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FREE: William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”: A Retelling in Prose


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s TROILUS AND CRESSIDA: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scene 5

— 4.5 —

Ajax, wearing armor, walked over to Agamemnon, Achilles, Patroclus, Menelaus, Ulysses, Nestor, and some others. They were at the place where Ajax would duel Hector. The lists — barriers surrounding the place where the duel would take place — were already set out.

Agamemnon said to Ajax, “Here you are wearing fresh and fair armor, early for the duel, and with abundant courage. Give with your trumpeter a loud note to Troy, you awe-inspiring Ajax, so that the appalled air may pierce the ears of the great combatant Hector and bring him hither.”

“Trumpeter, here’s some money,” Ajax said. “Now crack your lungs, and split your brazen pipe. Blow, villain, until your sphered and swollen cheeks outswell the gassy colic of the puffing Aquilon — the North Wind. Come, stretch your chest and let your eyes spout blood with the effort of blowing. You blow to summon Hector.”

A trumpet sounded.

“No trumpet answers,” Ulysses said.

“It is still early,” Achilles said.

Seeing two people coming toward them, Agamemnon asked, “Isn’t that Diomedes yonder, with Calchas’ daughter?”

“It is Diomedes,” Ulysses said. “I know the manner of his gait. He rises on the toe: His aspiring spirit lifts him from the earth.”

Diomedes led Cressida over to Agamemnon.

“Is this the Lady Cressida?” Agamemnon asked.

“Yes, it is she,” Diomedes replied.

“You are very dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet lady,” Agamemnon said, kissing her.

“Our general salutes you with a kiss,” Nestor said.

“Yet the kindness is only particular,” Ulysses said. “It would be better if she were kissed in general.”

“That is very courtly counsel,” Nestor, who was an old man, said. “I’ll begin.”

He kissed Cressida and said, “So much for Nestor.”

Referring to Nestor’s old age — he was in the December of his life — Achilles said, “I’ll take that winter from your lips, fair lady.”

He kissed her and said, “Achilles bids you welcome.”

“I had a good argument for kissing once,” Menelaus said.

By “argument,” he meant “cause or reason.” That argument was Helen.

“But that’s no argument for kissing now,” Patroclus said, using “argument” with its usual meaning.

He kissed Cressida and said, “For thus popped Paris in his hardiment, and parted thus you and your argument.”

Patroclus was making fun of Menelaus, whose wife, Helen, was sleeping with Paris, Prince of Troy. “Hardiment” is an archaic word meaning “act of valor” and “erect penis.” “Pop in” means to “arrive unexpectedly” and “move in suddenly.” Paris had popped in to visit Menelaus, King of Sparta, and he had popped his erect penis into Helen.

“Oh, this is deadly gall, and the theme of all our scorns!” Ulysses said. “For this we lose our heads to gild his horns.”

Menelaus was a cuckold, a man with an unfaithful wife. Cuckolds were said to have horns. By fighting the Trojan War to get Helen back for Menelaus, the Greeks were fighting to gild his horns — to get back some of the honor that Paris had taken from him.

“The first kiss I gave you was Menelaus’ kiss,” Patroclus said. “This kiss is mine.”

He kissed Cressida and said, “Patroclus kisses you.”

“Oh, this is excellent!” Menelaus said, sarcastically.

Patroclus said, “Paris and I kiss evermore for Menelaus.”

Paris kissed Helen for Menelaus, and now Patroclus was kissing Cressida for Menelaus.

“I’ll have my kiss, sir,” Menelaus said to Patroclus.

He then said to Cressida, “Lady, by your leave.”

Cressida was a young Trojan woman who was surrounded by Greek men in what could very well be a dangerous situation for her.

Silent up to now, Cressida said to Menelaus, “In kissing, do you give or receive?”

Menelaus said, “I both take and give.”

Cressida said, “I’ll bet my life that the kiss you take is better than the kiss you give; therefore, you get no kiss.’

“I’ll give you something in addition,” Menelaus said. “I’ll give you three kisses in return for one kiss.”

“You’re an odd man,” Cressida said. “Give even odds or give none.”

By “odd,” Cressida meant “eccentric or unusual.”

“An odd man, lady!” Menelaus said. “Every man is odd.”

Menelaus was saying that every man is a unique individual.

“No, Paris is not,” Cressida said, “for you know it is true that you are odd, and he is even with you.”

Cressida was saying that Paris was even because he was part of a couple, while Menelaus was odd — a single man who was odd man out and who was at odds with Paris.

Menelaus replied, “You hit me on the head.”

Cressida’s comments were cutting him close to the bone — she was hitting him on his cuckold’s horns.

“No, I’ll be sworn,” Cressida said.

“It is no contest, your fingernail against his horn,” Ulysses said. “His horns are tougher than your fingernails.”

He then asked, “May I, sweet lady, beg a kiss of you?”

“You may,” Cressida replied.

“I do desire a kiss.”

“Why, beg, then.”

Ulysses, who was unwilling to beg in any serious way, said, “Why then for Venus’ sake, give me a kiss when Helen is a maiden — a virgin — again, and when she belongs to Menelaus again.”

Helen would never be a virgin again, and having cuckolded Menelaus, would she ever really be his again?

“I am your debtor,” Cressida said. “Claim your kiss when it is due.”

“Never is my day to claim my kiss, and then I will get a kiss of you,” Ulysses said.

Cressida had managed to use her wits to avoid being kissed by Menelaus and by Ulysses.

Diomedes said to her, “Lady, a word. I’ll bring you to your father.”

Diomedes and Cressida exited.

Nestor said, “She is a woman of quick sense.”

“Sense” could mean “wits” or “sensuality.”

“Damn her!” Ulysses, who had not received a kiss, said. “There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip — you can read her or listen to her. Her foot speaks; her wanton spirits appear in every joint and motion of her body. Oh, these flirts, so glib of tongue, who accost men and give them welcome before they come near, and widely unclasp the tablets of their thoughts to every ticklish, lecherous reader! Set them down for sluttish spoils of opportunity and daughters of the game. Set them down in the records as the whores they are.”

Was Ulysses accurate in thinking that Cressida was a slut? Or was he just angry at not having received a kiss?

A trumpet sounded.

All the Greeks said, “The Trojans’ trumpet.”

Or perhaps they said, in response to Ulysses’ words, “The Trojan strumpet.”

“Yonder comes the Trojans’ troop,” Agamemnon said.

Hector, along with Aeneas, Troilus, and other Trojan soldiers and some attendants, walked over to the Greeks. Hector was wearing armor.

“Hail, all you rulers of Greece!” Aeneas said. “What shall be done to him who commands victory? What shall the victor win? Or do you purpose that a victor shall be known? Do you want the knights to fight to the death, or shall the knights be separated before death occurs by any voice or order of the marshal of the lists? Hector bade me ask you this.”

“Which way would Hector have it?” Agamemnon asked.

“He has no preference,” Aeneas replied. “He’ll obey whatever conditions you set.”

Achilles said, “This is done like Hector; but it is done overconfidently. It is done a little proudly, and a great deal disparaging the knight opposing Hector.”

Aeneas asked, “If not Achilles, sir, what is your name?”

“If not Achilles, my name is nothing,” Achilles replied.

“Therefore your name is Achilles,” Aeneas said, “but, whatever it is, know this: In the extremity of great and little, valor and pride excel themselves in Hector. The one is almost as infinite as all; the other is blank as nothing. He has much courage and is not at all proud. Weigh him well, and you will see that what looks like pride is courtesy. This Ajax is half made of Hector’s blood. Out of love for that half, half of Hector stays at home; half heart, half hand, half Hector comes to seek this blended knight who is half Trojan and half Greek.”

Hector and Ajax were first cousins. Ajax’ mother was Hesione, who was the sister of Priam, Hector’s father.

Achilles said sarcastically, “A maiden battle, then? Not a fight to the death? No bloodshed? Oh, I see.”

Having delivered Cressida to Calchas, her father, Diomedes returned.

“Here is Sir Diomedes,” Agamemnon said. “Go, honorable knight, and stand by our Ajax. As you and Lord Aeneas consent upon the order of their fight, so be it. The fight can be either to the uttermost — to the death — or else it can be exercise. Because the combatants are related by blood, their fight is half restrained before their strokes begin.”

Ajax and Hector entered the lists; they were ready to duel.

“They are opposed already,” Ulysses said.

Seeing Troilus, Agamemnon asked Ulysses, “What Trojan is that one who looks so sorrowful?”

“He is the youngest son of Priam, and he is a true knight. He is not yet fully mature, yet he is matchless and firm of word. He does his speaking with his deeds, and he does not boast about his deeds with his tongue. He is not soon provoked, but once he is provoked he is not soon calmed. His heart and hand are both open and both free and both generous; for what he has he gives, and what he thinks he shows. Yet he does not give until his rational judgment guides his bounty, nor does he dignify an impure thought by saying it out loud. He is as manly as Hector, but more dangerous; for Hector in his blaze of wrath shows mercy to tender objects that arouse his pity, but this man, the youngest son of Priam, in the heat of action is more vindictive than jealous love. They call him Troilus, and on him erect a second hope, as fairly built as Hector. They think of him as an up-and-coming second Hector. Thus says Aeneas, who knows the youth from top to bottom; from his heart Aeneas thus described Troilus to me when I was an ambassador inside Troy.”

Trumpets sounded, and Hector and Ajax began to duel. The marshals of the duel were Aeneas and Diomedes.

“They are in action,” Agamemnon said.

“Now, Ajax, hold your own!” Nestor shouted.

“Hector, you are asleep!” Troilus shouted. “Wake up!”

“His blows are well placed,” Agamemnon said to Nestor.

Agamemnon shouted, “There, Ajax!”

Diomedes said to Hector and Ajax, “You must fight no more.”

The trumpeters stopped blowing.

“Princes, enough, if it pleases you,” Aeneas said.

“I am not warm yet,” Ajax said. “I haven’t broken a sweat. Let us fight again.”

“Whatever Hector pleases,” Diomedes replied.

“Why, then I fight no more today,” Hector said to Diomedes.

He then said to Ajax, “You are, great lord, my father’s sister’s son, a first cousin to me, the son of great Priam. The obligation of our blood relation forbids a gory rivalry between us two. Were your Greek and Trojan mixture such that you could say, ‘This hand is all Greek, and this hand is all Trojan; the muscles of this leg are all Greek, and the muscles of this leg are all Trojan; my mother’s blood runs here on the right cheek, and my father’s blood runs here on the left cheek,’ then by most powerful Jove, you would not go away from me bearing a Greek limb or other body part in which my sword had not made its mark during our violent duel, but the just gods forbid that any drop of blood you got from your mother, my sacred aunt, should by my mortal sword be drained from your body! Let me embrace you, Ajax. By Jove who thunders, you have strong arms.”

Hector hugged Ajax and said, “Hector would have your strong arms fall upon him like this. Cousin, I give all honor to you!”

“I thank you, Hector,” Ajax said. “You are too gentle, too noble, and too free a man. I came to kill you, cousin, and bear away from here a great addition to my honor — a great addition earned by your death.”

Hector replied, “Not even the admirable Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, Achilles’ son — on whose bright crest Fame loudly cried, ‘Oyez — hear me — this is he,’ could promise to himself a thought of added honor torn from Hector. Not even the admirable Neoptolemus can promise to himself that he will be able to kill me and to take my honor for himself.”

“Soldiers from both sides are expectantly awaiting what you will do,” Aeneas said.

“We’ll let them know,” Hector said. “The conclusion of the duel is a hug.”

He added, “Ajax, farewell.”

Ajax replied, “If I might in my entreaties find success — as I seldom have the chance to ask you this — I would like you, my famous cousin, to visit our Greek tents.”

“It is Agamemnon’s wish,” Diomedes said, “and great Achilles longs to see unarmed the valiant Hector.”

“Aeneas, call my brother Troilus to me,” Hector said, “and report this friendly face-to-face meeting between me and the Greeks to the Trojans who are awaiting news. Request that they return to Troy.”

