Troilus and Cressida
How we cite our quotes:
[...] Hector, whose patience Is, as a virtue, fix'd, to-day was mov'd: He chid Andromache and struck his armorer, (1.2.4-6)
We just love it when Shakespeare's characters gossip, because it makes our job so much easier. Here, we find out that the great Hector flipped out on his way to the battlefield and yelled at his wife... after he smacked around the guy who helps him arm for battle. Why does this matter? Well, in classic literature like The Iliad, Hector is the poster boy of "virtue" because he's the ultimate family man / honorable warrior. In this play? Not so much.
They say he is a very man per se and stands alone.
So do all men, unless th' are drunk, sick, or have no legs. (1.2.15-16)
When Alexander gives Ajax props for being the poster boy for manly independence and heroic self-sufficiency, Cressida cracks a joke that undermines the whole idea of heroism. Standing alone? A 12-month-old can do it.
The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehead of our host, Having his ear full of his airy frame, grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Lies mocking our designs. With him Patroclus Upon a lazy bed the livelong day (1.3.142-147)
Uh, oh. This doesn't sound good at all, Shmoopers. Here, we find out that the "great Achilles" (the dude who eats Trojan soldiers for breakfast in Homer's Iliad) has got a big head and thinks he's too awesome for his own good. Not only that, but the guy spends the "livelong day" in a "lazy bed" with his lover Patroclus instead of going out to the battlefield to fight. And he doesn't even bother to give the military leaders a good excuse. That doesn't sound like heroic behavior, does it?