Study Guide

Calchas in Troilus and Cressida

By William Shakespeare


Oh, for a dad like Calchas. Not. He's Cressida's slime-ball dad and Trojan priest who has betrayed his countrymen and has joined forces with the Greeks. Real winner, this one,

So, why did Calchas betray the Trojans, anyway? Because he's a soothsayer (a.k.a. prophet) who had a vision of Troy's downfall and decided to hightail it out of there before the whole city burned. Hmm. Maybe we should add Calchas to our list of the "7 Biggest Backstabbers in History."

Like a lot of Shakespearean dads, Calchas is sort of responsible for destroying his daughter's love life. We're talking, of course, about the fact that Calchas makes the Greek army trade one of their prisoners for Cressida so she can keep him company (3.3.1-15). Apparently, being a traitor is lonely work and dear old dad doesn't care if Cressida is torn away from her home and her dreamy boyfriend. (And, yeah, it's a little creepy, too.) Aside from being a lousy dad, Calchas seems to embody everything that's wrong with dirty politics and warfare.