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Troilus and Criseyde

Geoffrey Chaucer

Book Overview: 

Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it as the poet's finest work. As a finished long poem it is certainly more self-contained than the better known but ultimately uncompleted Canterbury Tales. Criseyde, the daughter of the seer Calchas, lives alone in Troy after her father abandons the Trojans to help the Greeks. Eventually she catches the eye of Troilus, a man who had previously scoffed at love, and becomes the object of his overwhelming desire.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Amphiorax, fil thurgh the ground to helle.' 105 Quod Pandarus, `Al this knowe I my-selve, And al the assege of Thebes and the care; For her-of been ther maked bokes twelve: — But lat be this, and tel me how ye fare; Do wey your barbe, and shew your face bare; 110 Do wey your book, rys up, and lat us daunce, And lat us don to May som observaunce.' `A! God forbede!' quod she. `Be ye mad? Is that a widewes lyf, so god you save? By god, ye maken me right sore a-drad, 115 Ye ben so wilde, it semeth as ye rave! It sete me wel bet ay in a cave To bidde, and rede on holy seyntes lyves; Lat maydens gon to daunce, and yonge wyves.' `As ever thryve I,' quod this Pandarus, 120 `Yet coude I telle a thing to doon you pleye.' . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Some great authors spur us on to greater heights; others serve to remind us of our shortcomings. For me, Chaucer is of the latter type. From the beginning, and to the bitter end, he was a struggle to appreciate. I could, of course, sense his greatness; it is manifest in every stanza. Yet I could...more

From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:

One of the great works of English literature, this powerful, compelling story explores love from its first tentative beginnings through to passionate sensuality and eventual tragic disillusionment. Lavinia Greenlaw's new version for radio brings Chaucer's langu...more

Relectura agosto 2016

Algún envidioso podría chismorrear: "esto es un amor repentino, ¿cómo puede ser que ella ame a Troilo tan fácilmente, sólo a primera vista, pardiez?". Que quien hable así nunca prospere, pues todo debe tener un principio antes de estar hecho, sin ninguna duda.

Ah, peco d...more

A medieval romantic tale of love destroyed by war
18 May 2012

The story of Troilus and Criseyde (I will use that Chaucerian as opposed to the Shakespearian spelling here) dates back only a far as the middle ages, despite it being set during the Trojan War. The interesting thing is that while Troil...more

This is a very good edition of the text. Being a Norton edition, it provides a very good gloss by the side of each line, for the Middle English; critical material and responses; an introduction with very good background information; and a translation of Chaucer's main source alongside the text.

I...more

I Do Feel Terrible

Yes, I really do feel terrible about not being able to chime in with the exuberant praise most readers of Chaucer’s poem Troilus and Criseyde heap upon this work of art. And not being able to share the general enthusiasm about that love story set in the chaos of the Trojan War,...more

"And for to have of hem compassioun
As though I were hir owene brother dere.
Now herkeneth with a gode entencioun,
For now wol I gon streight to my matere,
In which ye may the double sorwes here
Of Troilus, in loving of Criesyde,
And how that she forsook him er she deyde."
-Book I

Some call Troilus and...more

Whenever anybody decides to refer to the Middle Ages as "The Dark Ages" in front of me, two things inevitably happen. Firstly, my eye starts twitching in frustration, and secondly, I refer them to this or any number of the spellbinding narratives penned during this so called "Age of Ignorance". T...more

It is a masterpiece still being read more than 620 years after it was written, and hundreds of scholars have had their say on Criseyde's betrayal of Troilus; so I'm wondering if I'm the only one who thinks Criseyde has been getting shortchanged all these centuries.

The language is beautiful. You...more

Pandarus: Original creepy uncle. Criseyde: Actually pretty defensible considering the circusmstances. Troilus: Does nothing but cry. Chaucer: Makes the Trojan War more boring than Bingo night at the local nursing home.

Update 9/13/18: Still convinced it might be the most tedious poem of all time.

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