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Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida

Art and Culture Quotes

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Quote #10

The cuckold and the cuckold-maker are at it. Now, bull! now, dog! 'Loo, Paris, 'loo! now my double- henned sparrow! 'loo, Paris, 'loo! The bull has the game: ware horns, ho! (5.7.9-12)

When Thersites describes the man-to-man combat between Paris ("the cuckold maker") and Menelaus ("the cuckold"), he describes the action as though it's a bull-baiting contest, an Elizabethan blood sport that involved setting a pack of dogs on a chained bull. (The Elizabethans preferred baiting bears but bears were more expensive and harder to come by. So, you know, they made do.) So, basically, Thersites reduces the epic battlefield to a bull-baiting arena. And another thing: bull-baiting and Elizabethan theater went hand in hand back in the day. That's because bull-baiting contests were held in the same neighborhoods as the theaters. In fact, patrons could make an entire afternoon out of watching a bull-baiting contest and then heading on over to the theater to catch a play. Fun times!

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