Cymbeline simplified


The play is set around the time of Christ and of Augustus Caesar, Rome’s first emperor.  Actually, the play is more of a fable than a play, created out of bits and pieces from history and other stories.  That’s what we’re told.  Cymbeline is Britain’s king.  His daughter, Imogen, has quietly married Posthumus and her father isn’t all that happy about it, strongly influenced as he is by his Queen. The King has Posthumus exiled to Rome and his daughter detained, under a form of house arrest.  Imogen is the King’s daughter by his former queen.  The King’s strong-willed wife has a son by a former husband, the young man’s name being Cloten.  She had desperately wanted Imogen to marry him.  But the beautiful sweetheart of a princess, Imogen, wants nothing to do with Cloten, a lightweight. 

Julius Caesar invaded Britain in about 35 BC and we’re told was impressed by the courage and determination of the British soldiers, though he thought they lacked skills.  Posthumus’ father was a hero in those battles, earning the honorary surname of Leonatus, an honorary title handed down to his son.  Posthumus is now in Rome and his host is Philario.  Posthumus had told Imogen that Philario was “a friend of my father’s, to me known by letter.” 

Augustus Caesar was a big deal.  He was Julius Caesar’s nephew, known in 32 BC as Octavius.  Octavius Caesar, Mark Antony and Lepidus ruled Rome in 30 BC as the triumvirate, succeeding Julius Caesar who had been stabbed to death in 32 BC on the steps of the Roman Senate by Brutus and others Conspirators.  With the death of Mark Antony and Lepidus (shared in detail in Antony and Cleopatra), Octavius consolidated his power, becoming in due course Augustus Caesar and the Roman Empire’s first emperor. 

We’re provided with some background as the play opens, one gentleman giving another a history of Posthumus. As we say, newly married Posthumus and Imogen have been separated; he being sent to Rome, she to detention.  She gives him a ring; he gives her a bracelet.  In Rome, Iachimo, a friend to Philario and a first-rate Lothario, immediately and audaciously challenges and baits Posthumus over the fidelity of Imogen, having never met her.  He makes a persuasive case that she may not be as faithful as Posthumus thinks she is, confident as he is as a womanizer.  He puts his money where his mouth is, so to speak.  For whatever reasons, Posthumus lets Iachimo entrap him; Philario, the senior member of the three, doing his best to intervene, saying “Gentlemen, enough of this.”  But neither of the young men back off.  Iachimo bets Posthumus ten-thousand gold ducats to Posthumus’ diamond ring that his wife is not the honorable woman he thinks she is, and that he will prove it.  Iachimo says “your hand; a covenant.”  Posthumus accepts the bet.    

The King’s physician provides the Queen with a box of medications that the Queen believes to be “most poisonous compounds,” but the distrusting physician says “she is fooled with a most false effect, and I the truer be to be false with her.”  The Queen asks Pisanio to help her by shifting his allegiance to her son, but loyal-to-Posthumus Pisanio will have none of it.

Iachimo arrives in London with a letter from Posthumus introducing him as “one of the noblest note.”  Imogen welcomes him.  Imogen asks him to tell her of her husband.  He proceeds to tell her that her husband is spending time with prostitutes and that she should “be revenged,” since she “doth lie betwixt cold sheets whiles he is vaulting various vulgar women.”  He says he will dedicate himself to “your sweet pleasure,” asking her to “let me my service tender on your lips.”  She lashes out at him. Iachimo recovers quickly, saying “give me your pardon. My respect for his being made me test you thus.”  The guy’s smooth. She buys into his explanation, saying “You make amends.  All’s well, sir.” He claims to have a trunk full of valuables that must be kept safe overnight. She agrees to keep the trunk in her bedroom overnight. 

Cloten learns that an Italian has arrived in the king’s court.  A Lord aside lets us in on his opinion of the Queen’s son. The trunk is brought into the princess’ bedroom. She falls fast asleep. Iachimo emerges from the trunk, taking careful note of the smallest details.  He slips the bracelet off the sleeping Imogen’s wrist.

We learn ambassadors from Rome have now arrived in London, one being Caius Lucius. Cloten again tries to get the princess to pay attention to him, she telling him bruskly that Posthumus’ “most worthless garment” is dearer to her than he is, infuriating him. 

Back in Rome, Philario lets Posthumus know that Lucius’ assignment from Augustus Caesar is to let Cymbeline know that Rome expects Britain to pay the arrearages it owes Rome.  Posthumus is suspect that the payments will ever be made, saying “this will prove a war.”  A confident Iachimo soon enters and promptly tells Posthumus that “your lady is one of the fairest I have looked upon,” and announces that “the ring is won.”  Posthumus responds “the stone’s too hard to come by.”  Iachimo replies “not a whit, your lady being so easy.”  Iachimo proceeds to precisely describe very personal and intimate details of Imogen and her bedroom. He shows him the bracelet. As Philario and Posthumus scramble to find flaws in Iachimo’s presentation, Iachimo plays his trump card, telling the men “under her breast lies a mole.”  Posthumus concedes defeat as he gives Iachimo the ring.  Posthumus lets us know that he thinks women in general are false.

We learn that Rome does expect Britain to grant Rome “yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately is left untendered.”  The Queen gives the King a pep talk. Cymbeline lets Lucius know that Rome shouldn’t expect the payments.  Lucius promptly responds “I pronounce Augustus Caesar thine enemy.”  They both expect a war.

Posthumus has written a letter to Pisanio instructing him to murder Imogen. Imogen receives a letter from Posthumus letting her know that he will soon be in Milford Haven, Wales and that she should meet him there.  She is beside herself with excitement. She and Pisanio leave for Milford Haven.

We then learn that Cymbeline’s sons, missing since they were “three and two years old,” are living in a cave in Wales with their abductor, Belarius.  They think of him as their father. They were abducted by Belarius twenty years ago. We learn that the young men, Guiderius and Arviragus, “conduct themselves as princes.”  We learn that Belarius’ wife was Euriphile, that she is deceased and that the boys “every day do honor her grave.”  The boys believe that she “wast their nurse.” 

On their trip to Milford Haven, Pisanio tells Imogen the situation as it is.  She draws Pisanio’s sword, asking him to kill her.  He refuses, of course.  She’s distraught. He presents an option.  He suggests she masquerade as “a mischievous boy, quick-answered, and as quarrelous as the weasel.”  She immediately buys into the ruse. He tells her he has all the clothes she’ll need in his cloak bag.  He gives her a box, saying “I had it from the Queen.”  The contents, he says, should help her if she gets sick. 

Lucius leaves Cymbeline, the two of them being very gracious to each other, and heads for Milford Haven. Cymbeline prepares for war.  He and the Queen discover that Imogen is missing.  The Queen guesses “she’s flown to her desired Posthumus.”  Pisanio has now returned.  Cloten notes that “I will conclude to hate her.”  He recalls reading in Posthumus’ letter that he hopes “to meet thee at Milford Haven!”  He has Pisanio provide him with Posthumus’ garments, his “suit.”  With plans to take along the garments, he plans to hurry to Milford Haven, commanding Pisanio, meanwhile, to be “a voluntary mute to my design.” 

Very much alone, Imogen now masquerades as a boy and calls herself Fidele. She gets lost on her way to Milford Haven and stumbles, practically starved and exhausted, into Belarius’ cave.  The three men soon arrive and treat her beautifully.  Later, Belarius says to Fidele “when we have supped, we’ll mannerly demand thee of thy story so far as thou wilt speak it.”  She responds “Thanks, sir.”  Rome prepares for war. They plan to “incite the gentry to this business,” gentry being mid-level citizens. The Italian gentry unit is to be led by Iachimo.

