Troilus and Criseyde

The Second Book

Pandarus holds out to Troilus good hope of achieving his desire; and tells him that, since he has been converted from his wicked rebellion against Love, he shall be made the best post of all Love's law, and most grieve Love's enemies. Troilus gives utterance to a hint of fear; but he is silenced by Pandarus with another proverb - "Thou hast full great care, lest that the carl should fall out of the moon." Then the lovesick youth breaks into a joyous boast that some of the Greeks shall smart; he mounts his horse, and plays the lion in the field; while Pandarus retires to consider how he may best recommend to his niece the suit of Troilus.


IN the Proem to the Second Book, the poet hails the clear

weather that enables him to sail out of those black waves in

which his boat so laboured that he could scarcely steer - that is,

"the tempestuous matter of despair, that Troilus was in; but

now of hope the kalendes begin." He invokes the aid of Clio;

excuses himself to every lover for what may be found amiss in a

book which he only translates; and, obviating any lover's

objection to the way in which Troilus obtained his lady's grace -

- through Pandarus' mediation - says it seems to him no

wonderful thing:

"For ev'ry wighte that to Rome went

Held not one path, nor alway one mannere;

Eke in some lands were all the game y-shent

If that men far'd in love as men do here,

As thus, in open dealing and in cheer,

In visiting, in form, or saying their saws;*


For thus men say: Each country hath its laws.

"Eke scarcely be there in this place three

That have in love done or said *like in all;"* *alike in all respects*

And so that which the poem relates may not please the reader -

but it actually was done, or it shall yet be done. The Book sets

out with the visit of Pandarus to Cressida: -

In May, that mother is of monthes glade,*


When all the freshe flowers, green and red,

Be quick* again, that winter deade made,


And full of balm is floating ev'ry mead;

When Phoebus doth his brighte beames spread

Right in the white Bull, so it betid*


As I shall sing, on Maye's day the thrid, <11>

That Pandarus, for all his wise speech,

Felt eke his part of Love's shottes keen,

That, could he ne'er so well of Love preach,

It made yet his hue all day full green;*


So *shope it,* that him fell that day a teen*

*it happened* *access

In love, for which full woe to bed he went,

And made ere it were day full many a went.*

*turning <12>

The swallow Progne, <13> with a sorrowful lay,

When morrow came, gan make her waimenting,*


Why she foshapen* was; and ever lay


Pandare a-bed, half in a slumbering,

Till she so nigh him made her chittering,

How Tereus gan forth her sister take,

That with the noise of her he did awake,

And gan to call, and dress* him to arise,


Rememb'ring him his errand was to do'n

From Troilus, and eke his great emprise;

And cast, and knew in *good plight* was the Moon *favourable aspect*

To do voyage, and took his way full soon

Unto his niece's palace there beside

Now Janus, god of entry, thou him guide!

Pandarus finds his niece, with two other ladies, in a paved

parlour, listening to a maiden who reads aloud the story of the

Siege of Thebes. Greeting the company, he is welcomed by

Cressida, who tells him that for three nights she has dreamed of

him. After some lively talk about the book they had been

reading, Pandarus asks his niece to do away her hood, to show

her face bare, to lay aside the book, to rise up and dance, "and

let us do to May some observance." Cressida cries out, "God

forbid!" and asks if he is mad - if that is a widow's life, whom it

better becomes to sit in a cave and read of holy saints' lives.

Pandarus intimates that he could tell her something which could

make her merry; but he refuses to gratify her curiosity; and, by

way of the siege and of Hector, "that was the towne's wall, and

Greekes' yerd" or scourging-rod, the conversation is brought

round to Troilus, whom Pandarus highly extols as "the wise

worthy Hector the second." She has, she says, already heard

Troilus praised for his bravery "of them that her were liefest

praised be" [by whom it would be most welcome to her to be


"Ye say right sooth, y-wis," quoth Pandarus;

For yesterday, who so had with him been,

Might have wonder'd upon Troilus;

For never yet so thick a swarm of been*


Ne flew, as did of Greekes from him flee'n;

And through the field, in ev'ry wighte's ear,

There was no cry but 'Troilus is here.'

"Now here, now there, he hunted them so fast,

There was but Greekes' blood; and Troilus

Now him he hurt, now him adown he cast;

Ay where he went it was arrayed thus:

He was their death, and shield of life for us,

That as that day there durst him none withstand,

While that he held his bloody sword in hand."