He then said to Ajax, “Shake hands with me, my cousin. I will go and eat with you and see your knights.”

Agamemnon came forward.

Ajax said, “Great Agamemnon comes to meet us here.”

Hector said to Ajax, “Tell me name by name the worthiest of them except for Achilles because my own searching eyes shall find him by his large and imposing size.”

Hector did not recognize many of the Greeks because on the battlefield, the soldiers wore helmets. Ulysses and Diomedes, however, had been ambassadors to Troy, and so Hector recognized them, and they recognized many of the Trojans.

Agamemnon said to Hector, “You are worthy of arms!”

Agamemnon hugged Hector. Agamemnon’s words had two meanings: 1) Hector was worthy of being hugged. 2) Hector was worthy of his armor and weapons.

Agamemnon added, “You are as welcome as you can be to one who would be rid of such an enemy — but that’s no welcome. Understand more clearly: Both what’s past and what’s to come are strewn with husks and the formless ruin of oblivion, but in this existing moment, my good faith and trustworthiness, strained pure from all insincere crooked-dealing, bid you, with the most divine integrity, from the bottom of my heart, great Hector, welcome.”

“I thank you, most imperial Agamemnon,” Hector said.

Agamemnon said to Troilus, “My well-famed lord of Troy, I give no less welcome to you.”

“Let me confirm my Princely brother’s greeting,” Menelaus said. “You pair of warlike brothers, welcome hither.”

“Who must we answer?” Hector asked Aeneas. Hector did not recognize Menelaus.

Aeneas replied, “He is the noble Menelaus.”

“Oh, you are Menelaus, my lord?” Hector said. “By Mars’ gauntlet, I thank you! Don’t mock me because I use the fancy oath ‘by Mars’ gauntlet,’ which I seldom use. Your former wife swears still by Venus’ glove that she’s well, but she bade me not to commend her to you.”

Hector was subtly mocking the cuckold Menelaus by bringing up Mars, god of war, and Venus, goddess of sexual passion, who had had an affair together, thereby cuckolding Venus’ husband, Vulcan.

“Don’t name her now, sir,” Menelaus said, referring to Helen. “She’s a deadly theme.”

“Pardon me,” Hector said. “I have offended you.”

Nestor said, “I have, you gallant Trojan, seen you often, laboring for fate, make your cruel way through ranks of young Greek soldiers, and I have seen you, as hot as Perseus, who slew the Gorgon Medusa, who had snakes for hair, spur your Trojan steed, despising many soldiers whom you had defeated and who had thereby forfeited their lives, when you have hung your advanced sword in the air and not let it fall on the fallen. Then I have said to some people standing by me, ‘Look, Jupiter is yonder, dealing life to those from whom he could take life!’ And I have seen you pause and take your breath, when a ring of Greeks has hemmed you in, as if they were watching a wrestler in a match at the Olympics. These things I have seen. But this your countenance, which has always been locked in a steel helmet, I never saw till now.

“I knew your grandfather Laomedon, and I once fought with him. He was a good soldier, but by great Mars, the captain of us all, I have never seen a soldier like you. Let an old man embrace you, and, worthy warrior, I bid you welcome to our tents.”

Actually Nestor had fought againstHector’s grandfather, but Nestor used the word with, which was accurate but less likely to cause offense due to ambiguity: To fight “with” could mean to fight “against” or to fight “on the side of.” Nestor addressed Hector in a friendly manner, as did Hector when he replied to Nestor.

“He is the old Nestor,” Aeneas said to Hector.

“Let me embrace you, good old chronicle,” Hector said. “You are a living history book because you have lived so long — you have for so long walked hand in hand with time. Most revered Nestor, I am glad to hug you.”

“I wish my arms could match you in contention — in a battle — as they contend now with you in courtesy and etiquette,” Nestor said.

“I wish they could,” Hector said.

“Ha! By this white beard, I would fight with you tomorrow,” Nestor said. “Well, welcome, welcome! I have seen the time when I was young enough to fight you on the battlefield, but that time is past.”

“I wonder now how yonder city stands when we have here her base and pillar by us,” Ulysses said. “The very foundation of Troy is here in the Greek camp.”

“I know your face, Lord Ulysses, well,” Hector said. “Ah, sir, there’s many a Greek and Trojan dead, since I first saw you and Diomedes in Troy, while you two were on your Greek embassy.”

When the Greeks first arrived at Troy, they conquered Tenedos, an island lying near Troy, and then they sent Ulysses and Diomedes on an embassy to Troy, unsuccessfully hoping to get Helen and reparations.

“Sir, I foretold to you then what would ensue,” Ulysses said. “My prophecy is but half fulfilled yet. In order for my prophecy to be fulfilled, yonder walls, which boldly stand in front of your town, and yonder towers, whose wanton tops kiss the clouds, must kiss their own feet. In order for my prophecy to be fulfilled, Troy’s walls and towers must fall.”

“I must not believe you,” Hector said. “That will never happen. Troy’s walls and towers stand there yet, and modestly, I think, the fall of every Trojan stone will cost a drop of Greek blood. The end of this war will tell all, and that old resolver of all quarrels, Time, will one day end this war.”

“So to Time we leave it,” Ulysses said. “Most noble and most valiant Hector, welcome. After you feast with the general, Agamemnon, I ask that you next feast with me and see me in my tent.”

Achilles interrupted: “I shall forestall thee, Lord Ulysses, thou! Now, Hector, I have fed my eyes on thee. I have with exact view perused thee, Hector, and examined thee joint by joint.”

Achilles was being rude. He was using the familiar “thee” to refer to Ulysses, an older man to whom he ought to show respect, and he was using the familiar “thee” to refer to Hector, an honored guest in the Greek camp. Achilles should have used the formal “you” to refer to both men.

“Is this Achilles?” Hector asked.

“I am Achilles.”

“Stand in full view, I ask thee,” Hector said. “Let me look on thee.”

Hector was irritated by Achilles and so called him “thee.” Previously, Hector and Ulysses had respectfully called each other “you.”

Achilles came forward and said, “Behold thy fill.”

“No, I am done already,” Hector said.

“Thou are too brief,” Achilles said. “I will look at thee a second time, as if I were going to buy thee. I will view thee limb by limb.”

Achilles’ words contained a suggestion of buying and then butchering an animal.

Angry and using the less respectful words “thou” and “thine,” Hector said, “Oh, like a book on sport thou shall read me over. But there’s more in me than you understand. Why do thou so stare at me with thine eye?”

Achilles got on his knees to pray to the gods and said, “Tell me, you Heavens, in which part of Hector’s body shall I destroy him?”

He pointed to various parts of Hector’s body and said, “Whether there, or there, or there? So that I may give the local wound a name and make distinct the very breach from out of which Hector’s great spirit flew, answer me, Heavens!”

“It would discredit the blest gods, proud man, to answer such a question,” Hector said. “Stand up again.”

Achilles stood up.

Hector asked, “Do thou think that thou can catch my life so pleasantly and easily that thou can name in advance and precisely where thou will hit and kill me?”

“I tell thee, yes,” Achilles said.

“Even if thou were an oracle telling me this, I would not believe thee. Henceforth, guard thee well, for I’ll not kill thee there, nor there, nor there,” Hector said, pointing to various parts of Achilles’ body, “but, by the forge that forged Mars’ helmet, I’ll kill thee everywhere, yes, over and over.”

Hector paused, and then he said, “You wisest Greeks, pardon me for making this brag. Achilles’ insolence draws foolish words from my lips, but I’ll work hard to make my deeds to match these words, or may I never —”

Ajax interrupted, “Thou should not allow yourself to be angry, cousin. And you, Achilles, stop making these threats until either chance or purposeful action brings you to face Hector on the battlefield. You may have enough every day of Hector if you have the stomach to face him. The general assembly of Greek leaders, I fear, can scarcely persuade you to be at odds with him on the battlefield.”

Ajax was treating his first cousin Hector correctly by using the familiar and less formal “thou” to refer to him, and he was treating Achilles correctly by using the formal and respectful “you” to refer to him. But he was also correctly pointing out that Achilles was staying in camp and not fighting on the battlefield.

Mollified by Ajax’ words, Hector used the formal and respectful “you” to refer to Achilles: “I ask you to let us see you on the battlefield. We have had petty, paltry battles since you refused to fight for the Greeks.”

Still disrespectful, Achilles replied, “Do thou entreat me, Hector? Tomorrow I will meet thee, and I will be as cruel as death; tonight we shall all be friends.”

“Reach out thy hand, and we will shake on that meeting,” Hector said.

They shook hands.

“First, all you lords of Greece, go to my tent,” Agamemnon said. “There we will feast to the fullest. Afterwards, as Hector’s leisure and your bounties shall concur together, individually entertain and treat him.”

He then ordered, “Beat loud the drums and let the trumpets blow, so that this great soldier may his welcome know.”

Everyone exited except Troilus and Ulysses.

Troilus asked, “My Lord Ulysses, tell me, please, in what place of the Greek camp does Calchas sleep?”

“He sleeps in Menelaus’ tent, most Princely Troilus,” Ulysses replied. “Diomedes feasts with him there tonight; Diomedes looks upon neither the Heavens nor the Earth, but bends all his gazes and amorous views on the fair Cressida.”

“I shall, lord, be bound to you so much, if, after we depart from Agamemnon’s tent, you take me there to Menelaus’ tent.”

“You shall command me, sir,” Ulysses said. “I shall do what you ask. Now kindly tell me the reputation this Cressida had in Troy. Did she have a lover there who bewails her absence?”

“Oh, sir, people who display their scars and boast about them ought to be mocked,” Troilus said. “Will you walk on, my lord? Cressida was loved, and she loved; she is loved, and she does love. But still sweet love is food for fortune’s tooth.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



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David Bruce: Lloyd Alexander’s THE CASTLE OF LLYR: A Discussion Guide — Chapter 9: The Luck of Rhun

Chapter 9: The Luck of Rhun

  • What do you notice about Kaw’s speech at the end of Chapter 8 and the beginning of Chapter 9?

Kaw repeats words, always saying them twice:

“Eilonwy!” Kaw croaked. “Eilonwy!” (91)


“Alaw!” croaked Kaw. “Alaw!”

“The river!” Taran exclaimed. “How far is it?”

“Close! Close!” replied Kaw. (92)

  • What other characters in The Castle of Llyrspeak distinctively?

Fflewddur Fflam frequently exclaims, “Great Belin!” Belin is the Celtic god of the sun.

Eilonwy, of course, is noted for her unusual similes: “You look as jumpy as a frog with fleas!” (52)

Gurgi is noted for his alliteration (words that begin with the same sounds) and his rhymes:

Gurgi nodded. “Yes, yes,” he whispered. “Loyal Gurgi will stand with watchful waitings. He will guard dreamful drowsings of noble Princess.” (44)

 “Yes, yes!” Gurgi cried. “Do not leave off hummings and strummings!” (84)

Gurgi also says “Yes, yes” 11 times in The Castle of Llyr; Taran says it once.

Fflewddur Fflam deliberately speaks like Gurgi here:

“Good news!” he cried. “Gurgi and I have done some seekings and peekings of our own. We’re not as badly lost as you might think. […]” (69)

  • What decisions does Taran make? Why does he make them?

Previously, Taran decided that he and the companions should return to Dinas Rhydnant. However, Kaw has brought new information that makes Taran decide to do something different. He decides to do these things:

1) Search for Eilonwy.

2) Not send Kaw to the Master of the Horse.

Eilonwy is close, and Taran and his companions would waste time by going to Dinas Rhydnant. Taran believes that they must act quickly — too quickly to take time to send Kaw to the Master of the Horse so that some mounted warriors will join them. Taran uses Kaw to guide them to the Alaw River.

  • Magg is intelligent. How did he escape his pursuers?

Magg has not been travelling the entire time. As Taran figures out, Magg took Eilonwy to some hills and hid there and allowed the searching parties to go past them.

We read:

“With all of Rhuddlum’s warriors combing Mona,” Fflewddur cried angrily, as they began the descent toward the river, “how has that spider managed to escape us for so long?”