Following Pisanio’s map, Cloten finds himself near “the place where they should meet.”  He is dressed in Posthumus’ garments and has plans to kill Posthumus and rape Imogen.  He is near Belarius’ cave.  Imogen, still masquerading as Fidele, is sick.  The boys treat her with reverence, she saying “these are kind creatures.”  Being sick to her stomach, she takes the drugs Pisanio had given her, and goes back into the cave. Cloten arrives. Belarius sees him and says “I partly know him. ‘Tis Cloten, the son o’ th’ Queen.”  Belarius fears that Cloten will recognize him. Guiderius says “Pray you away.  Let me alone with him.”  Belarius and Arviragus exit. Guiderius and Cloten fight and exit.  Belarius and Arviragus soon re-enter.  Guiderius soon returns carrying Cloten’s head.  Often frightened Belarius exclaims “we are all undone.”  The boys are bolder.  The boys are fabulous.  By now, they have told us how much they “love” Fidele. Belarius lets us know how “princely” they are. Arviragus exits from the cave carrying Imogen as Fidele in his arms, believing she’s dead, she having taken the drugs. Belarius retrieves Cloten’s headless body, dressed as Posthumus, and places it next to Imogen as Fidele.  The men exit.  She wakens, sees the headless body dressed in “garments of Posthumus,” and believes Pisanio has killed him (believing him to be Posthumus), and that Pisanio has double-crossed her and “conspired with that unlawful Cloten.”  She’s very angry with Pisanio.

Lucius and Roman soldiers enter. We learn that “the legions garrisoned in Gallia are now here at Milford Haven.”  We also learn that “gentlemen of Italy come under the conduct of brave Iachimo.”  The Romans see Imogen as Fidele.  She’s lying there, using the headless body as a “bloody pillow.” They ask Imogen as Fidele “Who is ‘t? What art thou?”  She fibs when it comes to the name of “Who it is,” but lets the men know that she is Fidele.  Impressed with the way Fidele handles himself, Lucius says “wilt take thy chance with me?”  She responds “I’ll follow, sir.”  Roman soldiers carry away Cloten’s body.

Cymbeline believes Pisanio knows the whereabouts of his daughter and threatens to torture him if he doesn’t tell him where she is.  A Lord gets Pisanio off the hook, saying “the day that she was missing he was here.” Pisanio then lets us know that he hasn’t heard from Posthumus or Imogen and has no idea of the whereabouts of Cloten.  He lets us know, however, that “Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.” 

Having heard the sound of Roman soldiers, Belarius is frightened and wants the three of them to move “higher to the mountains, there secure us.”  The boys will have none of it, Arviragus saying “what pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it from action and adventure.”  They decide to accept the risks and join the Brits, Belarius saying “Have with you, boys!  If in your country wars you chance to die, that is my bed, too, lads, and there I’ll lie.” 

Posthumus has a heart-to-heart talk with himself, certain that Pisanio has killed Imogen, certain that he would have followed his instructions. He has now joined the Roman cause as a soldier and joined their cause in Britain, hoping to die in battle.  Believing he has hurt Britain enough, he decides to “suit myself as does a Briton peasant and fight against the part I come with.”  The Romans seize the early advantage in the battle.  The British troops shamelessly break ranks and retreat. Cymbeline is captured. But Belarius and his “sons” soon enter as “fresh reinforcements,” singlehandedly, so to speak, routing the Romans and rescuing Cymbeline. Posthumus was the fourth member of the “fresh reinforcements.” Lucius and other Romans are captured.  Having wanted to die in the cause, Posthumus is upset that he did not “find death,” wanting to “end it by some means for Imogen.”  He realigns himself with the Romans, is captured and imprisoned. As Posthumus sleeps, Jupiter descends and leaves a “tablet on his breast, which foretells of the ending of his miseries.” 

Having been rescued by Belarius and his sons, Cymbeline calls the three of them to his side to honor them.  But he bemoans the fourth soldier, the “poor soldier who so richly fought, whose rags shamed gilded arms, cannot be found.”  Cymbeline knights the men.  Cornelius enters to report that “the Queen is dead” and that she acknowledged at the time of her death that she never loved the King.  The King takes it in stride. Lucius, Iachimo and other Roman prisoners are brought onto the stage along with Posthumus and Imogen as Fidele, all guarded.  Lucius realizes his time is short, having lost the battle, and asks Cymbeline “to let my boy, a Briton born, be ransomed; that he hath no Briton harmed and to save him.”  He’s speaking of Fidele. Imogen at that point stares down Iachimo. In private, she tells the king of her past encounter with Iachimo. Guiderius and Arviragus note to themselves that they think they see Fidele. The emotion gets strong here. A more certain Pisanio says “It is my mistress.”  Imogen speaks of Iachimo’s ring.  Iachimo graciously tells Cymbeline the true story of how he secured the ring. The problem with the drugs in the box gets resolved.  Cymbeline comes to realize that Fidele is his daughter.  Imogen embraces a startled Posthumus who tells us “hang there like fruit, my soul, till the tree die.”  The subject turns to the missing Cloten.  Guiderius tells the King that “I slew him there” and that “he was most uncivil, nothing prince-like.” For killing a prince, Guiderius is bound by the guards.  Coming to Guiderius’ defense, Belarius tells the King that Guiderius is his older son, telling him the boys “are blood of your begetting.”  In a poignant presentation, Belarius lets us know how his rearing of the King’s sons came to be. Cymbeline, Belarius, the sons, Imogen and Posthumus work out their relationships.  Iachimo gives the ring and bracelet to Posthumus who tells him “I spare you; the malice towards you to forgive you.”  Cymbeline responds “pardon’s the word to all.”  The Soothsayer reads Jupiter’s parchment, reporting that “from a stately cedar, the lopped branches, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow, and shall Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.”

Principal Characters

Arviragus.  Arviragus is the younger of the king’s two sons, the boys “stolen” twenty years ago by Euriphile, their nurse.  He was two at the time he was stolen.  Euriphile stole the boys at the request of Belarius, a disenchanted soldier.  Belarius then married Euriphile and the two of them raised the boys in a cave in Wales, both boys becoming outstanding young men.  She died some time ago and we’re told the boys visit their “mother’s” grave every day.  Arviragus has a great line when he tells his dad, who wants to go up higher in the mountains to hide from the Romans: “What pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it from action and adventure?”  They don’t hide in the mountains.

Belarius.  Belarius was a distinguished solder who twenty or so years ago was accused and convicted of treason; of being a spy for Rome.  He was banished from Britain.  He claims it was a fabricated charge.  As an act of revenge for his wrongful banishment, he stole the king’s sons; Euriphile, the boys’ nurse, being his accomplice.  At one point, he lets us know that the boys “conduct themselves as princes,” which of course they are, and that for him “the game is up.”  He and the boys have hidden themselves from the public in a cave in Wales for these twenty years.  Shakespeare lets us know that he and his “sons” don’t share all of the same characteristics, though he is quite the fine man. 

Cloten.  Cloten is the queen’s son by her former husband.  He has an unrequited love interest in Imogen. Imogen seriously infuriates him by telling him that her husband’s “most worthless garment” is dearer to her than he is. When Cloten asks a lord why Imogen “doth refuse me,” a Lord says aside “She shines not upon fools, lest the reflection should hurt her.”  Late in the play, Cloten, dressed in one of Posthumus’ suits, with plans to kill Posthumus and violate Imogen, is himself beheaded by Guiderius, the older of the king’s two long-lost sons. 

Cymbeline.  Cymbeline is the king of Britain, influenced mightily by his “wicked” queen.  Imogen is his daughter by his former queen.  Imogen is under semi-house arrest for marrying Posthumus, Cymbeline’s queen being upset that she didn’t marry Cloten.  Cymbeline’s two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, stolen from him when they were three and two, are fabulous young men and the play’s heroes.  Cymbeline’s role is minor, mostly played out as a blindly dutiful husband, and the father of three magnificent children. 

Guiderius.  Guiderius is the older of the king’s two sons stolen and raised over the last twenty years by Belarius and Euriphile.  He was three when he was stolen. He’s first in line as heir to the British throne.  He beheaded Cloten when Cloten stumbled into their cave area looking to violate Imogen and kill Posthumus.  Guiderius and Arviragus took a very protective interest in Imogen, disguised as Fidele, ever since she stumbled upon them. Late in the play Imogen was living in the cave with them.  He, his brother, his father and Posthumus rescue a captured-by-the-Romans Cymbeline late in the play. 

