Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida appear in medieval legend as a pair of lovers. Troilus was faithful, while Cressida was not. Their story comes from the Trojan Warf of Greek mythology. Virgil* mentioned Troilus in his epic the Aeneid as one of the sons of the Trojan king Priam. He noted that Troilus was slain by the Greek hero Achilles* while driving a chariot. In the 1100s, a storyteller named Benoît de Sainte-Maure took these few items from Virgil's work and created an elaborate romance about Troilus. Giovanni Boccaccio and Geoffrey Chaucer wrote poems about the story in the 1300s. Around 1600, William Shakespeare used the tale as the basis for his play Troilus and Cressida.

medieval relating to the Middle Ages in Europe, a period from about A.D. 500 to 1500

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

romance in medieval literature, a tale based on legend, love, and adventure, often set in a distant place or time

According to the medieval story, Troilus fell in love with Cressida, a young Trojan woman. She was the niece of Troilus's friend Pandarus, who encouraged the relationship by carrying letters and arranging meetings. However, Cressida's father decided to side with the Greeks against his own people, and he ordered Cressida to join him in the Greek camp. There, despite her vows of loyalty to Troilus, she fell in love with a Greek soldier named Diomedes. Her faithlessness filled Troilus with rage and despair. Some versions say that he willingly died at the hands of Achilles.

See also Achilles ; Priam ; Trojan War .

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