Troilus and Criseyde

The Fifth Book

The lovers took a heart-rending adieu; and Troilus, suffering unimaginable anguish, "withoute more, out of the chamber went."


APPROACHE gan the fatal destiny

That Jovis hath in disposition,

And to you angry Parcae,* Sisters three,

*The Fates

Committeth to do execution;

For which Cressida must out of the town,

And Troilus shall dwelle forth in pine,*


Till Lachesis his thread no longer twine.*


The golden-tressed Phoebus, high aloft,

Thries* had alle, with his beames clear,


The snowes molt,* and Zephyrus as oft


Y-brought again the tender leaves green,

Since that *the son of Hecuba the queen*

*Troilus <80>*

Began to love her first, for whom his sorrow

Was all, that she depart should on the morrow

In the morning, Diomede was ready to escort Cressida to the

Greek host; and Troilus, seeing him mount his horse, could with

difficulty resist an impulse to slay him - but restrained himself,

lest his lady should be also slain in the tumult. When Cressida

was ready to go,

This Troilus, in guise of courtesy,

With hawk on hand, and with a huge rout*

*retinue, crowd

Of knightes, rode, and did her company,

Passing alle the valley far without;

And farther would have ridden, out of doubt,

Full fain,* and woe was him to go so soon,


But turn he must, and it was eke to do'n.

And right with that was Antenor y-come

Out of the Greekes' host, and ev'ry wight

Was of it glad, and said he was welcome;

And Troilus, *all n'ere his hearte light,*

*although his heart

He pained him, with all his fulle might,

was not light*

Him to withhold from weeping at the least;

And Antenor he kiss'd and made feast.

And therewithal he must his leave take,

And cast his eye upon her piteously,

And near he rode, his cause* for to make

*excuse, occasion

To take her by the hand all soberly;

And, Lord! so she gan weepe tenderly!

And he full soft and slily gan her say,

"Now hold your day, and *do me not to dey."*

*do not make me die*

With that his courser turned he about,

With face pale, and unto Diomede

No word he spake, nor none of all his rout;

Of which the son of Tydeus <81> tooke heed,

As he that couthe* more than the creed <82>


In such a craft, and by the rein her hent;*


And Troilus to Troye homeward went.

This Diomede, that led her by the bridle,

When that he saw the folk of Troy away,

Thought, "All my labour shall not be *on idle,*

*in vain*

If that I may, for somewhat shall I say;

For, at the worst, it may yet short our way;

I have heard say eke, times twice twelve,

He is a fool that will forget himselve."

But natheless, this thought he well enough,

That "Certainly I am aboute naught,

If that I speak of love, or *make it tough;*

*make any violent

For, doubteless, if she have in her thought

immediate effort*

Him that I guess, he may not be y-brought

So soon away; but I shall find a mean,

That she *not wit as yet shall* what I mean."

*shall not yet know*

So he began a general conversation, assured her of not less

friendship and honour among the Greeks than she had enjoyed

in Troy, and requested of her earnestly to treat him as a brother

and accept his service - for, at last he said, "I am and shall be

ay, while that my life may dure, your own, aboven ev'ry


"Thus said I never e'er now to woman born;

For, God mine heart as wisly* gladden so!


I loved never woman herebeforn,

As paramours, nor ever shall no mo';

And for the love of God be not my foe,

All* can I not to you, my lady dear,


Complain aright, for I am yet to lear.*


"And wonder not, mine owen lady bright,

Though that I speak of love to you thus blive;*


For I have heard ere this of many a wight

That loved thing he ne'er saw in his live;

Eke I am not of power for to strive

Against the god of Love, but him obey

I will alway, and mercy I you pray."

