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• Heare Troians, and ye well aim'd Greeks, what my strong
mind (diffusde Through all my spirits) commands me speake; Saturnius hath
not usde His promist favour for our truce, but (studying both our ils) Will never ceasse till Mars, by you, his ravenous stomacke fils, With ruin'd Troy; or we consume, your mightie Sea-borne fleet. Amongst you all, whose breast includes, the most impulsive mind, Let him stand forth as combattant, by all the rest designde. Before whom thus I call high Jove, to witnesse of our strife; If he, with home-thrust iron can reach, th' exposure of my life, (Spoiling my armes) let him at will, convey them to his tent; But let my body be returnd; that Troys two-sext descent May waste it in the funerall Pile; if I can slaughter him, (Apollo honoring me so much) Ile spoile his conquerd lim, And beare his armes to Ilion, where in Apollos shrine lle hang them, as my trophies due: his body Ile resigne To be disposed by his friends, in flamie funerals, And honourd with erected tombe, where Hellespontus fals Into Egæum; and doth reach, even to your navall rode; That when our beings, in the earth, shall hide their period; Survivers, sailing the blacke sea, may thus his name renew : This is his monument, whose bloud, long since, illustrate Hector
slew. This shall posteritie report, and my fame never die."
But let my bains the funerall Fil die spoile his
"Oileus Ayax was right corpulent,
To be well cladde he set al his entent
And but a coward was he of his herte.
There was also dyscrete and vertuous,
All ydle laude spent and blowe in vayne." "The auncient Historie and onely trewe and syncere Cronicle of the warres betwixt the Grecians and the Troyans," &c. fol. 1555. Book II. chap. 15.
(4) SCENE III.-Blockish Ajax.] From the subjoined description of the Ajaxes as portrayed by Lydgate, it would appear that Shakespeare, for dramatic effect, had purposely confounded Ajax Telamonius with Ajax Oileus :
By rape to ruine. O base Greekes, deserving infamie,
preys, And trie if we helpt him, or not: he wrong'd a man that weys Farre more then he himselfe in worth: he forc't from Thetis
sonne And keepes his prise still: nor think I, that mightie mau hath
wonne The stile of wrathfull worthily : he's soft, he's too remisse, Or else Atrides, his had bene, thy last of injuries.'
Thus he the peoples Pastor chid; but straight stood up to him Divine Ulysses; who with lookes, exceeding grave and grim, This bitter checke gave: Ceasse, vaine foole, to vent thy railing
vaine On kings thus, though it serve thee well; nor think thou canst
restraine, With that thy railing facultie, their wils in least degree, For not a worse, of all this hoast, came with our king then thee To Troys great siege.'"-The Iliads of Homer, &c. Done according
to the Greeke, by Geo. Chapman, &c. Book II.
(1) SCENE I.-THERSITES.) Hideous in person, impious and gross in speech, cowardly and vindictive by disposition, this remarkable character, by sheer intellectual vigour, seems to tower high above all the mere corporeal grace and strength by which he is surrounded ; and the portrait is essentially Shakespeare's own creation, for the Thersites of Homer, on which we may suppose it founded, is nothing better than a vulgar, waspish railer, without a spark of wit or of intelligence to redeem his moral and physical obliquity :
" All sate, and audience gave; Thersites onely would speake all. A most disorderd store of words, he foolishly powrd out; of which his mind held more Than it could manage ; any thing, with which he could procure Laughter, he never could containe. He should have yet been
sure To touch no kings. T'oppose their states, becomes not jesters
parts. But he, the filthiest fellow was, of all that had deserts In Troyes brave siege : he was squint-eyd, and lame of either
foote: So crooke backt, that he had no breast; sharp-headed, where did
shoote (Ilere and there sperst) thin mossie haire. He most of all envide Ulysses and Æacides, whom still his splene would chide; Nor could the sacred king himselfe, avoide his saucie vaine, Against whom, since he knew the Greekes, did vehement hates!