Iachimo.  Iachimo is the Italian who through clever subterfuge convinced Posthumus that his wife would be unfaithful.  He was so convincing that he secured Posthumus’ wedding ring, the bet.  Late in the play, having led a contingent of Italian gentry in a battle in Britain, Iachimo was identified (through the ring) as the man who almost broke up Imogen’s and Posthumus’ marriage. In a gentlemanly and honorable fashion, he acknowledges his shameful role in the fidelity ruse and is forgiven by Posthumus. 

Imogen.  Imogen is the play’s heroine, loved by all.  Inadvertently, her husband almost gambles her away; Cloten loses his life when he plans to seriously shame her for rejecting him; her brothers “love” her and protect her when she is masquerading as a boy; Lucius, the leader of the Roman troops in Britain, hires her (him as Fidele) as an aide, being so impressed with the way he (she) handles herself.  She’s the greatest.  She’s a beautiful princess.  She’s the sweetheart in the play, a role Shakespeare often provides in his plays.  She is among Shakespeare’s best. 

Posthumus.  Posthumus Leonatus is the son of Sicilius Leonatus, Leonatus being the honorary surname given to his father long ago and handed down to him.  Sicilius had distinguished himself when defending the homeland at the time Julius Caesar had invaded Britain.  Posthumus was raised in the king’s court and had married Imogen, the king’s daughter.  But for marrying her, Posthumus was banished to Rome, the king following instructions issued by his wife.

Queen.  The nameless queen is very ambitious for her son and has an unsavory, overpowering influence over the king.  At her death, it is reported to the king that “she confessed she never loved you, only affected greatness got by you, not you; married your royalty, abhorred your person.”  She was really bad news.

The Play

Act 1, Scene 1.

The play opens with one gentleman offering another gentleman insight into the nature of people, suggesting that their expressions do not always reflect their feelings.  He figures one’s emotions are no more governed by what the king says than we are by the movement of Heaven’s stars. They exit. The Queen, Posthumus and Imogen enter.

QUEEN: No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter, evil-eyed unto you.  You’re my prisoner, but your jailer shall deliver you the keys that lock up your restraint.  For you, Posthumus, I will be known your advocate.  Yet the fire of rage is in him and good you obeyed his commands with what patience your wisdom may inform you. 

POSTHUMUS:  I will from hence today.

QUEEN:  You know the peril.

She exits.

IMOGEN:  My dearest husband, I something fear my father’s wrath, but nothing what his rage can do on me.  You must be gone.
She weeps.

POSTHUMUS:  I will remain the loyal’st husband that did e’er plight troth.  My residence in Rome at one Philario’s, who to my father was a friend, to me known but by letter; thither write, my queen.  We should be taking leave.  Adieu.

IMOGEN:  Nay, stay a little.  Look here, love: this diamond was my mother’s. Take it heart. But keep it till you woo another wife when Imogen is dead.

POSTHUMUS:  Another? 
He puts the ring on his finger.

POSTHUMUS: And sweetest, fairest, for my sake, wear this.
He offers a bracelet.

POSTHUMUS: It is a manacle of love.  I’ll place it upon this fairest prisoner. 
He puts it on her wrist.

IMOGEN:  When shall we see again?

Cymbeline enters.

POSTHUMUS:  Alack, the King.

CYMBELINE:  Thou basest thing, depart hence, from my sight!  If after this command thou fraught the court with thy unworthiness, thou diest. Thou ‘rt poison to my blood. 

POSTHUMUS:  I am gone.

He exits.

CYMBELINE:  O disloyal thing.  Thou heap’st a year’s age on me.

IMOGEN:  I urge you, sir, harm not yourself with your vexation. I am past hope and in despair.

CYMBELINE:  That mightst have had the sole son of my queen!

IMOGEN:  I’m blessed that I might not!  I chose an eagle.

CYMBELINE:  Thou took’st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne a seat for baseness.

IMOGEN: No, I rather added a luster to it.

CYMBELINE:  O thou vile one!

IMOGEN:  It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus.  He is a man worth any woman.

CYMBELINE:  What, art thou mad?

IMOGEN:  Almost, sir.  Heaven restore me!

She weeps.  The Queen enters.

CYMBELINE:  They were again together.  You have done not after our command.  Away with her and pen her up. 

QUEEN:  I urge your patience.  Peace, dear lady daughter, peace.  Sweet sovereign, leave us to ourselves.

CYMBELINE:  Nay, let her languish a drop of blood a day, and being aged die of this folly.

The King exits. Pisanio enters.

PISANIO TO QUEEN:  My lord your son drew on my master.

QUEEN:  Ha? No harm, I trust, is done?

PISANIO:  Thee might have been, but that my master rather played than fought and had no help of anger.  They were parted by gentlemen at hand.

IMOGEN:  Your son’s my father’s friend. 

IMOGEN TO PISANIO:  O, brave sir! Why came you from your master?

PISANIO:  On his command.  He left these notes of what commands I should be subject to when pleased you to employ me.

QUEEN TO IMOGEN:  This hath been your faithful servant.  I dare lay mine honor he will remain so.

IMOGEN TO PISANIO:  About some half hour hence, pray you, speak with me.  You shall at least go see my lord aboard. 

They exit.

Act 1, Scene 2 
Cloten and two lords are having a discussion.

CLOTEN:  That she should love this fellow and refuse me!

SECOND LORD ASIDE:  If it be a sin to make a true election, she is damned.

FIRST LORD:  Sir, her beauty and her brain go not together.

SECOND LORD ASIDE:  She shines not upon fools, lest the reflection should hurt her.

They exit.

Act 1, Scene 3 
Imogen presses Pisanio to provide her with every detail surrounding Posthumus’ departure for Rome.

A Lady enters.

They exit.

Act 1, Scene 4 
On arriving in Rome, Posthumus lets an Italian friend of his host, Philario, successfully challenge him by accepting a bet from the Italian philanderer, Iachimo, that he can seduce his wife, Imogen. 

Posthumus enters.

They shake hands.

They exit.

Act 1, Scene 5
The Queen and Cornelius are on stage. 

QUEEN:  Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?

CORNELIUS:  Here they are madam.

He hands her a small box.

Pisanio enters.

QUEEN ASIDE: Here comes a flattering rascal.  How now, Pisanio?

CORNELIUS ASIDE:  I do suspect you madam, but you shall do no harm.  I do not like thee.  I do know her spirit, and will not trust one of her malice with a drug of such damned nature.  There is no danger in what show of death it makes.  She is fooled with a most false effect, and I the truer so to be false with her.

He exits.

Queen to Pisanio 

Is she still weeping?  When thou shall bring me
Word she loves my son, I’ll quickly tell thee
Thou art then as great as is thy master.
Actually, since his fortunes lie speechless,
And his name is at last gasp, you’re greater.
To shift his being is to shift one stress
To another.  He cannot return, nor
Continue where he is.  And furthermore,
Why be a depender on a thing who
So leans and has no friends to prop him? Take
This box. Accept these as a gift to you.
They made by me for the King’s good health sake,
Redeeming him from death five times. Do tell
Thy mistress from thyself that all is well.

QUEEN TO PISANIO:  My son shall take notice of thee.  I’ll move the King to any shape of thy preferment such as thou’lt desire; and then myself, I chiefly, am bound to load thy merit richly.  Call my women.  Think on my words.

Pisanio exits.

QUEEN:  I have given him that which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her of ambassadors for her sweetheart.
Pisanio and the Ladies enter with flowers.

QUEEN:  The violets, cowslips, and the primroses bear to my chamber.  Fare thee well, Pisanio. 
Queen and Ladies exit.

PISANIO:  When to my good lord I prove untrue, I’ll choke myself; there’s all I’ll do for you.

He exits.

Act 1, Scene 6 
Imogen is alone on the stage.

IMOGEN:  A father cruel and a stepmother false, a foolish suitor to a wedded lady whose husband has been banished.  Blessed be those, however lowly, that have their own desires, which adds to their pleasure.

Pisanio and Iachimo enter.

PISANIO:  Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome.

IACHIMO:  The worthy Leonatus is in safety and greets your Highness dearly.

He hands her a letter.

IMOGEN:  Thanks, good sir.

IACHIMO ASIDE:  All of her that is visible, most rich!  Boldness be my friend, or I shall directly fly.

