Troilus and Cressida


Act I
Scene 1: Troilus, madly in love with Cressida,  is tormented by Pandarus, who is supposed to bring them together. Aeneas reports (wrongly) that Paris has been wounded by Menelaus.
Scene 2 : Alexander, Cressida's servant tells her how the brutish Ajax, a 'nephew' of Priam's son Hector who is among the Greeks, has humiliated Hector in battle. Pandarus comes and tries to talk about Troilus, but she ignores his hints. All the main Trojan warriors cross the stage, Troilus last. Cressida tells Pandarus that Achilles is better than Troilus. Troilus sends a boy to fetch Pandarus and after he has gone, Cressida reveals in a soliloquy that she loves Troilus but fears that once they are united the wooing will cease.
Scene 3 : A council in the Greek camp, begun by Agamemnon asking what's wrong, why the Greeks have not already won. Ulysses makes a long speech on the loss of all sense of 'degree' (true order) which is a cosmic principle, so that once degree is lost, chaos comes. This leads to his criticism of Achilles, who refuses to fight but only lounges in his tent while his friend Patroclus imitates and mocks the Greek leaders. Nestor adds that Ajax has begun to imitate the pride of Achilles. Aeneas comes from Troy in search of 'godlike' Agamemnon but fails to recognize him when he sees him. He brings a challenge from Hector, who is ready to fight any Greek in a chivalric style. Ulysses realizes that Hector is challenging Achilles and suggests that they arrange a lottery in which Ajax will be chosen to fight so as to challenge Achilles' pride.

Act II
Scene 1 : Ajax and Thersites enter, insulting one another, Ajax striking Thersites. The comic confrontation continues after Achilles and Patroclus enter, Thersites insults Patroclus too.
Scene 2 : A council in Troy after the Greeks demand again the return of Helen. The debate turns on the nature of 'value'.  Cassandra enters lamenting the coming disaster. Paris stands up for his rights.
Scene 3 : Long soliloquy by Thersites, then joking exchanges with Achilles and Patroclus again; Agamemnon etc. come to speak to Achilles, he refuses to see them. The Greeks begin to praise Ajax, mocking him by praising his lack of pride, and saying that he is obviously superior to Achilles.

Scene 1 : Joking exchange between Pandarus and a servant, comparing Cressida and Helen; Paris and Helen join Pandarus, and they make bantering conversation. Pandarus asks Paris to protect Troilus if Priam asks for him that night, he has another appointment (with Cressida). Pandarus sings.
Scene 2 : Troilus and Pandarus meet in front of Cressida's house; Troilus is very tense, he is full of expectation and afraid of it. Pandarus brings Cressida in, veiled, she seems reluctant to stay. Pandarus leaves and Cressida confesses her fear in prose, then after Pandarus returns, her love in verse. Cressida seems to regret her openness; Troilus insists he is 'true as truth's simplicity'. The lovers enter into their future reputations. Troilus says that in future people will say 'true as Troilus.' Cressida says 'if I be false' people should say 'False as Cressida' and Pandarus hopes that if the two prove false all go-betweens in future will bear his name. He leads them off to bed.
Scene 3 : Calchas (Cressida's father, a prophet from Troy who has joined the Greeks) asks that a Trojan prisoner Antenor be exchanged for Cressida. The Greeks agree and send Diomedes to take back Antenor and fetch Cressida. The Greek leaders ignore Achilles as they pass his tent, which upsets him. They have forgotten his reputation, he feels. Achilles stops Ulysses, who makes a speech about value lying in the eyes of others, not oneself, and stressing the value of Ajax. Ulysses makes a speech about Time's wallet; everything exists only in the present; he suggests that Achilles can become great again by fighting and reveals that everyone knows about Achilles' 'secret' love for the Trojan Polyxena, Troilus and Hector's sister. Patroclus urges Achilles to give her up. Achilles decides to invite the Trojans after the fight between Ajax and Hector. Thersites describes Ajax's pride. Achilles and Patroclus act out the way Ajax will receive their message.