“Magg has been more cunning than we thought,” Taran said bitterly. “I’m sure he took Eilonwy into the Hills of Parys. But he must have hidden away, without moving until he knew the search had swept beyond him.” (93)

  • Magg is intelligent, but he is a bad person. Why would it be better for a bad person to be unintelligent?

Bad, unintelligent people can be thwarted more easily than bad, intelligent people.

We want heroes such as Taran to be intelligent.

We very much prefer that a criminal be unintelligent and that a police officer be intelligent. That way, the police officer can catch the criminal.

Philosopher Immanuel Kant was well aware that intelligence is not good when it is joined with the will to do evil. However, intelligence is very good when it is joined with the will to do good.

  • What important object does Prince Rhun find?

Prince Rhun finds Eilonwy’s bauble: the golden sphere that she uses to cast light.

This object will be important in the novel.

Prince Rhun’s finding the bauble is important evidence that Eilonwy was here.

  • Taran is intelligent. By examining tracks, he is able to tell what happened to Magg and Eilonwy. (Fflewddur Fflam helps.) What did happen?

Eilonwy struggled and lost her bauble, and then Magg let the horses run free because he and Eilonwy got on board a boat.

We read:

“He’s [Prince Rhun has] led us to fresh tracks,” said Fflewddur, studying the grass. “Something fairly large and flat has been dragged along here.” He scratched his chin thoughtfully. “I wonder — a boat? Could it be? Did that sneering spider have one ready and waiting? I shouldn’t be surprised if he had planned it all before Eilonwy reached Mona.”

Taran strode down the bank. “I see footprints,” he called. “The ground is badly torn. Eilonwy must have struggled with him — yes, right there. And there she would have dropped the bauble.” In dismay he looked at the wide, rapid-flowing Alaw. “You have read the signs well, Fflewddur,” he said. “Magg had a boat here. He set loose the horses and let them run as they pleased.” (95)

Taran and the companions no longer need horses. Magg and Eilonwy have a boat, and now Taran and the companions need a way to float on the river.

Taran and the companions will build a raft. A raft can float only one way on a river. Taran and the companions have decided that Magg has gone downstream on the boat. Magg would have a difficult time rowing upstream, especially with a girl like Eilonwy fighting him.

  • Can girls fight well?

Note that Eilonwy struggled. She fights back rather than acting like a helpless little girl.

Here are some stories of girls fighting very well:

1) In October 2003 in Baytown, Texas, a 10-year-old girl fought off an abductor as she rode her bicycle to elementary school. The girl, who did not want to be identified, said, “As I was riding my bike to school, some man was turning in and he came around and he tried to get me. And when he got me, he got out of his car and [held] my tire of my bike. And then, after he [held] my tire, he pushed me off my bike. I tried to get up, and he grabbed my ankle. And after he grabbed my ankle, I kicked him and it hurt him, so he got inside his car and left. I was yelling and I was kicking and I was screaming.” She rode her bike to James Bowie Elementary Schooland told an adult what had happened. The girl’s mother said, “I thank God that my child is still alive, because these things, that’s all people are doing now — taking children.” Lieutenant David Alford of the Baytown Police Department said about the girl, “She had some type of plan of action. She did very well. She was very brave, and she was very purposeful in her actions.”[1]

2) In August 2003 in Chelmsley Wood, England, a man tried to abduct a 10-year-old girl outside a Texaco garage as she was pushing her nine-month-old brother in his pram (baby buggy). The man grabbed the girl’s wrist and the pram, but she kicked him and he ran away. She told an adult at the garage what had happened, and the adult called police.[2]

3) When two men in a black van tried to kidnap a 14-year-girl near Tucker Middle School in Tucker, Georgia, in 2007, she fought back and got away from the men: She stabbed one of the men with a pencil and probably saved her life. The girl’s mother, Allicia Brown, said, “Thank God, I thank my Father that’s she’s home, because she could not be here right now. I could be looking for my baby, so I just thank God that she’s home and she’s safe and that’s all that matters to me. I’m glad that she just didn’t become a victim and let them take her. She is a very strong, strong baby.”[3]

  • Based on the description in the following paragraph, is Llyan dangerous to Fflewddur Fflam? This is the paragraph:

“The raft!” Taran shouted. “Into the river with it!” He seized one end of the clumsy craft and struggled to haul it to the water. Still yelling, Gurgi ran to aid him. Prince Rhun toiled as best he could to help. The bard had already splashed into the stream, where he stood hip-deep in the current and heaved at the branches. Llyan’s tufted ears cupped forward and her whiskers twitched as her glance fell on the bard. From her throat arose not a savage roar but a bell-like, questioning cry. Eyes shining with a strange glow, she loped forward on huge padded paws. Purring loudly, the mountain cat made straight for the frantic bard. (97)

While Taran and the companions are building a raft to float them downstream, Llyan finds them. Certainly, Taran and his companions think that Llyan is dangerous; however, she seems not to be dangerous:

1) Llyan does not roar, but instead makes “a bell-like, questioning cry” (97).

2) Llyan purrs loudly.

This information comes from Wikipedia:

Nobody knows for certain why cats purr, but the following reasons are speculated:

Cats often purr when being petted, becoming relaxed, or when eating. […] One theory is that it is not a sign of showing relaxation or content, but an attempt at “friendship” or a signal of “specific intent”. For example, when a cat is nervous and cannot escape the situation (at a veterinarian perhaps), its purr may serve as an attempt to avoid being hurt. German ethologist and cat behaviorist Paul Leyhausen interprets it as a signal that the animal is not posing a threat.


Date Accessed: 15 August 2011

Note: Wikipedia is a questionable source. It can be edited by anyone, and so any idiot can edit it. However, it can be an interesting place to start doing research.

Note: The American style of punctuation is to put commas and periods inside quotation marks. The British style of punctuation is to put commas and periods outside quotation marks. For example:

WebMD may be a better source than Wikipedia. It contains this interesting information:

Purring isn’t the sole domain of domestic cats. Some wild cats and their near relatives — civets, genets, mongooses — also purr. Even hyenas, guinea pigs, and raccoons can purr. 

Cats that purr, such as mountain lions and bobcats, can’t roar, however. And cats that roar, such as lions and tigers, can’t purr. The structures surrounding their voice box (larynx) aren’t stiff enough to produce a purr. 

But it appears these cats evolved the roar for good reason — mainly to protect their prides, says Benjamin L. Hart, DVM, PhD, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.

“If you’re a big cat and you have to move around a lot to get prey, loud roaring plays a huge part in maintaining your territory,” Hart says.

But small cats are loners and don’t compete with each other for meals, Hart says. Their communication doesn’t need to be far-reaching. For them, scent marking does the territorial trick (as some unfortunate cat owners quickly learn).

Source: <>.

Date Accessed: 13 September 2011

Llyan, a fictional character, both roars and purrs.

  • What does Kaw do when Kaw thinks that Llyan is threateningFflewddur Fflam?

Kaw attacks Llyan.

We read:

It was then that Kaw, perched on a low branch, beat his wings and launched himself against Llyan. Squawking and croaking at the top of his voice, the crow swooped down on the astonished beast. Llyan stopped in her tracks and roared angrily. Flying at full speed, Kaw passed within a hair’s breadth of Llyan’s mighty head, striking out with his wings and pecking at her with his sharp beak. (97)

Llyan takes off after Kaw, and Fflewddur Fflam and the others are safe.

Note: See Appendix on “Animal Heroes” for some true stories of animals protecting humans.

  • Does Taran believe that Kaw will stay safe?

Yes, he does.

We read:

Fflewddur, whose face had turned deathly pale, gave a sigh of relief. “I feared she had me for sure! Believe me, I couldn’t stand another bout of harping like the last one! I hope Kaw fares well,” he added anxiously.

“Kaw will find us again,” Taran assured him. “He’s clever enough to stay out of Llyan’s reach until he knows we’re safe. If she keeps chasing him, I’m certain she’ll have the worst of the battle.”

Fflewddur nodded, then turned and glanced back over his shoulder. “In a way,” he said, with a note of regret in his voice, “it’s the first time my music has really been — ah — in a manner of speaking, sought after. In this case, if it weren’t so dangerous, I should call it downright complimentary!” (98-99)

  • When the raft breaks up, what act of heroism does Taran perform?

Taran makes sure that Prince Rhun reaches the shore safely, thus keeping his oath to make sure that the Prince is safe.

We read:

Taran, busy steering, glanced down in alarm. The hurriedly knotted vines had begun to give way. The raft shuddered in the swift current. With the pole, Taran thrust deeply for the river bottom, seeking to bring the raft to a halt. The current bore it onward and the branches bent and twisted as the water poured through the gaps. One of the vines parted, a branch ripped free, then another. Throwing aside the useless pole, Taran shouted for the companions to jump clear. Seizing Prince Rhun by the jacket, he sprang into the river.

As the water closed over his head, Prince Rhun kicked and struggled wildly. Taran tightened his grasp on the floundering Prince and fought his way to the surface. With a free hand he clung to a boulder and gained a foothold among the shifting stones. Heaving with all his strength, he dragged Rhun ashore and flung him to the bank. Gurgi and Fflewddur had managed to catch hold of what remained of the raft and were hauling it into the shallows. Prince Rhun sat up and looked around. (99)

Even though Taran has performed an act of heroism, he doesn’t talk about it. Instead, he seems to regard it as something that had to be done, and so he did it. Taran takes it as a matter of fact that when someone needs to be saved, you try to save them.

  • What can a child do to be prepared in an emergency in which drowning is a possibility?

1) Know to call 911 for help. (In Britain, the emergency number is 999.)

2) Learn to swim.

3) Take an age-appropriate Red Cross water-rescue course.

4) Take an age-appropriate Red Cross first-aid course.

  • What course of action does Taran want to take after the raft breaks out?

Taran wants to rebuild the raft and float downstream after Eilonwy and Magg. Most of the old raft can be used to build the new raft, and they can cut more vines.

Taran and the companions are very good at doing what needs to be done. They need to build a new raft, and so they begin to build a new raft, although Taran (and probably the others) are weary (100).

  • Lloyd Alexander is a master at putting a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter. How does Chapter 9 end?

Chapter 9 ends in this way:

The Prince of Mona had made his way to a clump of osiers, and Taran glimpsed him tugging away, trying to uproot them. The next instant, Rhun was no longer in sight.

With a shout of alarm, Taran dropped his armload of vines and ran toward the spot, calling Rhun’s name. The bard looked up. “Not again!” he cried. “If there were a field with one stone he’d trip over it! A Fflam is patient, but there are limits!” Nevertheless, he hurried to join Taran, who was already kneeling among the osiers. At the spot where Rhun had been standing was a gaping hole. The Prince of Mona had vanished. (100)

The reader will keep reading to find out what has happened to Prince Rhun.

[1]Source: “Girl, 10, Fights Off Abductor Near School.” 30 October 2003 <>.

[2]Source: “Young girl fends off attacker.” BBC News. 27 August 2003 <>.

[3]Source: “Girl Stabs Would-Be Kidnapper With Pencil.” Fox News. <,2933,312287,00.html>. Posted on Warrior Talk. 20 November 2007 <;.


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s TROILUS AND CRESSIDA: A Retelling — Act 4, Scene 4

— 4.4 —

Pandarus and Cressida were talking inside her house.

“Be calm, be calm,” Pandarus advised.

“Why are you telling me to be calm?” Cressida said. “The grief that I taste is pure and entirely perfect, and it rages as strongly as that which causes it, so how can I moderate it? How can I be calm? If I could moderate my affection, or brew it for a weak and colder palate, then I could give my grief some moderation that would weaken the senses. My love for Troilus, however, admits no qualifying impure dross; and neither does my grief because it suffers such a precious loss.”

“Here, here, here he comes,” Pandarus said.

Troilus entered the room, and Pandarus said affectionately, “Ah, sweet ducks!”

“Oh, Troilus! Troilus!” Cressida said as she embraced him.