IMOGEN READS:  He is one of the noblest note, to whole kindnesses I am most infinitely tied.  Reflect upon him accordingly as you value your trust. Signed, Leonatus. 

IMOGEN:  My heart is warmed.  You are welcome, worthy sir, as I have words to bid you, and shall find it so in all that I can do.

IACHIMO:  Thanks, fairest lady.  What, are men mad?  Can we not distinguish ‘twixt fair and foul?

IACHIMO TO PISANIO:  I beg you sir, ask my servant to wait for me where I did leave him.

PISANIO: I was going, sir.

He exits.

IMOGEN:  Continues well my lord?  His health, beseech you?  Is he disposed to mirth?  I hope he is.  None a stranger there so merry and so playful.  He is called the Briton Reveler.

IACHIMO:  I never saw him sad.  There is a Frenchman his companion who much loves a Gallic girl at home.  He offers thick sighs, while the jolly Briton laughs without the constraints of such longing.  It is a recreation to be by and hear him mock the Frenchman.  But heavens know some men are much to blame.

IMOGEN:  Not he, I hope.

IACHIMO:  Not he, yet heaven’s bounty so rewards him that he might use his bounty more thankfully.  In you, which I account his, I am bound to pity too.

IMOGEN:  What do you pity, sir?

IACHIMO:  Two creatures heartily.

IMOGEN:  Am I one, sir?

IACHIMO:  Lamentable!

IMOGEN: I pray you, sir, deliver with more openness your answers.  Why do you pity me?  You do seem to know something of me or what concerns me.

IACHIMO: Had I this cheek to bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose very touch, would force the feeler’s soul to th’ oath of loyalty.  Would I, then, slaver with lips as common as the stairs to a building; grasp hands made hard with hourly falsehood, falsehood as with labor; then glancing sideways with an eye base and dull as the smoky light that’s fed with stinking tallow. 

IMOGEN:  My lord, I fear, has forgot Britain.

IACHIMO:  And himself.  ‘Tis your graces that from my mutest conscience to my tongue charms this report out. 

IMOGEN:  Let me hear no more.

IACHIMO:  A lady so fair, and fastened to a kingdom would make the great’st king double, to be partnered with immodest women hired with that self exhibition which our own coffers yield.  Be revenged. 

IMOGEN:  Revenged?  How should I be revenged?

IACHIMO:  Should he make me live betwixt cold sheets whiles he is vaulting various vulgar women?  Revenge it.  I dedicate myself you your sweet pleasure, more noble than that deserter from your bed. Let me my service tender on your lips.

Imogen to Iachimo

Away from me!  I do condemn mine ears
That having listened to thee bring these tears.
If thou wert an honorable man, thou
Wouldst have told this tale for virtue, not
For this baseless tale thou didst allow.
Thou hast wrong’st a gentleman and ought
Be ashamed for he is as far from thy
Report as thou from honor.  The king my
Father shall learn quite soon of thy assault,
Soliciting a lady that disdains
Thee and the devil.  The king may find fault
With a saucy foreigner who maintains
Plans to run the business of a Roman
Brothel in his court.  Where art thou, Pisan?

IMOGEN:  If he doth not, he hath a court he little cares for and a daughter who he not respects at all.

IACHIMO:  O happy Leonatus!  I may say the credit that thy lady hath of thee deserves thy trust.  Blessed live you long, a lady to the worthiest sir that ever country called his. 

Iachimo to Imogen  

Give me your pardon.  I have spoke this to
Affirm your lord is that which he is.  You
Have confirmed your promises are deeply
Rooted; that he is one with the highest
Morals who wins the hearts of those who see
Him, the enchanter. Like a descend’st
God, he has a kind of honor that sets
Him off it seems from mortal beings. Let’s
Honor this false report as confirming
Your judgment in the election of a
Sir so rare.  My respect for his being
Made me test you thus; to separate the
Grain from the tusks. The one who is this sir’s
Was made by the gods, unlike all others.                          

IACHIMO:  Pray your pardon.

IMOGEN:  You make amends. All’s well, sir. Take my power i’ th’ court for yours.

IACHIMO:  My humble thanks.  I had almost forgot t’ entreat your Grace but in a small request.

IMOGEN:  Pray, what is ‘t? 

IACHIMO:  Some dozen Romans have mingled sums to buy a present for the Emperor, which I have done in France. The gift is silver and gold of rare device and jewels of rich and exquisite form, their values great.  May it please you to take them in protection?

IMOGEN:  Willingly.  Since my lord hath interest in them, I will keep them in my bedchamber. 

IACHIMO:  They are in a trunk attended by my men.  I will send them to you, only for this night.  I must aboard tomorrow. 

IMOGEN:  O no, no.

IACHIMO:  I crossed the seas on purpose and on promise to see your Grace. 

IMOGEN:  I thank you for your pains.  But not away tomorrow.

IACHIMO:  O, I must, madam.  I beseech you, if you please, greet your lord with writing, do ‘t tonight. I have outstood my time. 

IMOGEN:  I will write.  Send your trunk to me.  It shall safe be kept and truly yielded you.  You’re very welcome. 

They exit.

Act 2, Scene 1
Cloten learns that an Italian has arrived.  The Second Lord offers us his insights. 

FIRST LORD:  Did you hear a of a stranger that’s come to court tonight? 

CLOTEN:  A stranger, and I not know on ‘t?

FIRST LORD:  There’s an Italian come, and ‘tis thought one of Leonatus’ friends.

CLOTEN:  Who told you of this stranger? 

FIRST LORD: One of your Lordship’s pages.

CLOTEN:  Is there no detraction from my honor in ‘t?

SECOND LORD:  You have no honor to lose, my lord.

CLOTEN:  Not easily, I think.

SECOND LORD ASIDE:  You are a fool granted; therefore your actions, being foolish, do not detract from your honor.

CLOTEN:  Come, I’ll see this Italian.

SECOND LORD:  I’ll attend your Lordship.

Cloten and First Lord exit.

Second Lord to Himself

That one as crafty as is his mother
Should yield the world this ass! She can use her
Brain to overwhelm those around her, while
Her son cannot take two from twenty, for
His life, and leave eighteen.  With thy grand style,
Divine Imogen, thou endur’st more
Burden than the divorce he’d take, with a
Father led by thy stepdame who doth lay
Plots hourly, and the foul expulsion
Of thy dear husband. May the heavens hold
Thy high honor firm and keep the union
Of thy fair mind and soul unshaked. And bold
As you can be, stand with him hand in hand.
Enjoy thy banished lord and rule this land.

Act 2, Scene 2 
The trunk is brought into Imogen’s chambers.  Imogen is on stage, reading in bed.  Her lady, Helen, is there at her bedside.

IMOGEN:  What hour is it?

LADY:  Almost midnight, madam.

IMOGEN:  I have read three hours then.  Mine eyes are weak. 

She hands the lady her book.

IMOGEN:  To bed.  Take not away the taper.  And if thou canst awake by four o’ th’ clock, I prithee, call me.

The lady exits.

IMOGEN: Sleep hath seized me wholly.  To your protection, I commend me, gods.

She sleeps. Iachimo emerges from the trunk.

Iachimo to Himself 

The crickets sing, and man’s labored being                    
Repairs itself by rest.  ‘Tis her breathing
That perfumes the chamber.  How beautifully
Thou becom’st thy bed, fresh lily, and
Whiter than the sheets.  But my purpose be
To note the chamber. The small window fanned,
The arras, the ornaments and pictures,
And the bracelet. Come, ‘tis mine. It assures
As evidence stronger than ever law
Could make.  This secret will force him think I
Have picked the lock and taken what I saw:
The treasure of her honor.  Now to my
Trunk and to shut the spring and lodge in fear.
Though she a heavenly angel, hell’s here.

He enters the trunk and the trunk is removed.

Act 2, Scene 3 
Cloten is on stage.  Cymbeline and the Queen enter.

CLOTEN:  Good morrow to your Majesty and to my gracious mother.

CYMBELINE:  Attend you here the door of our stern daughter?  Will she not forth?

CLOTEN:  I have assailed her with musics, but she vouchsafes no notice. 

