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Characters: Troilus and Cressida

 

The Trojans

Priam: King of Troy, Priam is the father of fifty children, six of whom appear in this play. He like most of the warriors around him chooses to continue the war rather than have dissension within his royal family.
Hector: Son of King Priam and brother of Troilus, Paris, Deiphobus, Helenus, and Cassandra, Hector is the most valiant warrior among the Trojans. Dedicated to the war and his family, it is Hector, however, who first raises the idea of calling a truce, even though he quickly abandons the idea for honor's sake.
Troilus: The youngest son of King Priam and brother of Hector, Paris, Deiphobus, Helenus, and Cassandra, Troilus is a young sensualist who is beside himself in his infatuation for Cressida. He is a slave to an almost juvenile passion, and, although at times he recognizes his faults, he is never strong enough to act upon them—sacrificing manliness and ignoring filial and public duty to an unworthy liaison with an unworthy worman. It is Troilus who, using the ideal of honor, talks Hector into continuing the war.
Paris: The son of King Priam and brother of Hector, Troilus, Deiphobus, Helenus, and Cassandra, Paris caused the war when he seduced and abducted Helen, the wife of the Greek leader, Menelaus. He is so obsessed with her beauty and charms that he refuses to end the war, even after years of slaughter.
Deiphobus: The son of King Priam and brother of Hector, Troilus, Paris, Helenus, and Cassandra, Deiphobus, although a noble son and warrior, appears only briefly in several scenes of this play.
Helenus: The son of King Priam and brother of Hector, Troilus, Paris, Deiphobus, and Cassandra, Helenus is a priest who appears only briefly in the play.
Margarelon: A bastard son of King Priam, Margarelon exposes the cowardice of Thersites.
Aeneas: A Trojan commander and friend of Troilus, Aeneas is described by Pandarus as "one of the flowers of Troy."
Antenor: Another Trojan commander, Antenor has a shrewd wit and sound judgement.
Calchas: A Trojan priest and father of Cressida, Calchas defected to the Greek side when the war began. He convinces the Greek leaders to trade a Trojan prisoner-of-war for his daughter, thus bringing Cressida to the Greek camp and separating her from Troilus.
Pandarus: Cressida's uncle, the prurient Pandarus is retired and now lives on the memories of a sensual life and helps others to enjoy their own illicit assignations. It is Pandarus who arranges the tryst of Troilus and Cressida. In the end he is bitter and diseased.
Alexander: A servant of Cressida.
Andromache: The wife of Hector, Andromache is stirred by frightening dreams and pleads with her husband to stay home from the battle, to no avail.
Cassandra: The daughter of King Priam and sister of Hector, Troilus, Paris, Deiphobus, and Helenus, Cassandra is a prophetess but is cursed with never being believed. Thus, when she prophesies that Troy will fall unless Helen is returned to the Greeks, her brothers and others simply scoff at her.
Cressida: Daughter of Calchus and neice of Pandars, Cressida is precocious in the art of dalliance and expert at whetting the sexual apetites of her lovers, including the Trojan Troilus and later the Grecian Diomedes. She swears her eternal love to Troilus but abandons all vows as soon as she is taken to the Greek camp. She is a highly sexed, fickle woman who is in love actually only with herself.

The Greeks

Agamemnon: Commander-in-chief of the Grecian forces and brother of Menelaus, Agamemnon is a dignified, generous, and chivalric leader.
Menelaus: Brother of Agamemnon and wronged husband of the faithless Helen, Menelaus is the Spartan king but, nonetheless, the butt of many jokes about his cuckoldry.
Achilles: A Grecian commander and one of the most famous of Grecian warriors, Achilles in this play is proud, arrogant, cowardly, and lazy. While his fellow commanders and princes take to the field, he keeps to his tent, pampering himself. His cowardly attack upon the unarmed Hector reveals him to be a contemptible and hot-blooded character.
Ajax: A Grecian champion, but "a beef-witted lord," Ajax is a loutish warrior—vain, stupid, and surly. He exhibits great physical strength, but senseless vanity. Ulysses and others convince him that he is Achilles' superior and set him up in a one-on-one fight with Hector—all to try and make Achilles jealous and spring to action.
Ulysses: Identified by many as the real hero of the play (if there is one), Ulysses is a Grecian commander and the most wise and chivalric character in the play. It is Ulysses who diagnoses the problem in the Greek camp as insubordination (especially concerning Achilles), and it is he who recognizes Cressida for what she is.
Nestor: A Grecian commander, Nestor is one of the oldest, wisest, courageous, and loyal among the Greeks.
Diomedes: A Grecian commander, Diomedes is sent to conduct Cressida from the Trojan to the Greek camp. He is quickly smitten by her sensuality, takes her as his lover, and obtains the love token Troilus gave to her. He and Troilus later meet in battle, with neither coming out entirely victorious.
Patroclus: A Grecian commander, Patroclus is a close friend and favorite of Achilles and stays in his tent with him, rather than going to battle.
Thersites: A scurrilous and comic officer in the Greek camp who makes it his vocation to rail against the leaders and such warriors as Achilles and Ajax, Thersites is convinced that he alone is clear-sighted. He is the most vicious type of political malcontent—the cynic that can find no good in anyone. It is Thersites, however, who voices one of the most fundamental truths of the play when he insists that "all is war and lechery."
Myrmidons: Ruthless subjects of Achilles, the Myrmidons brutally kill the unarmed Hector, at Achilles' command.
Helen: Appearing in only one scene, nonetheless Helen is the cause of the war. Supposedly seduced and abducted by Paris, she seems to live willingly with him. Although beautiful, she, like Cressida, has an almost absurd obsession with sex.


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