Cressida answered his discourses as though she scarcely heard them; yet she thanked him for his trouble and courtesy, and accepted his offered friendship - promising to trust him, as well she might. Then she alighted from her steed, and, with her heart nigh breaking, was welcomed to the embrace of her father. Meanwhile Troilus, back in Troy, was lamenting with tears the loss of his love, despairing of his or her ability to survive the ten days, and spending the night in wailing, sleepless tossing, and troublous dreams. In the morning he was visited by Pandarus, to whom he gave directions for his funeral; desiring that the powder into which his heart was burned should be kept in a golden urn, and given to Cressida. Pandarus renewed his old counsels and consolations, reminded his friend that ten days were a short time to wait, argued against his faith in evil dreams, and urged him to take advantage of the truce, and beguile the time by a visit to King Sarpedon (a Lycian Prince who had come to aid the Trojans). Sarpedon entertained them splendidly; but no feasting, no pomp, no music of instruments, no singing of fair ladies, could make up for the absence of Cressida to the desolate Troilus, who was for ever poring upon her old letters, and recalling her loved form. Thus he "drove to an end" the fourth day, and would have then returned to Troy, but for the remonstrances of Pandarus, who asked if they had visited Sarpedon only to fetch fire? At last, at the end of a week, they returned to Troy; Troilus hoping to find Cressida again in the city, Pandarus entertaining a scepticism which he concealed from his friend. The morning after their return, Troilus was impatient till he had gone to the palace of Cressida; but when he found her doors all closed, "well nigh for sorrow adown he gan to fall."

Therewith, when he was ware, and gan behold

How shut was ev'ry window of the place,

As frost him thought his hearte *gan to cold;*

*began to grow cold*

For which, with changed deadly pale face,

Withoute word, he forth began to pace;

And, as God would, he gan so faste ride,

That no wight of his countenance espied.

Then said he thus: "O palace desolate!

O house of houses, *whilom beste hight!*

*formerly called best*

O palace empty and disconsolate!

O thou lantern, of which quench'd is the light!

O palace, whilom day, that now art night!

Well oughtest thou to fall, and I to die,

Since she is gone that wont was us to guy!*

*guide, rule

"O palace, whilom crown of houses all,

Illumined with sun of alle bliss!

O ring, from which the ruby is out fall!

O cause of woe, that cause hast been of bliss!

Yet, since I may no bet, fain would I kiss

Thy colde doores, durst I for this rout;

And farewell shrine, of which the saint is out!"

. . . . . . . . . . .

From thence forth he rideth up and down,

And ev'ry thing came him to remembrance,

As he rode by the places of the town,

In which he whilom had all his pleasance;

"Lo! yonder saw I mine own lady dance;

And in that temple, with her eyen clear,

Me caughte first my righte lady dear.

"And yonder have I heard full lustily

My deare hearte laugh; and yonder play:

Saw I her ones eke full blissfully;

And yonder ones to me gan she say,

'Now, goode sweete! love me well, I pray;'

And yond so gladly gan she me behold,

That to the death my heart is to her hold.*

*holden, bound

"And at that corner, in the yonder house,

Heard I mine allerlevest* lady dear,

*dearest of all

So womanly, with voice melodious,

Singe so well, so goodly and so clear,

That in my soule yet me thinks I hear

The blissful sound; and in that yonder place

My lady first me took unto her grace."

Then he went to the gates, and gazed along the way by which

he had attended Cressida at her departure; then he fancied that

all the passers-by pitied him; and thus he drove forth a day or

two more, singing a song, of few words, which he had made to

lighten his heart:

"O star, of which I lost have all the light,

With hearte sore well ought I to bewail,

That ever dark in torment, night by night,

Toward my death, with wind I steer and sail;

For which, the tenthe night, if that I fail*

*miss; be left without

The guiding of thy beames bright an hour,

My ship and me Charybdis will devour."

By night he prayed the moon to run fast about her sphere; by day he reproached the tardy sun - dreading that Phaethon had come to life again, and was driving the chariot of Apollo out of its straight course. Meanwhile Cressida, among the Greeks, was bewailing the refusal of her father to let her return, the certainty that her lover would think her false, and the hopelessness of any attempt to steal away by night. Her bright face waxed pale, her limbs lean, as she stood all day looking toward Troy; thinking on her love and all her past delights, regretting that she had not followed the counsel of Troilus to steal away with him, and finally vowing that she would at all hazards return to the city. But she was fated, ere two months, to be full far from any such intention; for Diomede now brought all his skill into play, to entice Cressida into his net. On the tenth day, Diomede, "as fresh as branch in May," came to the tent of Cressida, feigning business with Calchas.

