Dangerous Performance: Cupid in Early Modern Pedagogical Masques
Music plays during a long opening exchange between Pandarus and a servant, and heralds the entrance of Helen; Paris then accuses Pandarus of interrupting the music, and much of the rest of the scene concerns Helen wheedling Pandarus to play a song, his eventual agreement, and his performance. Despite continual references to her and repeated arguments over her value, Helen of Troy makes only one appearance in William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. The music scene in Troilus and Cressida appears to conform, with unnerving precision, to a Puritan understanding of the dangers of music. In fact, Troilus and Cressida consistently breaks down the cherished distinction between the virtuous "harmony" of war and the effeminate music of love. Both kinds of music are marked by an exaggerated emphasis on materiality and meaninglessness. Initially, Thersites seems to accept Ulysses' conventional view of music and degree: Ajax is overly proud and behaving irrationally, and therefore out of tune.