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Troilus and Cressida

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  7,196 ratings  ·  465 reviews
The Arden Shakespeare is the established scholarly edition of Shakespeare's plays. Now in its third series, Arden offers the best in contemporary scholarship. Each volume guides you to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's work.
Mass Market Paperback, 135 pages
Published March 3rd 1988 by Washington Square Press (first published 1609)
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Bill Kerwin
Jun 09, 2007 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
Jun 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: histrionics
Its 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, dont read Troilus and Cressida, because it gets a whole lot cruder than that. For sheer nastiness, its right up there with that other Shakespearean shocker, Titus Andronicus (though without the multiple amputations and cannibalism). Taking over the creaking
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I was so glad to select "I'm Finished"

I'm no scholar, but I go to a Pop Up Shakespeare production every year in Auckland.

If they offer this one, I won't be attending.

Much declaiming & Troilus & Cressida aren't the main focus.

Just shows that even the greatest writer in the English language can have an off day.

Moving on.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, shakespeare, drama
Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves.
William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida


Troilus and Cressida is one of those Shakespeare plays that seems to have slipped through the cracks for me during my first 40 years. It was a distant, dark planet. I knew it existed, but couldn't give you a useful quote or discuss the plot or structure. A minor Shakespeare play, perhaps? Now that I've read it, I'm still a bit in the dark. I've got the basics (I've read The Iliad several times and am
Daniel Chaikin
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Troilus and Cressida

One of Shakespeare's problem plays because, well, for one, it's really difficult, but mainly because it's comedy but not really. Actually it's a very cynical comedy. Troilus and Cressida is long, generates a lot of confusion and frustration and has a limited stage history, but it's complicated in interesting ways, and, in the right mindset, very rewarding. I read this over five weekends with a group on Litsy, our 5th Shakespeare of 2019, not bad. I had force through it a little, but ultimately
Constantina Maud
Feb 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Being a devoted fan of the Bard, it really pains me to rate this play so low. Yet let me elaborate a bit.

This play was never really on my to-be-read list. However, I stumbled across a reference to it while reading Woolfs A Room of Ones Ownyou know, in the serendipitous kind of way in which you go to your favourite Korean restaurant and for a serving of bibimbap you get a delicious bowl of miso soup for free as well.

Well, after reading Troilus and Cressida, lets just say it is indeed a problem
Nick Smith
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
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
Roy Lotz
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama, bardolatry
This is a rather difficult Shakespeare play to evaluate. Its genre is a problem: neither a comedy, nor a tragedy, nor even a tragicomedyit leaves an ambiguous emotional aftertaste on the palate. Shakespeare himself seems to have felt ambivalent about the work, since he never staged it. Harold Bloom speculates that this was because the play is simply too openly nihilistic.

Shakespeare makes sport of all of the illusions of his day (and ours). Achilles, the glorious soldier, is a coward; Hector,
Meredith Holley
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ava Gardner
Recommended to Meredith 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 ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Troilus and Cressida is an underrated Shakespeare play based on the Iliad. It's not really a tragedy and not quite a comedy, but it seems to me that Shakespeare strikes a good blend. Troilus and Cressida are minor characters in the saga but Shakespeare draws their characters well and the reader becomes more invested in their story more than the multitude of other characters drawn from the Iliad. Many of these characters are intentionally drawn superficially because there is little time in the ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shakespeare
A landmark for me. In this Year of Reading All the Shakespeare, this play, the twenty-first in the list, is the first one that I'd never read before and really enjoyed. To me, Titus Andronicus was a pointless gorefest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona was just dumb, and King Edward III was simply incoherent, but this well, it's not great not a Hamlet or Macbeth or Richard II but it's very good.

