following John P. McCall "The Trojan Scene in
Chaucer's Troilus, English Literary History, 29 (1962), 263.
^ Benson (1989: p.158)
^ Benson (1989: pp.154–6).
^ Torti (1989: pp.173–4).
^ C. David Benson ""Critic and poet: what Lydgate and
Henryson did to
Troilus and Criseyde."". Archived from the original on
October 27, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-13. CS1 maint: BOT:
original-url status unknown (link) Modern Language Quarterly, March
1992, v.53 n.1 p.23(18)
^ Benson (1980: p.143).
^ Benson (1980: pp.147–8).
^ Benson (1989: pp.159–60) referring to
As You Like It
As You Like It iv. i.
Taming of the Shrew
Taming of the Shrew iv. i. 150.
^ The play is available online at . Link checked 17 August 2007.
^ R. A. Foakes (1987: pp.11, 15); Oates (1966/7).
Troilus is almost
beardless as it is joked that he has fifty-one hairs on his chin, one
white (for Priam) and the rest for Priam's sons (one forked for Paris)
Act I Sc 2.
Cressida V. iii. 37. The mixture of realism
and idealism in Troilus' character is discussed in Lombardo (1989:
p.209) and Palmer (1982: p.91).
^ Foakes (1987: p.13)
^ Lombardo (1989: p.14)
^ Rufini (1989: pp. 246, 8) discusses and rejects Tilyard's claim (in
E.M.W. Tilyard, Shakespeare's Problem Plays London 1965 p.76) that
Troilus matures; Palmer (1982: 64–5) is equivocal, saying he is the
only character who might have been changed in the course of the play.
^ Oates (1966/7)
^ Palmer (1982: p.22ff).
^ Lombardo (1989: pp.213–4).
^ Lombardo (1989: p.204).
Cressida V. iv. 2–9.
^ Throughout the play,
Shakespeare draws attention to the parallels
between the Paris-Helen-
Menelaus and the Diomedes-Cressida-Troilus
Troilus discover he himself is cuckolded on the
threshold of the cuckolded Greek is just one example of this. (Rufini,
^ Lombardo (1989: p.203)
^ M. E. Novak (1984 p.521); Rufini (1989: pp.245–6).
^ Dryden Preface to
Cressida in Novak (1984: p.226).
Cressida IV, ii, 314
^ Boitani (1989: p.286).
^ Keats, J. Endymion, ii. 1–13. Text available at . Link checked
19 August 2007.
^ Boitani (1989).
^ a b Boitani (1989: p.289)
^ Foakes (1987: p.7)
^ Shanower, E. (2001) Age of Bronze Volume 1 A Thousand Ships, Orange
CA, Image Comics: p.200.
^ Boitani (1989: pp.281–305)
^ Frazer (1966: p.7)
^ Bär, S. (2007) review of Barry B. Powell, The War at Troy: a True
History, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, available online at , link
checked 18 August 2007.
^ Boitani (1989: p.290)
^ Boitani (1989: p.289).
^ Boitani (1989: p.290).
^ Boitani (1989: p.301)
^ Boitani (1989: p.304).
^ Martin, E. (1993) "Victims or Perpetrators? Literary Responses to
Women's Roles in National Socialism" available at "Archived copy".
Archived from the original on 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-08-18. ,
link checked 18 August 2007.
^ Boitani (1989: p.17).
^ No son of
Priam with this or a similar name is discussed in sources
Greek mythology such as those by Gantz or Graves. Nor does Ilios
appear in Apollodorus' or Hyginus' lists of Priam's children.
^ McCullough, C. (1998) The Song of Troy, London, Orion p. 402.
^ Boitani (1989: pp.297–300)
^ Boitani (1989: pp.287, 289, 294).
^ Boitani (1989: p.294).
Cressida quoted by Boitani(1989: p.297)
Cressida iii, ii, 7–11.
^ Boitani (1989: p.293)
^ Boitani (1989: p.288)
^ Boitani (1989: p.292)
^ The episode has been released on CD and as a novelisation. Most of
the original footage is lost. The script is available at 
^ BBC website description compiled from Paul Cornell,
Martin Day and
Keith Topping (1995) Doctor Who: The Television Companion and David J.
Stephen James Walker (1998, 2003) Doctor Who: The Television
Companion. Link checked 19 August 2007.
