“Fully His Entente”: The Allegory of Chaucer’s Pandarus—By Kayla Shea

This paper explores the ways in which the character Pandarus from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde functions allegorically. Pandarus’s focus on sexual fulfillment throughout the text illuminates his allegorical personification of lust in contrast to Troilus’s representation of courtly love. Pandarus undermines, devalues, and ultimately distorts Troilus’s definition of courtly love, making Troilus complicit in Pandarus’s sexualized conception of love as lust. As Suzanne Conklin Akbari suggests, Chaucer bends traditional medieval allegorical models in Troilus and Criseyde, instead developing Pandarus as a psychologically complex, multi-faceted character with subtle allegorical traits that help clarify his motives and shape his actions throughout the narrative. Pandarus consistently employs deceptive rhetoric in order to orchestrate a sexual relationship for the lovers, while Troilus and Criseyde model opposing readings of Pandarus’s intentions beyond his rhetoric. The extent to which characters discern Pandarus’s intentions illustrates the interpretive act in which the characters participate. Chaucer’s use of allegory as a self-reflexive genre suggests that, by participating in the interpretive act, readers are also complicit in the creation of meaning in the text.

Chaucer’s Pandarus is an ambiguous character; critics cannot seem to agree on what role he plays or what motivates him. Scholars have argued vastly different views. He has been presented, among other interpretations, as the epitome of friendship;[1] a courtly lover himself who, thwarted in his own love, helps his friend achieve his heart’s desire;[2] and no more than a pimp.[3] Most recently, some suggested that Pandarus was motivated by his own desire for Troilus[4] or Criseyde[5] (or possibly both).[6] Importantly, these critics share an interest in the intensity of Pandarus’s investment in Troilus’s relationship with Criseyde, no matter how they characterize the various relationships between Pandarus and the lovers. Pandarus’s intensity raises the question why: why does Pandarus care so much about the fulfillment of Troilus’s love? Why does he go to such lengths to secure Troilus and Criseyde’s relationship in the first three books but ceases his efforts in the last two when the relationship is threatened? What is Pandarus’s intent? In this essay, I argue that Pandarus embodies lust, in contrast to Troilus’s representation of courtly love, because he pursues only Troilus’s sexual conquest of Criseyde, not a lasting, loving relationship. I further argue that Pandarus, as the embodiment of lust, functions as allegory. Viewing Pandarus through an allegorical lens clarifies his motives. And while the overarching narrative of Troilus and Criseyde does not rely on a traditional model of medieval allegory, Chaucer uses an allegorical framework of lust and courtly love, embedded in the characters of Pandarus and Troilus respectively, to explore the interplay of speech and action between lust and courtly love. Pandarus uses the rhetoric of courtly love to mask actions that subvert this ideal. This essay will demonstrate how Pandarus, in his allegorical pursuit of lust over courtly love, distorts Troilus’s intentions through deceptive rhetoric and drives the lovers toward the relationship he intends, not the relationship Troilus imagines.

Courtly Love and Lust in Troilus and Criseyde

Courtly love and lust represent two opposing ideologies within Troilus and Criseyde.  Courtly love idealizes devotion to one’s lover often to the exclusion of all else.  While courtly love was not a static concept in medieval literature, many courtly love narratives shared common features: love at first sight, often from afar; severe and potentially life-threatening lovesickness; and feats of heroism undertaken by a male lover to win his lady’s affection, to name a few. Troilus exhibits all of these symptoms of courtly love in Book 1: he sees Criseyde and falls instantly in love with her,[7] but does not approach her and instead keeps his love a secret.[8] He becomes lovesick and ceases to care about everything besides Criseyde, including the ongoing siege of Troy, blaming a fever for his visibly poor health, in order that his love remain a secret.[9] In the meantime, he achieves great feats in battle against the Greeks in hopes that his prowess would please Criseyde.[10] Troilus epitomizes the courtly lover throughout the narrative by expressing his love in recognizably courtly ways as Pandarus arranges his burgeoning relationship with Criseyde.

Beyond the recognizable actions of characters, courtly love narratives also shared the fundamental belief that lovers were ennobled by their love and that their love could be best expressed through language. In “Courtly Love and Chivalry in the Later Middle Ages,” Larry D. Benson describes that the distinction between courtly love and other models of love “lies rather in the conviction that this sort of love is admirable – that love is not only virtuous in itself but is the very source and cause of all the other virtues, that indeed one cannot be virtuous unless he is a lover.”[11] Benson refines this definition, asserting that courtly love “is especially dependent on the forms of speech, since not only is every lover a poet, but the main characteristics of the courtly lover—his courtesy, humility, and religion of love—are expressed in speech.”[12] Troilus’s song and many “pleyntes” to the God of Love in Book 1[13] demonstrate his verbal expression of love toward an absent Criseyde and his participation in courtly love ideology.

However, courtly speech did not always facilitate courtly love. The ability to use courtly love rhetoric skillfully did not guarantee good intentions. Benson observes that “the noble art of love talking was all too open to abuse by clever scoundrels, such as those clerks in the fabliaux, who realized the tactical advantages of love talking to impressionable young ladies.”[14] Pandarus repeatedly uses courtly love rhetoric to justify his actions to Troilus and Criseyde, even though his actions do not fit the courtly love model. Instead, he seeks to orchestrate the lovers’ relationship for the purpose of sexual fulfillment without the emotional impetus central to courtly love. While courtly love narratives may involve sex, including adultery in some cases, sex is not the ultimate ideological goal. Lovers in these narratives may go to great lengths to consummate their relationship but they do so in order to express their emotions. Courtly love primarily signifies emotional desire, and sex becomes a means rather than an end.

Conversely, in narratives of lust, sex is the ultimate goal and characters often use whatever means necessary to reach that end, including appropriating courtly love rhetoric to serve a less-noble purpose. Gretchen Mieszkowski describes a tradition of narratives that value sexual fulfillment over the ideals of courtly love, in which go-between characters arrange sexual relationships between sometimes-reluctant lovers. She contends that “[t]he would-be lovers in these stories talk about dying for love and cannot eat or sleep, but the go-betweens have no use for their exalted conception of desire and deal only with what they see as its basis.”[15] She further explains that narratives of lust “mock or omit altogether the emotional concerns that provide so much of the interest and energy of the stories of idealized [courtly] love.”[16] While the lovers within these narratives of lust may truly subscribe to courtly love ideals, the go-betweens do not. The go-betweens in Mieszkowski’s examples reject those ideals, taking advantage of the perceived naïveté of one or both lovers to achieve their ends. Pandarus belongs to this tradition of lust because he constructs a relationship between Troilus and Criseyde for the purpose of Troilus’s sexual fulfillment that undermines the ideals of courtly love that Troilus professes.

