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451 Study Questions for Excerpts from
Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde Book 3
proem, epic, invocation of the muse, historical romance,
persona, onomastic, aube
Useful Middle English terms:
(honor) briddes (a metathesis
for "bird's"), Em (informal term for "Uncle")
Identify the following characters,
objects, and places:
Troy, Priam; Troilus; the Muse Caliope; Citheria (Venus/Aphrodite),
the narrative voice; Pandarus; Calkas; Criseyde; Ector
palladium, Cupid, Imeneus (Hymen)
[Summary of Earlier Material: In Book
II, Pandarus has carried letters back and forth and arranged
for Troilus to meet Criseyde. He lies to Criseyde, telling
her that "my lady queene Eleyne / Abideth yow," and argues
she should only take a small "prees" (crowd) such as
her niece Antigoné. Book II ends with Troilus in hiding,
wondering what to say as he gets his first chance to
speak to Criseyde alone.]
Proem to Book III (lines 1-49)
- Before invoking an actual Muse, the
narrator prays to what goddess in third book? Hint:
She is called "Joves doughter deere," and "plesance
of love." In what four regions does this goddess exert
her power? Into what six types of creatures does the
goddess pour her "vapour eterne"?
- What do all creatures need to survive,
according to the narrator?
- This goddess is capable of appeasing
(apaisen) the ire of what male god?
- After this lengthy prayer to the goddess
of love, what muse does the speaker finally invoke
to "be now present" with her voice?
(From Book III excerpts, lines 50--382):
- What is Troilus's mental state
as he waits for his love, Criseyde? Describe his emotions.
- How does Pandarus refer to Criseyde
when he announces her presence to Troilus? How
is this a bit of a "guilt trip"?
- How does Troilus react after he hears Criseyde speak?
(See lines 78-84.) What happens to his complexion in
line 82? In lines 94-95?
- In line 91, what does the narrator appeal to as his
source of factual information? How is this typically
- What are the only two words Troilus
is able to croak out as he stares at the ground? Why
does he speak it "twyes"?
- In line 106, Troilus calls her a "wommanliche wif."
How is the word "wif" being used differently
here than we use the word wife in Modern English? How
result in a pleonastic construction?
- What do you make of the narrator's
claim that Troilus has "manly sorwe" in line
113? Does it seem particularly masculine to you? How
does this reflect a difference
in ideas about what's "manly" in the modern
world versus what is "manly" in
the medieval world? Or is the term used ironically?
- Who cries to see Troilus so heart-broken? (Hint: It's
- What does Pandarus keep doing to Criseyde as Troilus
- When Criseyde isn't sure what to say, who supplies
her with sample dialogue?
- In lines 155-168, Criseyde responds
to Troilus's pleas. When she speaks, however, she uses
third person pronouns.
To whom is she actually speaking?
- Criseyde makes one warning to Troilus. Even though
he is a king's son, what does Criseyde insist upon?
- Who will hold all the power in the
relationship according to Criseyde's arrangement?
- What does Pandarus ask of Troilus,
now that Pandarus has arranged for his niece to be
[Summary of missing material: Pandarus arranges for a
second trist between Troilus and Criseyde.]
(From Book III excerpts, lines
910-end of Book III):
- In lines 939-41, according to Criseyde,
all her "trist" (sorrow) is due to what or whom? Accordingly,
how does she ask Pandarus to "werk" at arranging a meeting?
- According to Pandarus, who or what
will "ese" the "sorwes smerte" of the two lovers in
- What happens to Criseyde's calm demeanor
when Troilus enters the room in line 956?
- What does Criseyde say to Troilus,
or how does she greet him, when he arrives in her bedroom?
- What does Pandarus have Criseyde do
when he sees Troilus kneeling before her?
- After Criseyde politely kisses Troilus
and bids him sit down beside her on the bed, how does
Pandarus declare he will occupy himself?
- What sort of book is Pandarus "reading"?
- In line 979, what do the words "and
fond his contenaunce" suggest about the nature or intensity
of Pandarus's engrossment in the book?
- What vice does Criseyde declaim in
lines 987 et passim?
- At the end of her sermon against this
vice, Criseyde's eyes begin to fill with tears. In
lines 1053-54, what vow does she then make to Troilus?
What adverb in the
sentence seems to undermine or undercut her heartfelt
- When Troilus sees Criseyde crying,
what does he curse?
- When Pandarus sees Troilus and Criseyde
lying down on the bed weeping and "astoned" or "oppressed,"
what does he do--i.e., where does he cast himself and
what does he do with his shirt?
- What excuse does Pandarus
come up with so he can "dim the lights" for
Troilus and Criseyde in line 1137?