“What a pair of sights is here!” Pandarus said. “Let me hug, too.”

He put his arms around both of them and hugged them and then said, “‘Oh, heart,’ as the goodly saying is, ‘— oh, heart, heavy and sorrowful heart, why do you sigh without breaking?’ Where he answers again, ‘Because you cannot ease your smart — your hurt — by friendship or by speaking.’”

Pandarus paused and then said, “There was never a truer rhyme. Let us cast away nothing, for we may live to have need of such a verse. We see it happen. We see the need for it. How are you doing now, lambs?”

“Cressida, I love you in so distilled and pure a way that the blessed gods are angry with my love for you, which is brighter in zeal than the devotion that cold lips blow in prayers to their deities,” Troilus said. “That is why the gods are taking you from me.”

“Have the gods envy and jealousy?” Cressida asked.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” Pandarus said. “It is all too plainly the case here.”

Cressida asked, “And is it true that I must go away from Troy?”

“It is a hateful truth,” Troilus said.

“And from Troilus, too?” Cressida asked.

 Troilus replied, “Yes, from Troy and Troilus.”

“Is it possible?” she asked.

“Yes, and it has happened suddenly,” Troilus said. “The injury of chance events — bad luck — refuses to give us time to properly say goodbye. The injury of chance events jostles roughly by all time of pause and rudely beguiles our lips of all reunions and kisses, it forcibly prevents our arms from locking in embraces, and it strangles our dear vows even in the birth of our own laboring breath — it cuts off the vows we attempt to make to each other even before we can say them. We two, who bought each other with so many thousand sighs, must sell ourselves at a cheap price with the rude brevity and discharge of only one sigh. Injurious time now with a robber’s haste stuffs his rich thievery willy-nilly in a small sack. As many farewells as there are stars in Heaven, each farewell with its own distinct breath and kisses, he fumbles up into a casual adieu, and scants us with a single famished kiss, which tastes of the salt of the tears of broken lovers.”

Aeneas called from outside the room, “My lord, is the lady ready?”

“Listen,” Troilus said. “He is calling for you. Some say the Genius similarly cries, ‘Come,’ to the man who immediately must die.”

The Genius is a Guardian Spirit that accompanies a human being during life and then guides the soul to its abode after death.

Troilus called to Aeneas, “Tell them to be patient; she shall come quickly.”

Pandarus said, “Where are my tears? Rain, tears, to slow down this wind — my sighs — or my heart will be blown up by the root.”

Pandarus was referring to the belief that rain causes a wind to slow down.

Pandarus exited.

Cressida asked Troilus, “Must I then go to the Greeks?”

“There’s no remedy. There’s no alternative,” Troilus replied.

“I will be a woeful Cressida among the merry Greeks!” she said.

One meaning of “merry Greeks” in this culture was “dissolute and wanton rogues.”

She continued, “When shall we see each other again?”

Troilus said, “Listen to me, my love. Be true —”

“To be true” means “to be faithful and not fall in love with someone else.”

“Can you doubt that I will be true! What! What wicked thought is this?”

“We must use remonstrations kindly because we are parting and will be unable to speak to each other. I say, ‘Be true,’ not because I fear that you intend to be otherwise, for I will throw my glove to and challenge Death himself so I can prove by force of arms that there’s no stain in your heart. But I say, ‘Be true,’ to introduce my following words: ‘Be true, and I will see you.’”

“Oh, if you go to the Greek camp, you shall be exposed, my lord, to dangers as infinite as they are imminent!” Cressida said. “But I’ll be true.”

“And I’ll become friends with danger,” Troilus said. “Wear this sleeve.”

In this culture, sleeves were detachable from the rest of the upper garment. They were sometimes given as love tokens.

“And you wear this glove,” Cressida said, giving him a glove as he gave her the sleeve. “When shall I see you?”

Both garments — sleeve and glove — had holes into which one or more phallic-like objects could be thrust.

“I will corrupt — bribe — the Greek sentinels so I can visit you at night. But yet be true.”

“Oh, Heavens! ‘Be true’ again!”

“Pay attention as I explain why I speak those words, love,” Troilus said. “The Greek youths are full of good qualities. They’re loving, well composed with gifts of nature such as good looks, and flowing and swelling over with arts and exercise: They have studied and practiced arts that make them attractive. How novelty and good qualities with a fine figure may move a woman — alas, a kind of godly jealousy, which I beg you to call a virtuous sin, makes me afraid.”

Understanding that Troilus was afraid that she would fall in love with a Greek, Cressida said, “Oh, Heavens! You don’t love me!”

“May I die a villain, then!” Troilus said. “In saying these things, I do not call your faith in question as much as I call into question my merit: I cannot sing, nor dance the high-jumping dance called the lavolt, nor sweeten my talk, nor play at crafty games; these are all fair virtues that the Greeks are most prompt and ready to practice. But I can tell that in each of these virtues there lurks a still and dumb-discursive — that is, a still and silently persuasive — Devil that tempts most cunningly, but don’t you be tempted.”

“Do you think I will be tempted?” Cressida asked.

“No, but something may be done that we will not.”

Troilus was using “will” to mean “wish.”

He continued, “And sometimes we are Devils to ourselves, when we tempt the frailty of our powers, presuming on their changeful potency. Sometimes, we rely too much on our own strength, but our strength can grow weak.”

Aeneas called again, “It’s time, my good lord.”

“Come, kiss me,” Troilus said, “and let us part.”

Paris called, “Brother Troilus!”

Troilus called back, “Good brother, come here, and bring Aeneas and the Greek with you.”

“My lord, will you be true to me?” Cressida asked.

“Who, I? Unfortunately, being true is my vice, my fault. While others fish with cunning to get a great reputation for a good character, I with great truth catch total simplicity. Because I tell the truth, I get a reputation for being simple — a fool. While some with cunning gild their copper crowns to make them appear to be gold, with truth and plainness I wear my crown bare.”

The crowns were both coins and the tops of heads. Unlike some other people, Troilus did not put on an act to make himself look gilded — better than he really was.

He added, “Fear not my truth — my faithfulness to you. The moral of my intelligence is ‘plain and true’; that’s all there is to my character.”

Aeneas, Paris, Antenor, Deiphobus, and the Greek Diomedes entered the room.

Troilus said, “Welcome, Sir Diomedes! Here is the lady whom we deliver to you in exchange for Antenor. At the city gate, lord, I’ll give her into your hand, and as we walk to the gate I’ll tell you about her. Treat her well; and, by my soul, fair Greek, if ever you stand at the mercy of my sword, say the name ‘Cressida’ and your life shall be as safe as Priam is in Troy.”

Diomedes said, “Fair Lady Cressida, if it pleases you, save the thanks this Prince expects. You owe him nothing. The luster in your eyes and the Heaven in your cheeks plead for you to be treated well, and you shall be my mistress and command Diomedes wholly.”

Diomedes was using courtly language. “Mistress” meant a woman who could command a man — called her “servant” — to do things for her because the man admired her; however, another meaning of “mistress” in this culture was “a woman who is pursued by a man.”

“Greek, you are not treating me with courtesy,” Troilus said. “Instead, by praising her you shame the zeal of my petition to you. I tell you, lord of Greece, she is as far high soaring over your praises as you are unworthy to be called her servant. I order you to treat her well simply for the reason that I have ordered you to treat her well. For, by the dreadful Pluto, god of the Land of the Dead, if you do not treat her well, even if the great bulk of Achilles is your bodyguard, I’ll cut your throat.”

“Oh, don’t be angry, Prince Troilus,” Diomedes replied. “Let me be privileged by my position as ambassador and messenger to speak freely: When I am away from Troy, I’ll answer to my lust.”

“I’ll answer to my lust” can mean several things: 1) “I’ll do as I like,” 2) “I’ll meet you on the battlefield,” 3) “I’ll treat Cressida well simply because I want to, not because you order me to,” and/or 4) “I’ll seduce Cressida.”

Diomedes continued, “You should know, lord, that I’ll do nothing because I have been ordered to do it. Cressida shall be prized according to her own worth. If you tell me, ‘Prize her because I tell you to prize her,’ I’ll reply in accordance with my spirit and honor, ‘No.’”

“Come, let’s go to the gate,” Troilus said. “I’ll tell you, Diomedes, this boast of yours shall often make you hide your head.”

He then said to Cressida, “Lady, give me your hand, and, as we walk, we shall say to each other what needs to be said.”

Troilus, Cressida, and Diomedes exited.

A trumpet sounded.

Paris said, “Listen! That is Hector’s trumpet.”

“How we have spent this morning! We have wasted time,” Aeneas said. “Prince Hector must think that I am tardy and remiss. I swore that I would ride before him to the battlefield.”

“It is Troilus’ fault that handing over Cressida to Diomedes took so long,” Paris said. “Come, let’s go to the battlefield with Hector.”

“Let’s get ready immediately,” Aeneas said.

“Yes, let’s get ready with a bridegroom’s fresh eagerness,” Paris said. “Let us prepare to tend on Hector’s heels. The glory of our Troy lies this day on his fair worth and single chivalry. This is the day that he will fight a duel with Ajax.”


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David Bruce: Lloyd Alexander’s THE CASTLE OF LLYR: A Discussion Guide — Chapter 8: The Harp of Fflewddur

Chapter 8: The Harp of Fflewddur

  • How does Fflewddur Fflam show that he is a hero?

Fflewddur Fflam is a hero. He risks his life in order to help others. By staying with Llyan, he allows Taran, Gurgi, and Prince Rhun to escape. Fflewddur Fflam must be frightened to stay with Llyan, but it is good to allow the others to escape.

One characteristic of a hero is a concern for other people.

Another characteristic of a hero is that he or she (I am using the word “hero” to refer to both sexes) is willing to risk his or her life to help someone else.

Of course, Fflewddur Fflam must be hoping to find a way to escape.

  • How does Fflewddur Fflam persuade Taran to leave with Gurgi and Prince Rhun?

Fflewddur Fflam says the right thing. He reassures Taran and the other companions that he will find a way to escape, somehow.

We read:

“Fly from here!” urged the bard, never ceasing to pluck his harp strings. “Begone! I’ve no idea how long she’ll want to listen — or how long I can keep playing!”

“There must be another way,” Taran cried. “We can’t leave you.”

“I like it no more than you do,” replied the bard. “But this is your chance. You must take it now.” Taran hesitated. Fflewddur’s face was grim and drawn, and he seemed already weary.

“Begone!” Fflewddur repeated. “I’ll play as long as I can. By then, if she’s decided not to gobble me, she may go out hunting. Don’t worry. If the harp fails, I’ll think of something else.” (85)

  • Why does Taran leave Fflewddur Fflam with Llyan?

Taran has things that are important to do. One important thing is to quickly find Eilonwy. Another important thing is to keep Prince Rhun safe. We remember that Taran has taken oaths to take care of Eilonwy and of Prince Rhun.

In addition, we should remember that Fflewddur Fflam is an adult, while Taran seems to be barely into puberty. Fflewddur Fflam is a King, although Taran is the leader of the companions.

Taran is considering consequences here. When we want to decide what we ought to do, thinking about the consequences of our actions is a good thing to do.

Suppose the worst thing possible. Suppose that Llyan is a killer cat. It is better for three — Taran, Prince Rhun, and Gurgi — to escape than for all four, including Fflewddur Fflam, to be killed by Llyan.

However, Taran has had some hints that Llyan may not be as dangerous as she at first appeared to be. When Fflewddur Fflam is playing his harp, she purrs. Cats don’t purr when they are fighting or when they are hunting. In Chapter 7, we read that she purrs and she smiles:

Llyan folded her paws under her deep, speckled chest and began making a sound like a swarm of droning bees. Her mouth curved in a smile and the tip of her tail moved gently to the music. (84)

Despite these hints that Llyan may not be dangerous, Taran is still “Sick at heart” because he must leave Fflewddur Fflam (85).

Taran allows Prince Rhun, then Gurgi, to leave first. Then Fflewddur Fflam makes him leave:

“Out, out!” commanded Fflewddur. “I shall find you as soon as I can. Did I not promise you a new song? You shall hear it from my own lips. Until then — farewell!”