Cresside, at shorte wordes for to tell,

Welcomed him, and down by her him set,

And he was *eath enough to make dwell;*

*easily persuaded to stay*

And after this, withoute longe let,*


The spices and the wine men forth him fet,*


And forth they speak of this and that y-fere,*


As friendes do, of which some shall ye hear.

He gan first fallen of the war in speech

Between them and the folk of Troye town,

And of the siege he gan eke her beseech

To tell him what was her opinioun;

From that demand he so descended down

To aske her, if that her strange thought

The Greekes' guise,* and workes that they wrought.


And why her father tarried* so long


To wedde her unto some worthy wight.

Cressida, that was in her paines strong

For love of Troilus, her owen knight,

So farforth as she cunning* had or might,


Answer'd him then; but, as for his intent,*


It seemed not she wiste* what he meant.


But natheless this ilke* Diomede


Gan *in himself assure,* and thus he said;

*grow confident*

"If I aright have *taken on you heed,*

*observed you*

Me thinketh thus, O lady mine Cresside,

That since I first hand on your bridle laid,

When ye out came of Troye by the morrow,

Ne might I never see you but in sorrow.

"I cannot say what may the cause be,

But if for love of some Trojan it were;

*The which right sore would a-thinke me*

*which it would much

That ye for any wight that dwelleth there

pain me to think*

Should [ever] spill* a quarter of a tear,


Or piteously yourselfe so beguile;*


For dreadeless* it is not worth the while.


"The folk of Troy, as who saith, all and some

In prison be, as ye yourselfe see;

From thence shall not one alive come

For all the gold betwixte sun and sea;

Truste this well, and understande me;

There shall not one to mercy go alive,

All* were he lord of worldes twice five.


"What will ye more, lovesome lady dear?

Let Troy and Trojan from your hearte pace;

Drive out that bitter hope, and make good cheer,

And call again the beauty of your face,

That ye with salte teares so deface;

For Troy is brought into such jeopardy,

That it to save is now no remedy.

"And thinke well, ye shall in Greekes find

A love more perfect, ere that it be night,

Than any Trojan is, and more kind,

And better you to serve will do his might;

And, if ye vouchesafe, my lady bright,

I will be he, to serve you, myselve, -

Yea, lever* than be a lord of Greekes twelve!"


And with that word he gan to waxe red,

And in his speech a little while he quoke,*

*quaked; trembled

And cast aside a little with his head,

And stint a while; and afterward he woke,

And soberly on her he threw his look,

And said, "I am, albeit to you no joy,

As gentle* man as any wight in Troy.


"But, hearte mine! since that I am your man,*

*leigeman, subject

And [you] be the first of whom I seeke grace,

(in love)

To serve you as heartily as I can,

And ever shall, while I to live have space,

So, ere that I depart out of this place,

Ye will me grante that I may, to-morrow,

At better leisure, telle you my sorrow."

Why should I tell his wordes that he said?

He spake enough for one day at the mest;*


It proveth well he spake so, that Cresseide

Granted upon the morrow, at his request,

Farther to speake with him, at the least,

So that he would not speak of such mattere;

And thus she said to him, as ye may hear:

As she that had her heart on Troilus

So faste set, that none might it arace;*

*uproot <83>

And strangely* she spake, and saide thus;

*distantly, unfriendlily

"O Diomede! I love that ilke place

Where I was born; and Jovis, for his grace,

Deliver it soon of all that doth it care!*


God, for thy might, so *leave it* well to fare!"

*grant it*

She knows that the Greeks would fain wreak their wrath on

Troy, if they might; but that shall never befall: she knows that

there are Greeks of high condition - though as worthy men

would be found in Troy: and she knows that Diomede could

serve his lady well.

"But, as to speak of love, y-wis," she said,

"I had a lord, to whom I wedded was, <84>

He whose mine heart was all, until he died;

And other love, as help me now Pallas,

There in my heart nor is, nor ever was;

And that ye be of noble and high kindred,

I have well heard it tellen, out of dread.*


"And that doth* me to have so great a wonder


That ye will scornen any woman so;

Eke, God wot, love and I be far asunder;

I am disposed bet, so may I go,*

*fare or prosper

Unto my death to plain and make woe;

What I shall after do I cannot say,

But truely as yet *me list not play.*

*I am not disposed

*for sport

"Mine heart is now in tribulatioun;

And ye in armes busy be by day;

Hereafter, when ye wonnen have the town,

Parauntre* then, so as it happen may,


That when I see that I never *ere sey,*

*saw before*

Then will I work that I never ere wrought;

This word to you enough sufficen ought.

