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Act V, Scene 2 Summary
Diomedes enters and asks Calchas, ‘Where’s your daughter?’ Calchas says that she will soon be with him. Troilus and Ulysses enter. Thersites is behind them at a distance. Ulysses cautions Troilus to stand where the torch does not catch him. Cressida enters. Troilus says that Cressida goes out to meet Diomedes. She whispers in his ear. Troilus is surprised at her familiarity with Diomedes. Ulysses, who remembers Cressida’s behavior earlier, says ‘She will sing any man at first sight.’
Thersites as bawdy as ever says that any man may ‘sing’ Cressida, if he can take her clef - clef here could mean the sign identifying the stave on which the musical notes appear and hence fixing the pitch of the notes, and also the female pudendum. He says that she is noted and recognized for what she is - that is, one of ill repute. Diomedes asks Cressida if she will remember. Cressida says she will. Troilus wonders what it is that she is to remember. Cressida addresses Diomedes as ‘Sweet honey Greek,’ and asks him not to tempt here to folly further.
As Cressida attempts to play hard to get, Diomedes brushes her aside with ‘Fo, fo, come, tell a pin; you are foresworn.’ He tells her that having been effectually unfaithful already, she can hardly stand upon her honor now. Cressida tells him that she truly cannot keep whatever compact was agreed between them and asks him what she should do. Thersites calls this development ‘a juggling trick: to be secretly open.’ He means this is a deception, a feat of almost impossible skill that attempts to be sexually accessible and privately public.
Troilus growing more troubled mutters ‘O plague and madness!’ Ulysses, who notes Troilus’ state, suggests that they leave lest his displeasure is transformed into ‘wrathful terms.’ The place is dangerous and the time is deadly, he says beseeching him to leave. Troilus doesn’t want to leave. He insists that they stay and watch. Ulysses doesn’t agree - he is worried about Troilus’ mental and emotional disorder. But still Troilus insists on staying. Ulysses says Troilus doesn’t have the patience to watch what is happening. Troilus begs that they stay. He promises ‘by hell and all hell’ torments’ to not speak a word. Diomedes bids Cressida good night.
Cressida doesn’t want to let him go as he parts in anger. Troilus is incredulous and wonders if that grieves Cressida. When Ulysses again seems about to drag him away, he swears by Jove that he will be patient. Cressida attempts to retain Diomedes who threatens to leave as he is disgusted with her equivocation and shuffling. Cressida insists that she is not shuffling and asks him to come back