CYMBELINE:  The exile of her darling is too new; she hath not yet forgot him.

QUEEN TO CLOTEN:  Adapt yourself to orderly solicits.  Seem as if you were inspired to do those duties which you tender to her; that you in all obey her. 

A Messenger enters.

MESSENGER TO CYMBELINE:  Sir, ambassadors from Rome.  The one is Caius Lucius.

Messenger exits.

CYMBELINE:  A worthy fellow, albeit he comes on angry purpose now.  But that’s no fault of his.  We must receive him according to the honor of his sender.  Our dear son, when you have given good morning to your mistress, attend the Queen and us.  We shall have need t’ employ you towards this Roman. 

Cymbeline and the Queen exit.

CLOTEN:  If she be up, I’ll speak with her; if not, let her lie still and dream.

He knocks. A Lady enters.

LADY:  Who’s there that knocks?

CLOTEN:  A gentleman.

LADY:  What’s your Lordship’s pleasure?

CLOTEN:  Your lady’s person.  Is she ready?

Imogen enters.

CLOTEN:  Good morrow, fairest sister.  Your sweet hand.

IMOGEN:  The thanks I give is telling you that I am poor of thanks and scarce can spare them.

CLOTEN:  Still I swear I love you.

IMOGEN:  I regard it not.  I pray you spare me.  Faith, I shall unfold equal discourtesy to your best kindness. 

CLOTEN:  To leave you in your madness ‘twere my sin.  I will not.

IMOGEN:  Fools are not mad folks.

CLOTEN:  Do you call me fool?

IMOGEN:  As I am mad, I do.  I am sorry, sir, you put me to forget a lady’s manners by being so verbal.  I care not for you, and am so near the lack of charity to accuse myself of hating you.

CLOTEN:  You sin against obedience, which you owe your father.  You are curbed from the consequence o’ th’ crown, and must not foil the precious note of it with a base slave, a squire’s cloth, a pantler not so eminent.

IMOGEN:  Profane fellow.  Thou art too base to be his groom.  His most worthless that ever hath but clipped his body is dearer in my respect than all the hairs above thee.  How not, Pisanio!

Pisanio enters.

CLOTEN:  “His garment?”

IMOGEN TO PISANIO:  I am haunted by a fool, frighted and angered worse.  Go bid my woman search for a jewel that too casually hath left mine arm.  It was thy master’s.  I do think I saw ‘t this morning.  Confident I am last night ‘twas on mine arm.  I kissed it. 

PISANIO:  ‘Twill not be lost.

IMOGEN:  I hope so.  Go an search.

Pisanio exits.

CLOTEN:  “His most worthless garment?”

IMOGEN:  Ay, I said so, sir.

CLOTEN:  I will inform your father.

IMOGEN:  Your mother too.  She’s my good lady and will conceive, I hope, the worst of me.

She exits.

CLOTEN:  I’ll be revenged! “His most worthless garment.”

He exits.

Act 2, Scene 4
Posthumus and Philario are on stage. 

POSTHUMUS:  Fear it not sir, I am as sure that the Cymbeline will accept me as I am bold her honor will remain hers.

PHILARIO:  Your king hath heard of great Augustus.  Caius Lucius will do ‘s commission throughly.  And I do think he’ll grant the tribute, send th’ arrearages, or look upon our Romans. 

POSTHUMUS:  I do believe that this will prove a war.  Our countrymen are more ordered than when Julius Caesar smiled at their lack of skill but found their courage worthy his frowning at. 

Iachimo enters.

PHILARIO:  Welcome, sir. 

IACHIMO:  Your lady is one of the fairest that I have looked upon.

POSTHUMUS:  And therewithal the best.

IACHIMO:  Here are letters for you.

Posthumus reads the letter.

PHILARIO:  Was Caius Lucius in the Briton court when you were there?

IACHIMO:  He was expected then, but not approached.

POSTHUMUS:  All is well yet.  Sparkles this stone as it was wont, or is ‘t not too dull for your good wearing?

IACHIMO:  I’ll make a journey twice as far t’ enjoy a second night of such sweet shortness which was mine in Britain, for the ring is won.

POSTHUMUS:  The stone’s too hard to come by.

IACHIMO:  Not a whit, your lady being so easy.

POSTHUMUS:  Make not sir, your loss your sport.  I hope you know that we must not continue friends.

IACHIMO:  Good sir, we must, if you keep covenant.  I now profess myself the winner of her honor, together with your ring.

POSTHUMUS:  If you can make ‘t apparent that you have tasted her in bed, my hand and ring is yours. 

IACHIMO:  Sir, my circumstances, being so near the truth as I will make them.

POSTHUMUS:  Proceed.

IACHIMO:  First, her bedchamber.  It was hanged with tapestry of silk and silver, a piece of work so bravely done, so rich, that it did strive in workmanship and value.

POSTHUMUS:  That is true, and this you might have heard of here.

IACHIMO:  More particulars must justify my knowledge.

POSTHUMUS:  So they must.

IACHIMO:  The chimney is south the chamber, and the chimney-piece chaste Dian bathing. 

POSTHUMUS:  This is a thing which you might from relation likewise reap, being, as it is, much spoke of. 

IACHIMO:  The roof o’ th’ chamber with golden cherubins is fretted.

POSTHUMUS:  This is her honor?

IACHIMO:  Then if you can be pale.

He shows the bracelet.

IACHIMO:  It must be married to that your diamond.  I’ll keep them.

POSTHUMUS:  Jove!  Once more let me behold it.  Is it that which I left with her.

IACHIMO:  Sir, I thank her, that.  She stripped it from her arm.  She gave it me and said she prized it once.

POSTHUMUS:  Maybe she plucked it off to send it me.

IACHIMO:  She writes so to you, doth she?

POSTHUMUS:  O, no, no, no, ‘tis true. 

He gives Iachimo the ring.

POSTHUMUS:  It kills mine eye to look on ‘t.  Let there be no honor where there’s another man.  The vows of women of no more are made than they are to their virtues, which is nothing.

PHILARIO:  Have patience, sir, and take your ring again.  ‘Tis not yet won.  It may be probable she lost it; or who knows if one her women, being corrupted, hath stol’n it from her.

POSTHUMUS:  Very true.  Back my ring.

He takes back the ring.

IACHIMO:  I had it from her arm.

POSTHUMUS:  Hark you, he swears!  ‘Tis true --- nay, keep the ring --- ‘tis true.

He holds out the ring.

POSTHUMUS:  Her attendants are all sworn and honorable.  They induced to steal it? And by a stranger?  No, he hath enjoyed her.

He gives the ring to Iachimo.

PHILARIO:  Sir, be patient. 

POSTHUMUS:  Never talk on ‘t.  She hath been tricked by him.

IACHIMO:  If you seek for further satisfying, under her breast, lies a mole, right proud of that most delicate lodging. You do remember this stain upon her?

POSTHUMUS:  Ay, and it doth confirm another stain were there no more to it.

IACHIMO:  Will you hear more?

POSTHUMUS:  If you will swear you have not done ‘t, you lie, and I will kill thee if thou dost deny thou’st made me cuckold. 

IACHIMO:  I’ll deny nothing.

POSTHUMUS:  O, that I had her here, to tear her limb from limb!  I will go there and do ‘t i’ th’ court, before her father.  I’ll do something. 

PHILARIO:  You have won.  Let’s follow him and avert the present wrath he hath against himself.

IACHIMO:  With all my heart.

They exit.

Act 2, Scene 5 
Posthumus is alone on the stage.

Posthumus to Himself, No. 1

As I know not where the man I did know
As father was when I was stamped, my woe
Grows, now that my wife who prayed that I show
Forbearance of lawful pleasure, hath failed
Me. I viewed her as chaste as unsunned snow. 
For their lack of impulse men should be hailed. 
I affirm it’s the women’s rough edges:
Lying, flattering, rank thoughts, revenges,
Ambitions, disdain, erratically bold. 
They’re inconstant.  For them a new vice grows
When the first wanton vice is half so old. 
I may detest and curse them, yet it shows
More reason to pray they have their will for
The very devils cannot plague them more. 

He exits.