Act IV
Scene 1 : Aeneas meets Paris etc. who are bringing Diomedes to fetch Cressida. Aeneas and Diomedes are familiar enemies in battle, but greet each other courteously. Paris sends Aeneas to warn Troilus of their arrival. He asks Diomedes whether he or Menelaus deserves Helen more; fierce criticism of her since so many on both sides have died.
Scene 2 : 'Aubade' between Troilus and Cressida after their first night. Pandarus mocks them. Aeneas comes, and tells Troilus what is decided. Pandarus tells Cressida.
Scene 3 : Troilus tells Paris he will walk with Cressida to Diomedes.
Scene 4 : Troilus and Cressida take their leave. Troilus uses conditionals in speaking of Cressida's faithfulness; she is upset; he warns her of the Grecian youths and their wooing. Troilus reaffirms his own plainness. Diomedes begins to woo Cressida at once, before Troilus. Hector's trumpet is heard.
Scene 5 : All the Greek leaders come accompanying Ajax (including Achilles and Patroclus);  they meet Diomedes bringing in Cressida. They all kiss her but she criticizes Menelaus as a cuckold. Hector enters. there is a debate about whether the fight should be to the death or only a token. Ajax is related to Hector.  Troilus is discussed. Hector refuses to fight more than a symbolic moment, because of their relationship. Ajax remembers to invite Hector. Hector accepts, inviting Troilus to join him. All the Greeks greet Hector and Troilus. Hector reminds Menelaus of Helen. The enemies recognize each other. Hector and Achilles greet each other as mortal enemies. Achilles promises to go out to fight him in the battle the next day. Troilus learns that Diomedes is already wooing Cressida who is with her father in Menelaus' tent.

Act V
Scene 1 : Thersites insults Patroclus, calls him Achilles' 'male varlet'. Achilles receives a letter from Hecuba and a token from Polyxena; he cannot go to battle since they beg him not to. Thersites mocks him in a soliloquy.
Scene 2 : Ulysses and Troilus follow Diomedes to where Calchas and Cressida are. They watch from a dark place while Diomedes and Cressida flirt and play. Thersites watches them and comments mockingly. Troilus keeps control of himself. Cressida gives Diomedes the sleeve Troilus had given her. She laments her female weakness. Troilus questions if this was Cressida or not (identity). Thersites closes the scene with a mocking commentary.
Scene 3 : Andromache (Hector's wife) begs him not to fight, on account of her bad dreams. Cassandra likewise. Troilus comes ready to fight, Hector tells him that he will fight for him. Troilus reproaches Hector for his courtesy in sparing enemies' lives. Troilus insists that he will fight. Priam comes and urges Hector to stay home. Hector says he promised the Greeks and must go out. Cassandra foresees his death. Pandarus brings Troilus a letter from Cressida, which he tears up.
Scene 4 : Thersites makes a mocking commentary. Troilus and Diomedes enter and leave, fighting. Hector challenges Thersites, who saves his life by debasing himself.
Scene 5 : Diomedes has captured Troilus' horse, that he sends to Cressida. Agamemnon enters, announcing that many Greeks are dead, including Patroclus. Nestor sends the body of Patroclus to Achilles. Ulysses announces that Achilles is arming in grief, vowing revenge for Patroclus. He reports that Troilus is fighting wonderfully.
Scene 6 : Ajax comes barging into the fight between Troilus and Diomedes, they exit fighting. Hector and Achilles fight, Hector spares Achilles' life. Troilus rushes off to save Aeneas who has been captured by Ajax. Hector attacks some Greek in beautiful looking armour that he longs to possess.
Scene 7 : Achilles with his Myrmidons prepares a trap for Hector (not chivalric but brutal). Menelaus and Paris are seen fighting, Thersites mocking them. He is attacked by a bastard son of Priam and identifies himself with bastardy to save his life.
Scene 8 : Hector has killed the Greek, and found that he was 'putrefied' although the exterior armour was great to look at. He puts down his sword, rests, and Achilles etc. kill him unarmed. They tie his body to the tail of Achilles' horse.
Scene 9 : Agamemnon hears the news of Hector's death and recognizes that Troy is now theirs.
Scene 10 : Troilus tells Aeneas, Paris etc. that Hector is dead. He foretells the destruction of Troy. He makes a solemn speech about the effect of the news on Priam. He dismisses Pandarus in fury and Pandarus makes a bawdy Epilogue, speaking as the archetypal Pander.