The Convincing Rhetoric of Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde

In Book 2 of Troilus and Criseyde, Pandarus continues his persuasive match- making dialogue as he projects it onto not his long- time comrade Troilus, but his niece Criseyde. Previously, Pandarus used choice wording to convince young Troilus to confess his love for Criseyde, despite Troilus’s hesitation and concern that putting love out in the open could lead to its destruction. Pandarus could be viewed as a master manipulator of minds and rhetoric for motives indefinite. He extracts with ease information from Troilus who is already in love with the object of desire, whereas Criseyde seems a harder nut to crack with eyes on Troilus’s older and more revered brother Hector. In persuading Criseyde that Troilus is just as good, if not better than his sibling, Pandarus not only plays up Troilus, but re-asserts his own role as the loving uncle. For any niece who loves and respects her older, wiser, uncle, is it very difficult to go against him and tell him no. If a girl is very close to her uncle, it is even possible to that he knows her better than she knows herself.

Pandarus invokes goddesses as the mystical powers that allow him to guard and care for her, as according to him

“For nece, by the goddesse Mynerve,

And Jupiter, the maketh the thondre rynge,

And by the blissful Venus that I serve,

Ye ben the woman in this world lyvying,

Withouten paramours, to my wyttynge,

That I best love, and lothest am to greve,

And that ye weten yourself, I leve”(Chaucer, 54, 232- 238).

Pandarus is a man compelled to intercede on Troilus’s behalf by the goddess of wisdom. His implied knowledge in regards to Criseyde and her desires is alluded to by the mention of Jupiter, a planet associated experience and authority. Not only would she be the girl that her uncle “best love… withouten paramours”, but she would also be the girl that he would know best in terms of her romantic preferences. Furthermore, his own supposed experiences as a lover demonstrates his knowledge on love.

Pandarus wants to use this knowledge not to force Criseyde into seeing Troilus with new eyes, but to “serve” (Chaucer, 54, 232- 238). As a young woman, rejecting her uncle’s suggestions and the will of the gods and the universe would way heavy on the mind and the heart. In addition, her uncle is not trying to command her as much as he is trying to love her best and serve his familial duty to her. This apparent kindness and love for Criseyde is what makes him a most convincing character.

 

Works Cited:

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Troilus and Criseyde. Ed. R.A. Shoaf. East Lancing: Michigan State

UP, 2000. Print.

“Jupiter Symbol Meanings.” http://www.whats-your-sign.com. Avia Venefica. Web. 15 Mar.

2016. <http://www.whats-your-sign.com/jupiter-symbol-meanings.html&gt;.

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