While I'm quite familiar with The Iliad, the story of Troilus and Cressida was new to me. Aside from
Elie F
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-british
In Shakespeare's fancy, the Trojan War is a whore's war. All started by the infidel and coquettish Helen. Troilus willingly wooed by the calculating bitch Cressida. Hector killed because of Achilles' masculine whore Patroclus. Without whores, war should be tedious, and that's why warriors chase after whores. And isn't war nothing but lust expressing itself through violence? Isn't love nothing but lust with a tinge of coquettishness?
"Is this the generation of love--hot blood, hot thoughts, and
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 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
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite sure how this went from a "It's going to be a slog!!" to a "I understand nothing but I love it!!" kind of play, even though I don't exactly love it, because there's lots to hate about how Cressida is used and misused and how these great men pontificate about utter rubbish like honour being more important than life, the kind of stuff that makes one wonder if masculinity really is anti-life? and the play definitely belongs to Thersites, who is foul of mouth and steady of mind, ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though Troilus and Cressida isnt one of the most beloved Shakespeare plays, it piqued my interest for several reasons. First and foremost, its a problem play, which means that different publishers have marked it either as a comedy, a tragedy or even a history play. The play ends on a very bleak note but on the other hand it is marked by bawdy comedy in between.

Secondly, I like plays dealing with a classical theme, and Troilus and Cressida concerns itself with the Trojan War, most notably
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.
M.L. Rio
Shakespeare, the Trojan War, biting black humor, heaps of moral ambiguity, and bold defiance of genre make this one of my favorite plays from the period.
Vanessa J.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
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
this play is drenched in regret, betrayal, villainy and the frailty of mankind as opposed to the forces of fate. it's cruel, yet stiflingly lewd and irreverent at times. the boundaries of comedy and tragedy blend and intertwine constantly; chivalry and ridicule stand side by side.

there is always a sense of greatness - traces of truth and dreams of valour - but Troilus and Cressida fails to reach the heights of true epic. it is light in its treatment of grand themes and characters, among
Loved it! Reminds me so much of my journey through the Iliad and the Odyssey, but with the wit and wisdom that only the Bard can offer.

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
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
There is a reason why this play is not staged often: it is a hot mess.

Plot summary: Troilus loves Cressida. Ulysses makes long, sanctimonious speeches. Achilles and Ajax are ridiculed. Ulysses makes long, sanctimonious speeches. Cressida is taken to the Greeks. Ulysses makes long, sanctimonius speeches. Cressida betrays Troilus. Then, in the second half of the fifth act, the Iliad sort of happens in passing.

The saving grace of the play are a few witty lines by Cressida in Act 1 and 3, and a
Bury me with this play; every line is golden.

Ive read some reviews that call this an embarrassment and a mockery of the Iliad (I mean, theres no missing the black humour, but this is Shakespeare so what did you expect?), but that can only come from a place of either not reading closely enough or vastly misunderstanding:
a) Shakespeares views on war
b) Shakespeares views on gender and sexuality (notice that a prime voice of reason in this play is Patroclus, the whore mocked for his femininity?
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 isnt a rather good play but its 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
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Liz by: University
Required reading for university.

Maybe I'll review it later, maybe I won't, I am not sure yet.
Jacob Aitken
This is Romeo and Juliet for grown ups.  The characters make less than wise decisions, but they arent brainless.  They are unlucky. Troilus is forced to see his new bride married off to the enemy for the good of the City.  While it does leave a bad taste in the readers mouth, we still havent reached the complete idiocy of Romeo and Juliet.  

Have you ever watched a movie and felt the director said, We have to end this in the next 45 seconds.  Hold on tight, everybody? Thats what happens here.
Sam Law
Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read

This is a tough play, probably unlike anything else the Bard had written. Based on the siege of Troy, and drawing heavily on both the Iliad and Chaucers Troilus and Criseyde, it completely goes against the received wisdom of noble heroes, romantic love, and backdrops against a disillusioned world devoid of notions of honour or integrity. Throughout, there is anti-climax after anti-climax, and there is no sense of satisfaction at plays end. I
Mary Slowik
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Mar 26, 2012 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, ...more
Carol Bakker
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, shakespeare, 2017
I was as unfamiliar with T&C as I had been with Titus Andronicus. I smiled, immediately, when the prologue explains he's Beginning in the middle. Ah, I thought, in media res.

The longer I read the bard's plays, the more obvious are those twinkling and winking motifs.

Here is another Beatrice, wishing she were a man. And yet, good faith, I wish'd myself a man / Or that we women had men's privilege / Of speaking first.

There, again, is a riff on ingratitude.
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his
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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 ...more

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