What makes Pandarus unique from Mieszkowski’s other examples is his lack of clear motivation for contriving a physical relationship for Troilus and Criseyde. She explains that go-betweens in the tradition of lust are often motivated by money, whether they are a procurer by profession or are simply paid to coerce or trap a woman into sex. Mieszkowski argues that Pandarus is motivated by his own desire for Troilus and Criseyde, both vicarious and direct, as an explanation for his aggressive involvement in their unfolding relationship. However, that explanation is insufficient to explain the depth and intensity of Pandarus’s involvement in constructing Troilus and Criseyde’s relationship.[17] In other words, Pandarus’s motivation is not simply his (human) desires for either or both lovers. To understand these motivations, we might explore a possible allegorical reading invited by the text.

Pandarus’s Allegory

Medieval readers were familiar with the idea of reading narratives on multiple interpretive levels, just as experienced writers would be conscious of the strategies for writing in ways that would reward such readings. As early as the fifth century CE, with the Psychomachia, writers drafting narratives with religious subjects often crafted their works with a literal and an allegorical significance; its author, Prudentius, a peer of Augustine, dips from a similar well as Augustine who codified an interpretive model with his fourfold system of biblical interpretation. Authors of allegorical works, Chaucer included, employed dream visions and personification allegory in which characters personifying abstract qualities speak and interact with other characters (both allegorical and not) from the position of the respective abstractions these characters embody. Chaucer’s creation of Pandarus is no different, and in Pandarus we can see Chaucer’s deep experience with multiple models of allegory manifesting in a subtle allegorical characterization. Pandarus’s allegory operates within the broader understanding of allegory that would have been familiar to medieval audiences.

However, Chaucer bends this traditional model in his works, imbuing allegorical characters with individuality and embedding allegorical layers within unique, individual characters. Suzanne Conklin Akbari analyzes several of Chaucer’s dream visions and select stories from the Canterbury Tales to demonstrate Chaucer’s distinctive use of allegory. Akbari posits that Chaucer uses personifications in non-traditional ways and that this departure from tradition “demonstrates the dissolution of the correspondence between personification and abstraction.”[18] She observes that, in the Book of the Duchess, “Chaucer conspicuously avoids using traditional personifications, which appear only as allusions in the discourse between the narrator and the Man in Black and not as actors within the narrative.”[19] She goes on to describe the interactions of Venus and Nature in the Parlement of Fowls, in which personifications “take on characteristics of other personifications, something inconceivable within the bounds of traditional, vertical allegory…By giving individual perspective to personifications, Chaucer metamorphoses them from embodied abstractions into living persons.”[20] In Akbari’s analysis, Chaucer disrupts traditional allegory with individual perspective to create multi-dimensional characters distanced from the abstractions they represent. On the surface, Akbari’s examples employ certain elements common to traditional personification allegory, such as characters named for the abstractions they represent (or at least abstractions named as if they were characters). These figures resemble traditional allegory at first blush but deviate from that model, which creates the separation between personification and abstraction Akbari describes. Pandarus is a further extension of this separation, or rather a reversal. In Pandarus, Chaucer develops a psychologically complex, multi-faceted character that personifies an abstraction beneath more human features. Rather than starting with a familiar allegorical model and distancing personification from abstraction, I will show how Chaucer constructs Pandarus as largely human and individual with allegorical traits that, while subtle, help clarify his motives and shape his actions throughout the narrative.

I will analyze four key scenes in Books 1-3 that highlight Pandarus’s allegorical role as lust: Troilus’s confession to Pandarus about his new love; Pandarus’s exhortation of Criseyde to accept Troilus’s love; his sober conversation with Troilus acknowledging his role in their love; and the consummation scene and morning after. These examples illustrate how Pandarus participates in the ideology of lust in contrast to courtly love because they make apparent the slippages in his courtly rhetoric that reveal his sexual intentions. Moreover, these examples also show how the intensity of his involvement demonstrates allegorical motivations. The ways in which Pandarus uses the rhetoric of courtly love to fulfill his sexual—and lustful— intentions, and the extent to which characters within the narrative understand or “read” his intentions beyond the rhetoric he uses, demonstrates that a character’s (or reader’s) inability to discern ill intention from noble rhetoric leads to deception. Moreover, Troilus’s example suggests that succumbing to rhetorical deception may result in the abandonment of the noble principles that such rhetoric was expected to uphold.

Setting the Stage for Lust

Pandarus’s first meeting with Troilus in Book 1 establishes Pandarus’s fixation on lust in contrast to the courtly nature of Troilus’s love. Troilus explains his love to Pandarus in emotional, courtly terms. Pandarus’s initial response to Troilus, while courtly on the surface, deviates from courtly speech in several key ways. Firstly, Pandarus does not care who Troilus loves, ignoring the nobility of Troilus’s emotions upon which courtly love relies. Secondly, Pandarus mocks Troilus for his great emotion, devaluing Troilus and the courtly love ideology Troilus represents and revealing his own ideological position. Lastly, Pandarus inserts himself into the lovers’ relationship even before it has begun—rather than facilitating their love for one another, he imagines a place for himself in the relationship, which invites an allegorical reading of Pandarus’s motivations. Operating under the ideology that love is lust, in this conversation Pandarus begins to construct a relationship for Troilus in order to fulfill basic sexual desire, disregarding and undermining the emotion Troilus feels.

Pandarus visits Troilus and, seeing him in distress, asks him what is wrong. Troilus, after much prevaricating, admits that he is in love. Pandarus exclaims:

“How hastow thus unkyndely and longe

Hid this fro me, thow fol?” quod Pandarus

“Paraunter thow myghte after swich oon longe,

That myn avys anoon may helpen us.”[21]

Pandarus chides Troilus for keeping his love (and lovesickness) a secret, calling Troilus a fool, and remarks that he could offer Troilus advice. Troilus had continued to love Criseyde from afar without acting, a hallmark of courtly love narratives. In contrast, Pandarus’s first thought moves to action. Pandarus assumes that they can and should pursue Troilus’s love, offering “avys” for how to proceed. Twice in the ensuing conversation, he explains that he will gladly help Troilus regardless of the object of his affections, first offering Helen, Troilus’s brother’s wife, and second Pandarus’s own sister.[22] Pandarus is unconcerned with the identity of Troilus’s lady, and therefore also unconcerned with the worthiness of the lady in question. If the lady’s worthiness is unimportant, it follows that the intrinsic worthiness of Troilus’s own emotion is equally unimportant. This attitude dismisses the nobility of courtly love, implying that Pandarus does not subscribe to courtly love ideology.

