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On a street in Troy, the luscious Cressida hangs out with her servant Alexander, who entertains our girl with some juicy gossip about some key players in the Trojan war.
Apparently, on his way to the battlefield today, Hector flipped out and yelled at his wife and then slapped around the guy who helps him arm for battle. In case you didn't know, that's not how noble heroes are supposed to act. Go to "Themes: Principles" and we'll tell you why.
It turns out that Hector's all mad because of his nephew, Ajax, who's a commander in the Greek army. Apparently, Ajax and Hector went toe-to-toe in battle and Ajax knocked his uncle on his butt in front of everyone.
Next, Alexander rags on Ajax, who is as "valiant as the lion," but, uh, not very bright. Plus, he's emotionally unstable and has some serious mood swings.
When Cressida's uncle Pandarus shows up, the two begin to tease each other right away. (We can tell they've been doing this song-and-dance forever.)
Pandarus is there to talk up Troilus, but witty Cressida like to torture her uncle. She keeps insisting that there are tons of other dreamy boys out there that are way better.
This goes on for a while, until Pandarus decides to switch tactics and make Cressida jealous. He claims that Helen's been flirting it up with Troilus lately and seems to like him better than she likes Paris.
Cressida shoots back, "Then she's a merry Greek indeed." (FYI: "Merry Greek" is Elizabethan speak for "skank," so Cressida is basically saying that Helen is as promiscuous as everyone says she is. Put that in your insult box.)
But Pandarus is on a roll. He tells his niece that just the other day Helen went up to Troilus, tickled his "dimpled" chin, and teased him about his scruffy facial hair.
Cressida acts like she's totally not jealous. She says she's seen warts that had more hair on them than Troilus's pathetic goatee. But there's more—like a lot of giggling and blushing between Troilus and Helen. So much that Paris got pretty jealous.
Now that he's got her all worked up, Pandarus is like, hey, remember that thing I mentioned yesterday? (He doesn't come out and say it but everyone knows that Pandarus told his niece that Troilus wants a steamy hook-up with her ASAP.)
Before Cressida can respond, Aeneas and a bunch of Trojan leaders parade across the stage on their way back from the battlefield.
Pandarus points them all out to Cressida and tells her how brave and valiant they are. Cressida rolls her eyes and makes some snarky comments, but that doesn't stop her from checking out all the guys that walk by and judging whether or not they're good boyfriend material.
When Troilus crosses the stage, Pandarus lays it on pretty thick: "'Tis Troilus! there's a man niece! Hem! Brave Troilus, the prince of chivalry!" Dude, Pandarus, stop embarrassing your niece already.
Pandarus declares that if he had a sister or a daughter, he'd let Troilus take his pick and have whichever one he wanted. (Eww.)
Nah, says Cressida. Greek soldier Achilles is a "better man than Troilus."
Pandarus is all, "Are you crazy!? Even I could get lost in Troilus's eyes!"
Troilus's boy servant shows up and says Troilus wants to talk to Pandarus at his house.
As Pandarus leaves, he promises to visit his niece and bring her a "token" from Troilus. Cressida calls her uncle a "bawd" (a.k.a. "lady pimp") and says goodbye.
Brain Snack: Now seems like a good time to tell you that Pandarus's name is associated with the term "pander," which means to act as a go-between in a sexual hook-up. In fact, the name "Pandarus" was pretty much synonymous with the word "pimp" by the time Shakespeare wrote this play. But, you probably already guessed that from the way Pandarus has been acting.
Alone on stage, Cressida delivers a soliloquy about how she really does think Troilus is dreamy even though she doesn't show it.
(By the way, a soliloquy is just a speech that reveals a character's innermost thoughts to the audience. Basically, it's like a character is reading aloud to us from her secret diary.)
Cressida tells us that she's going to play hard to get with Troilus because she's afraid he'll lose interest in her once he's slept with her.
Wow, it's good to know that some things never change. We guess.