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UNLESS Shakespeare owed suggestions to a play called Troilus and Cressida upon which Dekker and Chettle were engaged in 1599, but which has not come down to us, the plot of our drama may be taken as derived in the main from Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Caxton's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, and Lydgate's Historye, Sege, and dystruccyon of Troye. To these may be added Chapman's translation of the Iliad (of which books i. ii. and vii.-xi. were published in 1598) as furnishing hints of character ; especially in the case of Thersites, whose portrait, physical and moral, is only more elaborately worked out by the dramatist. Of Shakespeare's obligations to Caxton and Lydgate there can be no doubt. On the question whether in the Cressida myth he was primarily and chiefly indebted to Chaucer, something will be said further on.
Troilus and Cressida was first published in 1609. It then appeared as a quarto, of which there were two impressions differing only in the title-page and in the fact that one of them is prefaced by an address to the reader. This address opens with the words “Eternal reader, you have heere a new play neuer stald with the stage, neuer clapperclawd with the palmes of the vulgar, and yet passing full