Troilus and Criseyde: Book I

Original Text: 
Possibly adapted from Robert Kilburn Root, ed., The Book of Troilus and Criseyde (Princeton University Press, 1926). PR 1895 .R6 Robarts Library. Possibly also W. W. Skeat, ed., The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 2nd edn. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899-1900): II.
From Book I
156Of Aperil, whan clothéd is the mede
159In sondry wises shewed, as I rede,
160The folk of Troie hir observaunces olde,
162And to the temple, in al hir beste wyse,
163In general ther wente many a wight,
164To herknen of Palladion the servyse;
165And namely, so many a lusty knyght,
166So many a lady fressh and mayden bright,
168Ye, bothe for the seson and the feste.
169Among thise othere folk was Criseyda,
170In widewes habit blak; but natheles,
173Hire goodly lokyng gladed al the prees.
175Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre
176As was Criseyde, as folk seyde everichone
178And yet she stood ful lowe and stille allone,
180And neigh the dore, ay under shames drede,
182With ful assured lokyng and manere.
184His yonge knyghtes, lad hem up and doun
186Byholding ay the ladies of the town,
187Now here, now there; for no devoc{.i}oun
191If knyght or squyer of his compaignie
193On any womman that he koude espye;
194He wolde smyle, and holden it folye,
195And seye him thus, "God woot, she slepeth softe
196For love of the, whan thou turnest ful ofte!
201And whan your preye is lost, woo and penaunces.
204And with that word he gan cast up the browe,
210And yet as proud a pekok kan he pulle!
211O blynde world, O blynde entenc{.i}oun!
212How often falleth al the effect contraire
215This Troilus is clomben on the staire,
216And litel weneth that he moot descenden;
219Out of the wey, so pryketh hym his corn,
220Til he a lasshe have of the longe whippe;
221Than thynketh he, "Though I praunce al byforn
222First in the trays, ful fat and newe shorn,
223Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe


155] A narrative poem in five books and over 8,000 lines extant in whole or in part in twenty 15th-century mss. First printed by Caxton about 1483. The poem was probably completed in 1385 or 1386. It is an adaptation and expansion of Boccaccio's poem Filostrato (ca. 1388) and is also indebted to Guido delle Colonne's prose Historia Trojana (1287) and Benoit de Sainte Maure's poem Le Roman de Troie (ca. 1160). Chaucer has developed the historical background, added a number of episodes, and altered Boccaccio's conception of the characters.
At the beginning of the poem, Calchas, priest of Apollo, foreseeing the destruction of Troy, has deserted to the Greeks, leaving in the city his daughter Criseyde, a widow.She is freed from suspicion of treason and is allowed to remain in all honour. Back to Line
157] Veer: Latin Ver, spring. Back to Line
158] swote: sweet. Back to Line
161] Palladiones: the reference is to an image of Pallas. See Vergil, Aeneid, II.165. Back to Line
167] both meste, mene, and leste: both the greatest, those of middle rank, and the lowest classes. Back to Line
171] This is substituted for Boccaccio's statement that she surpassed other women as the rose does the violet. The change seems pointless unless there is a personal allusion, and it is probable that Chaucer, a courtly poet, is referring to Anne of Bohemia, who was married to Richard II, January 14, 1382. This would account for the use of now, which is otherwise hard to explain. Back to Line
172] makeles: without a mate, peer. Back to Line
174] nas: nothing was ever seen more worthy of being praised. Back to Line
177] blake wede: black garment. Back to Line
179] brede: breadth, space. Back to Line
181] debonaire of chere: gracious in bearing. Back to Line
183] Troilus: a son of King Priam. Back to Line
185] thilke: for that ilke, the same. Back to Line
188] reven him: take away from him. Back to Line
189] lakken: blame. whom hym leste: whomever it pleased him. Back to Line
190] wayten: watch, observe. Back to Line
192] began to sigh or let his eyes feast. Back to Line
197] pardieux: by the gods. Back to Line
198] lewed: ignorant, foolish (OE lœwed, lay, unlearned). Back to Line
199] which a: what a. Back to Line
200] which doutaunces: what perplexities. Back to Line
202] nyce: foolish (Latin nescius through Old French nice, silly). Back to Line
203] There is no one (of you) who can be made wary or cautious by (the misfortunes) of others. Back to Line
205] Ascaunces: as if to say. Back to Line
206] rowe: angrily. Back to Line
207] shop: planned. wroken: avenged. Back to Line
208] kidde: made known (OE cyðan, past tense cyðde, cydde). Back to Line
209] atte: at the. Back to Line
213] surquidrie: arrogance. Back to Line
214] debonaire: modest. Back to Line
217] wenden: expected. Back to Line
218] Bayard: a bay horse. Back to Line
224] feres: companions. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Caxton's edition.
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.9; RPO 1996-2000.