sustaine (Being angrie for Achilles wrong) he cride out; railing thus: *Atrides! why complainst thou now? what wouldst thou more
of us! Thy tents are full of brasse, and dames; the choice of all are
thine: With whom, we must present thee first, when any townes resigne To our invasion. Wantst thou then (besides all this) more gold From Troyes knights, tu redeeme their sonnes ? whom, to be
dearely sold, 1, or some other Greeke, must take? or wouldst thou yet againe, Force from some other Lord his prise; to sooth the lusts that
raigne In thy encroching appetite? it fits no Prince to be A Prince of ill, and governe us; or leade our progenie
(2) SCENE II.--Enter CASSANDRA, raving.] Of this circumstance, we find no hint either in Chapman's Elomer or in Chaucer; it was probably taken, as Steevens conjectured, from a passage in Lydgate's “Auncient Historie," &c. 1555 :
" This was the noise and the pyteous crye
Of Cassandra that so dredefully
(3) SCENE III.-The death-tokens of it.] “Dr. Hodges, in his “ Treatise on the Plague," says :- Spots of a dark complexion, usually called tokens, and looked on as the pledges or forewarnings of death, are minute and distinct blasts, which have their original from within, and rise up with a little pyramidal protuberance, the pestilential poison chiefly collected at their bases, tainting the neighbouring parts, and reaching to the surface.'”– REID.
(3) SCENE II.-As false as Cressid.] The protestations of the fickle beauty in the old poem are not less confident; compare the following:
“To that Cryseyde answerid right anoone,
And with a sigh sche seide, 'O herte dere!
Er Troylus out of Cryseydis herte.'”
“For thylke day that I for cherisynge,
Or drede of fader, or of other wight,
Eternaliche, in Stix, the put of Helle !
I swere it yow, and ek on ech goddesse,
Such anticonth, anoth. this never wnd laughs,
“Here's your right ground; wag gently o'er this black :
"Tis a short cast; y' are quickly at the jack. Rub, rub an inch or two; two crowns to one On this bowl's side; blow wind, 't is fairly thrown: The next bowl's worse that comes ; come, bowl away : Mammon, you know the ground, untutor'd play: Your last was gone, a yard of strength well spar'd Had touch'd the block; your hand is still too hard. Brave pastime, readers, to consume that day, Which, without pastime, flies too swift away! See how they labour; as if day and night Were both too short to serve their loose delight: See how their curved bodies wreath, and screw Such antic shapes as Proteus never knew : One raps an oath, another deals a curse; He never better bowl'd; this never worse : One rubs his itchless elbow, shrugs and laughs, The other bends his beetle brows and chafes : Sometimes they whoop, sometimes their Stygian cries Send their black Santo's to the blushing skies: Thus mingling humours in a mad confusion, They make bad premises, and worse conclusion: But where's a palm that fortune's hand allows To bless the victor's honourable brows? Come, reader, come; I'll light thine eye the way To view the prize, the while the gamesters play: Close by the jack, behold, jill Fortune stands To wave the game: see in her partial hands The glorious garland's held in open show, To cheer the lads, and crown the conqu'ror's brow. The world's the jack; the gamesters that contend, Are Cupid, Mammon : that judicious fiend, That gives the ground, is Satan : and the bowls Are sinful thoughts; the prize, a crown for fools. Who breathes that bowls not? What bold tongue can say Without a blush, he has not bowl'd to-day ? It is the trade of man, and ev'ry sinner Has play'd his rubbers : every soul's a winner. The vulgar proverb's crost, he hardly can Be a good bowler and an honest man. Good God! turn thou my Brazil * thoughts anew; New-sole my bowls, and make their bias true. I'll cease to game, till fairer ground be given ; Nor wish to win, until the mark be Heav'n."
(4) SCENE III.- Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.] This appeal of Calchas to the Greeks recals the corresponding circumstance in Chaucer :
“ Then seyd he thus, 'Lo! lordis myn, I was
A Troyan, as it is knowe, out of drede;
“And in what forme, and yn what maner wise
This toun to shent, and al your lust acheve,
" Havyng unto my tresour, ne my rent,
Right no regard in respect of your ese;
(2) SCENE II.-To feed for aye her lamp and flames of love.] Here, as in other passages where Troilus exhibits a presentiment of his lady's inconstancy, we can trace the influence of the “ Troylus and Cryseyde: "
“But natheles, myn owene ladi bright!