While his initial dismissal of this ideology is subtle, Pandarus openly derides Troilus’s courtly love ideals in his reaction to Troilus’s lovesick behavior. He repeatedly calls Troilus a fool for weeping instead of acting,[23] though paralysis was a common courtly love symptom. He mocks Troilus’s fears of his lady’s possible anger, responding, “Thow has a ful gret care / Les that the cherl may falle out of the moone! / Why, Lord! I hate of the thi nyce fare!”[24] He deems that Troilus’s fears are ridiculous, though by the standards of courtly love rhetoric, Troilus’s fears are perfectly natural. This mockery makes explicit the earlier implication that Pandarus does not participate in the ideology of courtly love that esteems these actions. Yet Pandarus still drives Troilus to pursue his beloved despite not believing in the kind of love Troilus expresses, which implies that Pandarus envisions a different kind of relationship emerging. His mocking behavior and lack of concern about the nobility of the relationship or its participants suggest that Pandarus formulates a relationship based on sexual fulfillment, establishing him in the ideology of narratives of lust.

While the preceding examples demonstrate Pandarus’s fixation on lust, the extent to which Pandarus inserts himself into the emerging relationship illustrates how he functions allegorically. In his response to Troilus, Pandarus claims that his advice “may helpen us (emphasis added)” assuming that the solution to Troilus’s problem (Pandarus’s “avys“) will help not only Troilus but also Pandarus himself. Here Pandarus plays two roles: the person dispensing the advice and the person benefitting from the advice. As a go-between, the first role makes sense. The second role makes little sense on the surface: what does Pandarus gain from Troilus achieving his goal? This question is more easily answered when reading Pandarus as allegory: as a personification of lust, Pandarus is invested in Troilus achieving sexual fulfillment. On a human level, Pandarus does not believe in the ideals of courtly love that Troilus exemplifies, and therefore begins constructing a physical relationship for Troilus. On an allegorical level, Troilus’s physical relationship is Pandarus’s intent, and Pandarus rhetorically aligns himself with Troilus to ensure Troilus’s future sexual fulfillment.

Pandarus’s rhetorical alignment and numerous arguments effectively overwhelm Troilus’s fears. As the conversation continues, Pandarus’s plan unfolds and Troilus takes a backseat in his own burgeoning relationship. Pandarus even goes so far as to tell Troilus that Troilus does not need to know the entire plan, only his piece of it, and Pandarus will take care of the rest: “Whi, entremete of that thow hast to doone! / For Goddes love, I bidde the a boone: / So lat m’alone, and it shal be thi beste.”[25] He reassures Troilus that he will work in Troilus’s best interest and relegates Troilus to an actor in the drama, while he appoints himself director of the action. This remains true throughout Books 2 and 3 as Pandarus schemes and manipulates not only Criseyde but also others like Deiphebus and Hector who are unaware of the real reason for Pandarus’s machinations. Troilus capitulates to Pandarus’s plan and trusts that Pandarus’s intentions match his own—that of an emotional relationship based on the tenets of courtly love. Troilus, immersed in the ideology of courtly love, is unable to read Pandarus’s intentions through the slippages in Pandarus’s rhetoric, which sets the stage for the unfolding relationship with Criseyde.

Persuading Criseyde

In his conversation with Criseyde in Book 2, Pandarus adds another layer of deceptive rhetoric in order to persuade Criseyde. Criseyde is skeptical of Pandarus’s courtly speech, which suggests that she reads beneath the courtly love rhetoric he uses. Criseyde’s reading of Pandarus contrasts with Troilus’s, which offers readers a new perspective on Pandarus’s use of courtly love rhetoric to mask lustful intentions. After leaving Troilus, Pandarus visits Criseyde and confesses Troilus’s love for her. He declares that, if she does not help Troilus, he will die (literally) and Pandarus will die as well (presumably metaphorically). He explains that Criseyde does not need to promise herself to Troilus, only act kindly toward him:

But only that ye make hym bettre chiere

Than ye han doon er this, and moore feste,

So that his lif be saved atte leeste;

This al and som, and pleynly, oure entente

God help me so, I nevere other mente![27]

Pandarus then assures her that her kindness, and nothing more, was all he intended from the beginning. This passage shows Pandarus again conflating his and Troilus’s positions with “oure entente.” Pandarus uses the plural “oure,” rhetorically aligning his “entente” or intentions with Troilus’s. He clarifies that they only request Criseyde to “make hym bettre chiere” and offer friendship in order to save Troilus’s life. However, as the conversation in Book 1 illustrates, neither Troilus nor Pandarus envision that Troilus’s relationship with Criseyde would amount to friendship and nothing more, albeit for different reasons. Troilus assumes that, with Pandarus’s help, his emotional, courtly love will be reciprocated. Pandarus intends to fulfill Troilus’s sexual desire, regardless of friendship or courtly love.