^ BBC website quoting Mark Wyman
The Myth Makers
The Myth Makers Episode 3 – Death of a Spy Sc.3.
The Myth Makers
The Myth Makers Episode 3 – Death of a Spy Sc.5.
^ Shannon Patrick Sullivan Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time
(Travel) "The Myth Makers" page
Andrew, M. (1989) "The Fall of
Troy in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde ", in: Boitani (1989: pp. 75–93).
Focuses on a comparison between how the Gawain poet and
Antonelli, R. (1989) "The Birth of Criseyde: an exemplary triangle;
Troilus and the question of love at the Anglo-Norman
court", in: Boitani (1989: pp. 21–48). Examination of Benoît's
and Guido's treatment of the love triangle.
Benson, C. D. (1980) The History of
Troy in Middle English Literature,
Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer. A study examining Guido's influence on
Troy up to Lydgate and Henryson.
Troilus is discussed
Benson, C. D. (1989) "True
Troilus and False Cresseid: the descent
from tragedy" in Boitani (1989: pp. 153–170). Examination of
Cressida story in the minor authors between Chaucer
Boitani, P. (ed.) (1989) The European Tragedy of Troilus, Oxford,
Clarendon Press ISBN 0-19-812970-X. This was the first full book
to examine the development of
Troilus through the ages. The outer
chapters are by Boitani reviewing the history of
Troilus as a
character from ancient to modern times. The middle chapters, looking
at the tale through the medieval and renaissance periods, are by other
authors with several examining
Chaucer and Shakespeare.
Burgess, J. S. (2001) The Tradition of the
Trojan War in
Homer and the
Epic Cycle, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press
ISBN 0-8018-7890-X. Examination of the
Trojan War in archaic
literary and artifact sources.
Troilus mentioned in passing.
Carpenter, T. H. (1991) Art and Myth in Ancient Greece, London, Thames
and Hudson. Contains roughly four pages (17–21) of text and,
separately, fourteen illustrations (figs. 20–22, 25–35) on Troilos
in ancient art. ISBN 0-500-20236-2.
Coghill, N. (ed.) (1971: pp. xi–xxvi) "Introduction" in:
Troilus and Criseyde, London: Penguin
ISBN 0-14-044239-1. Discusses Chaucer, his sources and key themes
in the Troilus. The main body of the book is a translation into modern
English by Coghill.
Foakes, R. A. (ed.) (1987)
Cressida (The New Penguin
Shakespeare.) London: Penguin ISBN 0-14-070741-7. Annotated
edition with introduction.
Frazer, R. M. (trans.) (1966) The Trojan War: the Chronicles of Dictys
of Crete and
Dares the Phrygian. Bloomington: Indiana University
Press. English translation of Dictys' Ephemeridos belli Trojani
(pp. 17–130) and Dares' De excidio Trojae historia
(pp. 131–68) with Introduction (pp. 3–15) covering the
Troy in medieval literature and endnotes.
Gantz, T. (1993) Early Greek Myth. Baltimore: Johns Hopklins U. P. A
standard sourcebook on Greek myths. Multiple versions available. There
are approximately six pages (597–603) plus notes discussing Troilos
in Volume 2 of the two volume edition. Page references are to the two
volume 1996 Johns Hopkins Paperbacks edition
Gordon, R. K. (1934) The Story of Troilus. London: J. M. Dent. (Dutton
Paperback ed. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1964.) This book has been
reprinted by various publishers. It contains a translated selection
from Le Roman de Troie, a full translation of Il filostrato and the
unmodernised texts of
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde and The Testament of
Cresseid. Page references are to the 1995 printing by University of
Toronto Press and the
Medieval Academy of America
Graves, R. (1955) The Greek Myths. Another standard sourcebook
available in many editions.
Troilus is discussed in Volume 2 of the
two volume version. Page references are to the 1990 Penguin printing
of the 1960 revision (ISBN 0-14-001027-0).
Lewis, C. S. (1936) The Allegory of Love. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Influential work on the literature of courtly love, including
Lombardo, A. (1989) "Fragments and Scraps: Shakespeare's
Cressida" in Boitani (1989: pp. 199–217). Sets the cynical tone
Troilus in the context of changes both in the world and the
Lyder, T. D. (2010) "Chaucer's second Hector: the triumphs of Diomede
and the possibility of epic in
Troilus and Criseyde. (Critical
essay)", Medium Aevum, March 22, 2010, Accessed through Highbeam,
August 30, 2012 (subscription required).