Act 3, Scene 1 
Cymbeline, the Queen and Cloten enter through one door; Caius Lucius and aides enter through another. 

CYMBELINE:  What would Augustus Caesar with us?

LUCIUS:  When Julius Caesar was in this Britain, he conquered it.  Cassibelan, thine uncle, granted Rome a tribute, yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee lately is left untendered.

CLOTEN:  There be many Caesars ere such another Julius.  Britain’s a world by itself, and we will nothing pay.

Queen to King   

Remember, sir, the kings your ancestors,
Together with the bravery of your shores,
This isle, standing as Neptune’s, is ribbed with
Rocks unscalable and roaring waters;
With sands that suck up enemy boats if
They try to land.  And the shame of Caesar’s
Non-bragging conquest as he was carried
From our coast, twice beaten, when he tarried
To secure ignorant baubles that were
Soon crushed like eggshells against our rocks.  At
That time, our great courageous kings did stir
Britons with joy.  For some time after that
Londoner’s strutted when your famed grand-Lord,
Cassibelan, almost broke Caesar’s sword. 

CLOTEN:  Come, there’s no more tribute to be paid.  Our kingdom is stronger than it was at that time, and, as I said, there is no more such Caesars. 

CYMBELINE:  Son, let your mother end. 

CLOTEN:  We have yet many among us can grip as hard as Cassibelan.  Why should we pay tribute? 

CYMBELINE TO LUCIUS:  You must know, till the injurious Romans did extort this tribute from us, we were free.  We do say to Caesar, our ancestor was that Mulmutius which ordained our laws. Mulmutius made our laws, who was the first of Britain which did put his brows within a golden crown and called himself a king. 

LUCIUS:  I am sorry, Cymbeline, that I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar thine enemy.  Receive it from me, then: war and confusion in Caesar’s name pronounce I ‘gainst thee.  Look for fury not to be resisted.  Thus defied, I thank thee for myself.

CYMBELINE:  Thou art welcome, Caius. Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent much under him.
CLOTEN:  His Majesty bids you welcome.  Make pastime with us a day or two, or longer.  If you seek us afterwards in other terms, you shall find us in our saltwater girdle; if you beat us out of it, it is yours. 

CYMBELINE:  I know your master’s pleasure, and he mine.

They exit.

Act 3, Scene 2 
Pisanio is on stage reading a letter from Posthumus.

PISANIO:  Leonatus, O master, what a strange infection is fall’n into thy ear!  What false Italian hath prevailed on thy too ready hearing?  Disloyal?  No. That I should murder her, upon the love and truth and vows which I have made to thy command?  I her?  Her blood? 

PISANIO READS:  Do ‘t!  The letter that I have sent her, by her own command shall give thee opportunity. 

Imogen enters.

PISANIO:  I am ignorant in what I am commanded. 

IMOGEN:  How now, Pisanio?

PISANIO:  Madam, here is a letter from my lord.

He gives her a paper.

IMOGEN:  You good gods, let what is here contained relish of love, of my lord’s health.  Good wax, thy leave.

She opens the letter.

IMOGEN READS:  O the dearest of creatures, would even renew me with your eyes.  Take notice that I am in Cambria at Milford Haven.  What your own love will out of this advise you, follow.  So he wishes you all happiness, that remains loyal to his vow, and your increasing in love.  Leonatus Posthumus.

Imogen to Pisanio

Oh my, for a horse with wings!  Hear’st thou,
Pisan!  Milford Haven.  Do tell me how
Far ‘tis thither.  If one unhurried may
With his time to spare plod it in a week,
Why may not I glide thither in a day?
Tell me true, who long’st like me to seek
Thy lord --- oh, not like me, for mine’s beyond
Beyond.  How far is it to my new fond
Friend Milford?  When we’re gone and others learn
We’re gone, how do we find an excuse for
The gap in time before we do return?
But why should we find an excuse before
The reason?  We’ll talk of that later.  Our
Ride in miles ‘twixt here and there, hour and hour?

PISANIO:  One score ‘twixt sun and sun, Madam, ‘s enough for you, and too much too. 

IMOGEN:  Go, bid my woman feign a sickness, say she’ll home to her father, and provide me presently a riding suit.

PISANIO:  Madam, you had better consider.

IMOGEN:  I see before me, man.  Away, I prithee.  Do as I bid thee.  There’s no more to say. 

They exit.

Act 3, Scene 3
Belarius, Guiderius and Arviragus enter as if emerging from a cave.  Guiderius and Arviragus are sons of Cymbeline, stolen from the king by Belarius when the boys were but three and two, their whereabouts having been unknown until this moment.

BELARIUS:  A goodly day not to keep house with such whose roof’s as low as ours!  The gates of monarchs are arched so high that giants may jet through and keep their impious turbans on, without good morrow to the sun.  Hail, thou fair heaven.

GUIDERIUS:  Hail, heaven!

ARVIRAGUS:  Hail, heaven!

BELARIUS:  Now for our mountain sport.  Up to yond hill; your legs are young.  I’ll tread these flats.  When you above perceive me like a crow, you may then ponder what tales I have told you of courts, of princes, of the tricks of war.  O, this life is nobler than waiting for a reprimand.  That is no life to ours.

GUIDERIUS:  Out of your proof you speak.  We poor unfledged have never winged from view o’ th’ nest, nor know not what air’s from home.  Haply this life is best if quiet life be best.  Unto us it is a cell of ignorance. 

ARVIRAGUS:  What should we speak of when we are old as you?  When we shall hear the rain and wind beat dark December, how in this our pinching cave shall we discourse the freezing hours away?  We have seen nothing. 

BELARIUS:  How you speak!  Did you but know the city’s usuries and felt them knowingly; the toil o’ th’ war; the art o’ th’ court, as hard to leave as keep, whose top to climb is certain falling?  O boys, this story the world may read in me.

Belarius to the Boys

My body’s marked with Roman swords; my fame
Was once first with the most noted; my name
Was never far off when soldiering was
The theme.  Cymbeline loved me.  As a tree
Was I, with boughs bent with fruit, but because
Men swore to Cymbeline that I must be
A spy for Rome, and my defense having failed,
I was banished, their lies having prevailed.
That fierce storm that night shook down my mellow
Hangings, and left me bare to weather. This
Rock and these lands for twenty years or so
Have been my world, and never do I miss
The first part of my time, living now in
Freedom, paying pious debts to heaven. 

BELARIUS:  Up to the mountains!  He that strikes the venison first shall be the lord ‘’ th’ feast. I’ll meet you in the valleys.

Guiderius and Arviragus exit.

Belarius to Himself, No. 1

Hard it is to hide what nature doth give,
And the father knows not that the boys live.
They know not who they are, thinking they are
Mine, yet nature prompts them in the simplest
Ways to conduct themselves as princes far
Beyond the other young men.  Guiderius,
The heir of Britain, lets his spirits fly
When I tell the warlike stories of my
Youth, letting princely blood flow in his cheek,
Posturing himself to act out my words.
The younger boy, Arviragus, doth seek
To be like his brother, but he deferr’ds
More to his own conceiving.  It’s abrupt,
But this charade must end.  The game is up. 

He exits.

Act 3, Scene 4 
Pisanio and Imogen are together on their way to Milford Haven.

IMOGEN:  What is in thy mind that makes thee stare thus?  What’s the matter?

Pisanio hands her a paper.

IMOGEN:  Why tender’st thou that paper to me with a look untender?  Speak, man.

PISANIO:  Please you read.

IMOGEN READS:  Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the strumpet in my bed, the testimonies whereof lies bleeding in me.  Let thine own hands take away her life.  I shall give thee opportunity at Milford Haven, where, if thou fear to strike and to make me certain it is done, thou art the pander to her dishonor and equally to me disloyal.

PISANIO ASIDE:  What shall I need to draw my sword?  The paper hath cut her throat already.  No, ‘tis slander, whose edge is sharper than the sword.

IMOGEN:  False to his bed?  What is it to be false?  To lie in watch there and to think on him?  To weep ‘twixt clock and clock?

PISANIO:  Alas, good lady!

IMOGEN:  I false?  Some jay of Italy hath betrayed him.  O, men’s vows are women’s traitors!  All good seeming but worn a bait for ladies.

