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The relationship between the characters Pandarus, Troilus & Criseyde in Boccaccio’s "Il Filostrato" and Chaucer’s "Troilus & Criseyde"

An analysis

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2005 28 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Literature

Excerpt

Content

1. Introduction

2. Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato
2.1. The presentation of the characters Pandarus, Troilus & Criseyde
2.2. The relationship between Pandarus & Troilus
2.3. The relationship between Pandarus & Criseyde
2.4. The relationship between Criseyde & Troilus

3. Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
3.1. The presentation of the characters Pandarus, Troilus & Criseyde
3.2. The relationship between Pandarus & Troilus
3.3. The relationship between Pandarus & Criseyde
3.4. The relationship between Criseyde & Troilus

4. The ménage a trois in Boccaccio’s and Chaucer’s work

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography
6.1. Primary Literature
6.2. Secondary Literature
6.3 OnlineResearch

7. Appendix
7.1. Summary
7.2. Biography of Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio
7.2.1 Giovanni Boccaccio
7.2.2. Geoffrey Chaucer

1. Introduction

The story of Troilus and Criseyde[1] has been told many times by different authors during the centuries. Within this term paper a closer look will be taken at the works of Geoffrey Chaucer’s[2] Troilus & Criseyde[3] and Giovanni Boccaccio’s[4] Il Filostrato[5] to illustrate that the story of Troilus and Criseyde can be interpreted from two different angles. Whereas, Giovanni Boccaccio focuses on the consequences of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde within his work, Chaucer seems to be much more focused on the development of love in general- using the story of Troilus and Criseyde as a metaphor. Therefore, Chaucer uses the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde to present in what way the perception of love can change from happiness in to sorrow.

To be able to narrow down and define the intentions of Boccaccio and Chaucer the central aspect will be lain on the presentation of the relationship between Troilus, Criseyde & Pandarus. Since the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde would neither start, nor find its fulfilling without the inference of Pandarus, the character of Pandarus gains a specific position within the relationship of Troilus and Criseyde. Furthermore, an analysis of the relationship between these three characters might give an answer in what way both Chaucer and Boccaccio represent their attitude towards the central theme of love.

By concentrating on the ménage a trois between the characters, it is furthermore possible to analyse which position Pandarus inherits and in what way he uses or abuses it. Consequently, the question needs to be solved why Chaucer represents Pandarus as Criseyde’s uncle, whereas he is ‘only’ Criseyde’s cousin within Boccaccio’s poem. Therefore, the role of Pandarus will be analysed to answer the question in what way Pandarus position within the ménage a trios changes his influence on both Troilus and Criseyde within Chaucer’s and Boccaccio’s work.

The analysis will be focused on the ménage a trois of the characters Troilus, Criseyde and Pandarus. Therefore, I decided to take a closer look at Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato in the first place to analyse the constellation of the characters. Initially, it is necessary to figure out in what way Boccaccio introduces each character independently from each other. The analysis of the presentation of the characters reveals a good base to examine the relationships between the characters. This step is necessary to figure out in what way Pandarus influences both Troilus and Criseyde. Secondly, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde will be analysed under the same aspects as Boccaccio’s work, referring to the presentation of the characters up to the relationships between them. As mentioned earlier, the role of Pandarus seems to be decisive for the development of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde. By comparing the construction of the ménage a trois within Boccaccio’s and Chaucer’s work, it will then be possible to examine whether Pandarus can be identified as a manipulator or a mediator between Troilus and Criseyde. By taking a look at Pandarus part within the poems, a conclusion can be given which attitude towards the central theme of love is revealed within the poem of Boccaccio and Chaucer.

2. Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato

Giovanni Boccaccio’s poem Il Filostrato “is a passionate narrative of 5700 lines in stanzaic Italian verse, completed before 1350, probably about 1340.”[7] Within the first lines of his poem, Boccaccio already refers to his unhappy love, Maria d’Aquino[8]. He claims that he writes the poem to illustrate his feelings while his love is absent. The centre of attention is therefore not lain upon the development of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde, but the suffering of Troilus since “it is Troilus and his woes that interest him [Boccaccio], and, of eight parts into which his poem is divided, four are devoted to this.”[9][6]

Boccaccio’s concentration on Troilus’ despair represents his own personal story. By addressing his poem to his mistress, Maria d’Aquino, Boccaccio immediately presents the narrator’s perspective of the story. “In despair, Boccaccio tells her [Maria d’Aquino], he decided to give his grief at her absence ‘issue in some suitable lamentation’ and to relate his sufferings in the person of someone passionately in love (passionnato), as he is.”[10] An evidence for this assumption can already be found within the prologue[11] of the poem.

“Therefore, worthy lady, I have put these rhymes together in the form of a little book as an enduring memorial, for those who will look upon it in time to come, both of your worth, with which in the person of another they are in many parts adorned, and of my sadness; and when they were set down, I did not think it a seemly thing that they should come into the hands of any other person before yours, for you have been the true and only begetter of them.”[12]

The presentation of the characters Troilus, Criseyde and Pandarus are not made co-incidentally by Boccaccio therefore a closer look at the characters cannot be avoided. After analysing each character independently from each other, it is necessary to examine the characters’ relationships. Before it comes to the final analysis of the ménage a trois itself, an examination of the relationship apart from the ménage a trois shows in what way the characters do not only act but also react on the actions’ of the others.

2.1. The presentation of the characters Pandarus, Troilus & Criseyde

The interaction of the characters Troilus, Criseyde and Pandarus does not only depend on either one’s actions or reactions within the ménage a trois, but also on the basic qualities of each character. That means, that the characters collaborate with each other, but this collaboration would not be possible if the characters would not have a specific interest in the relationship with one or another.

It is interesting to note that Boccaccio introduces Criseyde as well as Troilus not only characteristically, but also by their appearance- in contrast to the character of Pandarus. When Criseyde appears for the first time, it becomes quite clear that Criseyde’s character is closely connected with her physical beauty.

“[…] Criseida, who was so fair and so like an angel to look upon that she seemed not a mortal thing, and to my judgment as prudent, wise, modest, and well-bred as any lady born in Troy. […] And she was loved and honoured by all who knew her.”[13]

Boccaccio explicitly draws a connection between Criseyde’s character and appearance. Criseyde looks like “an angel”, who is loved by everyone who knew her. This can also be seen when Boccaccio describes her “as the rose [that] surpasses the violet in beauty, so was she fairer than any other lady; and she alone more than any other gladdened the great festival, standing in the temple nigh the door, stately in beauty, gracious and discreet.”[14]

It can be said that her outer appearance plays a central role since Troilus recognizes her in the first place from the distance. Troilus cannot tell whether Criseyde’s beauty is supported by her personality. However, the introduction of Criseyde is closely connected to the introduction of Troilus. Since the first impression of Criseyde underlines her character and beauty, the introduction of Troilus allows Boccaccio to build up an opposite position. Troilus is presented as a confident, independent young warrior. His independency is of high value to him. This can be seen, when he starts joking about the men around him, who are obviously in love with a woman.

“That sad fellow has put fetters upon his freedom, so much did it trouble him, and has placed it in that lady’s hands. Note well how little his brooding profits him. Why give love to any woman?”[15]

Troilus is initially represented as a womanizer, but can also be seen as a man who has not made the experience to love someone yet. He enjoys his freedom and is not willing to give it up- especially not for a woman. When Troilus sees Criseyde for the first time, Troilus is struck by her beauty. Troilus’ ignorance towards love causes a personal catastrophe for him since his feelings literally knock him out.

