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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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He continues that they cannot return the silks to the merchants after they had soiled them, or throw the remaining meats into any disordered baskets just because they were now full. In the past it had been thought appropriate that Paris wreak some vengeance on the Greeks - their approval of speech had swelled his sails and sent him on his way. Even the seas and winds which were accustomed to quarrel fashioned a truce for him and helped him along. He touched the desired ports and for an old aunt, who was held captive by the Greeks, he brought back a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness wrinkles Apollo’s and makes the morning look stale. "Why do we keep her?," Troilus asks rhetorically, immediately supplying the answer: The Greeks keep our aunt.

Is she worth keeping? Why she is a pearl, an object of supreme worth whose value has launched more than a thousand ships and has turned kings into merchants. He then recalls that at the outset all of them had goaded Paris on and cried ‘Go, go.’ He says that they must confess that he had brought home a worthy prize as all of them had clapped and cried ‘inestimable!’

He asks them why they now reprove the issue of their own wisdom - why did they value something above price and then arbitrarily account it valueless. He says Fortune itself was never so inconsistent. He wonders why they deprive of value the very thing that they had prized richer than the sea and the land. He exclaims that it would be a base theft indeed if they had stolen what they feared to keep. He adds that they are even unworthy of the prize they gained in the rape of Helen, in their very city, when they are afraid to justify the disgrace they did the Greeks in their homeland. The assembly hears sounds of Cassandra’s shrieking and asking the Trojans to cry. Priam wonders what all the noise is about. Troilus says he knows the voice of their mad sister.


Raving Cassandra enters. Hector tries to console her but she is unstoppable. Addressing herself to the virgins, boys, middle-aged, and the elderly and infants who can do nothing but cry, she asks them to add to her clamoring. She suggests that they pay before it is too late, a part of that masses of sorrow that is to come in the future. She exhorts the Trojans to cry, to learn to weep. She rants on their ‘firebrand brother.’ Paris would burn them all and that Troy would be destroyed and great Ilion would fall. She wails that Troy would burn unless they let Helen go.

Hector asks Troilus if their sister’s prophetic utterances don’t make him feel remorseful. He then wonders if Troilus’ blood has been so madly heated that no ratiocination or fear of failure could moderate it. Troilus argues that although Cassandra is mad, the rest of the Trojans had decided to commit themselves in honor to defend Helen. They may, he implies, be proved imprudent by the consequences; but justice cannot be made merely pragmatic. Their honors have ratified the goodness of the quarrel: they have not created it. Cassandra is mad, and her raptures cannot make the goodness of a quarrel which has engaged all our honors in an attempt to make it gracious, distasteful. For my part, I am no more touched than all Priam’s sons. Jove forbid that there we should do such things as might offend the weakest spirit.

Paris says that if they gave Helen up, the world would be convinced of the levity of his undertaking and their own counsel. Calling the gods to witness, he says that it was the assembly’s consent that pushed along his inclination and cut off all the fears that usually accompany such a frightening project. He wonders, what the arms of a single man could do. What defense is one man’s valor when it is exposed to and has to put up with the enmity of those excited by this quarrel. He protests that were he alone to experience the difficulties, and had as ample power as he had will, he would still never retract what he has done or faint in the doing of it.

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