PISANIO:  Good madam, hear me.

IMOGEN:  So, Posthumus, wilt lay the leaven on all proper men; goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured from thy great fail. Come, fellow, be thou honest; do thou thy master’s bidding.  Look, I draw the sword myself.

She draws Pisanio’s sword and hands it to him.

IMOGEN:  My heart, fear not; ‘tis empty of all things but grief.  Do his bidding; strike.  Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause, but now thou seem’st a coward.

Pisanio throws down the sword.

IMOGEN:  Why, I must die.  And if I do not by thy hand, thou art no servant of thy master’s.  Come, here’s my heart.  We’ll no defense --- obedient as the scabbard. What is here?

She takes papers from her bodice.

IMOGEN:  The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus. 

She throws away the letters.

IMOGEN:  Though those that are betrayed do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor stands in worse case of woe.  And thou, Posthumus, that didst set up my disobedience ‘gainst the King my father made me put into contempt the suits of princely fellows.  Prithee, dispatch.  The lamb entreats the butcher.  Thou are too slow to do thy master’s bidding when I desire it too. 

PISANIO:  O gracious lady, since I received command to do this business I have not slept one wink.

IMOGEN:  Wherefore then didst undertake it?  Why hast thou abused so many miles with a pretense? Why hast thou failed to act when thou hast ta’en thy stand, th’ elected deer before thee?

PISANIO:  Good lady, hear me with patience.

IMOGEN:  Talk thy tongue weary.  Speak.  I have heard I am a strumpet and mine ear can make to greater wound.  But speak.

PISANIO:  Some villain, and with an extraordinary talent, hath done you both this cursed injury. 

IMOGEN:  Some Roman courtesan?

PISANIO:  No, on my life.  I’ll give but notice you are dead, and send him some bloody sign of it, for ‘tis commanded I should do so.

IMOGEN:  Why, good fellow, what shall I do the while?  Where bide?  How live?

PISANIO:  Not in Britain must you bide.

IMOGEN:  Where, then?

PISANIO:  Th’ ambassador, Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford Haven tomorrow. Now, if you could wear a disguise, you should tread a course pretty and full of view: yea, perhaps near the residence of Posthumus; so nigh, at least, yet report should render him hourly to your ear as truly as he moves.

IMOGEN:  Though peril to my modesty, not death on ‘t, I would adventure.

PISANIO:  You must forget to be a woman; change into a mischievous boy, ready in gibes, quick-answered, saucy, and as quarrelous as the weasel. 

IMOGEN:  I see unto thy end and am almost a man already.

PISANIO:  First, make yourself but like one.  Forethinking this, I have already fit --- ‘tis in my cloakbag --- doublet, hat, hose, all that answer to them.  Would you before noble Lucius present yourself, desire his service, tell him wherein you’re gifted and doubtless with joy he will accept you into his service for he’s honorable. 

IMOGEN:  Thou art all the comfort the gods will fed me with.  There’s more to be considered, but we’ll stay up with that all that good time will give us.  This attempt I am soldier to, and will abide it with a prince’s courage.  Away, I prithee. 

PISANIO:  Well, madam, we must take a short farewell.  My noble mistress, here is a box.  I had it from the Queen.

He hands her the box.

PIASNIO:  What’s in it is precious. If you are sick at sea or stomach-qualmed at land, a dram of this will drive away distemper.  May the gods direct you to the best.

They exit.

Act 3, Scene 5 
Cymbeline, the Queen, Cloten, Lucius and others are on stage.

CYMBELINE:  So, farewell.

LUCIUS:  Thanks, royal sir.  I am right sorry that I must report you my master’s enemy.

CYMBELINE:  Our subjects, sir, will not endure his yoke.

LUCIUS:  So, sir, I desire of you a conduct overland to Milford Haven.

CYMBELINE TO LORDS:  My lords, you are appointed for that office.

LUCIUS TO CLOTEN:  Your hand, my lord.

CLOTEN:  Receive it friendly, but from this time forth I wear it as your enemy.

LUCIUS:  Sir, the event is yet to name the winner.  Fare you well.

CYMBELINE:  Leave not the worthy Lucius till he have crossed the Severn.

Lucius and his Lords exit.

CYMBELINE:  Lucius hath wrote already to the Emperor how it goes here.  It fits us therefore ripely our chariots and our horsemen be in readiness.  The powers that he already hath in Gallia will soon be drawn to head from whence he moves his war for Britain.

QUEEN:  ‘Tis not sleepy business, but must be looked to speedily and strongly.

CYMBELINE:  But, my gentle queen, where is our daughter?  She looks us like a thing more made of malice than of duty.  Call her before us.

An attendant exits.

QUEEN:  Beseech your Majesty, forbear sharp speeches to her.

Enter attendant.

CYMBELINE:  Where is she, sir? 

ATTENDANT:  Please you, sir, her chambers are all locked, and there’s no answer that will be given to th’ loud’st noise we make.

QUEEN:  My lord, when last I went to visit her, she prayed me to excuse her keeping secluded.  This she wished me to make known, but our great court made me to blame in memory. 

CYMBELINE:  Her door locked?  Not seen of late?  Grant that which I fear prove false!

He exits.

CLOTEN:  That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant I have not seen these two days.

Cloten exits.

QUEEN ASIDE:  Pisanio, thou that stand’st so for Posthumus --- he hath a drug of mine.  I pray his absence proceed by swallowing that, for he believes it is a thing most precious.  But for her, where is she gone?  She’s flown to her desired Posthumus.  She being down, I have the placing of the British crown.

Cloten enters.

CLOTEN:  ‘Tis certain she is fled.  Go in and cheer the King.  He rages; none dare come about him.

QUEEN ASIDE:  All the better. May this night forestall him of the coming day!

Queen exits.

CLOTEN:  I love and hate her, for she’s fair and royal, and that he hath all courtly parts more exquisite than ladies.  I love her therefore, but disdaining me and throwing favors on the low Posthumus slanders so her judgment.  And in that point I will conclude to hate her. 

Pisanio enters.

CLOTEN:  What are you packing, sirrah?  Villain, where is thy lady?

He draws his sword.

PISANIO:  O, good my lord.

CLOTEN:  Where is my lady?  I’ll have this secret from thy heart or rip thy heart to find it.  Is she with Posthumus?

PISANIO:  How can she be with him?  When was she missed?  He is in Rome.

CLOTEN:  Where is she, sir?  No further halting.

PISANIO:  O, my all-worthy lord!

CLOTEN:  All-worthy villain!  No move of “worthy lord!”  Speak, or thy silence on the instant is thy condemnation and thy death.

PISANIO:  This paper is the history of my knowledge touching her flight.

He gives Cloten a paper.

CLOTEN:  Let’s see it.

PISANIO ASIDE:  She’s far enough, and what he learns by this may prove his travail, not her danger.

CLOTEN:  Humh!

PISANIO ASIDE:  I’ll write to my lord she’s dead.  O Imogen, safe mayst thou wander, safe return again!

CLOTEN:  Sirrah, is this letter true?

PISANIO:  Sir, as I think.

CLOTEN:  It is Posthumus’ hand.  I know ‘t.  What villainy soe’er I bid thee do to perform it directly and truly.  Wilt thou serve me?

PISANIO:  Sir, I will.

CLOTEN:  Give me thy hand. 

He gives him money.

CLOTEN:  Hast any of thy late master’s garments in thy possession?

PISANIO:  I have, my lord, at my lodging the same suit he wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress.

CLOTEN:  The first service thou dost me, fetch that suit hither.

Pisanio exits.

CLOTEN:  Meet thee at Milford Haven!  I forgot to ask him one thing.  I’ll remember it soon.  Thou villain Posthumus, will I kill thee.  She said upon a time that she held the very garment of Posthumus in more respect than my noble and natural person.  With that suit upon my back will I ravish her.  First, kill him in her eyes.  There shall she see my valor, he on the ground.  When my lust hath dined, I will execute in the clothes that she so praised.  I’ll knock her back and kick her home again.  I’ll be merry in my revenge. 

Pisanio enters with the clothes.

CLOTEN:  Be those the garments?

