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451 Study Questions for Excerpts from Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde Book 4 (lines 1-581)

Vocabulary: 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, Lameadoun (Laomedon)

Lecture Questions: 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 1-28)

  • 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 day?
  • What happens to Antenor during Hector's little expedition?
  • Why does Priamus set up a temporary ceasefire with the Greeks?
  • What gossip does Calkas hear?
  • What is the one thing Calkas regrets leaving behind?
  • What does Calkas beg of the Greek generals?
  • 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 127-30?
  • 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?
  • [Lecture: Why is Troilus's silence in Chaucer's TC far worse than Troilo's silence in Boccaccio's version?]
  • What two personifications war inside Troilus during the ambassadorial session from lines 161-68?
  • 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 his pleasure?
  • Pandarus quotes "Zanzis"--a madeup name for his proverb, "The newe love out chaceth ofte the olde." Who is this Zanzis? (Trick question!)
  • In actual point of fact, this text is a translation of a rule from what Latin source by Andreas Capellanus?
  • 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 advice?
  • In line 437--Troilus says that his advice is good--if Troilus were what sort of supernatural being?
  • How long does Troilus say he will love Criseyde exclusively?
  • 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 second solution?
  • When Pandarus asks, "Artow in Troie, and hast non hardyment / To take a womman," his rhetorical question makes a good point. What is Pandarus reminding Troilus 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 with Criseyde?
  • 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 so mad
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?"

Concluding Questions:

Why doesn't Troilus take more demanding action?


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