William Shakespeare


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


A Greek commander. Having fallen in love with Polyxena, daughter to the King of Troy, Achilles decides to stop fighting the Trojans. Urged by Ulysses to return to battle, Achilles fears that his reputation is at stake and thus re-enters the siege against Troy. He invites his Trojan rival, Hector, to the Greek camp in order to over-feed and inebriate him on the night before battle. His plan fails when he is humiliated by Hector in a brief battle the following day. Angered by this failure, Achilles murders Hector in dishonorable fashion and drags his body through the battlefield, raising the ire of the Trojans.


A Trojan commander. He serves as a herald when he tells the Greeks of Hector's challenge that Hector will do battle with any Greek who will rise to the challenge. He performs a similar heralding function when he tells Troilus that Cressida is to be given over to the Greeks in exchange for Antenor.


The Greek General. He is concerned that the Greek army is losing its potency under a weakening hierarchical structure. He seeks the council of Ulysses and Nestor in order to counteract the mingling of high and low ranks within the army. Much of this effort involves plotting with Ulysses to inspire Achilles to re-enter the war against the Trojans. He welcomes Hector into the Greek camp the night before the battle during which Achilles murders Hector. He calls for reinforcements during this battle, worried that the Greeks are losing badly to the Trojans.


A Greek commander. He physically and verbally abuses Thersites in order to find out the tenor of the Trojan challenge. The lottery that will decide who shall meet Hector in a duel is rigged to ensure that Ajax will be chosen. He fights briefly with Hector, but the duel is stopped when they discover that they are related. The duel ends amicably with both Hector and Ajax expressing compliments and pleasantries.


Servant to Cressida. He describes to Cressida that Hector is apparently angry with Ajax having been bettered by him during that day's battle.


Wife to Hector. Along with Casandra and Priam she urges Hector not to go into battle for fear that he will be killed.


A Trojan commander and a mute character. A prisoner of the Greeks, Antenor is exchanged for Cressida.


A Trojan priest who has sided with the Greeks. Father to Cressida, he urges the Greeks to exchange Cressida for Antenor.


Daughter to the King of Troy, Cassandra is a prophetess whose visions are ignored. She foresees Hector's death and humiliation, but her presentiment goes unheeded.


Daughter to the traitor Calchas. Cressida has a love affair with Troilus, but once she is given to the Greeks in exchange for Antenor, she reveals her dissembling nature when she betrays Troilus with the Greek Diomedes. Her lack of sexual modesty is strongly insinuated when she allows all of the Greek commanders to kiss her.


Son of Priam. He is seen briefly urging the Trojans to battle.


The Greek commander with whom Cressida betrays Troilus. Wearing Cressida's sleeve, he meets Troilus on the battlefield. Like the war itself, their battle remains undecided.


Son of Priam and one of Troy's finest soldiers. Having grown tired of the war, Hector offers a courtly challenge to any Greek willing to do battle with him. Fearing that Hector means his challenge for the love-struck Achilles, Ulysses ensures that Ajax will meet Hector in a duel, but the duel ends when the combatants discover that they are related. After Hector betters Achilles in battle the following day, Achilles vilely murders him with the help of his Myrmidons. Achilles then drags Hector's body through the battlefield, humiliating the Trojans.


Wife of Menelaus, she is living with her Trojan lover Paris. She is the source of the war because the Greeks desire her return.


Son of Priam. He argues on behalf of reason against Troilus' passion during the council scene in II.ii.


Bastard son of Priam. A meeting with Thersites on the battlefield occasions comic badinage on the theme of bastards.


Brother to Agamemnon, husband to Helen, and cuckold to Paris. He eagerly seeks a kiss from Cressida when she comes to the Greek camp and is outwitted in the process.


Uncle to Cressida, he helps Troilus court Cressida and appears to derive voyeuristic pleasure from doing so. His name became synonymous with procurers and pimps, known as panders.


Son to Priam, he is married to Helen.


A Greek commander. Like Agememnon, Patroclus represents and argues for the integrity of hierarchy. He councils Achilles on how to "unloose [Cupid's] amorous fold" from his neck in order to regain his masculinity and re-enter battle.


A "ghost character." Although she does not appear on stage, she is the daughter to Priam with whom Achilles is in love. She is mentioned as the source of Achilles' distraction from the war.


A silent serving person.


A silent serving person.


A silent serving person.


A deformed and scurrilous Greek. Thersites provides a running stream of invective, satire, and low humor aimed at the proud and powerful Greeks.


Son of Priam. With the aid of Pandarus, Troilus succeeds in wooing Cressida. She betrays him with Diomedes after she is given as a prisoner to the Greeks in exchange for Antenor. He fights with Diomedes, but their battle is as inconclusive as the war itself.


A Greek commander. Ulysses plays a key role in ensuring that it is Ajax rather than Achilles who meets Hector's challenge to single combat. He also sees to it that Achilles re-enters the battle. Ulysses, the orator, has many of the play's most philosophical speeches.