The layering of intentions in this conversation—the shared intentions of friendship Pandarus professes, the courtly love Troilus imagines, and the sex Pandarus orchestrates—represents a new rhetorical tactic designed to manipulate Criseyde. In the previous book, Pandarus reinterpreted Troilus’s longing for courtly love into a venture of base sexual fulfillment. In this conversation with Criseyde, he has further masked his intentions by recasting Troilus’s courtly love as only friendship when speaking with Criseyde. But Criseyde, unlike Troilus, is wary of Pandarus’s speech. After Pandarus announces that Troilus loves her, Criseyde thinks to herself that she will ascertain what Pandarus means, realizing that he intends more than he says. She asks him what she should do about his announcement, pressing Pandarus to explain himself and requiring him to modify his message.[28]

Pandarus shifts his rhetoric slightly and responds that Criseyde should love Troilus in return, if only to save his life. Criseyde begins to cry, feeling betrayed by Pandarus’s advice. She despairs of a world in which her best friend would advocate love when he should defend her from it and calls his advice “this paynted proces,” which Benson glosses in the Riverside Chaucer as “ornate and specious discourse.”[29] Pandarus then reprimands her for caring so little for his and Troilus’s lives and moves to leave. Concerned for how others would perceive their deaths, Criseyde stops Pandarus and agrees to make Troilus “good chere,” which she frames as the lesser of two evils in comparison to their deaths. However, as part of her acquiescence, she makes clear that she will not love Troilus, even to save their lives, and that if Pandarus and Troilus push for more, she will not have pity for them, to which Pandarus agrees.[30]

Criseyde’s feelings of betrayal highlight the ways in which Pandarus deviates in this conversation from courtly love rhetoric. As Criseyde’s uncle and closest male relative (after her father’s defection to the Greeks), Pandarus is responsible for defending Criseyde’s virtue. Pandarus’s advice offends Criseyde because it contradicts his social role as her protector. In addition, the fact that Pandarus uses such deception to pursue Criseyde inherently contradicts the tenets of courtly love. Mieszkowski explains that lying, deceiving, and manipulating are the hallmarks of go-betweens in narratives of lust: “Pandarus’s fabricating is primarily manipulation of Criseyde, working her over to create the responses needed for Troilus’s satisfaction.”[31] She adds that Pandarus’s position at Troilus’s side rather than between the two lovers marks him as “the agent of one of the couple and the adversary of the other.”[32] This adversarial positioning reinforces Criseyde’s feelings of betrayal: as her uncle, Pandarus should consider her interests above others’, but instead he puts Troilus’s interests first. Expanding Mieszkowski’s argument further, Pandarus puts his own interests first, shaping not only Criseyde’s behavior to suit Troilus’s “satisfaction” but also recasting Troilus’s courtly love as lust. Pandarus uses the ideology of lust to pursue Criseyde, purportedly on Troilus’s behalf, toward his intent: a relationship based on lust, which neither Troilus nor Criseyde envision.

Pandarus functions allegorically in this scene by pursuing his intent in the face of social, familial, and fraternal reasons to cease his scheme. The lengths to which he goes to disguise his lustful intentions beneath courtly love rhetoric, then to mask them yet again by recasting courtly love as friendship, demonstrate how his motivations move beyond the human into the allegorical. His actions in this scene conflict with his human characteristics, such as familial ties with Criseyde, friendship for Troilus, and social responsibility. Criseyde’s feelings of betrayal and careful negotiation speak to this conflict because her protests highlight the role she expects him to play in contrast to his actions. Even after Pandarus agrees to her terms, Criseyde suspects that Pandarus may continue pushing for more concessions from her, regardless of his promise to push no further. Chaucer juxtaposes Troilus’s reading of Pandarus’s rhetoric and underlying intentions in Book 1 and Criseyde’s reading here to illustrate the layers of Pandarus’s deception and his fixation on lust.

Criseyde capitulates in the end and assents to Pandarus’s plan not because she entirely believes his sincerity but because parts of Pandarus’s reasoning convince her to comply. The reasons she finds most persuasive are those that invoke public opinion. In the previous passage, she agrees to Troilus’s friendship because Pandarus claims both he and Troilus will die otherwise and Criseyde worries how others will perceive their deaths. Additionally, at the beginning of her conversation with Pandarus, he prefaces his request by saying that his words are no trick:

For me were levere thow and I and he

Were hanged, than I sholde ben his baude,

As heigh as men myghte on us alle ysee!

I am thyn em; the shame were to me,

As wel as the, if that I sholde assente

Thorugh myn abet that he thyn honour shente.[33]

Here Pandarus again inserts himself in the lovers’ relationship, using “thow and I and he (emphasis added)” to literally put himself between Troilus and Criseyde. But more importantly, in this passage Pandarus raises the possibility of public scorn. According to Pandarus, it is better that all three of them hang than anyone should assume Pandarus acts a pimp for Troilus. Since, however, Pandarus is acting as Troilus’s pimp, in essence he means that it is better that all three of them hang than anyone discover Pandarus acting as a procurer. In citing his role as Criseyde’s uncle (“I am thyn em”), he reminds Criseyde that society would condemn them both (“the shame were to me / As wel as the”) should it come to light that he coerced Criseyde into a sexual relationship. Pandarus’s rhetoric makes Criseyde complicit in her own loss of honor. Pandarus presents his bawdery as a negative example, claiming that he could not possibly perpetrate something so shameful, and therefore all the associated consequences are hypothetical. Yet in revealing the implications of his role even as he denies that role, Pandarus puts the burden of secrecy on Criseyde. She agrees to his request at the end of their conversation because she fears the potential social consequences if she does not agree. This means that despite her reading of Pandarus’s indecent intentions, Criseyde feels compelled to agree to his request, and the narrative continues moving toward Pandarus’s intent.

Redefining Courtly Love

Once plans are set in motion leading to consummation, Pandarus uses courtly love rhetoric to justify his actions, not just to hide his intentions. In conversation with Troilus in Book 3, Pandarus employs rhetorical tactics in order to deflect attention from his less-than-courtly scheme and reinforces Troilus’s complicity in the process. The scene begins with Pandarus speaking to Troilus at Troilus’s bedside, explaining that he has acted in questionable ways in order to prevent Troilus’s suffering. Pandarus admits that “[f]or shame it is to seye” what he has done, which he describes:

That is to seye, for the am I bicomen,

Bitwixen game and ernest, swich a meene

As maken wommen unto men to comen

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But God, that al woot, take I to witnesse,

That nevere I this for coveitise wroughte,

But oonly for t’abregge that distresse

For which wel neigh thow deidest, as me thoughte.[34]

After hearing Pandarus’s admission, Troilus responds in defense of Pandarus. Troilus feels affronted that Pandarus doubts Troilus’s good opinion of him. According to Troilus, Pandarus fears “[t]hat this which thow me dost for compaigne, / I [Troilus] sholde wene it were a bauderye,” but Troilus declares “[i]t is nought so, that woot I wel, parde!” Troilus adds that Pandarus’s actions are born of “gentilesse / Compassioun, and felawship, and trist.”[35] Troilus agrees with Pandarus that Pandarus’s actions are innocent, despite their resemblance to “bauderye” or procuring, because Pandarus carried them out with the best intentions. Troilus goes so far in his show of solidarity to offer to procure a woman for Pandarus, even one of his sisters, which mirrors Pandarus’s attitudes toward Troilus in Book 1.

