Friday, 10 August 2012

Troilus and Criseyde: Book I by Geoffrey Chaucer

That's right, kids. For those of you who have been following my blog faithfully for a year and a half *snicker* I'm going back to my roots and converting an Olde (okay, okay, Middle) English tale into modern language, for my amusement and/or your viewing pleasure. 

This round (yeah, I never did finish the Niebeliahblahlungenluau, whatever) I am tackling some Chaucer. Namely, Chaucer's take on the love tale of Troilus and Criseyde, set during the Trojan war. Our narrator is Pandarus (origin of the word "panderer" but I don't want to give you a bad impression of him right off the bat), a friend and "uncle" figure for the two lovers (though in the Shakespearean take, he is something more sinister).

Without further ado (and after much ado about nothing), 

Book 1: 

Pandarus, rapping to the tune of the Fresh Prince

In west Troy, son of Priam, born and raised
 on the battleground is where he spent most of his days.
 Soon fell in love with a pretty young girl
and that's when his life began to unfurl. 

Thesiphone, goddess of torment, listens, and silently facepalms.

Pandarus: This is a sad, sad tale. I weep to write it down. (sobbing) Listen! Stay awhile and listen, Thesiphone! Its ALL MY FAULT! I am filled with pain, writhing in torment! Oh, those poor, poor lovers, would that I had never become an instrument to their --

Thesiphone: On with it! 

Pandarus: (sings) What is love! Baby don't hurt me! Don't hurt me! No more! 

Pandarus regains composure.

Pandarus: I hope that all you lovers out there. All you happy lovers. All you lucky lovers. (glares around at the audience) All you lovers who are free to love, and do. I hope when you hear this tale, you are grateful for what you have. Grateful! Damn . . .

The Audience: ON WITH IT!

Pandarus : (sings) All you need is love . . . No wait, that isn't where we begin. Where do we begin? Right, straight to the matter: the double sorrows of Troilus in loving Criseyde, and how she forsook him before she died. 

So, we all know how the Greeks, strong in arms, came upon Troy in a thousand ships. There was a long seige. Paris, all that, blah blah. Living in Troy at this time, there was a great lord named Calkas, an expert in science, who knew by his science that Troy was bound to be destroyed. So, once he figured this out, he did what any rational man would do, and attempted to flee the city. Silently. In the dead of night.

However, it wasn't long before the people of Troy noticed Calkas was missing. He was called a traitor , accused of allying with Greece. This would have been fine, except for that he left a daughter behind, and left her in bad shape, what with the townspeople crying traitor outside her door, and she with no husband, and all alone in the world.

Her name was Criseyde, and no fairer beauty was there in all of Troy (which makes you really question the point of the whole war, doesn't it?). So angelic was her native beauty, that she seemed like a thing immortal (men looking for pick-up lines, look no further). When she heard of her fathers betrayal, she was half mad with sorrow and fear. In a brown robe (mind you, what she was wearing is important) she fell on her knees before Ector, and begged for mercy.

Now, Ector was a good-hearted man, and it didn't hurt that she was a pretty fine specimen of woman, so he said to her "Its all good"

She thanked him, and went home.

The end.

Just joking! The war went on, and it went on bloody (as wars do) , but talking about the fall of Troy isn't the point of my story. Fuck history anyway. 
Although they were besieged, the people of Troy kept up with their yearly rites, and so, come April, they held as always the festival of Palladiones. Everyone, and I mean everyone, went to the temple, decked out in their finest. Among them, was Criseyde, garbed in widow's black (at least she changed her clothes). Yet, even in black, she was still a fine hunk of woman.  She stood behind the crowd, alone, and in shame. 

Toilus, meanwhile, was scoping the crowd, deeming himself too good for most of the ladies there, indeed, deeming himself altogether above such foolishness as "love". But don't you know that pride comes before a fall? Troilus didn't. As he wandered around, checking out the women, his eyes finally landed upon Criseyde, and his gaze, his heart, and the whole world stopped all at once: 

And of hir look in him ther gan to quiken
       So greet desir, and swich affeccioun,
       That in his herte botme gan to stiken
       Of hir his fixe and depe impressioun:
       And though he erst hadde poured up and doun,
300    He was tho glad his hornes in to shrinke;
       Unnethes wiste he how to loke or winke.

He couldn't get her out of his mind. He became angsty, as only first love can angst. Its true! Criseyde was cold to him, cold to all men, and it was driving him insane, feeling as though he had no chance with her. For three days and three nights, Trolius languished, weeping, moping, calling her name. His parents didn't understand him, his teachers didn't understand him. He dyed his hair black. He painted his nails black. He started listening to Screamo, and grew his hair out. Mostly, he emosturbated. He was in a state. 

Pandarus: and that is when I, an old friend of Troilus, came in, and said "Bitch, what the hell is wrong with you?" 

/End first half, book one. More later. . .maybe. 

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