Although Troilus is a character from Ancient Greek literature, the expanded story of him as a lover was of Medieval origin.
The first known version is from Benoоt de Sainte-Maure's poem Roman de Troie, but Chaucer's principal source appears to have been Boccaccio who re-wrote the tale in his Il Filostrato. Chaucer's version can be said to reflect a less cynical and less misogynistic world-view than Boccaccio's, casting Pandarus as well-intentioned and Criseyde as fearful and sincere rather than simply fickle. It also inflects the sorrow of the story with humour.
The poem had an important legacy for later writers. Robert Henryson's Scots poem The Testament of Cresseid imagined a tragic fate for Cressida not given by Chaucer. In historical editions of the English Troilus and Criseyde, Henryson's distinct and separate work was sometimes included without accreditation as an "epilogue" to Chaucer's tale. Shakespeare's verse drama Troilus and Cressida, although much blacker in tone, was also based in part on the material.
Troilus and Criseyde is usually considered to be a courtly romance, although the generic classification is an area of significant debate in most Middle English literature.