“She was tall, and all her limbs were in keeping with her height; her face was adorned with heavenly beauty, and in her look there showed forth womanly pride. […], and he had the greatest delight in gazing fixedly between this man and that at her shining eyes and her countenance of heavenly beauty.”[16]

In contrast to his skills as a warrior, he is not able to transport his emotions from desire in to reality. Therefore, it can be said that Troilus’ new discovered feelings paralyze him. Once again, Criseyde’s appearance and characteristic skills are being put together, since “[Criseyde’s] face was adorned with heavenly beauty, and in her look there showed forth womanly pride.”[17] By describing Troilus’s reaction when he sees Criseyde for the first time, Boccaccio is able to emphasise not only the capriciousness of love but also Troilus’ helplessness towards Criseyde. “And he did not go forth such as he had been when he entered, unfettered and free of care; but he came out heavy-thoughted and more stricken with love than he knew.”[18]

Troilus, who initially laughs at the fools that are in love, loses his independency within an instant when he sees Criseyde. However, Troilus tries to hide his feelings for two reasons. Initially, he knows that he disrespected exactly those men who are in love with a woman just moments ago. Secondly, Troilus decides to conceal his feelings, because he simply does not know how to handle his emotions. “And he kept his desire closely hidden lest the scornful words he had spoken of others little before should be turned against him, […]”[19]

Boccaccio introduces the character of Troilus in an ambiguous manner. He initially represents Troilus as an independent man, who is quite ignorant of love. However, Boccaccio maintains to present the strong, successful warrior as well as the weak and insecure side of Troilus. However, Troilus decision to keep his love secret already reveals his central attitude towards the development of the relationship between him and Criseyde, because “lastly he [Troilus] thought that love when made known to many bore as its fruit trouble and not joy.”[20] After all, Troilus does not succeed to hide his feelings for Criseyde since the decision to conceal his emotions cause physical trouble to him.

In contrast to the introduction of Criseyde and Troilus, Pandarus is neither described nor gives Boccaccio a hint how he looks like. The reader gets to know Pandarus during the first conversation with Troilus, while Pandarus tries to coax the secret out of Troilus, whom he loves. By avoiding a clear description of Pandarus, Boccaccio forces the reader to pick up pieces of information about Pandarus within the story itself.

By the time Pandarus asks Troilus why he did not trust him and told him that he fell in love, Troilus responds: “How should I have had this from thee, whom I have ever seen unhappy through love, and thou knowest not to help thyself? How then dost thou think thou canst succour me?”[21] Troilus answer reveals that Pandarus himself does not seem to be successful regarding love affairs. However, Pandarus is not offended by Troilus. He actually agrees with Troilus, but more importantly, shows a significant personal skill. Without knowing, with who Troilus is in love with, he offers his support. “Troilus, I know thou sayest the truth, but many times it chances that he who knows not how to guard himself from poison keeps others safe by good counsel.”[22]

Above all, it can be said that Pandarus offers his support as a friend. However, the question remains why Pandarus seems to be so devoted to Troilus. By the time Troilus reveals that he is in love with Criseyde, Pandarus does not seem to be disturbed at all. Pandarus actually encourages Troilus feelings towards his cousin.

“My friend, I pray thee in God’s name be not distressed; love could not have set thy desire in a better place, for she is in truth worthy of it, if I know aught manners, or of greatness of soul, or high worth, or beauty.”[23]

At this point, Pandarus reaction can be initially defined as genuine. He seems to be happy about the fact that Troilus has fallen in love with Criseyde. However, this impression changes by the time, Pandarus tries to produce himself as the initiator of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde. Though Troilus repeats that he does not seek fulfilment for his desire, Pandarus imposes himself into the situation since Pandarus brings up the idea to pair off Troilus and Criseyde. “Wherefore, knowing thee to be wise and prudent, I can please both of you and give equal solace to each.”[24] Though Pandarus behaviour seems to be unselfish in the first place, it becomes clear that Pandarus’ role is not limited on a mediator between Criseyde and Troilus. Initially, he already explains Troilus how to behave and that he trusts in the fact, that Troilus will keep his relationship with Criseyde secret. It is interesting to note that Pandarus promises Troilus that he will have an affair with Criseyde- without even consulting Criseyde.

