Troilus and Criseyde  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380's. Many Chaucer scholars regard it as the poet's finest work. As a finished long poem it is certainly more self-contained than the better known but ultimately uncompleted Canterbury Tales.

Although Troilus is a character from Ancient Greek literature, the expanded story of him as a lover was of Medieval origin. The first known version is from Benoît de Sainte-Maure's poem Roman de Troie, but Chaucer's principal source appears to have been Boccaccio who re-wrote the tale in his Il Filostrato. Chaucer's version can be said to reflect a less cynical and less misogynistic world-view than Boccaccio's, casting Pandarus as well-intentioned and Criseyde as fearful and sincere rather than simply fickle. It also inflects the sorrow of the story with humour.

The poem had an important legacy for later writers. Robert Henryson's Scots poem The Testament of Cresseid imagined a tragic fate for Cressida not given by Chaucer. In historical editions of the English Troilus and Criseyde, Henryson's distinct and separate work was sometimes included without accreditation as an "epilogue" to Chaucer's tale. Shakespeare's verse drama Troilus and Cressida, although much blacker in tone, was also based in part on the material.

Troilus and Criseyde is usually considered to be a courtly romance, although the generic classification is an area of significant debate in most Middle English literature.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Troilus and Criseyde" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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