"To-morrow eke will I speak with you fain,*


So that ye touche naught of this mattere;

And when you list, ye may come here again,

And ere ye go, thus much I say you here:

As help me Pallas, with her haires clear,

If that I should of any Greek have ruth,

It shoulde be yourselfe, by my truth!

"I say not therefore that I will you love;

*Nor say not nay;* but, in conclusioun,

*nor say I that

I meane well, by God that sits above!"

I will not*

And therewithal she cast her eyen down,

And gan to sigh, and said; "O Troye town!

Yet bid* I God, in quiet and in rest


I may you see, or *do my hearte brest!"*

*cause my heart to break*

But in effect, and shortly for to say,

This Diomede all freshly new again

Gan pressen on, and fast her mercy pray;

And after this, the soothe for to sayn,

Her glove he took, of which he was full fain,

And finally, when it was waxen eve,

And all was well, he rose and took his leave.

Cressida retired to rest:

Returning in her soul ay up and down

The wordes of this sudden Diomede,<85>

His great estate,* the peril of the town,


And that she was alone, and hadde need

Of friendes' help; and thus began to dread

The causes why, the soothe for to tell,

That she took fully the purpose for to dwell.*

*remain (with the


The morrow came, and, ghostly* for to speak,


This Diomede is come unto Cresseide;

And shortly, lest that ye my tale break,

So well he for himselfe spake and said,

That all her sighes sore adown he laid;

And finally, the soothe for to sayn,

He refte* her the great** of all her pain.

*took away **the greater

part of

And after this, the story telleth us

That she him gave the faire baye steed

The which she ones won of Troilus;

And eke a brooch (and that was little need)

That Troilus' was, she gave this Diomede;

And eke, the bet from sorrow him to relieve,

She made him wear a pensel* of her sleeve.

*pendant <86>

I find eke in the story elleswhere,

When through the body hurt was Diomede

By Troilus, she wept many a tear,

When that she saw his wide woundes bleed,

And that she took to keepe* him good heed,

*tend, care for

And, for to heal him of his sorrow's smart,

Men say, I n'ot,* that she gave him her heart.

*know not

And yet, when pity had thus completed the triumph of inconstancy, she made bitter moan over her falseness to one of the noblest and worthiest men that ever was; but it was now too late to repent, and at all events she resolved that she would be true to Diomede - all the while weeping for pity of the absent Troilus, to whom she wished every happiness. The tenth day, meantime, had barely dawned, when Troilus, accompanied by Pandarus, took his stand on the walls, to watch for the return of Cressida. Till noon they stood, thinking that every corner from afar was she; then Troilus said that doubtless her old father bore the parting ill, and had detained her till after dinner; so they went to dine, and returned to their vain observation on the walls. Troilus invented all kinds of explanations for his mistress's delay; now, her father would not let her go till eve; now, she would ride quietly into the town after nightfall, not to be observed; now, he must have mistaken the day. For five or six days he watched, still in vain, and with decreasing hope. Gradually his strength decayed, until he could walk only with a staff; answering the wondering inquiries of his friends, by saying that he had a grievous malady about his heart. One day he dreamed that in a forest he saw Cressida in the embrace of a boar; and he had no longer doubt of her falsehood. Pandarus, however, explained away the dream to mean merely that Cressida was detained by her father, who might be at the point of death; and he counselled the disconsolate lover to write a letter, by which he might perhaps get at the truth. Troilus complied, entreating from his mistress, at the least, a "letter of hope;" and the lady answered, that she could not come now, but would so soon as she might; at the same time "making him great feast," and swearing that she loved him best - "of which he found but bottomless behest [which he found but groundless promises]." Day by day increased the woe of Troilus; he laid himself in bed, neither eating, nor drinking, nor sleeping, nor speaking, almost distracted by the thought of Cressida's unkindness. He related his dream to his sister Cassandra, who told him that the boar betokened Diomede, and that, wheresoever his lady was, Diornede certainly had her heart, and she was his: "weep if thou wilt, or leave, for, out of doubt, this Diomede is in, and thou art out." Troilus, enraged, refused to believe Cassandra's interpretation; as well, he cried, might such a story be credited of Alcestis, who devoted her life for her husband; and in his wrath he started from bed, "as though all whole had him y-made a leach [physician]," resolving to find out the truth at all hazards. The death of Hector meanwhile enhanced the sorrow which he endured; but he found time to write often to Cressida, beseeching her to come again and hold her truth; till one day his false mistress, out of pity, wrote him again, in these terms:

"Cupide's son, ensample of goodlihead,*

*beauty, excellence

O sword of knighthood, source of gentleness!

How might a wight in torment and in dread,

And healeless,* you send as yet gladness?

*devoid of health

I hearteless, I sick, I in distress?

Since ye with me, nor I with you, may deal,

You neither send I may nor heart nor heal.

"Your letters full, the paper all y-plainted,*

*covered with

Commoved have mine heart's pitt;


I have eke seen with teares all depainted

Your letter, and how ye require me

To come again; the which yet may not be;

But why, lest that this letter founden were,

No mention I make now for fear.

"Grievous to me, God wot, is your unrest,

Your haste,* and that the goddes' ordinance


It seemeth not ye take as for the best;

Nor other thing is in your remembrance,

As thinketh me, but only your pleasance;

But be not wroth, and that I you beseech,

For that I tarry is *all for wicked speech.*

*to avoid malicious


"For I have heard well more than I wend*

*weened, thought

Touching us two, how thinges have stood,

Which I shall with dissimuling amend;

And, be not wroth, I have eke understood

How ye ne do but holde me on hand; <87>

But now *no force,* I cannot in you guess

*no matter*

But alle truth and alle gentleness.

"Comen I will, but yet in such disjoint*

*jeopardy, critical

I stande now, that what year or what day


That this shall be, that can I not appoint;

But in effect I pray you, as I may,

For your good word and for your friendship ay;

For truely, while that my life may dure,

As for a friend, ye may *in me assure.*

*depend on me*

"Yet pray I you, *on evil ye not take*

*do not take it ill*

That it is short, which that I to you write;

I dare not, where I am, well letters make;

Nor never yet ne could I well endite;

Eke *great effect men write in place lite;*

*men write great matter

Th' intent is all, and not the letter's space;

in little space*

And fare now well, God have you in his grace!

"La Vostre C."

Though he found this letter "all strange," and thought it like "a kalendes of change," <88> Troilus could not believe his lady so cruel as to forsake him; but he was put out of all doubt, one day that, as he stood in suspicion and melancholy, he saw a "coat- armour" borne along the street, in token of victory, before Deiphobus his brother. Deiphobus had won it from Diomede in battle that day; and Troilus, examining it out of curiosity, found within the collar a brooch which he had given to Cressida on the morning she left Troy, and which she had pledged her faith to keep for ever in remembrance of his sorrow and of him. At this fatal discovery of his lady's untruth,

Great was the sorrow and plaint of Troilus;

But forth her course Fortune ay gan to hold;

Cressida lov'd the son of Tydeus,

And Troilus must weep in cares cold.

Such is the world, whoso it can behold!

In each estate is little hearte's rest;

God lend* us each to take it for the best!


In many a cruel battle Troilus wrought havoc among the Greeks, and often he exchanged blows and bitter words with Diomede, whom he always specially sought; but it was not their lot that either should fall by the other's hand. The poet's purpose, however, he tells us, is to relate, not the warlike deeds of Troilus, which Dares has fully told, but his love-fortunes:

Beseeching ev'ry lady bright of hue,

And ev'ry gentle woman, *what she be,*

*whatsoever she be*

Albeit that Cressida was untrue,

That for that guilt ye be not wroth with me;

Ye may her guilt in other bookes see;

And gladder I would writen, if you lest,

Of Penelope's truth, and good Alceste.