Yit were it so that I wist utterly,
Save of a doghter that I left, alas!
And this :
“Ye shal ek seen so many a lusti knyght,
Amonge the Grekes, ful of worthynesse;
" Tellyng his tale alwey, this olde gray,
Humblely in his speche and loking eke,
* The bowls were formerly made of what was called Brazil wood. VOL. III.
(1) SCENE II.-A bugbear take him/] In the banter of | With strength, on people proud of strength, sends him forth to Pandarus here, we have arch reminiscences of his prototype
Wreakfull contention; and comes on, with presence full of feare; in “ Troylus and Cryseyde: "
So th' Achive rampire, Telamon, did twixt the hoasts appeare :
Smil'd; yet of terrible aspect; on earth with ample pace, “ Pandare, on morwe whiche that comen was
He boldly stalkt, and shooke aloft his dart with deadly grace. .. Unto his nece, gon hir faire to grete,
It did the Grecians good to see; but heartquakes shooke the And seide, ‘Al this night so rey ned it, allas!
joynts That al my drede is, that ye, nece swete,
Of all the Troians; Hectors selfe felt thoughts, with horrid points, Have litel leyser hade to slepe and mete:
Tempt his bold bosome; but he now, must make no counterflight; Al night,' quod he, hath rain so do me wake,
Nor (with his honour) now refuse, that had provokt the fight. That some of us, I trowe, her hedis ake.'
Ajax came neare ; and like a towre his shield his bosome bard;
The right side brasse, and seven oxe hides within it quilted hard. " And nigh he come and seid, How stant it now!
Old Tychius the best currier, that did in Hyla dwell.
Did frame it for exceeding proofe, and wrought it wondrous well.
With this stood he to Hector close, and with this Brave began : Fox that ye ben, God yeve yow hertis care!
Now Hector thou shalt clearly know, thus meeting man to man, God helpe me so, yow causeth al this fare,
What other leaders arme our hoast, besides great Thetis sonne: Trowe I,' quod sche, 'for alle youre wordis white;
Who, with his hardie Lions heart, hath armies overunne. 0, ho soʻseeth you, knoweth you but alite!'"
But he lies at our crookt-sternd fleet a Rivall with our king
In height of spirit : yet to Troy, he many knights did bring, (2) SCENE IV.-To our own selves bend we our needful Coequall with Eacides; all able to sustaine talk.] The parting of the lovers, if not more natural, is All thy bold challenge can import: begin then, words are vaine.
The Helme-grac't Hector answerd him : Renowned Telamon, managed with more pathos and delicacy in the elder
Prince of the souldiers came from Greece; assay not me like one, poet:
Yong and immartiall, with great words, as to an Amazon dame;
I have the habit of all fights; and know the bloudie frame "Cryseyde, when she redy was to ride,
of every slaughter: I well know the ready right hand charge, Ful sorwfully she sighte, and seyde, Allas !!
I know the left, and every sway, of my securefull targe;
I triumph in the crueltie of fixed combat fight,
And manage horse to all designes; I think then with good right,
I may be confident as farre as this thy challenge goes,
Without being taxed with a vaunt, borne out with emptie showes
But (being a souldier so renownd) I will not worke on thee,
With least advantage of that skill, I know doth strengthen me; “ This Troylus, in gise of curteysie,
And so with privitie of sleight, winne that for which I strive: With hauke on hond, and with an huge route
But at thy best (even open strength) if my endevours thrive. of knyghtes, rood, and dide hyre compaynye,
Thus sent he his long Javelin forth; it strooke his foes huge Passynge alle the valeye fer withoute ;
shield, And ferther wold han riden, out of doute,
Neere to the upper skirt of brasse, which was the eighth it held. Ful fayne, and wo was hym to gon so soone,
Sixe folds th' untamed dart strooke through, and in the seventh But tourne he moote, and it was eke to done.
