Daily Archives: June 11, 2010

Troy

Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, act 2, scenes i and ii

Today is the traditional anniversary of the sack of Troy in 1184 BCE.

Frye on Troy, British national mythology, and Shakespeare in A Natural Perspective:

History is a prominent genre in Shakespeare until Henry V, when it seems to disappear and revive only in the much suspected Henry VIII at the end of the canon.  Yet the history of Britain to Shakespeare’s audience began with the Trojan War, the setting of Troilus and Cressida, and included the story of Lear as well as the story of Macbeth.  Even Hamlet is dimly linked with the period of Danish ascendancy over England.  Alternating with these plays in a Britain older than King John are the Roman or Plutarchan plays, dealing with what, again, to Shakespeare’s audience was the history of a cousin nation, another descendant of Troy.  In Cymbeline the theme of reconciliation between the two Trojan nations is central, as though it were intended to conclude the double series started by Troilus and Cressida.  (66)