Troilus and Cressida
Politics (vs. Personal Life) Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Of this my privacy I have strong reasons.
But 'gainst your privacy
The reasons are more potent and heroical:
'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love
With one of Priam's daughters. (3.3.190-194)
Achilles defends his decision not to fight in the war by citing personal and "private" reasons. But what are these "reasons," exactly? Earlier in the play, we're told that Achilles is too busy getting it on with his lover Patroclus to fight in the war (1.3.146-147). But here, Ulysses claims that Achilles refuses to fight because he's in love with Polyxena. (Later, we'll learn that Achilles promised her he would stay off the battlefield.) Either way, Achilles comes under attack in this play for neglecting his military duties.
When fame shall in our islands sound her trump, And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing, 'Great Hector's sister did Achilles win, But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.' (3.3.211-214)
Ulysses tries to use a little reverse psychology on Achilles. Here, he claims that Achilles' personal reputation will suffer if he doesn't get back out on the battlefield ASAP and fulfill his political obligations. And you know what? It totally works.
That I assure you:
Troilus had rather Troy were borne to Greece
Than Cressid borne from Troy.
There is no help;
The bitter disposition of the time
Will have it so. On, lord; we'll follow you. (4.1.47-52)
There's a real pass-the-buck mentality at work here. As we know, Troilus and Cressida's romance is thwarted because the politics of warfare get in the way when Cressida is traded to the Greeks for a Trojan prisoner. Here, Paris says there's nothing that can be done about it because the "bitter disposition" of war dictates that the political exchange must be made.