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Troilus and Cressida

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,093 Ratings  ·  267 Reviews
Given the wealth of formal debate contained in this tragedy, Troilus and Cressida was probably written in 1602 for a performance at one of the Inns of the Court. Shakespeare's treatment of the age-old tale of love and betrayal is based on many sources, from Homer and Ovid to Chaucer and Shakespeare's near contemporary Robert Greene. In the introduction the various problems ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 29th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1602)
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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 01, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 16th-17th-c-brit

When I was young and naive, I loved Troilus and Cressida for its brave cynicism, but now that I am older--and my outlook is bleaker--I appreciate it for its realism and compassion. Shakespeare shows us a world in which lovers yearn to be true and warriors strive to be brave, but both inevitably fail, betrayed by human nature and the adventitious provocations of time.

Here, as in Romeo and Juliet, passion and violence are inextricably linked. Indeed, this later play often seems to be a dark parod
Jun 06, 2009 Buck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: histrionics
It’s a timeless story, really: sensitive young guy gets carried away by the noble delirium of first love and goes all mushy over the dirty ho who punched his v-card. Complications ensue.

If you think my synopsis sounds crude, all I can say is, don’t read Troilus and Cressida, because it gets a whole lot cruder than that. For sheer nastiness, it’s right up there with that other Shakespearean shocker, Titus Andronicus (though without the multiple amputations and cannibalism). Taking over the creaki
David Sarkies
Mar 08, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like farce
Recommended to David by: University
Shelves: comedy
Shakespeare's farcical take on the Iliad
22 May 2012

This is one of Shakespeare's stranger plays, and though the characters of the title do play a role in the play albeit it is a quite minor one. The play is set during the Trojan War and basically follows the plot of the Iliad, though Shakespeare adds some quite comic twists to the main characters.

Troilus and Cressida are two Trojans who are in love, but Cressida is given over to the Greeks in exchange for a prisoner. Troilus then sneaks into th
Jul 28, 2009 Sparrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ava Gardner
Recommended to Sparrow by: Professor Lisa Freinkel
Shelves: plays, reviewed
My roommate in college was film noir's #1 fan, and we went through a long period of time trying to get caught up on every noir ever made. It was in that mood that said roommate and I took one of my favorite college classes, which we affectionately called Shakespeare Boot Camp. The two-week long class consisted of a week of studying plays and a week of living in Ashland, Oregon while going to see those plays on stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Brilliant! I was really psyched up to see th ...more
Vane J.
Troilus and Cressida are in love, but their happiness does not last long because Cressida goes with the Greeks in exchange of a prisoner. There, Troilus spies on her and sees her flirting with Diomedes. Of course, jealousy gets in the way.

The previously described plot is what gives the name to the play, but that one is not the centre of it. Things revolve around the Trojan wars and all the characters involved in it. For example, there's Achilles, Hector, Menelaus and Paris. Troilus is also prese
Nick Smith
Oct 21, 2007 Nick Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So a lot of people seem to think this is really boring and difficult. I'll give them the second one, but boring? This tale of a tangential "romance" (if you can call it that) to the Trojan War is rife with all kinds of awesome feats du language (oh yeah, I wrote that) and lots of tiny but cool moments, as various celebrated heroes find themselves unable to escape the narratives we know them for, despite their (and Shakespeare's) best efforts. From the rather peaceful, almost wistful beginning to ...more

So pretty much everything Mr. Buck Mulligan writes in his review is spot-on. I wanted to say much of the same things as he does but he does it quite elegantly and probingly and thus you out there in Goodreads-land who are reading this would be well advised to check his review out...not to mention his other ones, for that matter. He on point, kid.

A couple of things I'd like to point out just for the hell of it...


People who don't dig on the classics (except in THEORY or cultural capital
Troilus and Cressida is a half-baked play. By that I mean that it reads like the conflation of two distinct plots tied together by the common character of Troilus. This is not to say it isn’t a rather good play but it’s not a successful one. I've read it twice now and watched the BBC adaptation, and it grows on you. There are several powerful monologues and scenes where the dialog crackles but in the final analysis it remains "clunky" and its parts difficult to reconcile. As to the reasons why, ...more
Dec 06, 2015 J.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have already read The Iliad. And The Aeneid. And The Song of Achilles.
Shelves: drama, british
December of Drama 2015, day six


Did the Norton people make a mistake here? I've been reading out of my 3000+ page Norton Shakespeare, and they file this Trojan War clusterfuck under 'comedy.' Excuse me? The fact that a bloodbath forms the backdrop instead of the climax does not a comedy make. It reads much more like a deeply cynical tragedy than anything-- and the placement of the title characters' marriage early in the action rather than at the end may be the best
Dec 29, 2014 Knjigoholičarka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drame, bard, 2014
Ovo je prvi i verovatno poslednji review za neki Šekspirov komad koji ću ikad napisati, jer ne smatram sebe nekim stručnjakom za Bardove drame, ali osećam se obaveznom da pojasnim zašto mi se dopao više nego što sam očekivala - naročito u poređenju sa generalnom ocenom drugih čitalaca.

