In the later years of the Trojan War, Troilus, a prince of Troy, tries to woo Cressida, a fellow Trojan. They fall in love, but she is sent as a part of a prisoner exchange to become the mistress of the Greek prince, Diomedes. Meanwhile, the Greeks' hero, Achilles, has lost his interest in the war, and general Agamemnon must try to convince him to go face the challenge of Troilus' brother, Hector. When Achilles' friend and lover, Patroclus, is killed by Hector, Achilles goes to battle, and the reinvigorated Greek forces finally defeat the Trojans. Troilus, having lost both his brother and his lover in the battle, leads the remaining Trojans retreat into the city to mourn.
One of Shakespeare's "problem plays," Troilus and Cressida is equal parts history and romance, and was considered too morally ambiguous by 19th and early-20th century scholars. However, modern directors have warmed to this complex script, and it is frequently staged in the context of current world conflicts.
Troilus and Cressida guide sections