Fflewddur’s tone and glance left no room for question. Taran flung himself past the stones. In another instant he was free of the hut. (86)

  • Who is the weakest among Taran and his companions: Taran, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi, and Prince Rhun?

Prince Rhun is the weakest, as is shown by his inability to run far. Of course, Fflewddur Fflam is not present at the moment, but he will be able to run far. He does sweat from the exertion, as we will see later.

We read:

As Taran feared, the horses had broken their tethers and fled at the sight of Llyan. Gurgi and Prince Rhun had crossed the clearing and vanished into the forest. Racing at top speed, Taran soon caught up with them. Rhun’s pace had already begun to flag, his breathing was labored, and he looked as though his legs might give way at any moment. Taran and Gurgi caught the staggering Prince and bore him along as fast as they could.

For some while, the three struggled through the underbrush. The forest had begun to grow sparser and Taran caught sight of a broad meadow. At the edge of the flatland, he halted. Prince Rhun, he knew, had reached the end of his strength and he hoped only that they were a safe distance from Llyan. (86-87)

  • Horses are important when traveling Prydain. Where are the horses of Taran and his companions?

We read that the horses broke their tethers and ran away because they were afraid of Llyan.

This means that Taran and the companions are without horses. They are on foot. This is a disadvantage because they could go further and faster on horses than on foot.

  • Is Prince Rhun aware of his weaknesses? Is this a good thing?

Prince Rhun is aware of his weaknesses. He has known for some time that he is clumsy.

However, he has the desire to do better. He knows that he is a Prince, and he wishes to be worthy of being a Prince. After all, someday he will be King. He can be a good King or a bad King, and he wishes to be a good King.

Because he is aware of his weaknesses, he can do something about them.

We read:

“I can guess what you’re thinking,” Rhun said in a low voice. “If it hadn’t been for me, you wouldn’t be in this plight. And I’m afraid you’re right. It’s my fault things turned out as they did. I can only ask your forgiveness. I’m not the cleverest person in the world,” Rhun added, smiling sadly. “Even my old nurse used to say I was all thumbs. But I hate being a blunderer. It’s not what people expect of a Prince. I didn’t ask to be born into the Royal House, that at least wasn’t my doing. But, since I was, I — I want very much to be worthy of it.” (87)

  • Prince Rhun thinks that he is clumsy. What can he do about being clumsy?

One thing he can do is simply to grow up. Puberty can be a time of clumsiness. When he passes through puberty, he will be less clumsy.

Another thing he can do is to engage in activities that will develop his coordination. For example, he could play sports — or take dance lessons.

  • Prince Rhun says that he is “not the cleverest person in the world” (87). This is not unusual since only one person is the cleverest person in the world. Of course, Prince simply means that he is not clever. What can Prince Rhun to become more clever?

Growing up helps because people become more clever with more life experience.

Another Prince Rhun can do is to study in school and to read.

  • Prince Rhun was born a Prince: an important title. But simply being born with a title does not mean that one is worthy to hold that title. To be the leader of a country (Prince Rhun will eventually be King Rhun), what qualities should one have?

A good King will care about the citizens. A good King will want his country to have a good economy with work available for people who want to work. A good King will want his country to have good schools, good roads, safe food and water, etc.

A good King will avoid war unless war is necessary.

A good King will have good administrative skills.

A good King will have good manners and good public-speaking skills and good diplomatic skills.

A good King will be positive and happy and influence the citizens to be positive and happy.

A good King (or Prince, or Assistant Pig-Keeper) must be (or become) a good man. Taran says, “For a man to be worthy of any rank, he must strive first to be a man” (88).

  • Does Prince Rhun know that his parents want him to be engaged to Princess Eilonwy?

Yes, he knows. Rumors have been flying around, and Prince Rhun has heard the rumors.

Prince Rhun would like to be the person who rescues Eilonwy. Of course, so would Taran.

  • What decision does Taran make?

A good leader must make good decisions.

Taran’s decision is to return to Dinas Rhydnant. This is not a decision that he wishes to make, but it is the right decision.

Taran would prefer to keep on trying to rescue Eilonwy, but since he and his companions have no horses, they will be unable to catch up with the other band seeking Eilonwy.

Note something good that Prince Rhun does. He shows bravery and a concern for Eilonwy:

“No, no!” Rhun cried. “I don’t care about the danger. I must find Eilonwy.” (89)

  • Why wouldn’t the Master of the Horse stop traveling so that Taran and the other companions could rejoin him? After all, Prince Rhun is the son of the King.

We are not told the answer, so we have to speculate:

1) Job #1 is to find Eilonwy.

2) The Master of the Horse knows that Prince Rhun and the others can fairly easily make it back home even if they have lost their horses — they are not far from home.

3) Perhaps sometimes people become separated in such pursuits.

4) Perhaps the Master of the Horse knows that Taran is a capable leader and has sworn to look after Prince Rhun. The King could have told the Master of the Horse that.

  • Earlier, Fflewddur Fflam assured Taran that he (Fflewddur Fflam) would be able to escape from Llyan. How did he accomplish his escape?

Fflewddur Fflam was able to escape from Llyan because Llyan went to sleep.

Apparently, Llyan had a full meal while hunting. The meal, plus Fflewddur Fflam’s music, plus being tired after a night of hunting made Llyan fall asleep.

Prince Rhun crouched in the ashes of the fireplace in the beginning of Chapter 7:

Prince Rhun, having tried vainly to climb up the chimney, crouched in the ashes of the hearth. (78)

Fflewddur Fflam followed the ashes that Prince Rhun left behind him as he ran, and he was able to catch up to Taran and the companions as they rested.

  • Does Prince Rhun’s weaknesses have any advantages?

Yes. Because Prince Rhun was tired, Taran and the companions rested. This allowed Fflewddur Fflam to catch up to them.

Because Prince Rhun fell off his horse and had to take refuge in the old hut, he found a book with what seem to be blank pages. That book will be important later.

When we make mistakes, sometimes the results can be good. If you drop some eggs, that can be a good thing if you like omelets.

  • Fflewddur Fflam is a hero because he made Taran and the others leave him alone with Llyan. Does he make a big deal out of being a hero?

No. He simply tells Taran and the companions how he escaped, and he eats some food that Gurgi gives him.

This is a characteristic of many, many heroes. They do something heroic, and then they are humble about what they did.

  • Lloyd Alexander is a master at ending chapters with a cliffhanger. Why do you suppose that he did not end the previous chapter with Fflewddur Fflam being left alone with Llyan?

It may have been too scary for his readers.

Also, it could make readers question Taran’s judgment in leaving Fflewddur Fflam.

  • What danger are Taran and his companions still in from Llyan?

When Llyan wakes, she can track Fflewddur Fflam. Because she is so big — “as tall as a horse but leaner and longer” (79) — she can easily catch up to him.

If she is angry when she catches up to him, she can easily harm him, Taran, and the other companions.

  • Lloyd Alexander is a master at putting a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter. How does Chapter 8 end?

Chapter 8 ends in this way:

Taran shook his head. He told the bard of the decision to return to Dinas Rhydnant.

“I suppose it’s the best thing to do,” Fflewddur reluctantly agreed. “Especially now, when Llyan may be prowling.” Taran scanned the hills for the easiest and safest path to follow. He caught his breath. A dark shape sped high above. It veered, circled, then drove directly toward him.

“It’s Kaw!” Taran ran ahead and held out his arms. The crow dropped swiftly and lighted on Taran’s outstretched wrist. The bird showed signs of grueling flight; his feathers were askew and he looked like a bundle of rags, but he clacked his beak and jabbered excitedly.

“Eilonwy!” Kaw croaked. “Eilonwy!” (91)

Of course, the reader remembers that Taran had sent Kaw off to find Eilonwy. Kaw has done that. The reader will keep on reading to find out what Taran and his companions will do now that Kaw has found Eilonwy.


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s TROILUS AND CRESSIDA: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scene 1

— 4.1 —

On a street in Troy, Aeneas and a servant with a torch met Paris, Deiphobus, Antenor, the Greek Diomedes, and some other people who were carrying torches.

Paris said, “I see someone. Ho! Who is that there?”

“It is the Lord Aeneas,” Deiphobus said.

Aeneas asked, “Is Prince Paris there in person? Had I as good a reason as Helen to lie long in bed as you, Prince Paris, have, nothing but Heavenly business would rob my bedmate of my company.”

“That’s what I think, too,” Diomedes said. “Good morning, Lord Aeneas.”

“This is a valiant Greek, Aeneas,” Paris said. “Shake his hand. Witness the theme of your speech, wherein you told how Diomedes, for a whole week of days, haunted you on the battlefield.”

“I wish you good health, valiant sir, while talks continue during all this gentle truce,” Aeneas said to Diomedes, “but when I meet you armed on the battlefield after the truce, then I will greet you with as black defiance as heart can think or courage can execute.”

“I welcome both the good health and the black defiance,” Diomedes replied. “Our emotions are now calm because of the truce, and for as long as the truce lasts, I wish you good health! But when we meet on the battlefield later, by Jove, I’ll hunt for your life with all my strength, speed, and cunning.”

“And you shall hunt a lion that will flee with his face backward, facing you,” Aeneas said. “In humane gentleness, welcome to Troy! Now, by my mortal father Anchises’ life, welcome, indeed! By my immortal mother Venus’ hand, I swear that no man alive can respect more excellently than I the thing he means to kill.”

As recounted in Homer’s Iliad, Diomedes had once fought Venus, who was on the side of the Trojans, and wounded her wrist.

“We feel the same way,” Diomedes said. “Jove, let Aeneas live, if he is not fated to bring me glory by dying on my sword, a thousand complete courses of the Sun! Let him live a thousand years if I do not kill him on the battlefield! But, to increase my honor, which I am greedy for, let me kill him, with each of his joints wounded, and let that happen tomorrow!”

“We know each other well,” Aeneas said.

“We do, and we long to know each other worse,” Diomedes replied.

Rather than know each other to be well and healthy, they each hoped to know that the other was wounded or dead.

“This is the most despiteful gentle greeting, the noblest hateful love, that ever I heard of,” Paris said.

He then asked Aeneas, “What business, lord, do you have so early?”

“King Priam sent for me,” Aeneas said, “but why, I don’t know.”

“The reason meets you here and now,” Paris said. “It was to bring this Greek, Diomedes, to Calchas’ house, where Cressida, his daughter, is living, and there to render him, in exchange for the freed Antenor, the fair Cressida.”

Paris then walked to the side with Aeneas, and they held a private, quiet conversation.

Paris said, “Let’s have your company, or if you please, you can hasten to Calchas’ house before us. I firmly think — or rather, call my thought a certain knowledge — that my brother Troilus lodges there tonight. Rouse him and give him notice of our approach. Because of the reason we are coming there, I fear we shall be much unwelcome.”

“I assure you that we will be much unwelcome,” Aeneas replied. “Troilus had rather Troy were carried to Greece than Cressida carried away from Troy.”

“There is no help for it,” Paris said. “The bitter disposition of the time will have it so. It is necessary.”

Paris then said loudly, “Go on ahead of us, Aeneas; we’ll follow you.”

“Good morning, everyone,” Aeneas said.

Aeneas and the servant carrying the torch exited.

Paris then asked, “Tell me, noble Diomedes, indeed, tell me truly, even in the soul of sound and good friendship, who, in your thoughts, deserves fair Helen best, myself or Menelaus?”

“Both of you deserve her equally,” Diomedes said. “Menelaus well deserves to have her because he seeks her without being bothered by her dirty lack of chastity, which has caused such a Hell of pain and world of expense as we fight this war to get her back for him. And you deserve as well to keep her because you defend her without noticing the taste of her dishonor, her lack of faithfulness, her adultery, which has led to such a costly loss of wealth and friends.

“Menelaus, like a whining cuckold, would drink up the lees and dregs of a flat tamed piece — a wine that has been exposed to the air and gone flat, or a piece of female flesh that has been in bed with men so much that she has become stale.

