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Troilus and Cressida | Quotes

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1.

Her bed is India; there she lies, a pearl.


Troilus, Act 1, Scene 1

Troilus is commenting on Cressida's beauty. However, he couches it in terms of her sexuality as something to be owned. Her body is the prize, not her love. His words foreshadow the end of their relationship later in the play.

2.

Men prize the thing ungained more than it is.


Cressida, Act 1, Scene 2

One of Cressida's fears is Troilus losing interest in her once he's had her. Here she is expressing that concern. In so doing she shows her knowledge of human nature: some things are desired only so long as they are not possessed.

3.

The heavens themselves, the planets, and this center / Observe degree, priority, and place, / Insisture, course, proportion, season, form, / Office, and custom, in all line of order.


Ulysses, Act 1, Scene 3

Ulysses comments on the order of the world to make the point this is how things should be. When properly ordered, all is well. However, the army, in contrast, is not ordered. The proper way an army should operate is by a chain of command. When that falls apart, everything suffers. The Greek army's failure is a result of its own disorder.

4.

The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue!


Thersites, Act 2, Scene 3

Thersites is speaking to Patroclus, and is railing against the men around him. He claims they are all hugely stupid fools.

5.

But you are wise, / Or else you love not; for to be wise and love / Exceeds man's might.


Cressida, Act 3, Scene 2

Cressida explains to Troilus that wisdom and love cannot exist together in the same person at the same time. She believes a person can be one or the other but never both. This understanding explains the various decisions she and Troilus make throughout their brief relationship.

6.

They say all lovers swear more performance than they are able.


Cressida, Act 3, Scene 2

Cressida claims that when lovers are wooing, they promise more than they can deliver. It is an act of deception to make themselves look better. This idea ties into the appearance versus reality theme.

7.

A plague of opinion! A man may wear it on both sides, like a leather jerkin.


Thersites, Act 3, Scene 3

Thersites refers to the two-faced nature of man. Opinions and minds can be changed easily, like turning a shirt inside out. There is no honor or conviction in a man holding opinions so lightly.

8.

Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devoured / As fast as they are made, forgot as soon / As done.


Ulysses, Act 3, Scene 3

Ulysses attempts to convey to Achilles how he will be viewed. A man is only as good as his latest deed because people have short memories. Achilles, therefore, cannot rest on his laurels; he must complete greater and greater feats in order to maintain his reputation.

9.

Both merits poised, each weighs nor less nor more; / But he as he, the heavier for a whore.


Diomedes, Act 4, Scene 1

Diomedes argues Paris and Menelaus are exactly alike as they fight to have Helen who has proved herself faithless. Both men deserve Helen, if one can be said to "deserve" her.

10.

I know what 'tis to love, / And would, as I shall pity, I could help.


Paris, Act 4, Scene 3

This quote is laughable coming from Paris. He could do something. He could give Helen back to the Greeks and so bargain to prevent Cressida from going with the Greeks. He would thereby save Troilus his heartache. Paris, however, does not want to give Helen up. He is selfish, despite his protestations.

11.

The fractions of her faith, orts of her love, / The fragments, scraps, the bits and greasy relics / Of her o'er-eaten faith are given to Diomed.


Troilus, Act 5, Scene 2

Troilus realizes Cressida has betrayed him by giving her love to Diomedes. His comparisons are disgusting, implying Diomedes gets the leftovers of what he and Cressida felt for each other.

12.

Lechery, lechery, still wars and lechery! Nothing else holds fashion.


Thersites, Act 5, Scene 2

Thersites criticizes the entire venture of the Trojan War. He says war and lechery drive the appetites of men. These are the only things that matter to them.

13.

Life every man holds dear, but the dear man / Holds honor far more precious-dear than life.


Hector, Act 5, Scene 3

Hector will not be dissuaded from battle, despite the warnings of his wife and sister. Honor is more important to a hero than life itself.

14.

Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart.


Troilus, Act 5, Scene 3

Troilus reads Cressida's letter. His comment indicates that words mean nothing, even if they come from the heart, if the actions are not there to support them. He's seen Cressida's false heart, so her words have no meaning.

15.

I am unarmed. Forgo this vantage, Greek.


Hector, Act 5, Scene 9

Hector has just slain a Greek in fancy armor. He takes off his own armor to put on that of the defeated man. Achilles finds Hector at that moment without his armor, and he prepares to attack. Hector appeals to the Greek's honor, saying he is unarmed and asking him to stay his hand until they can have a fair fight. Achilles does not listen.

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