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Troilus and Cressida Act 1, Scene 3 Summary

  • Over at the Greek camp, a bunch of commanders and soldiers hang out in front of Agamemnon's tent.
  • Agamemnon tries to give his guys a pep talk about how, even though the Greeks have come up "short" after seven loooooong years of battle, they shouldn't be bummed because the gods are just trying to test them. After all, greatness comes from adversity and overcoming lengthy "trials."
  • Put that on a motivational poster, why don't you?
  • Nestor chimes in that "Great Agamemnon" is totally right. The Greeks should turn their frowns upside down and get out there and kick some Trojan butt.
  • Next Ulysses steps up and speaks.
  • Brain Snack: Ulysses' alias is "Odysseus," a.k.a. the same dude who kicks butt and takes names throughout Homer's Odyssey. FYI—He's usually called "Ulysses" in Roman mythology and "Odysseus" in Greek mythology.)
  • Ulysses says something like "No disrespect to Agamemnon or Nestor but, the problem isn't just that this war has been dragging on for 7 years. The problem is that that the Greek army is in total chaos because the soldiers have zero respect for authority and the social pecking order.
  • Case in point, the great Achilles refuses to fight and spends all his time in his tent "on a lazy bed" with his BFF-and-oh-yeah-maybe-lover, Patroclus.
  • Patroclus, by the way, is always imitating the Greek commanders, just like a stand-up comedian (or a Shakespearean actor).
  • We also find out that Ajax's slave, Thersites, has been bagging on the commanders, too.
  • While the Greek leaders complain about the soldiers' lack of respect for authority, Aeneas shows up from the Trojan camp saying he wants to talk to the "great Agamemnon."
  • (Huh. Looks like the Trojans are more respectful to the Greek leaders than the Greek soldiers are. Score one for the Trojans, we guess.)
  • Aeneas delivers a message from the Trojan warrior Hector, who has issued a throw-down to any Greek warrior who thinks he's got the stones to face him in man-to-man combat.
  • The winner gets to say that his wife is hotter, "wiser," and "truer" than any other woman in the land.
  • (What is it with these guys dragging women into their wars and conflicts? Go to "Themes: Gender" if you want our take on this.)
  • The Greeks say they're up for the challenge and invite Aeneas to stay and party with them that night before he goes back to the Trojan camp.
  • Ulysses and Nestor are left alone on stage.
  • Cue maniacal laughter. Ulysses says he's got a plan that will get Achilles out of his tent and back on the battlefield.
  • First, it's obvious that Hector issued the throw down challenge because he's looking for a fight with Achilles.
  • But, Ulysses and Nestor don't think it's a good idea for Achilles to fight Hector since it would be totes embarrassing if he lost. Plus, it would really do a number on morale if the other soldiers saw one of their great warriors go down.
  • Ulysses and Nestor decide that, instead, they should get "dull, brainless" Ajax to fight Hector.
  • If Ajax loses, hey, no big whoop. They can just play it off. But if Ajax wins, maybe "proud" Achilles will get jealous and finally come out of his tent to fight in the war.
  • They rig a fake lottery and then act all surprised and excited when Ajax's name gets picked.
  • No wonder they call the guy "wily Ulysses."

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