In Homer's Iliad, Pandarus or Pandaros is the son of Lycaon and a famous archer. Pandarus, who fights on the side of Troy in the Trojan War, first appears in Book Two of the Iliad. In Book Four, he shoots Menelaus and wounds him with an arrow, sabotaging a truce that could potentially have led to the peaceful return of Helen of Troy. He is goaded into breaking the truce by the gods, who wish for the destruction of Troy. He then wounds Diomedes with an arrow and acts as Aeneas' charioteer. He is later killed by Diomedes by having his spear strike him in the face, severing his tongue.
In Geoffrey Chaucer's poem Troilus and Criseyde (1370), Pandarus is an active go-between between his niece Criseyde and the Trojan prince Troilus, the younger brother of Paris and Hector. Troilus pines for Criseyde from afar. This love story is not part of classical Greek mythology, but was created in the twelfth century. Both Pandarus and other characters in the medieval story who have names from the Iliad are quite different from Homer's characters of the same name.
William Shakespeare used the medieval story again in his play Troilus and Cressida (1609). Shakespeare's Pandarus is more of a bawd than Chaucer's, and he is a lecherous and degenerate individual.
The plot function of Pandarus in Chaucer's and especially Shakespeare's famous works has given rise to the English words to pander, meaning to further other people's illicit amours, and a pander (in later usage a panderer), a person who does this. The strong pejorative connotations of pander apparently come less from Chaucer's well-meaning young Pandarus than from Shakespeare's cynical uncle figure who concludes the play's epilogue by wishing upon the audience all his many diseases. A panderer is, specifically, a bawd - a male who arranges access to female sexual favors, the manager of prostitutes. Thus, in law, the charge of pandering is an accusation that an individual has sold the sexual services of another.
Pandarus is also the name of a companion of Aeneas in Virgil's Aeneid.
Pandarus is not to be confused with Pandareus.
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