Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde Quotes and Analysis

Therefore, all you wise, proud, and noble folk, learn from the example of this man about scorning Love, which can so soon enslave the freedom of your hearts. For it was always so and it will always happen that Love can bind everything, because no man may abolish the law of nature.

Narrator, Book 1

This quote spoken by the narrator of the story speaks directly to the reader, warning us to learn from the example of Troilus, who has just been humbled by the gods for deriding love. Right after mocking others for their lovesick ways, he is struck with intense feeling for Criseyde. This quick turn of events demonstrates the role of Fortune in the book, who often reverses the characters’ fates at the most unexpected moments. The narrator’s words also allude to the virtue of love as a universal force which can “enslave” even the most mighty soldiers.

And if he knows that joy is transient, as every joy in worldly things must pas away, then every time he remembers that, the fear of loss affects him so that he can’t be in perfect happiness; and if he doesn’t care a bit about losing his joy, then it seems that joy is worth very little.

Criseyde, Book 3

This quote is from a speech delivered by Criseyde after she is told by Pandarus that Troilus believes she has been unfaithful. The accusation inspires much passion in Criseyde, who connects Troilus’ jealousy to a larger problem of humanity being plagued by insecurity when it comes to love. According to her, jealousy and the fear of loss reflect a love that is transient rather than eternal. Her words here can be read as highly ironic, considering her later betrayal of Criseyde for a more worldly type of relationship.

Who can avoid or foresee everything? That's how the world is! So I come to this conclusion: don't anyone ever believe that what comes from Fortune is their personal property—everyone holds her gifts in common.

Pandarus, Book 4

Troilus has just informed Pandarus about Criseyde's departure for the Greek side. Pandarus, who orchestrated the entire romance, feels almost as much sorrow as his friend does; he is heartbroken that their happy union will be cut short. Here he is trying to make sense of the news by alluding to Fortune, who he describes as prone to taking away her "gifts" at any moment. As she mercilessly governs over human affairs, it is wise to never see fortunate circumstances as everlasting. With this perspective, Pandarus encourages Troilus to count his blessings and be grateful for the time he got to spend with Criseyde.

In heaven and hell, in earth and salt sea, your power is felt, if I discern correctly, as man, bird, beast, fish, plant, and green tree feel your eternal influence at certain seasons.

Narrator, Book 3

This line belongs to the narrator’s opening proem of Book 3, which is dedicated to Venus as both the goddess and planet. The quote showcases the sort of poetic language that is often directed at the deities, who are seen as powerful orchestrators of both nature and human life. It is no coincidence this proem comes before the book where the lovers finally meet, as Venus is seen as especially influential in matters of romance. Her evocation here foretells the union between Troilus and Criseyde that will unfold throughout the next pages.

No man knows correctly what dreams mean. For priests of the temple say dreams are the revelations of gods, and they say as well, indeed, that they're illusions from hell!

Pandarus, Book 5

Pandarus is speaking to Troilus after hearing about Troilus' dream of the boar, which he suspects is a sign of Criseyde's infidelity. Pandarus, trying to calm his friend, denies this interpretation and insists that dreams should not be taken too seriously. He points out how even priests acknowledge dreams as both informative and misleading. We can infer here that Pandarus is being willfully ignorant, not wanting to read the clear message of the dream in order to prevent Troilus' heartbreak, for which he would be partly responsible.

For I suppose that the kind of people who slander love know nothing of it.

Antigone, Book 2

This quote comes from the song of Antigone, Criseyde’s niece. Echoing the sentiments of the narrator in the first book, Antigone’s singing praises love and looks down upon those foolish people who believe they can overpower or resist love. Her song comes at a pivotal time in the narrative, just as Criseyde is on the fence about whether or not to give Troilus a chance. After hearing her niece’s song, Criseyde is moved and slowly begins to open her heart to a relationship with Troilus.

This false world, alas, who can trust it?

Criseyde, Book 2

Criseyde is upset after her uncle, Pandarus, lengthily tries convincing her to be Troilus' lover. Pandarus, who feels he is doing his friend Troilus a favor, has used guilt in order to persuade Criseyde to give Troilus a chance, saying that if she rejects Troilus, he will end his own life. Criseyde is shocked to be manipulated in such a way and feels betrayed by her uncle, who she considers her "best friend." That Criseyde has to be coaxed by Pandarus in order to love Troilus foretells of later problems in the relationship.

You perform your office too briefly, you hasty night! May God, creator of nature, bind you so tightly and always to our hemisphere, because of your haste and unnatural offence, that you never again revolve beneath the ground!

Troilus, Book 3

This line occurs just after the first time Troilus and Criseyde have spent a blissful, intimate night together. The sun rising means that the couple must now part ways for the day, and thus Troilus complains that the night is much too short. He addresses the night directly, asking it to stay always in his “hemisphere.” This personification demonstrates the worldview of the characters as seeing all aspects of nature as alive and conscious.

For everything that happens, happens by necessity: thus, it is my destiny to be lost. For certainly, I know this well, that foresight of divine providence has always seen that I would lose Criseyde, since God sees all things, without doubt, and through his decree disposes them truly according to their deserts, as they shall come to pass by predestination.

Troilus, Book 4

Troilus is feeling despondent after learning that Criseyde will soon be forced to leave Troy. With this turn of events, he is trying to make sense of why his lover is being taken from him in this way. He delivers a monologue about the nature of fate versus free will, a major theme of the story. Through speaking, he seeks to understand whether or not he was always destined to lose Criseyde. In this line, he explains what has transpired as an act of God, who already saw what would happen and willed it into existence.

[A]nd finally he directed his gaze down at the place where he had been slain, and in himself he simply laughed outright at the grief of those who wept so much for his death, and condemned all our actions that are so much in pursuit of blind pleasure, which cannot endure, when we should turn our whole heart towards heaven.

Narrator, Book 5

The narrator describes Troilus' experience once reaching the eighth sphere of heaven, after being killed in battle. From this celestial perspective, Troilus is finally able to see the world from a place of detachment and clarity, realizing his foolishness to be so absorbed in earthly dramas. He judges those he observes as being materialistic, a quality which prevents fulfillment of the soul. The sentiment here also reflects the Christian faith of Geoffrey Chaucer.