Another explanation why Boccaccio relinquishes to describe Pandarus’ appearance or character the way he introduces Troilus and Criseyde might be that in contrast to Troilus and Criseyde, Pandarus can be identified as the intruder of the relationship between the two lovers. Therefore, it can be said that there is a direct link between the fuzzy picture of Pandarus and his task to act in the background.

The first dialogue of Pandarus and Troilus clearly indicates how the relationship between the two men needs to be defined. Pandarus realizes that it is in his hands if Troilus and Criseyde become lovers. He therefore uses his influence on both Troilus and Criseyde to manipulate the situation for his needs.

2.2. The relationship between Pandarus & Troilus

The relationship between Pandarus and Troilus can be seen from two different angles, which reveal either the positive or the negative side of the relationship between the two men. It is now important to figure out how Pandarus influences Troilus regarding his feelings and actions towards Criseyde. This aspect automatically leads to the question whether the relationship between Pandarus and Troilus is based on true sympathy or on strategic intentions.

Pandarus and Troilus are the same age however, both of them made different experiences through their lives. While Pandarus already experienced the consequences of unhappy love, Troilus has never had feelings for a woman before. Troilus’ new emotions trouble him so badly, that he starts suffering physically. Troilus does not know how to handle the situation and above all, how to express his feelings towards the person he is in love with. When Pandarus comes to Troilus, he immediately senses that there is something wrong with his friend. It can be said that Pandarus starts to question Troilus for two reasons. On the one hand, Pandarus might simply be a nosy character; on the other hand it could be possible that Pandarus truly feels for his friend. However, by the time Troilus confesses to Pandarus that he has fallen in love, it becomes quite clear that it is Pandarus who is in charge of the situation. This can be seen when Pandarus blames Troilus not to trust him enough.

‘Oh’, said Pandarus, ‘How couldst thou keep such a great passion hidden from me? For I would have given thee counsel and aid, and would have found some way to win thee peace.’ And Troilus said to him: ‘How should I have had this from thee, whom I have ever seen unhappy through love […] How then dost thou think canst succour me?’[25]

It is important to note that Boccaccio introduces Troilus as a strong and courageous warrior, but represents him quite helpless towards Pandarus. The sudden weakness of Troilus does not only cause an ambivalent picture of the character itself, it also gives Pandarus the necessary base to develop his strength within the relationship.

By claiming that Troilus does not trust him enough, Pandarus achieves that the actual information is being forgotten- namely that Troilus has fallen in love. Pandarus tells Troilus what he “could have” and “would have” done for Troilus to support him. “For I would have given thee counsel and aid, and would have found some way to win thee peace.”[26] By using a conjunctive case, he expresses that he feels betrayed and is not willing to help Troilus anymore. Though Troilus doubts that Pandarus is able to help him, he is now forced to commit to Pandarus, if he does not want to lose him as a friend. “How should I have had this from thee, whom I have ever seen unhappy through love.”[27]

It can be said that Pandarus literally interferes himself in to the love affair between Troilus and Criseyde by using a trick. He does not only emphasize his hurt feelings towards Troilus, he also refers to the fact that he is the best advisor whatsoever since he has made the experience of being in love unhappily.