“You, like a lecher, are happy to breed your inheritors — your children — out of Helen’s whorish genitals.

“Weighing both merits with a set of scales, each weighs neither less nor more than the other, but both are heavier — sadder — because of a whore named Helen.”

“You are too bitter to your countrywoman,” Paris replied.

“Helen is bitter to her country,” Diomedes said. “Listen to me, Paris. For every false drop in her bawdy veins a Greek’s life has sunk and been lost; for every tiny bit of her contaminated carrion weight, a Trojan has been slain. Since Helen has been able to speak, the number of words she has spoken does not equal the number of Greeks and Trojans who have died in this war over her.”

“Fair Diomedes, you are doing what merchants do,” Paris said. “You dispraise the thing that you desire to buy. But we in silence hold this virtue well, we’ll commend only what we intend to sell.”

Paris did not commend — praise — Helen because he had no desire to sell her.

Paris said, “Here lies our way.”

They then walked to Calchas’ house.

— 4.2 —

Troilus and Cressida stood and talked in the courtyard of Calchas’ house.

Troilus said, “Dear, do not trouble yourself. The morning is cold.”

Now that it was morning, it was time for Troilus to leave. Cressida wanted to protect her reputation; she did not want other people to know that Troilus had spent the night with her.

“Then, my sweet lord, I’ll call my uncle down,” Cressida said. “He shall unbolt the gates to let you out.”

Pandarus lived next to Cressida. The houses shared the same court and were adjoined.

“Don’t trouble him,” Troilus said. “Go to bed, to bed. Let sleep kill — overcome — those pretty eyes, and give as soft arrest to your senses as infants’ senses that are empty of all thought!”

“Good morning, then,” Cressida said.

“Please, go to bed now.”

“Are you weary of me?”

“Oh, Cressida! Except that the busy day, awakened by the morning lark, has aroused the ribald crows, and dreaming night will hide our joys no longer, I would not go away from you.”

“Night has been too brief,” Cressida said.

“Damn the witch called night! With malignant people thinking evil thoughts at night, she stays as tediously as Hell and allows time to pass only slowly, but she flies past the grasps of love with wings more momentary-swift than thought. You will catch cold, and curse me.”

“Please, tarry. Stay a while longer,” Cressida said. “You men will never tarry. Oh, foolish Cressida! I might have still held off and not slept with you, and then you would have tarried. Listen! There’s someone up.”

Pandarus said from inside, “Why are all the doors open here?”

“It is your uncle,” Troilus said.

“A pestilence on him!” Cressida said. “Now he will be mocking me. What a life I shall have!”

Pandarus entered the courtyard and said, “How are you now! How are you now! How go maidenheads? What is the price of virginity?”

Pretending not to recognize Cressida, who was no longer a virgin, he said to her, “Hey, you maiden! Where’s Cressida, my niece?”

“Go hang yourself, you naughty mocking uncle!” Cressida said. “You bring me to do, and then you flout me, too.”

One meaning of “to do” is “to have sex.”

“To do what?” Pandarus said. “To do what? Let her say what! What have I brought you to do?”

“Come, come, curse your heart!” Cressida said. “You’ll never be good, nor will you allow others to be good.”

“Ha! Ha!” Pandarus laughed. “Alas, poor wretch! Ah, poor chipochia! Haven’t you slept tonight?”

Chipochiawas poorly pronounced Italian for “pussy.”

Using baby talk, he said to her, “Would he, a naughty man, not let it sleep? May a bugbear take him!”

Cressida said to Troilus, “Didn’t I tell you that he would tease me! I wish that he were knocked in the head!”

Knocking sounded on the door of the courtyard.

She said to Pandarus, “Who’s that at the door? Good uncle, go and see.”

She then said to Troilus, “My lord, come again into my bedchamber.”

Cressida wanted him to go back to her bedchamber because she did not want him to be found with her. She wanted to keep their sexual relationship secret.

He smiled, and she said, “You smile and mock me, as if I meant naughtily, as if I wanted to have sex again with you.”

Troilus laughed.

“Come, you are deceived. I am thinking of no such thing.”

Knocking sounded again at the door.

“How earnestly they knock!” Cressida said. “Please, come inside. I would not for half of Troy have you seen here.”

Troilus and Cressida exited.

“Who’s there?” Pandarus said. “What’s the matter? Will you beat down the door? What is it now! What’s the matter?”

He opened the door, and Aeneas entered the courtyard.

“Good morning, my lord, good morning,” Aeneas said.

“Who’s there?” Pandarus asked. “My Lord Aeneas! I swear that I didn’t know who you are. What news gets you up so early?”

“Isn’t Prince Troilus here?” Aeneas asked.

“Here! What should he be doing here?” Pandarus asked, pretending to be surprised by the question.

“Come, he is here, my lord,” Aeneas said. “Do not deny it. He needs to speak with me about a matter that is important to him.”

“Troilus is here, you say?” Pandarus said. “It is more than I know, I’ll be sworn. As for my own part, I came in late. What would he be doing here?”

“What? Do you mean whowould he be doing here?” Aeneas asked. “Well, then. Come, come, you’ll do him wrong without meaning to. You’ll be so true to him that you will be false to him. By trying to help him by pretending that he is not here, you will hurt him by keeping me from talking with him. Let’s agree to pretend that you do not know about him being here, but still go and fetch him here; go.”

Troilus, who had been eavesdropping, came out into the courtyard.

“How are you now?” Troilus asked Aeneas. “What’s the matter?”

“My lord, I scarcely have leisure to greet you because my business with you is so urgent. Nearby are your brother Paris, and Deiphobus, the Greek Diomedes, and our Antenor, who has been freed by the Greeks and delivered to us; and for him forthwith, before the first sacrifice, within this hour, we must hand over to Diomedes’ hand the Lady Cressida. She is being exchanged for Antenor.”

“Has this been definitely decided?” Troilus asked.

“Yes, it has been decided by Priam and the general assembly of Troy. People are at hand and ready to put the decision into effect.”

“How my achievements mock me!” Troilus said.

He had just won Cressida, and now he had to give her up.

He continued, “I will go and meet them, and, my Lord Aeneas, say that we met by chance; you did not find me here.”

“Yes, that is a good idea, my lord,” Aeneas said. “The secrets of nature are not more gifted in taciturnity than I am. Nature holds on to her secrets, and I will hold on to your secret.”

Troilus and Aeneas exited.

Pandarus said, “Is it possible? No sooner gotten but lost? May the Devil take Antenor! The young Prince Troilus will go mad: a plague upon Antenor! I wish the Greeks had broken his neck!”

Cressida came into the courtyard and asked, “What’s going on! What’s the matter? Who was here?”

Pandarus sighed.

“Why do you sigh so deeply?” Cressida asked. “Where’s my lord? Gone! Tell me, sweet uncle, what’s the matter?”

“I wish that I were as deep under the earth as I am above it!”

“Oh, the gods! What’s the matter?”

“Please, go inside,” Pandarus said. “I wish that you had never been born! I knew you would be Troilus’ death. Oh, poor gentleman! A plague upon Antenor!”

“Good uncle, I beg you, on my knees!” Cressida said. “I beg you, tell me what’s the matter.”

“You must leave Troy, girl, you must leave Troy; you have been exchanged for Antenor,” Pandarus said. “You must go to your father, and be gone from Troilus. It will be his death; it will be his bane, his poison, his ruin; he cannot bear it.”

“Oh, you immortal gods!” Cressida said. “I will not go.”

“You must.”

“I will not, uncle,” Cressida said. “I have forgotten my father; I know no feeling of blood relationship to him; I know no sense of relationship, love, blood, soul for him that comes close to what I feel for the sweet Troilus. Oh, you divine gods, make Cressida’s name the very crown of falsehood if she ever leaves Troilus! Time, force, and death, do to this body what extremes you can, but the strong base and building of my love is like the very center of the Earth, and draws all things to it. I’ll go in and weep —”

“Do, do,” Pandarus said.

Cressida continued, “— tear my bright hair and scratch my praised cheeks, crack my clear voice with sobs and break my heart with calling the name of Troilus. I will not go away from Troy.”

— 4.3 —

Paris, Troilus, Aeneas, Deiphobus, Antenor, and the Greek Diomedes walked to the street in front of Calchas’ house. Paris and Troilus stood apart from the others.

Paris said loudly, “It is full morning, and the hour fixed for Cressida’s delivery to this valiant Greek, Diomedes, is coming quickly.”

He and Troilus then talked quietly.

“My good brother Troilus, tell the lady what she is to do, and urge her to make haste.”

“Walk into her house,” Troilus said. “I’ll bring her to the Greek quickly, and when I deliver her to his hand, think that his hand is an altar and your brother Troilus is a priest there who is offering to it his own heart.”

Paris said, “I know what it is to love, and I wish that I could help as much as I shall feel pity!”

Troilus exited.

Paris said loudly, “May it please you to walk into her house, my lords.”


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David Bruce: Lloyd Alexander’s THE CASTLE OF LLYR: A Discussion Guide — Chapter 7: The Lair of Llyan

Chapter 7: The Lair of Llyan

  • How do Taran and his companions react to the huge shape that is attacking them?

The huge shape turns out to be Llyan, the mountain cat to whom Glew fed his potions.

Taran is very brave and draws his sword, but Llyan knocks it from his hand.

At the moment, all is confusion and everyone is terrified.

We read:

The great beast screamed with fury as the companions scattered in terror to all parts of the hut.

Amid the confusion of tumbling stools and benches, and as the dry leaves rose in a whirlwind, Taran saw that Fflewddur had jumped to a tabletop and, in so doing, had plunged into the spiderweb which now covered him from head to foot. Prince Rhun, having tried vainly to climb up the chimney, crouched in the ashes of the hearth. Gurgi had made himself as small as he could and had pressed into a corner, where he squealed and yelled, “Help, oh, help! Save Gurgi’s poor tender head from pawings and clawings!” (78)

  • Describe Llyan.

Llyan’s main characteristic is her enormous size.

Another defining characteristic appears to be her ferocity. Certainly, Llyan appears to be dangerous.

A characteristic of cats, including mountain cats, is that they eat meat, and Taran and his companions are very afraid that Llyan could possibly be planning to eat them.

Llyan is also very good at fighting. Fflewddur Fflam draws his sword, but Llyan easily knocks the sword away and knocks Fflewddur Fflam over.

We read:

A long, wavering growl rose from the creature’s throat and she hesitated a moment as if undecided where to attack. Taran, sitting up on the ground, saw for the first time what the ferocious animal looked like.

Though Glew had written of Llyan’s growth, Taran had never imagined a mountain cat so big. The animal stood as tall as a horse but leaner and longer; her tail alone, thicker than Taran’s arm, seemed to take up much of the room in the hut. Heavily and sleekly furred, the cat’s body was golden-tawny, flecked with black and orange. Her belly was white with black splotches. Curling tufts sprouted from the tips of her ears, and shaggy handfuls of fur curved at her powerful jaws. Her long whiskers twitched; her baleful yellow eyes darted from one companion to another. Judging from the white points of her teeth, glittering as her lips drew back in a snarl, Taran was certain Llyan could gulp down anything that suited her fancy. (79)

  • How dangerous is Llyan? Is she as dangerous as Taran and his companions thought when they first saw her?

Taran reasons very well. He believes that Llyan is curious rather than dangerous. If Llyan truly were dangerous, Taran and his companions would be dead right now.

Taran also reasons that Llyan is not hungry. Llyan and other mountain cats hunt at night, so Llyan has been out hunting and so most likely has eaten her fill.

We read:

“She’s more curious than angry,” Taran whispered. “Otherwise, she would have clawed us to pieces by now. Don’t move. She may go away.”

“Glad to hear you say that,” replied Fflewddur in a choked voice. “I’ll remember it while I’m being gobbled up. It will be a consolation to me.”

