Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book I, lines 939-1092

Page Passage and Interpretive Issues

ll. 939-1008--This passage often is cited as Pandarus' "confession" of Troilus and initiation of the young knight into the religion of the God of Love.  Compare it with Andreas Capellanus' "Art of Love," part one, in which the narrator compiles a set of apparently common beliefs about how lovers ought to behave?  What do we expect people in love to do?  Are there rules for love in our era, and does Pandarus have anything to teach us, or is this some quaint but forgotten lore?  You also might compare P's rules of love with those you can abstract from Chaucer's Boke of the Duchess, both the narrator's introduction and the Man in Black's description of his behavior with "Whyte."

ll. 1009-43--Troilus here brings up the uncomfortable fact that Pandarus is Criseyde's uncle, her "em" (l. 1022).  He assures C's uncle that his intentions are noble, that he has nothing to do with "folie" or "harm" or "vilenye," and that he wants only "that that myghte swonen into goode" (ll. 1031, 1033, 1036).  Look up these key words in the O.E.D., and make sure you stay alert for any evidence that Troilus may have violated this promise.  Note, too, that Pandarus laughs at the promise and asks, apparently ironically, whether he should be considered Troilus' legal guarantor of honorable behavior ("And I thi borugh?  Fy!  No wight do but so," l. 1038).  Look up "borugh" and consider what P is laughing off, especially in his role as C's uncle.

ll. 1044-57--Troilus and Pandarus commit themselves to each other in a very formal and passionate declaration of loyalty and service.  Note how much Troilus places in Pandarus' care (l. 1052-3).  What do these codes of friendship tell us about English C14 culture's standards of behavior, and the language used to enforce those standards?

ll. 1058-71--Pandarus sets out for Criseyde's house with an oath to Troilus involving that promissory formula that means so much in this poem: "Have here my trowthe" (l. 1061).   Thinking of the key word's combination of "truth" and "troth/promise," what potential problem does this create for hearer and speaker?  The Narrator describes Pandarus' thought in a metaphor as being like an architect who is about to design a house.  What kind of "house" is P building for Criseyde in his mind?

ll. 1072-92--Love's success, or apparent success, has pronounced effects on Troilus' behavior that are predicted by Andreas and other commentators on the emotion.  Once again, consult your own experience and that of others you know who have fallen in love.  Is this true?  Does love make you better at what you do, more virtuous, and more kind to other humans?  Even if it's only a literary convention, how does the Narrator use it to set up readers for Book II's revelation of Criseyde's response to Pandarus' embassy of Love on T's behalf?