Troilus and Cressida: Act 4 - scene 3,4,5

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Act 4, scene 3

Paris tells Troilus to inform Cressida of what is to take place. Troilus agrees to bring her to the Greeks.


Act 4, scene 4

Cressida is devastated at having to leave. She and Troilus embrace. Troilus tells her about the purity of his love for her and laments that he is being forced into giving her up. Cressida wants to know when they will meet again. Troilus says that if she it true (and he does not doubt that), they will meet again. He gives her his sleeve as a token. (Sleeves in clothing were in those days detachable.) She gives him a glove. Troilus promises to bribe the Greek guards so he and Cressida will be able to see each other every night. He urges her to be true, admitting that he feels some jealousy because she will be in the presence of attractive and accomplished young Greek men. He doesn’t want her to be tempted, although he insists in response to her question that he does not think she will be.


The Greeks arrive and Cressida is handed over to Diomedes, who promises to treat her well. Troilus responds petulantly, saying that if Diomedes does not treat her well, he will kill him. Diomedes responds defiantly, saying he will do as he pleases, honoring Cressida for her own worth rather than following what Troilus tells him to do.


Hector’s trumpet sounds and they all depart to await the single combat between Hector and Ajax.



There is more irony here in Cressida’s dismay at what she sees as Troilus’ doubting of her, and also in the fact that Troilus keeps harping on her to be true, as if he secretly fears she will not be.


Act 4, scene 5

Ajax, who is armed, enters with the other Greek leaders. While they wait for Hector to answer Ajax’s challenge, Diomedes and Cressida enter. Agamemnon, Nestor, Achilles, and Patroclus welcome her with a kiss. After Diomedes and Cressida exit, Ulysses remarks, having observed her, that he thinks she is a loose woman.


Hector enters, armed, with the other Trojans, Aeneas, Troilus, Paris, and Deiphobus. Achilles says that Hector shows pride and underestimates his opponent, but Aeneas replies that Hector has infinite valor but no pride. Aeneas also points out that Ajax is half-Trojan (his mother was Priam’s sister), so Hector may not be as fierce an opponent as he might otherwise be. Hector and Ajax do battle, but Diomedes soon orders them to stop. Ajax protests, but Hector says he will fight no more; Ajax is his cousin and they should not harm each other. Hector and the Greeks then exchange some chivalrous words. Agamemnon and Ajax invite Hector to the Greek tents, and Hector says he wants to meet Achilles. Agamemnon and Menelaus greet Troilus, and then Hector greets Menelaus. Nestor greets Hector warmly. Hector then addresses Ulysses, whom he has seen before, and Ulysses repeats a prediction he made then that Troy will fall. Hector disagrees, and says that one day time will end the war.


Then Achilles speaks to Hector. They have never encountered each other before. Achilles boasts of how he will kill Hector, and Hector, goaded by Achilles’ attitude, promises to kill Achilles. Agamemnon tells everyone to go to his tent, where they will feast, Greeks and Trojans together.


Everyone exits except Ulysses and Troilus. Troilus asks him where Calchas is, and Ulysses replies that he is at Menelaus’s tent with Diomedes, who only has eyes for Cressida. Ulysses agrees to take Troilus there after the feast at Agamemnon’s. Ulysses inquires whether Cressida has a lover in Troy who misses her, and Troilus all but admits, in a roundabout kind of way, that that lover is he.



In keeping with the rest of the play, here is another scene in which the Greeks are made to look less than splendid. This time it is Menelaus’s turn. King of Sparta though he is, he has been presented as an insignificant character from the outset, but here he is openly mocked and made a fool of by both Patroclus and Cressida, who blatantly allude to the fact that he is a cuckolded husband. Menelaus ends up looking ridiculous.


Cressida is undermined also, by Ulysses’ speech in which he claims that “her wanton spirits look out / At every joint and motive of her body” (lines 56-57).


Hector, on the contrary, is presented in a noble light. Nestor tells of how he has seen Hector victorious in battle but sparing the lives of his defeated enemies. However, this is not the last word on Hector, and later he too, will lose some of his luster, even before Achilles kills him. 

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