Troilus and Cressida Translation Act 1, Prologue
In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece The princes orgulous, their high blood chafed, Have to the port of Athens sent their ships, Fraught with the ministers and instruments Of cruel war: sixty and nine, that wore Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen, With wanton Paris sleeps; and that's the quarrel. To Tenedos they come; And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge Their warlike fraughtage: now on Dardan plains The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch Their brave pavilions: Priam's six-gated city, Dardan, and Tymbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien, And Antenorides, with massy staples And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts, Sperr up the sons of Troy. Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits, On one and other side, Trojan and Greek, Sets all on hazard: and hither am I come A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited In like conditions as our argument, To tell you, fair beholders, that our play Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils, Beginning in the middle, starting thence away To what may be digested in a play. Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are: Now good or bad, 'tis but the chance of war.
This play is set in Troy. The proud princes of the Greek islands, their blood boiling, have sent their ships to Athens, loaded with soldiers and weapons. Sixty nine royal rulers have set sail from Athens towards the Phrygian sea. They have promised to ransack Troy, in the strong walls of which, Helen, the kidnapped wife of Menelaus, sleeps with Paris. This is why the two nations are at war. At first, the Greeks arrived at Tenedos, their over-laden ships unloading their military cargo there. Next the fresh and untested Greeks set up their splendid tents on the fields surrounding Troy.King Priam's city has six gates: the Dardan, Timbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien, and Antenorides, each one is fortified with large beams and bolt-holes: containing the citizens of Troy. A sense of excitement grips both sides, agitating the eager Trojan and Greek soldiers, who are prepared to risk everything in combat. I have come here, as a prologue, to tell you these things, not to brag about my author's talent but dressed appropriately for the story. This play skips past beginnings of the conflict and begins in the middle of it, including in it as much as can be included in a play. Love it or hate it, do whatever you want: in war chance sometimes favors the good and sometimes the bad.