photo of maiden TROY
Activities for Chaucer's Troilus & Criseyde


NOTE the chili peppers!!! One means a pretty easy Activity, two means a harder one, and three means a challenging Activity. It is up to you.

1. Read The Trojan War, Chapter 11: "Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde: The Christian Synthesis."

2. Explore the links on the Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde page.

3. Read through all the Activity questions before selecting Activities to work with. Notice that some of the Activities are quite easy and may only require reading one text, while others are far more difficult, and may require reading more than one text or doing online research plus reading texts.

Select Activities that interest you and are appropriate to the time you have to spend on them. You will not get a higher grade because you select more difficult Activities. Some Activities that are especially complex will offer double credit; if so, that will be stated in the Activity question. If you select the double credit option, you must write "double credit" on your Activity AND you must develop your Activity in more depth, in order to qualify for the double credit. 

Select one or two of these Activities for this Area. Follow the directions in your Blackboard course site to complete the activities.



graphic of one chili pepper1. After reading Troilus and Criseyde, Book 1, compare Troilus, the nearly perfect knight, with Achilles (in the Iliad), the nearly perfect Greek warrior. First, write a short description of Troilus' character; then write a short description of Achilles' character. What do they have in common (if anything)? How are they different? What do their differences suggest to you about the societies they live in? Again, use specific examples from both texts to support your response.
2. graphic of one chili pepperCriseyde is woman as changeable, yet totally desirable. This is a typically medieval view of female nature. Locate some relevant examples of her changeable nature in the poem. Then locate some examples of Criseyde's desirable attributes. Try to sum up Criseyde's complex character. Is this a view of a woman that a modern reader could accept? Why or why not? Explain and support your ideas.
3. graphic of one chili pepperPandarus is Criseyde's uncle, yet he puts all his efforts into getting her into bed with his dear friend Troilus. Why do you think Pandarus is so eager to help Troilus consummate his love for Criseyde? What do you think Chaucer's attitude toward Pandarus is? What is your attitude toward Pandarus? Do you think his behavior is acceptable or not? Use specific examples to support each of your points.
graphic of one chili pepper4. Look at Chaucer's Troilus and Crisyede, a Middle English version and at TROILUS AND CRISEYDE by GEOFFREY CHAUCER, a Modern Spelling version. Compare the two, explaining just what impact the changes have upon you as a reader. For example, can you understand the Middle English version? Can you understand the Modern Spelling version? Do you feel anything is lost or gained? Or would you prefer a translation into Modern English? If so, include that version in your comparison, identifying the translator and the edition. Be specific, using examples from the texts to support your points.
5. graphic of two chili pepperCompare the Hymn to Love at the beginning of Troilus and Criseyde, Book 3, stanzas 1-7, to Troilus' apotheosis in Book 5, stanzas 250-267. First, summarize the main points of the Hymn to Love. Then summarize the main points of Troilus' insight and laughter after he is dead. Why do you think Chaucer included two so very different ideals in the same poem? Support your explanation with examples. Does the ending improve the poem for you or spoil it? Explain why in either case.
graphic of two chili pepper6. Look through Troilus and Criseyde for examples of the action of Fortune. List a few effects of Fortune that are positive. Then list a few effects of Fortune that are negative. Summarize the role of Fortune in this poem. Do you believe there is a force similar to Fortune in your life? If so, what is it? If not, why?
graphic of two chili pepper7. Troilus and Criseyde may well be the greatest medieval romance. Go to the Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde page and browse through some of the linked Chaucer Sites. Look for ideas that would help you to get a sense of what is medieval about Troilus and Criseyde. Explain what you find, where you find it, and how it helps you to understand the medieval nature of the poem.
8. graphic of three chili pepperRead The Testament of Cresseid by Robert Henryson. It is free online in Middle English. If you want a modern translation, here is an option: The Testament of Cresseid and Seven Fables by Robert Henryson, trans. Seamus Heaney, 2010.
Describe the character of Cresseid and compare her to to Chaucer's Criseyde. Why do you think Henryson made a poem about the dreadful punishment of Criseyde? How do you feel about her degradation and punishment? Support your ideas with specific examples from both texts. (Double credit: worth up to 100 points.)
graphic of three chili pepper9. (Double Credit if well done) Acquire a copy of The Story of Troilus, edited by R. K. Gordon (there are many inexpensive used paperback copies for sale  online; this link goes to the listings of the book). The Story of Troilus contains the first medieval Troilus love story (the lady is called Briseida) by Benoît de Sainte-Maure, as well as the next version, Il Filostrato by Giovanni Boccaccio (the lady is now called Criseida). Read either version and compare the character of Briseida (Benoit) or Criseida (Boccaccio) to the character of Criseyde in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. What kinds of interesting changes do you see in her character and behavior? Does that tell you anything about what Chaucer was doing when he took this lady as his model? Or, if you prefer, follow the development of the character of Troilus from either Benoit or Boccaccio to Chaucer.

Last Updated: 8/2/2017

© Thompson: 9/22/1998