Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde Metaphors and Similes

Simile: Criseyde's Beauty

In the opening pages of the book, the narrator paints Criseyde as being remarkably beautiful, describing her as "like something immortal." This comparison is made to not-so-subtly suggest that Criseyde is goddess-like in her appearance, possessing a beauty surpassing mere mortals. Knowing of her supreme elegance, the reader becomes more understanding to as why Troilus falls instantly and madly in love with her.

Metaphor: Troilus' Lovesickness

In Book 1, Troilus sings a song dedicated to love after falling head over heels for Criseyde. In the song, he articulates love's grip over him and describes how his infatuation brings him both great highs and miserable lows. He compares this instability of emotion to a ship on a rocky sea, exclaiming: "So, tossed to and fro, I am in a rudderless boat in the midst of the sea, and between two winds that are perpetually contrary to each other." The metaphor here emphasizes Troilus' sense of powerlessness to the grand force of love.

Simile: Criseyde's Friends Comforting Her

It is right after Criseyde has been informed that she will be exchanged for Antenor and must leave Troy. Forced to separate from Troilus, she is devastated—yet as no one knows of her love affair, she is unable to explain the reason for her sorrow. When her friends come to see her, they wrongly believe she is crying because she will miss them. They try to comfort her to no avail, with the narrator wittily remarking that their consolation provides "as much relief with that as one gets from a headache by being scratched on the heel!"

Metaphor: Suppressed Thoughts

Pandarus is relaying the words of Troilus to Criseyde in order to convince her of Troilus' worthiness as a lover. In Pandarus' rendition of his speech, Troilus reveals the agony he is in because of his lovesickness, which is made worse from not being able to voice his feelings. He likens his suppressed thoughts as "glowing coals" which become "all the hotter" when covered with "pale, dead ashes." In other words, Troilus feels the more he holds back his emotion, the stronger it becomes.

Metaphor: Pandarus' Encouragement

Troilus complains to Pandarus of his doubts over his ability to successfully win over his new love interest. He hasn't yet revealed to Pandarus who the lady is, and Pandarus passionately encourages him to open up so that he can help him. Pandarus likens Troilus' reluctance to express his feelings as a sick patient refusing a cure, exclaiming that "for whoever wants to be healed by his doctor must first uncover his wound."