At this point in the narrative, Pandarus’s plans are bearing fruit and Pandarus’s actions, not just his intentions, are potentially under scrutiny. In Pandarus’s mind, his declaration of good intent excuses his questionable actions. Pandarus feels the need to justify himself to Troilus, on whose behalf he purportedly put all this into motion. While some critics contextualize this conversation and other moments in the text as demonstrating Pandarus’s great friendship for Troilus,[36] that explanation does not account for Pandarus’s many deceptions and manipulations of both Criseyde and Troilus himself, tactics which only serve Troilus’s aim in the loosest sense but primarily serve Pandarus’s intent. In this scene, Pandarus uses a deflection to reframe his actions in the context of courtly love rhetoric, further convincing Troilus that good intentions justify questionable actions, which is questionable in itself. He admits that others could interpret his actions as procuring Criseyde for Troilus, remarking that to be a person who makes “wommen unto men to comen” is shameful. Similar to his conversation with Criseyde in Book 2, he immediately denies any indecent intent, explaining that he did it to save Troilus from pain rather than out of “coveitise.” He cautions Troilus in the following lines to remain silent for fear of exposure. Pandarus knows that, despite his supposed good intent, others who hear the story will likely find fault with his actions. As in his conversation with Criseyde, Pandarus presents an opportunity to read his true intent—lust—beyond his rhetoric by posing a hypothetical scenario. Even though he rhetorically justifies and dismisses the scenario, he acknowledges the less-than-courtly (or -avuncular) nature of his plan.

Troilus’s response in this conversation completely contrasts Criseyde’s reaction in previous scenes. Troilus willingly fits Pandarus’s lustful actions within Troilus’s own courtly love paradigm, though this fit is a stretch that Troilus does not make entirely successfully. In Book 1, Troilus cannot discern Pandarus’s intentions because he is immersed so deeply in the rhetoric of courtly love. Due to Pandarus’s use of courtly love rhetoric, Troilus believes that Pandarus also subscribes to courtly love ideology and conflates his own beliefs with Pandarus’s, as Pandarus intended. Ida L. Gordon describes the irony of the dialogue between Pandarus and Troilus, contending that “what Pandarus is doing is ‘bauderye’, in the only meaning of the word that could be relevant: he is acting as procurer for Troilus, whatever may be his reasons for doing it. And Troilus’ generous offer to do the like for Pandarus only underlines the fallacy of his ‘proof.'”[37] She asserts that, like Pandarus’s earlier disavowal of being a bawd in Book 2, this denial “rais[es] questions of moral judgement [sic] and refut[es] them with arguments that may seem valid on first impression, but which are really arguments that give the case away.”[38] In other words, Pandarus is a bawd regardless of who denies it or what rationalizations they offer to the contrary; his actions speak for themselves and motivation does not change the definition of those actions. The irony arises from Troilus’s belief that offering to do the same for Pandarus validates Pandarus’s argument: that, if done out of friendship, procuring somehow is not actually procuring.

Because Troilus already believes in Pandarus’s good intentions, he makes the cognitive leap Pandarus lays out here: if Pandarus’s intentions are good, born of friendship, then his actions could not possibly be “bauderye.” With this cognitive leap, Troilus becomes an active participant in Pandarus’s justifications. Where in previous examples Troilus accepted Pandarus’s arguments, here he engages in argumentation himself. Pandarus’s speech has shifted: where, at first, he used courtly love rhetoric to mask sexual intentions, his justifications in this scene redefine what represents courtly love rhetoric to include actions that would not generally be considered courtly. Troilus participates in this redefinition and thereby helps reshape his own beliefs away from the ideals he embodied at the beginning of the narrative.

Troilus’s complicity helps reveal the allegory at work in this scene by illustrating how lust compromises the tenets of courtly love from within. In previous examples, Pandarus’s allegory becomes apparent where human motivation fails to provide a sufficient reason for his actions, as seen in the slippages throughout his courtly love rhetoric that reveal his underlying sexual intentions. The extent to which characters within the narrative—namely Troilus and Criseyde—can detect the slippages and discern his true intentions demonstrate the juxtaposition of ideologies by which the two characters read Pandarus. Chaucer crafts allegory in this scene wherein the ability to read between rhetoric and intention is key to staying true to one’s own beliefs. Pandarus does not simply deceive Troilus in this scene, Pandarus reframes Troilus’s ideologies so that Troilus deceives himself

Consummation and Pandarus’s Full Intent

Pandarus reinforces Troilus’s redefinition of courtly love in the consummation scene. Pandarus relies on the logic that good intentions justify questionable actions when he frames his coercion of Criseyde as a measure to save Troilus’s life. Since Troilus already adopted this assumption in the previous scene, Pandarus’s use of this rhetoric here reinforces the assumption in Troilus’s mind. Troilus’s complicity gives Pandarus free reign to act in questionable ways throughout the scene without Troilus protesting. And though Criseyde notices and protests Pandarus’s rhetoric, Troilus does not interfere because he reads Pandarus’s good intentions rather than his unscrupulous behavior. Pandarus’s motivations in this scene are less human than ever before, which invites an allegorical reading of his intent: it makes sense that, as a personification of lust, Pandarus would be highly invested in ensuring the outcome of the consummation. An allegorical reading also clarifies why Pandarus “hath fully his entente” the morning after the consummation, when he can confront Criseyde and confirm the results of the previous night. On an allegorical level, lust has successfully distorted courtly love to the point that courtly love acts in lustful ways without realizing it. Chaucer uses allegory in this scene to suggest that self-deception, arising from an inability to read others’ manipulative rhetoric, distorts one’s beliefs and leads to actions that abandon those beliefs.

In this scene, Pandarus deviates from courtly love ideals in both rhetoric and action. Rhetorically, Pandarus’s deviations are carefully played because he has two different audiences—Troilus and Criseyde—for whom he must maintain differing levels of deception. Pandarus rhetorically drives Troilus toward consummation without pausing for courtly emotions. With Criseyde, Pandarus brings to bear her fears to coerce her into compliance with his plan. Pandarus’s deviations in action bridge the two rhetorical tactics: Pandarus’s physical intrusions into the lovers’ discussion underscores his coercion of Criseyde yet also emphasizes Troilus’s acceptance of Pandarus’s behavior, which reinforces Troilus’s redefinition of courtly love.

