Study Guide

Troilus and Cressida Act 4, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 1

Read the full text of Troilus and Cressida Act 4 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • On a street in Troy, Aeneas meets up with Paris and his posse of Trojan leaders, along with Diomedes, a Greek leader. Aeneas greets Paris by saying something like "Hey, if I had a girl like Helen in my bed, I wouldn't be out here prowling the streets of Troy."
  • Then Aeneas turns to the Greek Diomedes, and the two guys exchange some friendly banter about how funny it is that they're always trying to hunt down and kill each other on the battlefield. LOL!
  • Paris declares that this little display is the "noblest hateful love" he's ever witnessed. Translation: they're totally frenemies.
  • Aeneas finds out that the King wants him to escort Diomedes to Calchas' house to trade Cressida for the prisoner Antenor. But Paris is afraid that they'll find Cressida in bed with Troilus, so he asks Aeneas to run ahead and warn him.
  • Aeneas notes that Troilus would rather see Troy lose the war to Greece than lose Cressida.
  • Sure, Paris says, it's a bummer the lovebirds have to be broken up. But that's the way it goes when you're in the middle of a nasty war. Easy for Paris to say—he started the whole thing.
  • Anyway, Aeneas trots off to warn Troilus.
  • Then Paris turns to Diomedes and asks who he thinks deserves Helen more: him or Menelaus?
  • Diomedes replies that both men deserve her because they're willing to fight over a "whore" who isn't worth the loss of money and soldiers.
  • Paris thinks Diomedes is too bitter toward Helen, and we really have to agree.
  • But Diomedes doesn't stop there. He refers to Helen as "contaminated carrion" (diseased, rotting flesh) and says she's not worth the lives that have been lost fighting over who should get to have her. Um, we really have to ask—how much of a choice did Helen really have?
  • Paris agrees to disagree, and they head off to Calchas' house to collect Cressida.