Troilus and Cressida
Time Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
[...] our play Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils Beginning in the middle, starting thence away To what may be digested in this play. (Prologue, 26-29)
Shakespeare knows he's got a big challenge ahead of him in this play. How do you cram the events of a ten-year Trojan War into a two-hour play? Well, you don't. That's why Shakespeare "leaps" over the first seven years of warfare and starts his story "in the middle" of the action. Starting a story like this is a technique called in medias res (in the middle of things). One of the most famous examples of beginning in medias res is in Homer's Iliad, which is Shakespeare's main source for this play.
'Deliver Helen, and all damage else— As honor, loss of time, travail, expense, Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consumed In hot digestion of this cormorant war—' (2.2.3-6)
Shakespeare never lets us forget that the Trojan War has been a long, drawn out series of battles that's resulted in a "loss" of "time," not to mention money, human lives, and honor. You know. Like a lot of wars.
She is a theme of honor and renown, A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds, Whose present courage may beat down our foes, And fame in time to come canonize us; (2.2.199-202)
Okay, time for something important. Here, Troilus says that fighting to keep Helen is going to bring the Trojans "honor and renown" that will make them famous "in time to come." Why is this important? Because when characters look to the future and predict how their actions will make the Greeks and Trojans go down in history, Shakespeare is drawing our attention to the process of myth making. P.S. The events of the play go down in just four days.