In such a night as this, When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees And they did make no noise--in such a night Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents Where Cressid
lay that night.
His most sustained comment is not on the text of Troilus and Criseyde at all, but on Robert Henryson's "Testament of Cressid
," which is appended to it.
Their topics include the Man of Law's Tale and crusade, the Latin background of The Land of Cokaynge, Ovidian allusion in Gower's Vox Clamantis, the speech of peace and the doctrine of contraries in Langland's Piers Plowman, Amor in claustro, poetry's need in Robert Henryson's Fables and Testiment of Cressid
, and the art of swooning in Middle English.
As Shakespeare shows them, Pandarus and Cressid
distort Chaucer's two subtlest creations, for neither, in their Chaucerian form, is to be found in Il Filostrato or any of the earlier accounts; it was precisely to the most original parts of Chaucer that Shakespeare turned for his bitterest refashioning.
121-22) that ostensibly warns 'faire Dames' of the ravages of time, 'natures giftes soone weare and waste away', but in fact soon turns into a misogynist rant with Henryson's version of Cressid
as the awful example:
31) To be sure, the professions are not as precisely oppositional as Troilus's "This is, and is not, Cressid
," or even Vindice's "I'm in doubt / Whether I'm myself or no," but to insist upon such precision is less material than to note the clear emphasis upon contraposition.
And on this principle is grounded the first narrative move in their love story: "I cannot come to Cressid
but by Pandar", Troilus acknowledges (1.
They vow eternal fidelity to each other, and, as pledges of their vow, Troilus gives the maiden a sleeve, and Cressid
gives the Trojan prince a glove.
After a quarrel with Julia, Ryder sees his beloved Brideshead in a different, and less edenic, light: "the stone balustrade of the terrace might have been the Trojan walls and in the silent park might have stood the Grecian tents where Cressid
lay that night" (280).