Pandarus makes now a show of taking leave, but Cressida

detains him, to speak of her affairs; then, the business talked

over, he would again go, but first again asks his niece to arise

and dance, and cast her widow's garments to mischance,

because of the glad fortune that has befallen her. More curious

than ever, she seeks to find out Pandarus' secret; but he still

parries her curiosity, skilfully hinting all the time at her good

fortune, and the wisdom of seizing on it when offered. In the

end he tells her that the noble Troilus so loves her, that with her

it lies to make him live or die - but if Troilus dies, Pandarus

shall die with him; and then she will have "fished fair." <14> He

beseeches mercy for his friend:

"*Woe worth* the faire gemme virtueless! <15>

*evil befall!*

Woe worth the herb also that *doth no boot!* *has no remedial power*

Woe worth the beauty that is rutheless!*


Woe worth that wight that treads each under foot!

And ye that be of beauty *crop and root*

*perfection <16>

If therewithal in you there be no ruth,*


Then is it harm ye live, by my truth!"

Pandarus makes only the slight request that she will show

Troilus somewhat better cheer, and receive visits from him, that

his life may be saved; urging that, although a man be soon going

to the temple, nobody will think that he eats the images; and

that "such love of friends reigneth in all this town."

Cressida, which that heard him in this wise,

Thought: "I shall feele* what he means, y-wis;"


"Now, eme* quoth she, "what would ye me devise?


What is your rede* that I should do of this?"

*counsel, opinion

"That is well said," quoth he;" certain best it is

That ye him love again for his loving,

As love for love is *skilful guerdoning.*

*reasonable recompense*

"Think eke how elde* wasteth ev'ry hour


In each of you a part of your beauty;

And therefore, ere that age do you devour,

Go love, for, old, there will no wight love thee

Let this proverb a lore* unto you be:


'"Too late I was ware," quoth beauty when it past;

And *elde daunteth danger* at the last.' *old age overcomes disdain*

"The kinge's fool is wont to cry aloud,

When that he thinks a woman bears her high,

'So longe may ye liven, and all proud,

Till crowes' feet be wox* under your eye!


And send you then a mirror *in to pry*

*to look in*

In which ye may your face see a-morrow!*

*in the morning

*I keep then wishe you no more sorrow.'"*

*I care to wish you

nothing worse*

Weeping, Cressida reproaches her uncle for giving her such

counsel; whereupon Pandarus, starting up, threatens to kill

himself, and would fain depart, but that his niece detains him,

and, with much reluctance, promises to "make Troilus good

cheer in honour." Invited by Cressida to tell how first he know

her lover's woe, Pandarus then relates two soliloquies which he

had accidentally overheard, and in which Troilus had poured

out all the sorrow of his passion.

With this he took his leave, and home he went

Ah! Lord, so was he glad and well-begone!*


Cresside arose, no longer would she stent,*


But straight into her chamber went anon,

And sat her down, as still as any stone,

And ev'ry word gan up and down to wind

That he had said, as it came to her mind.

And wax'd somedeal astonish'd in her thought,

Right for the newe case; but when that she

*Was full advised,* then she found right naught *had fully considered*

Of peril, why she should afeared be:

For a man may love, of possibility,

A woman so, that his heart may to-brest,*

*break utterly

And she not love again, *but if her lest.* *unless it so please her*

But as she sat alone, and thoughte thus,

In field arose a skirmish all without;

And men cried in the street then:"

Troilus hath right now put to flight the Greekes' rout."*


With that gan all the meinie* for to shout:

*(Cressida's) household

"Ah! go we see, cast up the lattice wide,

For through this street he must to palace ride;

"For other way is from the gates none,

Of Dardanus,<18> where open is the chain." <19>

With that came he, and all his folk anon,

An easy pace riding, in *routes twain,*

*two troops*

Right as his *happy day* was, sooth to sayn:

*good fortune <20>*

For which men say may not disturbed be

What shall betiden* of necessity.


This Troilus sat upon his bay steed

All armed, save his head, full richely,

And wounded was his horse, and gan to bleed,

For which he rode a pace full softely

But such a knightly sighte* truly


As was on him, was not, withoute fail,

To look on Mars, that god is of Battaile.