The point was checkt; then Ajax threw: his angry lance did “ And right with that was Antenor ycome
glide Oute of the Grekes oste, and every wight
Quite through his bright orbicular targe, his curace, shirt of maile; Was of it glad, and seyde he was welcome;
And did his manly stomachs mouth with dangerous taint assaile And Troylus, al nere his herte lighte,
But in the bowing of himselfe, black death too short did strike. He peyned hym with al his fulle myght
Then both to pluck their Javelins forth, encountred Lion-like; Hym to with holde of wepynge at the leeste,
Whose bloudie violence is increast, by that raw food they eate: And Antenor he kyste, and made feeste.
Or Bores, whose strength, wilde nourishment, doth make so won
drous great. " And therwithal he moot his leve take,
Againe Priamides did wound, in midst, his shield of brasse, And caste his eye upon hire pitorisly,
Yet pierc't not through the upper plate, the head reflected was: And nerre he rode, his cause for to make,
But Ajax (following his Lance) smote through his target quite, To take hire by the honde al sobrely:
And stayd bold Hector rushing in; the Lance held way outright, And, Lorde! so she gan wepen tendrely !
And hurt his necke; out gusht the bloud; yet Hector ceast not so, And he ful soft and sleighely gan hire seye,
But in his strong hand tooke a Flint (as he did backwards go) Now hold youre day, and do me not to deye.'
Blacke, sharpe and big, layd in the field : the sevenfold targe it
smit, "! With that his courser turned he about,
Full on the bosse ; and round about the brasse did ring with it. With face pale, and unto Dyomede
But Ajax a farre greater stone lift up, and (wreathing round
With all his bodie layd to it) he sent it forth to wound,
And gave unmeasur'a force to it; the round stone broke within
His rundled target : his lov'd knees to languish did begin ; In swiche a craft, and by the reyne hire hente,
And he leand, stretcht out on his shield; but Phæbus raisd him And Troylus to Troye homwarde wente."
Then had they layd on wounds with swords, in use of closer fight: (3) SCENE V.-HECTOR and Ajax fight.] In Chapman's Unless the Heralds (messengers of Gods and godlike men) Homer, the combat is described with uncommon pomp and
The one of Troy, the other of Greece; had held betwixt them then
Imperiall scepters: when the one (Idæus, grave and wise) spirit :
Said to them; Now no more my sonnes: the Soveraigne of the
skies - This said, in bright armes shone
Doth love you both; both souldiers are, all witnesse with good The good strong Ajax : who, when all his warre attire was on,
right: Marcht like the hugely figur'd Mars, when angry Jupiter,
But now night lays her mace on earth; tis good t'obey the night
Hector rushing the bloud; yet backwards gone it
You yal, as for a remembraunce of me? None other cause, allas! ne hadde ye, But for despit; and ek for that ye mente Al outrely to shewen youre entente.
(1) SCENE II.—Here, Diomed, keep this sleeve.] Steevens cites several passages from our old writers to show that it was customary for warriors to wear a lady's sleeve for a favour; the sleeve which Cressida bestows on Diomed, however, was that she had received from Troilus at their parting. Malone supposes it to have been such a one as was formerly used at tournaments :-"Also the deepe smocke sleive, which the Irish women use, they say, was old Spanish, and is used yet in Barbary; and yet that should seeme rather to be an old English fashion, f armory the fashion of the manche, which is given in armes by many, being indeed nothing else but a sleive, is fashioned much like to that sleive."-SPENSER'S View of Ireland, p. 43, edit. 1633.
*** Thorwgh which I se, that clene out of youre minde
Ye han me caste, and ne kan nor may
(2) SCENE II.--Rather think this not Cressid.] The grief of Troylus for his “light o' love" is beautifully told by the elder poet:
"Than spak he thus:-'0, lady myn Cryseyde,
Or Diomede have ye now al this feste!