Throughout the scene, Pandarus verbally reminds Troilus to keep moving toward the end goal, leaving behind much of the courtly speech upon which he previously relied. When Pandarus speaks with Troilus before they arrive at Criseyde’s chamber, he mocks Troilus’s fears of Criseyde’s anger, much like in Book 1. In this case, however, he keeps his speech short and simply drags Troilus through the trapdoor and to Criseyde’s chamber by his clothing.[39] With Criseyde waiting and the stage set, Pandarus is eager to move the action forward and does not need to belabor a rhetorical point, as Troilus already believes that Pandarus’s intentions are good. After Troilus awakens from his faint, Pandarus wryly observes that “[t]his light, nor I, ne serven here of nought. / Light is nought good for sike folkes yen!”[40] He still does not exit the scene, though, as a few stanzas later he pipes up to remind Troilus, “If ye be wise, / Swouneth nought now, lest more folk arise!”[41] Both of these comments make light of Troilus’s heavy and serious love for Criseyde, the first a dry euphemism that plays on Troilus’s supposedly dire lovesickness and the second a more satirical mockery of Troilus’s earlier faint. Pandarus’s attitude toward love is humorous, sarcastic, and wholly sexual: according to Mieszkowski, Pandarus “acts and speaks from the conception of lovers as lustful bodies and loving as coupling, an eminently accomplishable enterprise to laugh at and peek in on.”[42] Pandarus’s taunts are intended to spur Troilus into action, demonstrating Pandarus’s focus on sexual fulfillment and impatience with Troilus’s emotions. Now more than ever, Pandarus’s motivations appear allegorical: he ignores Troilus’s feelings in order to drive the narrative toward Troilus’s sexual fulfillment, revealing his lustful motivations.

Pandarus’s rhetorical deviations with Criseyde are more coercive than deceptive. Criseyde is startled by their unexplained presence in the middle of the night and almost calls out to her waiting women in the next room, until Pandarus reminds her that “[t]hey myghte demen thyng they nevere er thoughte.”[43] While this is similar to Pandarus’s rhetorical gambit from Book 2 in which he uses the potential for public scandal to persuade Criseyde, in this instance the threat of scandal is very real: her women are within shouting distance and would likely find the situation improper. Pandarus’s warning here invokes his earlier rhetoric because the implication remains that all three of them would be judged harshly should others find out. Despite Criseyde’s valid concerns for Pandarus’s and Troilus’s presence in her chamber, she cannot escape these troubling circumstances without risking her honor, and thus she remains silent and allows the action to proceed. Pandarus’s rhetoric succeeds in this case not because he convinces Criseyde of his good intentions, as with Troilus, but because she understands the consequences of noncompliance.

Pandarus’s actions impel Troilus and Criseyde to consummation, while Troilus’s acceptance of Pandarus’s actions reinforce his redefined ideology. Throughout the scene, Pandarus involves himself in every action and conversation far more than one might expect of a go-between. In one notable example, after Troilus faints, Pandarus hauls Troilus to the bed, partially undresses him, and urges Criseyde to help him wake Troilus. Pandarus and Criseyde proceed to rub his hands and wrists to revive him.[44] Pandarus physically intrudes to an excessive level in order to hasten Troilus’s awakening, hurrying the lovers toward sexual gratification. Mieszkowski explains that Pandarus has no precedent in go-between narratives for his intrusive behavior during this scene: while go-betweens may arrange trysts, “[n]one of the romance lovers are half-smothered by their go-betweens the way Troilus and Criseyde are by Pandarus.”[45] Pandarus’s excessive intrusions continuously prompts the lovers to forge ahead toward the goal of the scene: the consummation. His fixation on the sexual fulfillment waiting at the conclusion of the dialogue makes him rush the lovers through courtly expressions of love in speech toward action, which reveals his allegory. Reading Pandarus allegorically casts his excessive intrusions as reminders to Troilus of their supposedly shared purpose to reach sexual fulfillment. Since Troilus now accepts questionable actions within his redefined courtly love model, Pandarus’s coercion of Criseyde is allowable as a result of his modified ideology. Carolyn Dinshaw argues that Pandarus’s actions in this scene are indecent: “[h]is presence is obtrusive, his vicarious pleasure almost obscene.”[46] To extend Dinshaw’s argument, Troilus’s actions are also indecent: he rationalizes Pandarus’s obscenity in this scene through the lens of good intentions established in their previous conversation and allows Pandarus to coerce Criseyde. Allegorically, courtly love accepts lustful actions within its sphere and now enacts its own obscenities as Troilus witnesses and allows Pandarus’s coercion of Criseyde. Troilus allows lustful rhetoric to lead him to legitimize lustful actions, which demonstrates that his ideological position has been distorted so thoroughly that he cannot identify how lust subverts his noble courtly love beliefs. 

Pandarus corroborates the consummation—and the ideological distortion it implies—in his visit to Criseyde the next morning. The scene is significant for declaring that Pandarus finally “hath fully his entente.” But the scene is also ambiguous because the narrator elides the action immediately preceding the culmination of Pandarus’s intent, making readers wonder what, precisely, Pandarus’s intent was. While Chaucer’s narrator refuses to give definitive description, his elision speaks for itself. The scene begins when Pandarus visits Criseyde the next morning. He makes veiled references to the activities of the previous night and asks how Criseyde fares. As before, Criseyde sees through Pandarus: his jollity mocks the serious social ramifications of the consummation. She responds:

“Nevere the bet for yow,

Fox that he ben! God yeve youre herte kare!

God help me so, ye caused al this fare,

Trowe I,” quod she, “for al youre wordes white.

O, whoso seeth yow knoweth yow ful lite.”[47]

She finds fault in Pandarus’s actions and implies he jeopardized her wellbeing. She places the blame for her predicament squarely on Pandarus, saying that “caused al this fare” with his deceitful rhetoric (“wordes white”). However, Pandarus dismisses Criseyde’s protestations with only a few lines. Pandarus deflects attention from his actions and expends little rhetorical energy doing so: he knows that any protestations of innocence on his part will not fool Criseyde. Pandarus stops speaking and continues the action of the scene in order to reach his full intent.