‘Troilus, I know thou sayest truth, but many times it chances that he who knows not how to guard himself from poison keeps others safe by good counsel. And ere now the blind man has been seen to walk where the man who sees well goes not without stumbling; […]’[28]

Pandarus does not neglect his failures regarding love affairs, but by bringing up the biblical metaphor about “the blind man has been seen to walk where the man who sees well goes not without stumbling”[29], he successfully manipulates Troilus to reveal the person with whom he has fallen in love with. ‘Love for thy cousin has taken me, which grieves me sorely. I mean Criseida. […]

Troilus confession with who he is in love, reveal two important aspects. As mentioned earlier, he was forced to prove his faith towards Pandarus by revealing his secret whereas; Pandarus immediately realizes his chance to expand his influence on Troilus. ‘My friend, I pray thee in God’s name be not distressed; love could not have set thy desire in a better place, for she in truth is worthy of it […]’[30] Though Pandarus actually got what he wanted, he does not see a reason to leave the development of Troilus’ desire up to him, but encourages Troilus to get involved with Criseyde. Furthermore, Pandarus actually explains Troilus how he will achieve his goal.

[...]


[1] See Appendix for short summary of Troilus and Criseyde

[2] See Appendix for short biography of Geoffrey Chaucer

[3] Chaucer, Geoffrey: Troilus & Criseyde. In: Windeatt, B.A.: Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus & Criseyde. Longman: London. 1984.

[4] See Appendix for short biography of Giovanni Boccaccio

[5] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato. In: Windeatt, B.A.: Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus & Criseyde. Longman: London. 1986.

[6] Within Boccaccio’s poem Il Filostrato the character’s Troilus, Criseyde and Pandarus are named Troilo, Criseide and Pandaro. To avoid confusion during the comparison with Chaucer’s Troilus & Criseyde, I decided to stick to one form for the character’s names.

[7] Donaldson, Talbot E.: Commentary on Troilus and Criseide from Chaucer’s Poetry: An Anthology for the Modern Reader (1958). In: Benson, David (ed.): Critical essays on Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Open University Press: Buckingham. 1991. P.44

[8] “Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato has a strongly autobiographical cast. The author dedicates it to a “noblissima donna”, and say that he expresses through the story of Troiolo’s sorrow his own feelings about his lady’s absence from the city. […] Buth the tone of this romance lends support to the theory that the lady is Maria d ‘Aquino, the voluptuous, illegitimate daughter of King Robert of Naples- she was Boccaccio’s sometime mistress.” In: Muscatine, Charles: Troilus and Criseyde. In: Chaucer and the French Tradition: A Study in Style and Meaning. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1957. P.125.

[9] Everett, Dorothy: Troilus and Criseyde. In: Essays in Middle English Literature. Clarendon: Oxford. 1955. P117.

[10] Ebd. Everett, Dorothy: Troilus and Criseyde. In: Essays in Middle English Literature. P. 117

[11] It needs to be said, that I used the translation of R.K. Gordon to get an insight to Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato. Unfortunately, Gordon does not refer to the original verses within his translation. Therefore, all quotes made from his translation will only refer to the page number.

[12] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. Dutton Paperback: New York. 1978. P.29.

[13] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P.32.

[14] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.33.

[15] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.33.

[16] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.34.

[17] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.34.

[18] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.34

[19] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.34

[20] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.35

[21] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.40.

[22] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.40.

[23] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.41.

[24] Ebd. Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K.: The Troilus Story. P.42.

[25] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K. The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P. 40.

[26] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K. The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P. 40.

[27] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K. The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P. 40.

[28] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K. The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P. 40.

[29] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K. The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P. 40.

[30] Boccacio, Giovanni: Il Filostrato (translated version). In: Gordon, R.K. The Troilus Story. Dutton: New York. 1978. P. 40.

Details

Pages
28
Year
2005
ISBN (eBook)
9783638448598
ISBN (Book)
9783638659673
File size
815 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v48053
Institution / College
University of Cologne – English Department
Grade
1.3
Tags
Chaucer’s Boccaccio’s Pandarus Troilus Criseyde Filostrato Medieval English Literature Chaucer Contemporaries

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Title: The relationship between the characters Pandarus, Troilus & Criseyde in Boccaccio’s "Il Filostrato" and Chaucer’s "Troilus & Criseyde"