So like a man of armes, and a knight,

He was to see, full fill'd of high prowess;

For both he had a body, and a might

To do that thing, as well as hardiness;*


And eke to see him in his gear* him dress,


So fresh, so young, so wieldy* seemed he,


It was a heaven on him for to see.*


His helmet was to-hewn in twenty places,

That by a tissue* hung his back behind;


His shield to-dashed was with swords and maces,

In which men might many an arrow find,

That thirled* had both horn, and nerve, and rind; <21>


And ay the people cried, "Here comes our joy,

And, next his brother, <22> holder up of Troy."

For which he wax'd a little red for shame,

When he so heard the people on him cryen

That to behold it was a noble game,

How soberly he cast adown his eyen:

Cresside anon gan all his cheer espien,

And let it in her heart so softly sink,

That to herself she said, "Who gives me drink?"<23>

For of her owen thought she wax'd all red,

Rememb'ring her right thus: "Lo! this is he

Which that mine uncle swears he might be dead,

But* I on him have mercy and pity:"


And with that thought for pure shame she

Gan in her head to pull, and that full fast,

While he and all the people forth by pass'd.

And gan to cast,* and rollen up and down


Within her thought his excellent prowess,

And his estate, and also his renown,

His wit, his shape, and eke his gentleness

But most her favour was, for his distress

Was all for her, and thought it were ruth

To slay such one, if that he meant but truth.

. . . . . . . . . .

And, Lord! so gan she in her heart argue

Of this mattere, of which I have you told

And what to do best were, and what t'eschew,

That plaited she full oft in many a fold.<24>

Now was her hearte warm, now was it cold.

And what she thought of, somewhat shall I write,

As to mine author listeth to endite.

She thoughte first, that Troilus' person

She knew by sight, and eke his gentleness;

And saide thus: *"All were it not to do'n,'*

*although it were

To grant him love, yet for the worthiness


It were honour, with play* and with gladness, *pleasing entertainment

In honesty with such a lord to deal,

For mine estate,* and also for his heal.**

*reputation **health

"Eke well I wot* my kinge's son is he;


And, since he hath to see me such delight,

If I would utterly his sighte flee,

Parauntre* he might have me in despite,


Through which I mighte stand in worse plight. <25>

Now were I fool, me hate to purchase*

*obtain for myself

Withoute need, where I may stand in grace,*


"In ev'rything, I wot, there lies measure;*

*a happy medium

For though a man forbidde drunkenness,

He not forbids that ev'ry creature

Be drinkeless for alway, as I guess;

Eke, since I know for me is his distress,

I oughte not for that thing him despise,

Since it is so he meaneth in good wise.

"Now set a case, that hardest is, y-wis,

Men mighte deeme* that he loveth me;


What dishonour were it unto me, this?

May I *him let of* that? Why, nay, pardie!

*prevent him from*

I know also, and alway hear and see,

Men love women all this town about;

Be they the worse? Why, nay, withoute doubt!

"Nor me to love a wonder is it not;

For well wot I myself, so God me speed! -

*All would I* that no man wist of this thought - *although I would*

I am one of the fairest, without drede,*


And goodlieste, who so taketh heed;

And so men say in all the town of Troy;

What wonder is, though he on me have joy?

"I am mine owen woman, well at ease,

I thank it God, as after mine estate,

Right young, and stand untied in *lusty leas,*

*pleasant leash

Withoute jealousy, or such debate:

(of love)*

Shall none husband say to me checkmate;

For either they be full of jealousy,

Or masterful, or love novelty.

"What shall I do? to what fine* live I thus?


Shall I not love, in case if that me lest?

What? pardie! I am not religious;<26>

And though that I mine hearte set at rest

And keep alway mine honour and my name,

By all right I may do to me no shame."

But right as when the sunne shineth bright

In March, that changeth oftentime his face,

And that a cloud is put with wind to flight,

Which overspreads the sun as for a space;

A cloudy thought gan through her hearte pace,*


That overspread her brighte thoughtes all,

So that for fear almost she gan to fall.

The cloudy thought is of the loss of liberty and security, the

stormy life, and the malice of wicked tongues, that love entails:

[But] after that her thought began to clear,

And saide, "He that nothing undertakes

Nothing achieveth, be him *loth or dear."*

*unwilling or desirous*

And with another thought her hearte quakes;

Then sleepeth hope, and after dread awakes,

Now hot, now cold; but thus betwixt the tway*


She rist* her up, and wente forth to play.** *rose **take recreation

Adown the stair anon right then she went

Into a garden, with her nieces three,

And up and down they made many a went,*

*winding, turn <12>

Flexippe and she, Tarke, Antigone,

To playe, that it joy was for to see;

And other of her women, a great rout,*


Her follow'd in the garden all about.

