Troilus and Cressida.
Troilus and Cressida Drama in five acts by Shakespeare, William, Shakespeare, performed about 1601-02 and printed in a quarto edition in 1609. Although this play is included among the tragedies in the First Folio, many critics prefer to classify it with the "problem plays" or the "darker comedies." Based on George Chapman's translation of the Iliad and on 15th-century accounts of the Trojan War by John Lydgate and William Caxton, Troilus and Cressida is an often cynical exploration of the betrayal of love, the absence of heroism, and the emptiness of honor. The play was also influenced by Geoffrey Chaucer's love poem Troilus and Criseyde, although Shakespeare's treatment of the lovers and his attitude toward their dilemma is in sharp contrast with Chaucer's.
Cressida, a Trojan woman whose father has defected to the Greeks, pledges her love to Troilus, one of King Priam's sons. However, when her father demands her presence in the Greek camp, she quickly switches her affections to Diomedes, the Greek soldier who is sent to escort her. The legendary Greek hero Achilles is depicted as petulant and self-centered, and Agamemnon is a foolish windbag. Thersites, a deformed Greek, comments wryly on the actions of the other characters, while Pandarus, the bawdy go-between of the lovers, enjoys watching their degradation. The drama ends on a note of complete moral and political disintegration, allowing none of the characters to rise above their foolish behavior.