March, J. (1998) Dictionary of Classical Mythology. London: Cassell.
ISBN 0-304-34626-8 Illustrated dictionary with
Troilus covered in
one page. Page references are to 1998 hardback edition.
Natali, G. (1989) "A Lyrical Version: Boccaccio's Filostrato", in:
Boitani (1989: pp. 49–73). An examination of the Filostrato in
Novak, M. E (ed.) (1984) The Works of John Dryden: Volume XIII Plays:
All for Love; Oedipus;
Troilus and Cressida. Berkeley: University of
California Press ISBN 0-520-05124-6. Volume in complete edition
with annotated texts and commentaries.
Oates, J. O. (1966/7) "The Tragedy of Existence: Shakespeare's Troilus
and Cressida" by Joyce Carol Oates. Originally published as two
separate essays, in Philological Quarterly, Spring 1967, and
Shakespeare Quarterly, Spring 1966. Available online at  (Checked
17 August 2007).
Palmer, K. (ed.) (1982)
Troilus and Cressida. (The Arden Shakespeare.)
London: Methuen. Edition of the play as part of respected series, with
extensive notes, appendices and 93 page introduction. References are
to 1997 printing by Thomas Nelson & Sons, London
Rufini, S. (1989) "'To Make that Maxim Good': Dryden's Shakespeare",
in: Boitani (1989: pp. 243–80). Discussion of Dryden's
remodeling of Troilus.
Sommer, H. O. (ed.) (1894) The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye:
written in French by Raoul Lefèvre; translated and printed by William
Caxton (about A.D. 1474); the first English printed book, now
faithfully reproduced, with a critical introduction, index and
glossary and eight pages in photographic facsimile. London: David
Nutt. Edition of
Caxton translation of Lefevre with introduction of
157 pages. Page references are to AMS Press 1973 reprinting
Sommerstein, A. H., Fitzpatrick, D. & Talby, T. (2007) Sophocles:
Selected Fragmentary Plays. Oxford: Aris and Phillips
(ISBN 0-85668-766-9). This is a product of the University of
Nottingham's project on Sophocles' fragmentary plays. The book
contains a 52-page chapter (pp. 196–247) on the Troilos,
including the Greek text with translation and commentary of the few
words and phrases known to come from the play. The introduction to
this chapter includes approximately seven pages on the literary and
artistic background on
Troilus plus discussion and a putative
reconstruction of the plot of the play itself. This, the chapter on
the Polyxene, where
Troilus is also discussed, and the general
introduction to the book are all solely by Sommerstein and therefore
he alone is referenced above.
Torti, A. (1989) "From 'History' to 'Tragedy': The Story of Troilus
and Criseyde in Lydgate's
Troy Book and Henryson's Testament of
Cresseid", in: Boitani (1989: pp. 171–97). Examination of the
two most important authors considering the love story between Chaucer
Windeatt, B. (1989) "Classical and
Medieval Elements in Chaucer's
Troilus", in: Boitani (1989: p. 111–131)
Woodford, S. (1993) The
Trojan War in Ancient Art. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press ISBN 0-7156-2468-7. Contains approximately four
illustrated pages (55–59) on Troilos in ancient art.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Troilus.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
List of pictures of
Troilus at Perseus Project: Includes sections from
the François Vase. The site holds an extensive classical collection
including the texts of both primary and secondary sources on classical
topics. Several of the texts mentioned here are available there in the
original language and with English translation. A smaller Renaissance
collection contains the text of the
Troilus and Cressida.
Publicly accessible images of ambush and pursuit in the Beazley
Archive: Many other images of
Troilus on the site are accessible for
academic or research purposes.
The Development of Attic Black-Figure by J. D. Beazley discusses
several pictures of Troilos. Heavily illustrated in black and white.
Troilus and Criseyde
Il Filostrato (12th century)
Roman de Troie
Roman de Troie (12th century)
"The Testament of Cresseid" (15th century)
Words first used in
The Oak and the Reed
"The pot calling the kettle black"
"At sixes and sevens"
Sir Giles Goosecap
"To Her Inconstant Lover"
Amoryus and Cleopes