The narrator reveals Pandarus’s “entente” in vague terms, but the ambiguity of the narration is telling in itself. After his short protestations, Pandarus grabs Criseyde “al sodeynly” and kisses her.[49] At this point, the narrator declines to continue his narration in detail, saying only that:

I passe al that which chargeth nought to seye.

What! God foryaf his deth, and she al so

Foryaf, and with here uncle gan to pleye,

For other cause was ther noon than so.

But of this thing right to the effect to go:

Whan tyme was, hom til here hous she went,

And Pandarus hath fully his entente.[50]

Amid multiple equivocations, the narrator describes that, like God forgave Jesus’s death, Criseyde forgives Pandarus and they begin to play; some time later, Criseyde leaves and Pandarus has achieved his full intent.

There are three layers of ambiguity at work in this passage, but each layer simultaneously clarifies readers’ understanding even as it leaves much unsaid. Firstly, the narrator chooses to skip material in his retelling, remarking that “I passe al that which chargeth nought to seye.” Readers do not know what the narrator elides, but he has brought the elision to readers’ attention; the narrator is clearly hiding something, but it is unclear what, or why.

Secondly, the verb “pleye” hints at sexual double entendre. The root verb “pleien” most commonly means “to play; have fun, enjoy oneself, be merry.”[51] This interpretation of “pleye” in the passage has precedent in other dialogue between Criseyde and Pandarus, as in their playful banter in Book 2. But according to the Middle English Dictionary, the second most common usage of “pleien” means “to play amorously; make love, engage in sexual intercourse.”[52] This interpretation is not farfetched given Pandarus’s aggressive manhandling of Criseyde and the kiss he initiates: “his arm al sodeynly he thriste / Under hir nekke, and at the laste hir kiste.”[53] Many critics have cited this as a veiled reference to incest,[54] which also gives one possible reason for the narrator’s elision in the following stanza, but the narrator provides no concrete answers. Pandarus’s allegorical nature makes an incestuous interpretation more plausible, as his fixation on sexual desire emboldens him to kiss his own niece and may lead readers to suspect him of going even further. Yet, plausible is not proven. Readers are again left feeling like something has happened, but unable to prove any interpretation with certainty.

Thirdly, Pandarus “hath fully his entente” only after this scene, not immediately after the consummation. This scene highlights Pandarus’s focus on gratifying lust because Pandarus has now confirmed that Troilus had sex with Criseyde. Having verified the success of his machinations, as corroborated by Criseyde’s distress, Pandarus can conclude that Troilus’s  ideological distortion is complete: Troilus had sex with Criseyde under a thin veneer of courtly love rhetoric while engaging in actions born of the ideology of lust. While Troilus’s emotions may be genuine, his complicity in Criseyde’s coercion the night before does not uphold the nobility that courtly love idealizes. Criseyde’s distress the morning after marks that she feels the indecency of the night’s actions, in stark contrast to Troilus, who could not discern how his actions betrayed his own beliefs. Pandarus “hath fully his entente” upon seeing Criseyde because she indirectly validates Troilus’s participation in the ideology of lust.

The Complicity of Reading

By the time the consummation scene occurs, Troilus’s complicity goes beyond reading to involve rewriting his own role in the narrative. Pandarus’s rhetorical deceptions lead Troilus to engage in the act of interpretation, of making meaning, rather than passively accepting Pandarus’s overwhelming activity. But Pandarus remains the chief author of the narrative action in Books 1-3 and his constant rewriting of himself and others serves as a model for readers outside the text, not just those within it. Chaucer invests Pandarus with allegory to make readers consider how they arrive at their own interpretation of the text. Criseyde’s reading of Pandarus’s intentions and actions, and Troilus’s lack of reading, model two opposing interpretations for the text’s audience. According to Maureen Quilligan, allegory inherently and explicitly asks readers to participate in interpretation. In her influential work The Language of Allegory, Quilligan describes allegory as a genre marked by “the generation of narrative structure out of wordplay.”[55] She extends this definition to encompass the reader, clarifying that:

Because allegory is (and always has been) the most self-reflexive and critically self-conscious of narrative genres, and because its purpose is always to make its reader correspondingly self-conscious, the reader necessarily belongs in its description. He is a definite component of the form. It is, in fact, this strange characteristic that most distinguishes allegory as a genre…Other genres appeal to readers as human beings; allegory appeals to readers as readers of a system of signs.[56]

For Quilligan, allegory involves readers by making them aware of their own position in relation to the text. Reading the “system of signs” present in an allegorical text allows readers to not only understand the text but also themselves. To further refine Quilligan’s definition, reading is not a passive state – readers occupy an active role, much like Troilus does in reshaping his definition of courtly love. Chaucer uses Pandarus to explore the ramifications of active reading in which interpretation means complicity.

By participating in the interpretive act, readers are also complicit in the creation of meaning in the text. The narrative of Troilus and Criseyde requires readers to be authors who cannot remain passive or neutral in creating their understanding of the text. Evan Carton argues that the reader is an integral part of the narrative because Troilus and Criseyde is ultimately about the complicity required from characters, narrator, and reader alike: “[t]o write, read or act in Troilus and Criseyde is to be a partner in the polygamy of speaking and hearing that at once makes up the poem and constitutes its main subject.”[57] Carton illustrates the reflexivity of the narrative, highlighting that the action of the poem also reflects its subject. In Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer models the interrelation of reading and writing. Through Pandarus, Chaucer invites his audience to read while simultaneously suggesting that reading is actually writing, thereby making readers complicit in their own conclusions. Chaucer asks readers to consciously examine how they arrive at their own interpretations.

Kayla Shea, Western Washington University, Bellingham 

Kayla Shea is an MA graduate from Western Washington University specializing in medieval English literature. Kayla’s research interests focus on Old English, exploring themes of community, self-identity, and otherness.


[1] For discussion of Pandarus’s friendship with Troilus, see Richard G. Cook, “Chaucer’s Pandarus and the Medieval Ideal of Friendship,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 69 (1970), 407-424; John D. Cormican, “Motivation of Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde,” Language Quarterly 18.3-4 (1980), 43-48; and Alan T. Gaylord, “Friendship in Chaucer’s Troilus,” Chaucer Review 3.4 (1969), 239-264.

[2] Cormican also discusses Pandarus’s identity as a courtly lover; for further investigation, see Charles S. Rutherford, “Pandarus as Lover: ‘A Joly Wo’ or ‘Loves Shotes Keene’?” Annuale Mediaevale 13 (1972), 5-13.