- What things does Criseyde want to know about Troilus
in lines 1142 et passim?
Why do you suppose she wants to know these things?
- When Troilus reaches out and grabs Criseyde forcefully,
what does Pandarus say? Why do you suppose Chaucer throws
in this detail?
- How does Criseyde react physically when Troilus seizes
her in his arms? What are two ways of reading her reaction?
- Troilus tells his "swete" to yield to his advances.
What does Criseyde snap back in response?
- Where has Pandarus gone during all
this interlude? (Trick question!)
- When Troilus lavishes his attention
on Criseyde's sides, throat, and breasts, he offers
a prayer to two goddesses. One is to Citheria (Venus);
the other is to Hymen (a minor deity under Artemis
that preserves virginity.) Why does he pray to these
- At the height of passion, Criseyde
calls out, "Welcome, my knyght, my pees, my suffisaunce!"
What interrupts this depiction of the love-making or
what interrupts the narrative at this point?
- Why does the narrator say he can't
write of "hire delit or joies oon the leeste"?
- According to the narrator, where can
the reader learn "al" of the events?
- What warning does the narrator make
about his words/translation in lines 1331-37?
- In lines 1366 and following, Chaucer
adds a scene not found in any of his source material.
What do the lovers exchange or trade in this scene?
- What is the design on the ring Criseyde
gives to Troilus? [Lecture:
What traits did the specified gemstone have according
to medieval lapidaries?]
- In line 1373, the narrator has a hissyfit.
Of what does he complain in certain readers and writers?
- Explain the allusion to Alcmena and
Jove that Criseyde makes in lines 1426 et passim.
- As an antithesis to Criseyde's speech,
what does Troilus curse in his response?
- In lines 1492-98, Criseyde makes another
oath to Troilus. Read her words carefully. What exactly
does she swear? What exactly does she not swear?
- After Troilus puts his clothes back
on, how many times does he hug Criseyde?
- When Criseyde sees Uncle Pandarus in
the morning, Pandarus declares something about last
night. What does he declare happened last night that
may have prevented Criseyde from getting a full night's
- When Pandarus teases Criseyde, what
does she do in lines 1569-70?
- After Pandarus quips about his head
being cut off, he pries under the bed sheets. Where
does he thrust his hands? What does he do to Criseyde
after putting his hands there?
- After the disturbing details of the
previous question mentioned above, the narrator declares,
"I pass al that which chargeth nought to seye." A few
lines later, he adds, "And Pandarus hath fully his
entente." What do you make of this?
- When Pandarus comes to talk to Troilus,
how many times does Troilus thank him for his aid in
the wooing of Criseyde?
- [Lecture:] The
Canticus Troili (The Song of Troilus) is an example of what genre?
- The tradition of Courtly Love says
that being in love improves a knight. What vices does
Troilus avoid to make himself worthy of Criseyde according
to lines 1803 et passim?
- According to the narrator, what physical
handicap does Cupid have?
- How would you describe the tone or
mood of the final stanza of book III in terms of its
A. "Now wol ye wel bigynne.
Now doth hym sitte, goode nece deere,
Upon youre beddes syde al ther withinne,
That each of yow the bet may other heere."
And with that word he drow hym to the feere,
And took a light, and fond his contenaunce,
As for [as if] to looke upon an old romaunce.
my knyght, my pees, my suffisaunce!"
C: And pleyinge entrechaungeden
Of whiche I kan nought tellen no scripture;
But welI woot, a broche, gold and asure
In which a ruby set was lik an herte,
Criseyde hym yaf, and stak it on his sherte.
with a sik she seyde, "O herte deere,
The game, ywys, so ferforth now is gon
That first shal Phebus fallen fro his speere,
And everich egle ben the dowves feere,
And everich roche out of his place sterte,
Er Troilus oute of Criseydes herte."
F. "That is to seye,
for the am I bicomen,
Bitwixen game and ernest, swich a meene
As maken wommen unto men to comen;
Al sey I nought, thow wost wel what I meene.
For the have I my nece, of fices cleene,
So fully maad thi gentilesse triste,
That al shal ben right as thiselven liste."
Where would you place the plot in terms of Freytag's
pyramid at the end of Book III? Why do you suppose Chaucer chooses
to have five books total?
What are we to make of the way Pandarus not only makes
all the arrangements for the two lovers, but also the way
he writes letters (and responses to his own letters) in
each participants' names? How about the way he advises
each one of what to say when they meet? How about the way
he arranges them together in the bedroom as if they were
dolls? What about his dalliance with Criseyde the next
morning and the narrator's odd silence regarding this scene?
Is this creepy? Funny? Strange?