This yard was large, and railed the alleys,

And shadow'd well with blossomy boughes green,

And benched new, and sanded all the ways,

In which she walked arm and arm between;

Till at the last Antigone the sheen*

*bright, lovely

Gan on a Trojan lay to singe clear,

That it a heaven was her voice to hear.

Antigone's song is of virtuous love for a noble object; and it is

singularly fitted to deepen the impression made on the mind of

Cressida by the brave aspect of Troilus, and by her own

cogitations. The singer, having praised the lover and rebuked

the revilers of love, proceeds:

"What is the Sunne worse of his *kind right,*

*true nature*

Though that a man, for feebleness of eyen,

May not endure to see on it for bright? <27>

Or Love the worse, tho' wretches on it cryen?

No weal* is worth, that may no sorrow drien;** <28> *happiness **endure

And forthy,* who that hath a head of verre,** *therefore **glass <29>

From cast of stones ware him in the werre. <30>

"But I, with all my heart and all my might,

As I have lov'd, will love unto my last

My deare heart, and all my owen knight,

In which my heart y-growen is so fast,

And his in me, that it shall ever last

*All dread I* first to love him begin,

*although I feared*

Now wot I well there is no pain therein."

Cressida sighs, and asks Antigone whether there is such bliss

among these lovers, as they can fair endite; Antigone replies

confidently in the affirmative; and Cressida answers nothing,

"but every worde which she heard she gan to printen in her

hearte fast." Night draws on:

The daye's honour, and the heaven's eye,

The nighte's foe, - all this call I the Sun, -

Gan westren* fast, and downward for to wry,**

*go west <31> **turn

As he that had his daye's course y-run;

And white thinges gan to waxe dun

For lack of light, and starres to appear;

Then she and all her folk went home in fere.*

*in company

So, when it liked her to go to rest,

And voided* were those that voiden ought,

*gone out (of the house)

She saide, that to sleepe well her lest.*


Her women soon unto her bed her brought;

When all was shut, then lay she still and thought

Of all these things the manner and the wise;

Rehearse it needeth not, for ye be wise.

A nightingale upon a cedar green,

Under the chamber wall where as she lay,

Full loude sang against the moone sheen,

Parauntre,* in his birde's wise, a lay


Of love, that made her hearte fresh and gay;

Hereat hark'd* she so long in good intent,


Till at the last the deade sleep her hent.*


And as she slept, anon right then *her mette*

*she dreamed*

How that an eagle, feather'd white as bone,

Under her breast his longe clawes set,

And out her heart he rent, and that anon,

And did* his heart into her breast to go'n,


Of which no thing she was *abash'd nor smert;*

*amazed nor hurt*

And forth he flew, with hearte left for heart.

Leaving Cressida to sleep, the poet returns to Troilus and his

zealous friend - with whose stratagems to bring the two lovers

together the remainder of the Second Book is occupied.

Pandarus counsels Troilus to write a letter to his mistress,

telling her how he "fares amiss," and "beseeching her of ruth;"

he will bear the letter to his niece; and, if Troilus will ride past

Cressida's house, he will find his mistress and his friend sitting

at a window. Saluting Pandarus, and not tarrying, his passage

will give occasion for some talk of him, which may make his

ears glow. With respect to the letter, Pandarus gives some

shrewd hints:

"Touching thy letter, thou art wise enough,

I wot thou *n'ilt it dignely endite*

*wilt not write it haughtily*

Or make it with these argumentes tough,

Nor scrivener-like, nor craftily it write;

Beblot it with thy tears also a lite;*


And if thou write a goodly word all soft,

Though it be good, rehearse it not too oft.

"For though the beste harper *pon live*


Would on the best y-sounded jolly harp

That ever was, with all his fingers five

Touch ay one string, or *ay one warble harp,* *always play one tune*

Were his nailes pointed ne'er so sharp,

He shoulde maken ev'ry wight to dull*

*to grow bored

To hear his glee, and of his strokes full.

"Nor jompre* eke no discordant thing y-fere,**

*jumble **together

As thus, to use termes of physic;

In love's termes hold of thy mattere

The form alway, and *do that it be like;*

*make it consistent*

For if a painter woulde paint a pike

With ass's feet, and head it as an ape,<32>

It *'cordeth not,* so were it but a jape."

*is not harmonious*