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Troilus and Cressida Characters

by William Shakespeare

Character List

Troilus

A young Trojan Prince, son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. He and his brothers - Hector, Paris, and Helenus - are Troy's reigning champions. Troilus is in love with the beautiful Cressida. In both English legend and Shakespeare's play, he is the embodiment of truth and constancy, even though his simple attachment to the truth seems at times naive in the context of the brutality of the Trojan War.

Pandarus

Cressida's bawdy uncle, Pandarus serves as a go-between for Troilus and Cressida and provides the young lovers with a place to spend the night together. His chief donation to literature is his name - he gives us the noun "panderer" and the verb "to pander".

Aeneas

The most famous Trojan prince, the protagonist of Virgil's Aeneid. Aeneas is the legendary founder of Rome.

Cressida

The Trojan daughter of Calchas and Pandarus' niece, Cressida is beautiful, intelligent, and fiercely aware of the intricacies of the power structure during times of war. Troilus woos her through Pandarus on the same night that her father, who has defected to the Greeks, bargains for her transport to the Greek camp. In Chaucer, Cressida is merely the embodiment of the false woman; in Shakespeare's work, her character is far more complex.

Alexander

A servant to Cressida.

Antenor

A Trojan commander. He is captured by the Greeks, and Calchas negotiates his return in exchange for Cressida.

Hector

Priam's son and Andromache's husband, Hector is the most honorable and fearsome of Troy's warriors. Achilles slaughters him while he is unarmed and drags his body through the fields.

Paris

The beauteous Trojan prince who stole Helen from Menelaus, thus initiating the Trojan War. Paris and Helen live in luxury while Greeks and Romans alike die for their misdeeds.

Helenus

One of Priam's sons.

Deiphobus

A son of Priam.

Achilles

The most fearsome Greek warrior, and also the most prideful. He has grown tired of battle and spends his days in defiance of his superiors, putting on plays with his lover Patroclus. Odysseus plots to incite him to engage in battle.

Troilus' boy

Servant to Troilus.

Agamemnon

The Greeks' general and Menelaus' brother. Agamemnon is pompous and windy; the real power in the Greek army seems rather to come from Odysseus.

Nestor

Greece's aged commander and Ulysses' confidant.

Ulysses

The cleverest, most scheming Greek. His speeches are beautiful and eloquent, though his principles are merely a smokescreen for his relentless pursuit of power.

Menelaus

The King of Sparta, Agamemnon's brother, and Helen's cuckolded husband. He is disliked by both the Greeks and the Trojans, who must die simply because he has been cuckolded.

Ajax

A Greek commander with a Trojan mother, Ajax is a cousin of the princes of Troy. A dim-witted man, he is ridiculed by both the Greeks and the Trojans, though the Greeks are willing to use him in Ulysses' plot to return Achilles to battle.

Thersites

A cowardly and low-ranking Greek soldier. The bilious soul of the play, Thersites endlessly expresses his disgust with the charade of the Trojan War.

Patroclus

A Greek soldier and Achilles' lover, Patroclus spends his days with Achilles, mocking the Greek commanders. His death spurs Achilles to slaughter Hector.

Cassandra

Daughter of Priam, twin sister of Helenus, and soothsayer, Cassandra is cursed because she can see the future, but no one believes her prophecies.

Diomedes

The Greek warrior sent to escort Cressida to the Greek camp. Diomedes courts Cressida in front of Troilus.

Servant to Paris

One of Paris' servants.

Helen

Acknowledged to be the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen is living in Troy as Paris's beloved while her husband King Menelaus (and most of the Greek world) fights to win her back. She and Paris live a charmed life together, far removed from the carnage their affair is causing.

Calchas

Cressida's father and a Trojan priest who defects to the Greeks. Calchas organizes the trade of Antenor for Cressida.

Andromache

Hector's wife. Andromache foresees her husband's death and tries to convince him not to go into battle. He refuses, and is killed.

Margarelon

Priam's illegitimate son.

Myrmidons

Achilles' warriors. At Achilles' bidding, they slaughter Hector when he is unarmed.

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