Vice Squad
Friday, June 08, 2007
Troilus and Cressida

By way of excuse for not posting, let me mention that I saw Troilus and Cressida at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Thursday night. (Here's a review.) Fortunately, my blog-indolence was rewarded, not only because the play was good but because an important plot element turned on the topic of the most recent Vice Squad post: a rigged lottery. (Yes, I should have remembered, but by golly, my command of Troilus and Cressida is not what it should be.) Hector (you no doubt will recall) issues a general challenge to the Greeks, though it is clear that the intent of the challenge is to draw Achilles into battle. Crafty Ulysses decides that it would best serve the Greeks' turn if they instead announced that a lottery would be undertaken to choose their combatant, and then fixed things up to make sure that Ajax, not Ulysses, won the lottery:
No, make a lottery;
And, by device, let blockish Ajax draw
The sort to fight with Hector
So the Greeks rig the lottery, and Troy falls: I summarize. Lotteries, it seems, have a long history of being less than trustworthy.

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