[3] Carolyn Dinshaw, Ida L. Gordon, and Gretchen Mieszkowski all assert Pandarus’s role as a procurer. For further argument for Pandarus as pimp, see Robert R. Edwards, “Pandarus’s ‘Unthrift’ and the Problem of Desire in Troilus and Criseyde,” Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde: ‘Subgit to alle poesye’: Essays in Criticism, eds. R.A. Shoaf and Catherine S. Cox (Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1992), pp. 74-87; and Beryl Rowland, “Pandarus and the Fate of Tantalus,” Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies 24 (1969), 3-15.

[4] Recent trends in Pandarus criticism focus on questions of Pandarus’s sexuality and his relationship with Troilus (and with Criseyde)—arguments this essay supports while examining the character in ways that have not been explored up to now. Further analysis of Pandarus’s homoeroticism can be found in Tison Pugh, “Queer Pandarus? Silence and Sexual Ambiguity in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde,” Philological Quarterly 80.1 (2001), 17-35; and Richard E. Zeikowitz, “Sutured Looks and Homoeroticism: Reading Troilus and Pandarus Cinematically,” Men and Masculinities in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, eds. Tison Pugh and Marcia Smith Marzec (Rochester, NY: Brewer, 2008), pp. 148-160.

[5] Among critics who argue for an incestuous reading of the morning-after scene between Pandarus and Criseyde are Rowland; Haldeen Braddy, “Chaucer’s Playful Pandarus,” Southern Folklore Quarterly 34 (1970), 71-81; and Cory James Rushton, “The Awful Passion of Pandarus,” Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain, eds. Amanda Hopkins, Robert Allen Rouse, and Cory James Rushton (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2014), pp. 147-160.

[6] Tison Pugh argues for a queer reading of Pandarus that suggests Pandarus’s desires may be directed at Troilus and Criseyde. Tison Pugh, “Queering Tragedy: Queer Desires and Queering Genres in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde,” Queering Medieval Genres (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 86. Gretchen Mieszkowski also posits that Pandarus desires both lovers. Gretchen Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens and Chaucer’s Pandarus (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 8.

[7] Troilus observes Criseyde in the temple and cannot look away (“His eye percede, and so depe it went, / Til on Criseyde it smot, and ther it stente”) and feels “gret desir and such affeccioun” strike his heart. Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ed. Larry D. Benson in The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), ll.272-273 and l.296. All subsequent citations from the text are from this edition.

[8] At first Troilus hides his longing glances (“Ne his desir, ne wherfore he stood thus, / He neither chere made, ne word tolde”), then later he decides to keep his love secret (“And thoughte he wolde werken pryvely, / First to hiden his desir in muwe / From every wight yborn”). Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.311-312 and ll.380-382.

[9] The fire of love branded Troilus so that “sexti tyme a day he loste his hewe.” Troilus starts ignoring “alle other dredes” such as “th’assege and his savacioun; / N’yn him desir noon other fownes bredde.” Troilus loses sleep and eats less, which “shewed in his hewe both eve and morwe. / Therfor a title he gan him for to borwe / Of other siknesse.” Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.439-441, ll.463-465, and ll.484-489.

[10] Others notice Troilus’s feats on the battlefield, accounting him “oon the beste, and longest tyme abiden / Ther peril was, and dide ek swich travaille / In armes, that to thenke it was merveille,” though Troilus did it all “[t]o liken hire the bet for his renoun.” Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.474-476, and ll.481.

[11] Larry D. Benson, “Courtly Love and Chivalry in the Later Middle Ages,” Fifteenth Century Studies: Recent Essays, ed. Robert F. Yeager (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1984), p. 240. Benson also provides a summation of the critical argument surrounding the existence of courtly love in his article’s introduction.

[12] Benson, “Courtly Love and Chivalry,” p. 243.

[13] Troilus’s song occupies three stanzas, while several other speeches last up to five stanzas. In total, Troilus’s spoken lines account for over one third of the lines between the time he leaves the temple after seeing Criseyde and when Pandarus appears. Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll. 330-539.

[14] Benson, “Courtly Love and Chivalry,” p. 248.

[15] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 146.

[16] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 2.

[17] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 8, 143-144.

[18] Suzanne Conklin Akbari, “Chaucer’s Personification and Vestigial Allegory in the Canterbury Tales,” Seeing Through the Veil: Optical Theory and Medieval Allegory (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), p. 214.

[19] Akbari, “Chaucer’s Personification,” p. 212.

[20] Akbari, “Chaucer’s Personification,” pp. 214-215.

[21] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.617-20.

[22] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.676-9 and ll.860-1.

[23] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.704-7070, ll.761-763, and ll.792-798.

[24] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.1023-5.

[25] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 1, ll.1026-8.

[26] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 2, ll.327-8.

[27] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 2, ll.360-4.

[28] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 2, ll.386-389.

[29] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 2, l.424 and note.

[30] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 2, ll.429-447, ll.467-472, and ll.484-490.

[31] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 148.

[32] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 147.

[33] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 2, ll.352-7.

[34] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.253-63.

[35] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.395-403.

[36] See note 1 for sources that discuss friendship in Troilus and Criseyde.

[37] Ida L. Gordon, The Double Sorrow of Troilus (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 116.

[38] Gordon, Double Sorrow, p. 116.

[39] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.736-742.

[40] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1136-7.

[41] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1189-90.

[42] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 166.

[43] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.760-763.

[44] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1097-1099 and ll.1114-1115.

[45] Mieszkowski, Medieval Go-Betweens, p. 156.

[46] Carolyn Dinshaw, Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), p. 48.

[47] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1564-8.

[48] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1572-3.

[49] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1574-5.

[50] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1576-82.

[51] “Pleien (v.(1)),” Middle English Dictionary (University of Michigan, 2001), available online at , definition 1a.

[52] “Pleien,” definition 2.

[53] Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 3, ll.1574-5.

[54] See Rowland, Braddy, and Rushton.

[55] Maureen Quilligan, The Language of Allegory: Defining the Genre (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), p. 22.

[56] Quilligan, Language of Allegory, 24.

[57] Evan Carton, “Complicity and Responsibility in Pandarus’s Bed and Chaucer’s Art,” Critical Essays on Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Thomas C. Stillinger (New York: G.K. Hall, 1998), p. 223.