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451 Study Questions for Excerpts from
Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde Book 4 (lines
proem, epic, invocation of the muse, historical romance,
persona, onomastic, aube
Useful Middle English terms: Em (informal
term for "Uncle")
Identify the following characters,
objects, and places:
Megara, Alecto, Thisiphone (Tisiphone), Lady Fortune,
Hector, Antenor, Calkas, Troilus, Criseyde, Pandarus,
Where does the name "Calkas" come from--i.e., for what
modern words is it a cognate? Why is it ironic that
the Trojans trade Antenor for Criseyde? (i.e., what
does Antenor ultimately do in the Troy story that makes
this swap ironic?--or it appropriate?)
Proem to Book IV (lines
- Why is the author's pen "quaking" in the proem?
- The author says that he is going to write of "how Criseyde
Troilus forsook--" but he then softens his words and
says he will write what about Criseyde? How do you explain
this odd change in tone?
- The poet complains that some "cause fynde / To speke
hire harm." What does this reveal about the narrator's
attitude or emotional stance toward Criseyde in Book
IV? How does this contrast with earlier comments in previous
books about following his sources and being factual in
his history of Troilus and Criseyde?
- What Muses from Roman mythology does the poet call
on to help him write his verse for this book? (4 total).
(From Book IV, lines 29-581)
- What is the poet talking about in lines
29-32 when he mentions Phoebus shining on the breast
of the lion of Hercules?
- What are Hector and other Trojan men up to on this
- What happens to Antenor during Hector's little expedition?
- Why does Priamus set up a temporary ceasefire with
- What gossip does Calkas hear?
- What is the one thing Calkas regrets
- What does Calkas beg of the Greek
- In lines 111-19, what argument does
Calkas make in regards to those who don't want to give
up their Trojan slaves in exchange for hostages?
- Explain the allusion concerning King
Laomedon and the walls of Troy.
- For added rhetorical effect, what traits
mark Calkas's features as he makes his plea in lines
- How does Troilus react when he hears
the ambassadors say they want Criseyde to be given
over to the Greek camp? What does he say or do?
Why is Troilus's silence in Chaucer's TC far worse
than Troilo's silence in Boccaccio's
- What two personifications war inside
Troilus during the ambassadorial session from lines
- Who is the character that stands up and refuses to
turn Criseyde over to the Greeks?
- How does the crowd react to Hector's speech?
- What does "Daun" refer to in line 189?
- Given the ultimate source of the Trojan war, why is
it ironic that the town is so willing to give up Criseyde
to the enemy?
- [Lecture: In line 217, an unfavorable characterization
is made of the Trojan parliament. How might this connect
to events in Chaucer's life?]
- How does Troilus spend the rest of
the day after parliament according to lines 219-24?
- Chaucer creates an epic simile to describe
Troilus's depression in lines 225-31. What does he
compare Troilus to here?
- Chaucer creates an epic simile to describe
Troilus's rage once his depression abates in lines
239-45. What does he compare Troilus to here?
- As Troilus is alone in his room, he
makes an apostrophe to what abstract force in lines
250 and following?
- What abstract force does Troilus call
on in lines 260 and following?
- What God does Troilus pray to lines
288 et passim?
- Who is this "Edippe" Troilus refers
to in line 300? How is Troilus's allusion to Edippe
appropriate or inappropriate for his own circumstances? [Truly
devoted students may look at lines 745/791 where Criseyde
has a corresponding speech calling on Euridice--though
this material is not included on the electronic reserves
for this term.]
- What question does Troilus ask to his
"wery goost?" Do you suppose that "wery" means weary?
Warey? Or is it a form of French vrai ("true"),
as in Middle English verai? How does each
possible reading alter the characterization of Troilus
and his situation in radical ways?
- Explain the image of the wheel in lines
323 et passim.
- Why does Pandarus rush out to see Troilus
after the "parlement" meets?
- In lines 393-406, what advice or comfort
does Pandarus offer Troilus? Why does he think Troilus
should be happy?
- According to Pandarus, at least how
many women exist in Troy that are more beautiful than
Criseyde? What does Pandarus
mean when he suggests he can, out of this number, easily
find "on or two"
for Troilus? Does he mean he can only find one or two
women out of the total of beautiful ones? Or does he
mean he can find them either singly or in pairs for
- Pandarus quotes "Zanzis"--a
madeup name for his proverb, "The newe love out
chaceth ofte the olde." Who is this Zanzis? (Trick
- In actual point of fact, this text
is a translation of a rule from what Latin source by
- In lines 419-20, what advise does Pandarus
give Troilus since the sex was "but casuel plesaunce"?
- How does this advice from Pandarus
characterize Pandarus as a friend? As an expert on
love? As an uncle to Criseyde?
- How does Troilus react to Pandarus's
- In line 437--Troilus says that his
advice is good--if Troilus were what sort of supernatural
- How long does Troilus say he will love
- In line 455, Troilus declares that
Pandarus's speech is having what effect on Troilus?
- After Troilus rejects Pandarus's advice
to find another lover, Pandarus offers solution #2
to Troilus's problem in lines 526-30. What is that
- When Pandarus asks, "Artow in
Troie, and hast non hardyment / To take a womman," his
rhetorical question makes a good point. What is Pandarus
about concerning the origin of the Trojan war?
- What is Troilus's first counter-argument
(lines 546-53) regarding why he can't simply run away
- Why does Troilus say his father (King Priam) will not
repeal or revoke the exchange?
A. "Syres, she nys no
prisonere," he seyde;
"I not on yow who that this charge leyde,"
But on my part, ye may eftsone hem telle
We usen here no wommen for to selle."
B. "A wery goost, that errest to and fro,
Why nyltow fleen out of the wofulleste
Body that evere myghte on grounde go?
O soule, lurkynge in this wo, unneste,
Fle forth out of myn herte, and lat it breste,
And folowe alwey Criseyde, thi lady dere.
Thi righte place is now no lenger here.
C: But telle me this: whi thow art now
To sorwen thus? Whi listow in this wise,
Syn thi desir al holly hastow had,
So that, by right, it oughte ynough suffise?
But I, thata nevere felte in my servyse
A frendly cheere or lokyng of an eye,
Lat me thus wepe and wailen til I deye.
And over al this, as thow wel woost thiselve,
This town is ful of ladys al aboute;
And, to my doom,
fairer than swiche twelve
As evere she was, shal I fynde in som route--
Yee, opn or two, withouten any doute.
Forthi be glad, myn ownen deere brother!
If she be lost, we shal recovere an other.
D. "Frend, / This lechecraft, or heeled
thus to be, / Were wel sittyng, if that I were a fend--"
E. "Artow in Troie, and hast non hardyment
To take a womman which that loveth the
And wolde hireselven
ben of thyn assent?
Now is nat this a nyce vanitee?"
Why doesn't Troilus take more demanding action?