Ova drama odiše cinizmom i zajedljivošću. Ne znam u kakvom je raspoloženju bio pisac dok je stvarao ovo delo, ali uspeo je da izvrne ruglu sve - čast, poštenje, vernost, ljubav. Dotadašnje romantične predstave sre
Mar 26, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ordinarily I wouldn't reread a book or play, even one I read for class, so soon after reading it for the first time, but with Shakespeare (and indeed Chaucer) I think it's necessary. Plus, this edition came with notes, which are very extensive and -- even though I need no help with the language in general -- help to shed light on puns, double entendres, and potential confused transmission of the plays, etc. It has an extensive introduction which covers a lot of different aspects of the play, too ...more
Feb 04, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the Iliad is so well known that the novelty here comes from total upheavals of characters as we knew them in Homer. It’s a dark parody of some events in the Iliad with the Greek gods out of the picture. This leaves it to be about our human ability to live up to ideals – including the ideals of tragedy or comedy. The heroes of the Trojan War are subject to a cynical recasting. Cressida, the unfaithful woman, is less frivolous than Helen and is quite aware of her role in the game. As ...more
This was a pretty difficult play to get into. Perhaps it was just me, but the dialogue just didn't have that vibrancy that I expect in Shakespeare. It couldn't quite figure out which type of play it wanted to be. There were comedic scenes--although poorly done--mixed in with scenes depicting political and military strategy machinations during the Trojan War.

In addition, the titular characters, that is both Troilus and Cressida, are really not a large part of the play itself. They are a side plo
May 06, 2012 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shakespeare and Chaucer both wrote about Troilus and Cressida but for very different themes. Chaucer’s poem took the disillusioned and heartbroken boy warrior and focused on the absurdity of human endeavors. For Chaucer, love is fleeting except the love one gives and receives from God.

Shakespeare, on the other hand, wants us to wallow in worthlessness. Unlike Chaucer, who was more forgiving of Cressida in portraying her betrayal as more a resignation in response to her situation, Shakespeare gle
John Sweeney
This is a case in which a 2.5-star rating would have been useful. It feels to me like Shakespeare must have viewed this play as an interesting writing exercise, but not something worthy of his full attention. Perhaps someone in the Lord Chamberlain's Men thought a play based on the Trojan War would be fun. Maybe he just wanted to test himself against Chaucer. Regardless, he created a work that has its pleasure, but doesn't compare favorably to the other plays he wrote around the same time.

Aug 15, 2015 Sally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I didn't really understand this play. Cressida seems very unlikable, so the relationship between Troilus and her was not compelling. Achilles' relationship with Patroclus is dealt with explicitly. This play veers between comedy/farce in some sections and more serious issues in other sections. I read that it is one of Shakespeare's "problem plays" in that it is hard to classify.

I've always thought the quote "one touch of nature makes the whole world kin" referred to the natural world, so it was i
May 24, 2011 liberty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was by far my favorite piece of literature from my first-year seminar - the professor was a rhetoric teacher and mostly made the texts come off chalky, but this shone through, and watching the bbc production for my own benefit made it even more exciting. i hate my high school english teachers for making me read "romeo & juliet" and "the taming of the shrew" even more now.
C.S. Boag
Mar 30, 2015 C.S. Boag rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, shakespeare
This is the year to read some of Shakespeare. What set me off was a book that insisted Shakespeare was some one else - namely Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, doomed to anonymity by the exigencies of his time, and mainly the Elizabethan era. He was a member of the court and was unloading on his kind. Unthinkable. Hence the invention of Shakespeare, the most unlikely of great writers seeing that he was a very good merchant but unlettered. While Shakespeare- Shakespeare knows it all.
I am readin
Dec 28, 2015 Fabiola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El final fue simplón para la maravilla que se venía gestando. Me encanta el tono que adquieren ciertos personajes ilustres en esta obra nada tradicional; el heroismo y el romance se vienen abajo de manera imprevista pero magnífica. No había leído nada sobre Troilo y Crésida, así que fue algo novedoso encontrar personajes de este calibre en el escenario de Homero; adoro cuando la realidad está tan latenre y destroza los tópicos idílicos de la literatura. Definitivamente me encantó esta pieza,
Maan Kawas
Aug 10, 2014 Maan Kawas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful but dark play by Shakespeare that is derived from Homer’s ‘Iliad’ in particular! Although the play is about the love affair between Troilus and Cressida and its disappointing end, it is also about Hector and Achilles. The play starts in the middle of the events, which indicates that the audience was acquainted then with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. However, it differs from Homer’s version to some extent; for instance, it depicts Achilles less heroic, and the death of Hector is somehow ...more
I was surprised by this play's low rating. In my opinion, it is one of Shakespeare's most fascinating, original and perceptive plays. It has always been underestimated.

