To myself Troilus and Cressida is, with Henry VI, Part I, the most mysterious among the Shakespearean plays. Here we find, if Will wrote it, or had any hand in it, the greatest poet of the modern world in touch with the heroes of the greatest poet of the ancient world; but the English author's eyes are dimmed by the mists and dust of post-Homeric perversions of the Tale of Troy. The work of perversion began, we know, in the eighth century before our era, when, by the author of the Cypria, these favourite heroes of Homer, Odysseus and Diomede, were represented as scoundrels, assassins, and cowards.
In the Prologue to the play (whosoever wrote it) we see that the writer is no scholar. He makes the Achæn fleet muster in "the port of Athens," of all places. Even Ovid gave the Homeric trysting-place, Aulis, in Bœotia. (This Prologue is not in the Folio of 1623.) Six gates hath the Englishman's Troy, and the Scæan is not one of them.
The loves of Troilus and Cressida, with Pandarus as go-between, are from the mediæval Troy books, and were wholly unknown to Homer, whose Pandarus is only notable for loosing a
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Publication information: Book title: Shakespeare, Bacon, and the Great Unknown. Contributors: Andrew Lang - Author. Publisher: Longmans Green. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1912. Page number: 293.
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