“I don’t think she’s hungry,” said Taran. “If she’s been out hunting during the night, she must have eaten her fill.” (80)

However, at first appearance Llyan truly did appear to be dangerous, and if she grows hungry, she could very well become dangerous.Fflewddur Fflam says, “She’ll keep us here until her appetite comes back. I’m sure this is the first time she’s been lucky enough to have four dinners ready and waiting in her lair” (80).

  • Why can’t Taran and his companions escape? Why can’t Taran and his companions make a run for it and hope that one of them escapes?

Taran and his companions attempt to escape, but Llyan is very watchful and stops all attempts at escape.

Taran thinks about having everyone try to escape at the same time, but Fflewddur Fflam realizes thatthis idea will not work.

We read:

“But we must escape,” Taran urged. “What if we all rushed upon her once? One of us at least might get past.”

Fflewddur shook his head. “After she’d settled with the rest of us,” he answered, “she’d have no trouble catching up with that lone survivor. Let me think, let me think.” (82-83)

  • What calms Llyan?

Fflewddur Fflam’s music — he begins to play his harp because playing it calms him — has a calming effect on Llyan.

We read:

“Fflewddur!” Taran whispered. “Play on!”

“You can’t think she enjoys it,” replied the bard. “I should find that hard to believe. Why, even human beings have been known to say hard words about my music. You can’t expect a mountain cat to like it any better.” Nevertheless, he plucked the strings once more.

This time, there was no doubt in Taran’s mind that the harp fascinated Llyan. The great body of the cat slackened, her muscles seemed to uncoil, and Llyan blinked peacefully. To make certain, Taran asked Fflewddur to stop. As soon as the bard did so, Llyan turned restless. Her tail lashed and her whiskers trembled with what could only be vexation. As soon as the bard played again, Llyan put her head to one side, ears forward, and gazed fondly at him.(83-84)

Note that Llyan is now growing fond of Fflewddur Fflam. However, she grows restless when Fflewddur Fflamstops playing, so she may still be dangerous.

  • Where does the phrase “Music soothes the savage beast” come from?

In Act 1, scene 1 of William Congreve’s 1697 play The Mourning Brideappears these lines:

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,

To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

We think of Llyan as a savage beast rather than a savage breast, but it is possible that a savage beast can have a savage breast.

This is an interesting short article:

Hard Rock Music Soothes the Savage Beast

Even sharks like to rock out from time to time. An Australian tour boat operator says great white sharks have a fondness for music as aggressive as they are. The animals like songs by Aussie hard rock band AC/DC, especially “If You Want Blood” (of course) and “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Interestingly, the music attracts the toothy predators and makes them less aggressive and more inquisitive. The tour boat operator suspects the creatures like the low frequencies and vibrations in AC/DC’s music.

So, will a waterproof mp3 player and a collection of AC/DC songs protect you from Jaws this summer? Probably not, but at least you can rock out, too.

Source: <>.

Date Accessed: 2 October 2011

  • Can you give any examples from literature or popular culture of music soothing a savage beast?

These examples come from a site dedicated to TV tropes:

  • In Greek Mythology, Orpheus was able to get past Cerberus [a three-headed dog that guards the Underworld] by playing music to soothe it.
  • The Monster in Young Frankensteincan be attracted to and lulled by music.
  • In Bringing Up Baby, the tame leopard Baby can be subdued by singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby.”
  • In Help!,Ringo is threatened by a tiger which can be tamed by singing the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
  • Inverted in The Three Stooges short “Idle Roomers,” which features a Wolf Manwho is relatively tame until he hears music. The stooges, mistakenly believing in this trope, decide to play music when confronted by him, activating the Wolf Man’s Berserk Button.
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau(1996): Marlon Brando (as the title character) momentarily soothes the rebellious man-animal hybrids with his piano playing. But when Dr Moreau decides to follow this up by activating their pain implants, he discovers the hard way that they’ve already been removed.
  • Harry Potter: Fluffy the giant three-headed guard dog is lulled to sleep when music is played (a harp or a flute in this case), as a nod to Greek Mythology.



Date Accessed: 11 September 2011

  • Lloyd Alexander is a master at putting a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter. How does Chapter 7 end?

Chapter 7 ends in this way:

“Yes, yes!” Gurgi cried. “Do not leave off hummings and strummings!”

“Believe me,” the bard answered fervently, “I haven’t the slightest intention.” Llyan folded her paws under her deep, speckled chest and began making a sound like a swarm of droning bees. Her mouth curved in a smile and the tip of her tail moved gently to the music.

“That’s the answer!” cried Fflewddur, springing to his feet. “Fly, friends, while she’s quiet!” No sooner had he risen than Llyan, too, jumped up, furious, and the bard sank back, playing for dear life.

“Your music calms her,” Taran cried in alarm, “but she still won’t let us go.”

“Not exactly,” said the bard, passing his fingers rapidly across the strings. “I doubt if the rest of you will have any trouble. Alas,” he added ruefully, “I fear I’m the one she wants to keep!” (84)

The reader will keep on reading to find out happens. How will Fflewddur Fflam be able to get away from Llyan? Or will he?


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s TROILUS AND CRESSIDA: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 3

— 3.3 —

Agamemnon, Ulysses, Diomedes, Nestor, Ajax, Menelaus, and Calchas met in the Greek camp near Achilles’ tent. Calchas was a Trojan — Cressida’s father. He was a prophet who knew that Troy would be defeated in the war and who had joined the Greeks.

Calchas said, “Now, Princes, for the service I have done you, the opportunity provided to me at this time prompts me to call aloud for recompense. May you remember that, through the prophetic foresight I have, I know that Troy will lose the war. Therefore, I have abandoned Troy, left my possessions, incurred a traitor’s name for myself, left certain and possessed advantages, and exposed myself to doubtful fortunes, separating myself from all that time, acquaintance, custom, and social rank made habitual and most familiar to my nature, and here, to do you service, I am become like a new person entering into the world, a foreigner, unacquainted with anyone. I ask you, as a foretaste of what will be in the future, to give me now a little benefit, out of those many benefits that you have promised to me, which, you say, will come to me in the future.”

“What would you ask of us, Trojan?” Agamemnon asked. “Make your demand.”

“You have a Trojan prisoner, named Antenor, who was captured yesterday,” Calchas said. “Troy regards him as very valuable. Often have you — and often have you received my thanks because of it — desired my Cressida in exchange for an important Trojan held prisoner by you, but Troy has always refused to make the exchange. However, this Antenor, I know, is such a tuning peg in the Trojans’ affairs that their negotiations all must go out of tune when the Trojans lack his managerial skills. Antenor is the key to the harmonious management of Trojan affairs, and therefore the Trojans will almost give us a Prince of blood, a son of Priam, in exchange for him. Let Antenor be sent, great Princes, in exchange for my daughter, and her presence shall quite pay for all the service I have done in most willingly endured pain.”

“Let Diomedes bear Antenor to Troy, and bring Cressida to us here,” Agamemnon said. “Calchas shall have what he requests of us. Good Diomedes, get everything you need for this exchange. Also take word to Troy that Hector will tomorrow be answered in his challenge: Ajax is ready.”

“This shall I undertake,” Diomedes said, “and it is a burden that I am proud to bear.”

Diomedes and Calchas exited.

Achilles and Patroclus came out of their tent and stood there. They could see the other Greeks, but they could not hear them.

Ulysses said, “Achilles is standing in the entrance of his tent. May it please our general, Agamemnon, to pass like a stranger by him, as if Achilles were forgotten, and for all the Princes to lay negligent and casual regard upon him. We ought not to pay any special attention to Achilles, although we did in the past when he fought well for us. I will bring up the rear. It is likely that Achilles will ask me why such disapproving eyes are bent on him. If he does ask me, I will use your derision as medicine for him. Your disapproval will injure his pride, he will ask me why you disapprove, and I will give him medicine that, because he asked for it, he desires to drink. This may turn out well. Pride has no other mirror to show itself but pride because supple knees feed arrogance and are the proud man’s fees. If Achilles sees us acting proud, he may realize how proudly he has been acting. If we show courtesy to him, he will become even more arrogant and will think that we are only paying him the respect that is due him.”

“We’ll execute your plan, and put on an appearance of coldness and disapproval as we pass by Achilles,” Agamemnon said. “Each lord here, do this. Either don’t speak to and greet Achilles, or if you do, do it disdainfully, which shall shake him more than if we don’t even look at him. I will lead the way.”

The Greeks walked toward Achilles’ tent, intending — all but Ulysses — to pass by it.

Achilles said, “Is the general, Agamemnon, coming here to speak with me? You know my mind, I’ll fight no more against Troy.”

Agamemnon asked Nestor, “What did Achilles say? Does he want anything?”

Nestor asked Achilles, “Do you, my lord, have anything to say to Agamemnon?”

“No,” Achilles replied.

Nestor said to Agamemnon, “He wants nothing, my lord.”

“Very good,” Agamemnon said.

Agamemnon and Nestor exited.

Seeing Menelaus, Achilles said, “Good day. Good day.”

Menelaus replied, “How are you? How are you?”

Menelaus exited.

Achilles to Patroclus, “Does the cuckold scorn me?”

Ajax said, “How are you now, Patroclus?”

“Good morning, Ajax,” Achilles said.

“What?” Ajax said.

“Good morning.”

“Yes, and it will be a good next day, too.”

Ajax exited.

“Why are these fellows acting like this?” Achilles said. “Don’t they know that I am Achilles?”

Patroclus said, “They pass by you as if you were a stranger. They used to bend their knee to you and to send their smiles before themselves to you, Achilles. They used to come to you as humbly as they used to approach holy altars.”

“Have I become poor recently?” Achilles said. “It is certain that a great man, once fallen out with fortune, and therefore out of luck, must fall out with men, too. What the man whose fortunes have declined is, he shall as soon read in the eyes of other people as feel in his own fall, for men, like butterflies, don’t show their powdered wings except to the summer. No man receives any honor for simply being a man; he receives honor for those honors that are outside him, such as social rank, riches, and favor. These are prizes of accident as often as they are prizes of merit. When these prizes fall, as is likely they will since they are slippery supports, the respect that leaned on them will be as slippery, too. One will fall and pull down another, and both of them will die in the fall. But it is not so with me: Fortune and I are friends. I still enjoy at the highest point all that I ever did possess, with the exception of these men’s looks, which once were respectful but now are not. These men, I think, have discovered something in me that is not worth such rich beholding as they have often previously given to me. Here is Ulysses; I’ll interrupt his reading.”

“How are you, Ulysses?” Achilles said.

Closing the book he had been looking at, Ulysses said, “Hello, great Thetis’ son!”

“What are you reading?”

Ulysses replied, “A strange fellow here writes, ‘That man, however dearly gifted by nature, however much he possesses in material objects, however blessed he is either outwardly or inwardly, cannot boast about having that which he has, and does not feel what he owns, except by reflection, as when his virtues shining upon others heat them and they return that heat again to the first giver.’”

A person cannot boast about great wealth unless there are other people to whom that person can boast; a person cannot know that he possesses a virtue such as courage unless that person exhibits courage to witnesses who then acknowledge that that person is courageous.

“This is not strange, Ulysses,” Achilles said. “A beautiful person does not know the beauty that is borne here in the face; the beauty presents itself to the eyes of other people. Also, the eye itself, sight being the purest of senses, does not behold itself; an eye cannot leave itself and turn around and look at itself. However, one eye opposed to another can salute each other with each other’s form; I can look at your eye, and you can look at my eye. Sight cannot look at itself until it has traveled and is mirrored in a place where it may see itself; we can see our eyes in a mirror or on the surface of calm water. This is not strange at all.”

“I do not have difficulty accepting the hypothesis — it is well known — but I have difficulty accepting the author’s conclusion,” Ulysses said. “The author, in his detailed argument, expressly proves that no man is the lord of anything, though in and of himself he possesses many good qualities, until he communicates his good qualities to other people. Nor does the man himself know that he possesses the good qualities until he beholds them formed in the applause of those people to whom they’re extended. These people, like an arch, echo the voice again, or, like a gate of steel facing the Sun, receive and render back his figure and his heat. In other words, the man displays the good qualities in front of and for the benefit of other people, they acknowledge the good qualities with applause, and the man knows for sure that he has the good qualities.”