To consider the truth of my introduction, you have to read Chaucer's 'Troilus and Criseyde', another masterpiece, which is possibly one of Shakespeare's sources for his play as well(as I personally believe it to be). What a difference! Chaucer extols love and the ideals of chivalry. His characterisation is charming and heartfelt,
Michelle Llewellyn
This is no Romeo and Juliet. A hard play to read and even more difficult to sit through. Little wonder it wasn't even staged until years after the famous playwright's death. Shakespeare's writing is weak and it's unclear what kind of story he's trying to tell. Like many of today's best-selling authors who overwhelm their audience with too many plot complications, this play is altogether inconclusive as to what it is, even scholars are unsure which genre it should be listed under for it has eleme ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Kristin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are not turned off by Shakespeare's problem plays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is the last text, chronologically, in the class I read it for, but it was the easiest to get hold of. I actually read a version with no notes or glosses, so it'll probably be interesting to go through an annotated version. Obviously I was aware of the story on the Trojan War -- unavoidable when you take Classics for GCSE and A Level -- but I didn't know much about this one.

People are right to categorise this as a 'problem play'. It generally doesn't work to try and put things into hard and
The first two acts of Shakespeare's "Trojan" play, Troilus and Cressida, succeed in introducing most of the important players, but do not move the plot forward. We are treated to scene after scene of talking, first with Troilus himself imploring his beloved Cressida's uncle Pandarus to talk with Cressida about his love for Cressida. He certainly does not appear to be a steadfast hero when he intones, "I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar, And he's a tetchy to be wooed to woo as she is stubborn ...more
Cindy Rollins
This is Shakespeare's look at the Trojan War and a play I will probably do more research on. It is a very odd play. Perhaps it is a farce. It is a bit cynical. The main characters are not really the thing and in the end it seems that Cressida is unworthy of Troilus's love. Besides the obvious source of the Iliad it appears this story of Troilus and Cressida comes from Chaucer. I can only wonder how many inside jokes I missed by not being an Elizabethan.
Nikolay Nikiforov
Dec 22, 2015 Nikolay Nikiforov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Греки сбондили Елену по волнам,
Урки Гектора пырнули, стыд и срам.

Самая, вероятно, циническая пьеса Шекспира, в конце которой вошедший в поговорку сводник обращается со сцены к зрителям с пожеланием заболеть венерическими заболеваниями.
Way too long, and it seems to be confused as to what the main story is: Troilus and Cressida, Hector v Achilles, getting Achilles to fight, etc. But moments of both comic and tragic brilliance. But decent questions on what is truth, who we are, and what is medicine. A story on the effects of love: lovers, patriots, punners, fathers. A story on the effects of rape (see Helen and Cressida). A story with one of the more underrated - in humour and awfulness - fools, Thersites.

'I am a bastard too; I
Joseph Downey
Dec 17, 2015 Joseph Downey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I can understand why this is one of Shakespeare's so-called "Problem Plays." The tone varies from scene to scene, and the ending doesn't really seem to resolve much, nor have the characters really learned lessons or received their comeuppance. Still, it is interesting to see how the Bard changed and modified the familiar Homeric epic.
Claire West
Nov 12, 2015 Claire West rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2015
Another book I read for school. It was interesting to read this after the Iliad. I liked the Iliad more, though this version of the story is an interesting view.
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Shakespeare Fans: Troilus and Cressida 1 7 Jul 28, 2014 06:45PM  
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
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“For to be wise and love exceeds man's might.” 24 likes
“I am a bastard, too. I love bastards! I am bastard begot, bastard instructed, bastard in mind, bastard in valor, in everything illegitimate.” 18 likes
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