(3) SCENE IX.- And hangs his shield behind him.] The circumstance of Hector being overpowered by Achilles and his followers when unarmed, the author is believed to have taken from Lydgate's poem :
“And in this while a grekishe kinge he mette,
"Who shal nowe trowe on any other mo?
Allas ! I nevere wolde han wende, or this,
11 Was there non other broche yow liste lete To feffe with youre newe love,' qnod he,
• But thilke broche that I, with teris wete,
CRITICAL OPINIONS ON TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
“THE “Troilus and Cressida' of Shakspeare can scarcely be classed with his dramas of Greek and Roman history ; but it forms an intermediate link between the fictitious Greek and Roman histories, which we may call legendary dramas, and the proper ancient histories. There is no one of Shakspeare's plays harder to characterise. The name and the remembrances connected with it prepare us for the representation of attachment no less faithful than fervent on the side of the youth, and of sudden and shameless inconstancy on the part of the lady. And this is, indeed, as the gold thread on which the scenes are strung, though often kept out of sight and out of mind by gems of greater value than itself. But as Shakspeare calls forth nothing from the mausoleum of history, or the catacombs of tradition, without giving or eliciting some permanent and general interest, and brings forward no subject which he does not moralize or intellectualize,-so here he has drawn in Cressida the portrait of a vehement passion, that, having its true origin and proper cause in warmth of temperament, fastens on, rather than fixes to, some one object by liking and temporary preference.
*There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,
At every joint and motive of her body.' “This Shakspeare has contrasted with the profound affection represented in Troilus, and alone worthy the name of love ;-affection, passionate indeed, swoln with the confluence of youthful instincts and youthful fancy, and growing in the radiance of hope newly risen, in short enlarged by the collective sympathies of nature ;—but still having a depth of calmer element in a will stronger than desire, more entire than choice, and which gives permanence to its own act by converting it into faith and duty. Hence, with excellent judgment, and with an excellence higher than mere judgment can give, at the close of the play, when Cressida has sunk into infamy below retrieval and beneath hope, the same will, which had been the substance and the basis of his love, while the restless pleasures and passionate longings, like sea-waves, had tossed but on its surface,—this same moral energy is represented as snatching him aloof from all neighbourhood with her dishonour, from all lingering fondness and languishing regrets, whilst it rushes with him into other and nobler duties, and deepens the channel which his heroic brother's death had left empty for its collected flood. Yet another secondary and subordinate purpose Shakspeare has inwoven with his delineation of these two characters,—that of opposing the inferior civilization, but purer morals, of the Trojans, to the refinements, deep policy, but duplicity and sensual corruptions, of the Greeks.
“To all this, however, so little comparative projection is given,-nay, the masterly group of Agamemnon, Nestor, and Ulysses, and, still more in advance, that of Achilles, Ajax, and Thersites, so manifestly occupy the foreground, that the subservience and vassalage of strength and animal courage to intellect and policy seems to be the lesson most often in our poet's view, and which he has taken little pains to connect with the former more interesting moral impersonated in the titular hero and heroine of the drama. But I am half inclined to believe, that Shakspeare's main object, or shall I rather say, his ruling impulse, was to translate the poetic heroes of paganism into the not less rude, but more intellectually vigorous, and more featurely, warriors of Christian chivalry,—and to substantiate the distinct and graceful profiles or outlines of the Homeric epic into the flesh and blood of the romantic drama,-in short, to give a grand history-piece in the robust style of Albert Durer.
“The character of Thersites, in particular, well deserves a more careful examination, as the Caliban of demagogic life ;—the admirable portrait of intellectual power deserted by all grace, all moral principle, all not momentary impulse ;-just wise enough to detect the weak head, and fool enough to provoke the armed fist of his betters ;-one whom malcontent Achilles can inveigle from malcontent Ajax, under the one condition, that he shall be called on to do nothing but abuse and slander, and that he shall be allowed to abuse as much and as purulently as he likes, that is, as he can ;-in short, a mule,-quarrelsome by the original discord of his nature,—a slave by tenure of his own baseness,-made to bray and be brayed at, to despise and be despicable."-COLERIDGE.