Ulysses had said that he had difficulty accepting the author’s conclusion. His difficulty concerned reputation because a man could get an undeserved reputation for possessing qualities he did not actually possess; however, it is possible for a man to prove by his actions that he definitely possesses certain qualities. Ulysses wanted Achilles to show his good qualities; one way for Achilles to display his fighting ability was to battle the Trojans.

Ulysses continued, “I was much interested by what the author said, and I immediately thought of the unknown Ajax here. Heavens, what a man is there! A veritable horse, who has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are that are most despicable in reputation and yet are precious in use!

“And what things again are most dear in esteem and yet are poor in worth!

“Now we shall see tomorrow — an act that true chance throws upon him — Ajax renowned.”

Ulysses was referring to the duel that Ajax would fight with Hector the next day. Supposedly, chance — a lottery — had chosen Hector’s opponent, but Ulysses had rigged the lottery so that Ajax would be chosen.

He continued, “Oh, Heavens, what some men do, while some men leave undone! How some men creep into fickle Fortune’s hall, while others act like idiots in her eyes! Some people pursue Fortune’s gifts, while others neglect Fortune’s gifts. Some people move slowly and carefully to get Fortune’s gifts, while others showily act like idiots as they ignore Fortune’s gifts. How one man eats into another’s pride, while pride is fasting in his wantonness!”

Achilles was the man who was leaving things undone. He was not fighting on the battlefield. Ajax and Hector, however, were dueling the next day. Achilles was the man who was neglecting the gifts that Lady Fortune had given to him, while Ajax was the man approaching Lady Fortune and asking her for gifts. Achilles was the proud man who was fasting; he was not doing the things that would add to his reputation. Ajax was doing those things — dueling with Hector and fighting on the battlefield — and therefore he was eating and acquiring the pride that should have been Achilles’.

Part of Ulysses’ strategy to get Achilles to obey Agamemnon and return to fighting was to make him feel that Ajax was receiving the honor that Achilles should earn, and that Ajax did not deserve that honor.

Ulysses continued, “To see these Greek lords! Why, even already they clap the blundering Ajax on the shoulder, as if his foot were on brave Hector’s breast and the citizens of great Troy were shrieking at Hector’s death.”

“I believe it,” Achilles said, “for the Greek lords passed by me the way that misers pass by beggars; they gave to me neither respectful words or looks. Have my deeds been forgotten?”

Ulysses replied, “Time has, my lord, a bag on his back in which he puts good deeds that are destined for oblivion, which is a huge monster of ingratitude. Things that ought to be remembered are instead forgotten. Those good deeds are past good deeds; they are devoured as fast as they are made, and they are forgotten as soon as they are done. Perseverance, my dear lord, keeps honor bright. To continue to be honored and respected, you must continue to do deeds that bring you honor and respect. If you stop doing those deeds, you become quite out of fashion; you are like a rusty coat of armor hanging on the wall — a monument that mocks past deeds.

“Take the quickest way, for honor travels in a cramped passage so narrow that only one can walk abreast at a time. Keep then to the path, for emulation and ambitious rivalry have a thousand sons that in single file pursue you. If you give way, or deviate from the direct and straight path, then they will all rush by you like a tide flooding in and leave you behind. Or if you give way, or deviate from the direct and straight path, then like a gallant horse fallen in the front line, you will lie there and serve as pavement for the abject and despicable soldiers in the rear; you will be run over and trampled on.

“Then what deeds people do in the present, although those deeds are less than your past deeds, must overtop and surpass your deeds because time is like a fashionable host who slightly shakes hands with his parting guest, and with his arms outstretched, as if he would fly, embraces the newcomer. Welcome always smiles, and farewell goes out sighing.

“Oh, let not virtue seek remuneration for the thing it was because beauty, wit and intelligence, high birth, vigor of body, desert in service, love, friendship, and charity are all subject to envious and slanderous time.

“One trait of human nature makes everyone in the whole world kin — all with one consent praise new and gaudy toys, although they are made and molded of old things, and they give more praise to dust that is sprinkled with a little gold than they give to gold that is sprinkled with a little dust. The present eye praises the present object; what gets praised is what is in front of people’s eyes.

“Then marvel not, you great and complete man, that all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax since things in motion sooner catch the eye than what does not stir or move. The cry of approval went once to you, and still it might, and yet it may again, if you would not entomb yourself alive and encase your reputation in your tent. Your glorious deeds, which you displayed in the fields of battle recently, made the envious gods go to war themselves and even drove great Mars to take sides in the war.”

Mars supported the Trojans and even occasionally fought in battles on their side.

“I have strong reasons for my isolation,” Achilles said.

“But the reasons against your isolation are more potent and heroic,” Ulysses said, adding, “It is known, Achilles, that you are in love with one of Priam’s daughters.”

“Really!” Achilles said. “It is known!”

“Is that a surprise?” Ulysses asked. “The providential foresight that’s in a watchful government knows almost every grain of gold belonging to the god of the underworld, Pluto. It finds the bottom in the incomprehensible deeps of the sea, it keeps pace with thought and it almost, like the gods, unveils thoughts as soon as they are born and placed in their dumb cradles.”

In other words, the leaders of the Greek army had a very good spy network.

Ulysses continued, “The heart of the government is a mystery, a secret — which open discussion dares never meddle with. It has an operation more divine than breath and speech or pen and writing can give expression to.

“All the commerce and interaction that you have had with Troy we know about as well as you do, my lord, and it would be more fitting for Achilles to throw down Hector in the dust than Hector’s sister Polyxena on a bed.

“But it must grieve your son, the young Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, who is now at home in Greece, when rumor shall in our islands sound her trumpet, and all the Greek girls shall dance and sing, ‘Great Hector’s sister did Achilles win, but our great Ajax bravely beat down him.’”

The word “him” was ambiguous and referred to both Hector and Achilles. Ajax beat down Hector by defeating him in battle or a duel, and Ajax beat down Achilles by acquiring a greater reputation in war than Achilles did.

Ulysses concluded, “Farewell, my lord. I speak as your friend when I say that the fool slides over the ice that you should break.”

The fool is Ajax, who skates over ice and does not break it. Achilles, in contrast, would break the ice. He is the one who would make a good beginning in a difficult enterprise. He would be like a big ship that goes first and breaks the ice so that other, smaller ships can follow in his wake. He is the warrior who would break the line of the opposing warriors.

Ulysses exited, leaving Achilles with things to think about.

Patroclus said, “To this effect, Achilles, have I appealed to you. A woman who is impudent and mannish is not more loathed than an effeminate man during a time in which action is required. The woman here is Polyxena, who is impudent and like a man because she loves a warrior who is an enemy to her city and family. The man is me, who stands condemned because the other Greek warriors think my little stomach for the war and your great friendship for me restrains you and keeps you away from the war. Sweet Achilles, rouse yourself; and the weak, wanton Cupid shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold, and, like a dew-drop from the lion’s mane, Cupid shall be shook into the air. Give up Polyxena, and go to war.”

“Shall Ajax fight with Hector?” Achilles asked.

“Yes, and perhaps he will receive much honor by dueling him,” Patroclus said.

“I see that my reputation is at stake,” Achilles said. “My fame is seriously and deeply wounded.”

“Oh, then, beware,” Patroclus said. “Wounds that men give themselves heal badly. Neglecting to do what is necessary gives a blank check to danger, and danger, like a fever, deceitfully infects us even when we sit idly in the Sun.”

In this culture, people believed that sitting in the sunshine in March could give one a fever.

“Go call the Fool Thersites here, sweet Patroclus,” Achilles said. “I’ll send the Fool to Ajax and ask him to invite the Trojan lords here to see us unarmed after the combat. I have a woman’s longing, an appetite that I am sick with, to see great Hector in his clothing of peace rather than in his armor, to talk with him and to wholly see his face rather than to see only the little that is visible when he wears a helmet.”

Thersites came walking over to them.

Seeing Thersites, Achilles said, “A labor saved!”

“A wonder!” Thersites said.

“What?” Achilles asked.

“Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself,” Thersites said.

If Ajax were asking for himself, he was asking for a jakes — a toilet.

“How so?” Achilles asked.

“He must fight a duel tomorrow with Hector, and he is so prophetically proud of an heroic cudgeling that he raves in saying nothing,” Thersites said.

Ajax was confident that he would defeat Hector the following day. Thersites was equally confident that Hector would defeat Ajax.

“How can that be?” Achilles asked.

“Why, Ajax stalks up and down like a peacock, a symbol of pride — a stride and a stop. He ruminates like a hostess who has no arithmetic but her brain to add up and set down the customers’ bill. He bites his lip with a shrewd regard, attempting to look intelligent, as who should say, ‘There is intelligence in this head, as all would know if it would get out,’ and so there is, but the intelligence in his head lies as coldly in him as fire in a piece of flint, which will not show itself without knocking the flint against metal. To get to Ajax’ intelligence, you will have to break his head.

“Ajax is undone — ruined — forever because if Hector does not break Ajax’ neck in the duel, Ajax will break his own neck in vainglory, aka excessive vanity.

“Ajax doesn’t know me. I said, ‘Good morning, Ajax,’ and he replied, ‘Thanks, Agamemnon.’ What do you think of this man who mistakes me for the general? He’s grown and become a very land-fish — a fish on land — without knowledge of language and unable to speak, aka a monster.

“A plague on opinion and reputation! A man may wear it on both sides, like a reversible leather jacket.”

Opinion and reputation are two sides of the same coin, or of the two sides — inside and outside — of a reversible leather jacket. Opinion is inside a man; it is what he thinks about himself. Reputation is outside a man; it is what other people say about him. Both opinion and reputation can ruin a man. Ulysses had wanted to build up Ajax’ pride in order to bring Achilles’ pride down, but Ajax was well on his way to becoming as proud as Achilles.

“You must be my ambassador to Ajax, Thersites,” Achilles said.

“Who, I?” Thersites replied. “Why, he’ll answer nobody; he practices not answering. Speaking is for beggars; he wears his tongue in his arms — he lets his fighting do his speaking for him. I will pretend to be him: Let Patroclus ask me questions as if I were Ajax, and you shall see a play starring Ajax.”

“Do it, Patroclus,” Achilles said. “Tell him that I humbly desire the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe-conduct for his person from the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honored captain-general of the Greek army, Agamemnon, et cetera. Do this.”

“Jove bless great Ajax!” Patroclus said.

“Hmm!” Thersites replied in the character of Ajax.

“I come from the worthy Achilles —” Patroclus began.


“— who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent —”


“— and to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.”


“Yes, my lord.”


“What do you say to this request?”

“God be with you, with all my heart, and goodbye,” Thersites replied in the character of Ajax.

“What is your answer, sir?” Patroclus asked.

“If tomorrow is a fair day, by eleven o’clock it will go one way or the other, and we will know who has won the duel; howsoever it turns out, Hector shall receive a beating before he beats me.”

“What is your answer, sir?” Patroclus asked again.

“Fare you well, with all my heart, and goodbye,” Thersites replied in the character of Ajax.

Achilles asked, “Why, but Ajax is not in this tune, is he? He isn’t really in this state of mind, is he?”

“No, he is not in this tune, but he’s out of tune just the way I have portrayed him,” Thersites replied. “What music will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I don’t know; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler-god Apollo get Ajax’ sinews to make musical strings from.”

“Come, you shall carry a letter to Ajax immediately,” Achilles said.

“Let me carry another letter to Ajax’ horse; for that’s the more capable creature,” Thersites said.

“My mind is troubled, like a stirred fountain that is clouded with sediment,” Achilles said, “and I myself cannot see its bottom.”

Achilles and Patroclus exited.

Alone, Thersites said to himself, “I wish the fountain of your mind were clear again, so that I might bring to drink an ass — Ajax — at it! I had rather be a tick on a sheep than such a valiant ignorant fool as Ajax.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



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