Nor say I not this only all for men,

But most for women that betrayed be

Through false folk (God give them sorrow, Amen!)

That with their greate wit and subtilty

Betraye you; and this commoveth me

To speak; and in effect you all I pray,

Beware of men, and hearken what I say.

Go, little book, go, little tragedy!

There God my maker, yet ere that I die,

So send me might to make some comedy!

But, little book, *no making thou envy,* *be envious of no poetry* <89>

But subject be unto all poesy;

And kiss the steps, where as thou seest space,

Of Virgil, Ovid, Homer, Lucan, Stace.

And, for there is so great diversity

In English, and in writing of our tongue,

So pray I God, that none miswrite thee,

Nor thee mismetre for default of tongue!

And read whereso thou be, or elles sung,

That thou be understanden, God I 'seech!*


But yet to purpose of my *rather speech.*

*earlier subject* <90>

The wrath, as I began you for to say,

Of Troilus the Greekes boughte dear;

For thousandes his handes *made dey,*

*made to die*

As he that was withouten any peer,

Save in his time Hector, as I can hear;

But, well-away! save only Godde's will,

Dispiteously him slew the fierce Achill'.

And when that he was slain in this mannere,

His lighte ghost* full blissfully is went


Up to the hollowness of the seventh sphere <91>

In converse leaving ev'ry element;

And there he saw, with full advisement,* *observation, understanding

Th' erratic starres heark'ning harmony,

With soundes full of heav'nly melody.

And down from thennes fast he gan advise*

*consider, look on

This little spot of earth, that with the sea

Embraced is; and fully gan despise

This wretched world, and held all vanity,

*To respect of the plein felicity*

*in comparison with

That is in heav'n above; and, at the last,

the full felicity*

Where he was slain his looking down he cast.

And in himself he laugh'd right at the woe

Of them that wepte for his death so fast;

And damned* all our works, that follow so


The blinde lust, the which that may not last,

And shoulden* all our heart on heaven cast;

*while we should

And forth he wente, shortly for to tell,

Where as Mercury sorted* him to dwell.

*allotted <92>

Such fine* hath, lo! this Troilus for love!


Such fine hath all his *greate worthiness!*

*exalted royal rank*

Such fine hath his estate royal above!

Such fine his lust,* such fine hath his nobless!


Such fine hath false worlde's brittleness!* *fickleness, instability

And thus began his loving of Cresside,

As I have told; and in this wise he died.

O young and freshe folke, *he or she,*

*of either sex*

In which that love upgroweth with your age,

Repaire home from worldly vanity,

And *of your heart upcaste the visage*

*"lift up the countenance

To thilke God, that after his image

of your heart."*

You made, and think that all is but a fair,

This world that passeth soon, as flowers fair!

And love Him, the which that, right for love,

Upon a cross, our soules for to bey,*

*buy, redeem

First starf,* and rose, and sits in heav'n above;


For he will false* no wight, dare I say,

*deceive, fail

That will his heart all wholly on him lay;

And since he best to love is, and most meek,

What needeth feigned loves for to seek?

Lo! here of paynims* cursed olde rites!


Lo! here what all their goddes may avail!

Lo! here this wretched worlde's appetites!

*end and reward

Lo! here the *fine and guerdon for travail,*

of labour*

Of Jove, Apollo, Mars, and such rascaille*

*rabble <93>

Lo! here the form of olde clerkes' speech,

In poetry, if ye their bookes seech!*

*seek, search

L'Envoy of Chaucer.

O moral Gower! <94> this book I direct.

To thee, and to the philosophical Strode, <95>

To vouchesafe, where need is, to correct,

Of your benignities and zeales good.

And to that soothfast Christ that *starf on rood* *died on the cross*

With all my heart, of mercy ever I pray,

And to the Lord right thus I speak and say:

"Thou One, and Two, and Three, *etern on live,*

*eternally living*

That reignest ay in Three, and Two, and One,

Uncircumscrib'd, and all may'st circumscrive,*


From visible and invisible fone*


Defend us in thy mercy ev'ry one;

So make us, Jesus, *for thy mercy dign,*

*worthy of thy mercy*

For love of Maid and Mother thine benign!"

Explicit Liber Troili et Cresseidis. <96>