PISANIO:  Ay, my noble lord.

CLOTEN:  How long is ‘t since she went to Milford Haven?

PISANIO:  She can scarce be there yet.

CLOTEN:  Bring this apparel to my chamber; that is the second thing that I have commanded thee.  The third is that thou wilt be a voluntary mute to my design.  My revenge is now at Milford  Would I have wings to follow it! 

He exits.

PISANIO:  Thou bidd’st me to my loss, for true to thee where to prove false, which I will never  be, to him that is most true.  Flow, flow, you heavenly blessing on her.  This fool’s speed be crossed with slowness.

He exits.

Act 3, Scene 6 
Imogen enters alone, dressed as a boy, Fidele.

IMOGEN:  I see a man’s life a tedious one.

Imogen to Herself

If not for my resolution I should
Be more tired, having done the best I could 
For two nights, having made the ground my bed.
Within my sight from the mountain top I
Could see Milford, but was I thus misled,
Being told the way?  If poor folks can lie,
It’s no wonder when rich ones scarce tell true.
My hunger’s gone, but I was ready to
Sink for lack of food.  But what is this?  ‘Tis
Some savage shelter, the path but the tip.
Yet famine makes nature valiant.  It is
Plenty and peace that breeds cowards.  Hardship
Is the mother of hardiness.  Who’s here?
If I draw my sword then they too may fear. 

She enters the cave as Fidele.  The three men soon return to the cave.

BELARIUS:  Come, our stomachs will make what’s homely savory.

GUIDERIUS:  I am throughly weary.

ARVIRAGUS:  I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite.

Belarius looks into the cave.

BELARIUS:  Stay, come not it!  But that it eats our victuals, I should think here were a fairy.

GUIDERIUS:  What’s the matter, sir?

BELARIUS:  Behold divineness no elder than a boy.

Imogen as Fidele enters.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Good masters, harm me not.  Good troth, I have stolen nothing, nor would not.  Here’s money for my meat.

She offers money.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  I would have left it as I had made my meal, and parted with prayers for the provider. 

GUIDERIUS:  Money, youth?

ARVIRAGUS:  All gold and silver rather turn to dirt, as ‘tis no better. 

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  I see you’re angry.

BELARIUS:  Whither bound?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  To Milford Haven.

BELARIUS:  What’s your name?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Fidele, sir.  Being almost spent with hunger, I am fall’n in this offense.

BELARIUS:  Prithee, fair youth, measure not our good minds by this rude place we live in.  Well encountered!  Boys, bid him welcome.

GUIDERIUS:  Were you a woman, youth, I should woo hard in order to be your bridegroom.

ARVIRAGUS:  I’ll make ‘t my comfort he is a man.  I’ll love him as my brother.  Most welcome.  Be sprightly, for you fall ‘mongst friends. 

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  ‘Mongst friends? 

IMOGEN ASIDE:  Would it had been so, that they had been my father’s sons!

BELARIUS:  He struggles at some distress.

GUIDERIUS:  Would I could free ‘t!

ARVIRAGUS:  Or I, whate’er it be, whatever pain it costs.

BELARIUS:  Hark, boys.

They talk outside.

IMOGEN:  They had a court no bigger than this cave, that did function as their attendants and had the virtue that their own conscience confirmed.  Pardon me, gods! I’d change my sex to be companion with them, since Leonatus false. 

BELARIUS:  It shall be so.  When we have supped, we’ll mannerly demand thee of thy story so far as thou wilt speak it. 

GUIDERIUS:  Pray, draw near.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Thanks, sir.

ARVIRAGUS:  I pray, draw near. 

They exit.

Act 3, Scene 7 
Two Roman Senators and Tribunes are on stage.

FIRST SENATOR:  That since the legions now in Gallia are full weak to undertake our wars against the rebellious Britons, we do incite the gentry to this business.  The Emperor creates Lucius proconsul; and to you the tribunes he commends his absolute commission.

TRIBUNE:  Is Lucius general of the forces?


TRIBUNE:  Remaining now in Gallia?

FIRST SENATOR:  With those legions which I have spoke of, whereunto your levy must be auxiliary. 

TRIBUNE: We will discharge our duty.

They exit.

Act 4, Scene 1
Cloten is on stage dressed in Posthumus’ garments.

CLOTEN:  I am near th’ place where they should meet, if Pisanio have mapped it truly.  How well his garments serve me!  Posthumus, thy head shall within this hour be off, thy mistress raped, thy garments cut to pieces before thy face, and her father may haply be a little angry for me so rough usage.  But my mother shall turn all into my commendations.  This is the very description of their meeting place, and the fellow dares not deceive me. 

He draws his sword and exits.

Act 4, Scene 2 
Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus and Imogen exit from the cave.

BELARIUS TO FIDELE:  You are not well.  Remain here in the cave.  We’ll come to you after hunting.

ARVIRAGUS:  Brother, stay here.  Are we not brothers?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  So man and man should be.  I am very sick.

GUIDERIUS:  Go you to hunting.  I’ll abide with him.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  So please you, leave me.  The breach of custom is breach of all.  I am ill, but your being by me cannot amend me.  I am not very sick.  Pray you trust me here.  I’ll rob none but myself. 

GUIDERIUS:  I love thee --- I have spoke it --- the weight as much as I do love my father.

BELARIUS:  What?  How?

ARVIRAGUS:  I love this youth, and I have heard you say love’s reason’s without reason.

BELARIUS ASIDE:  O, noble character!  O, worthiness of nature, breed of greatness!  I’m not their father, yet who this should doth miracle itself, loved before me.

IMOGEN ASIDE:      These are kind creatures.  Our courtiers say all’s savage but at court.  I am sick still, heart-sick.  Pisanio, I’ll taste of thy drug.

She swallows the drug.

GUIDERIUS TO BELARIUS AND ARVIRAGUS:  I could not stir him.  He said he was gentle but unfortunate, but yet honest. 

ARVIRAGUS:  Thus did he answer me, yet said hereafter I might know more. 

BELARIUS TO FIDELE:  We’ll leave you for this time.  Go in and rest. 

ARVIRAGUS:  We’ll not be long away.

BELARIUS:  Pray, be not sick, for you must manage our household.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Well or ill, I am bound to you.

BELARIUS:  And shalt be ever.

Imogen exits into the cave.

BELARIUS:  This youth, howe’er distressed, appears he hath had good ancestors.

ARVIRAGUS:  How angel-like he sings!

GUIDERIUS:  But his neat cookery!

BELARIUS:  It is great morning.  Come, away.  Who’s there?

Cloten enters.

CLOTEN TO HIMSELF:  I cannot find those runaways.  I am faint.

BELARIUS:  “Those runaways?”  Means he not us?  I partly know him.  ‘Tis Cloten, the son o’ th’ Queen.  We are held as outlaws.  Hence.

GUIDERIUS:  He is but one.  Pray you away.  Let me alone with him.

Belarius and Arviragus exit.

CLOTEN:  Stay, what are you that fly me thus?  Some villain mountaineers?  What slave are thou?  Thou are a robber, a lawbreaker, a villain.  Yield thee, thief.

GUIDERIUS:  To who?  To thee?  What art thou?  Have not I an arm as big as thine?  A heart as big?  Say what thou art, why I should yield to thee.

CLOTEN:  Know’st me not by my clothes?

GUIDERIUS:  No, nor thy tailor. 

CLOTEN:  My tailor made them not.

GUIDERIUS:  Thou art some fool.  I am loath to beat thee.

CLOTEN:  Thou injurious thief, hear but my name, and tremble. 

GUIDERIUS:  What’s thy name?

CLOTEN:  Cloten, thou villain.

GUIDERIUS:  Cloten, I cannot tremble at it.  Were it Toad, or Adder, Spider, ‘twould move me sooner.

CLOTEN:  To thy further fear, thou shalt know I am son to th’ Queen.

GUIDERIUS:  I am sorry for ‘t, not seeming so worthy as thy birth.

CLOTEN:  Art not afeard?

GUIDERIUS:  At fools I laugh, not fear them.

CLOTEN:  Die the death!   When I have slain thee with my proper hand, I’ll follow those that even now fled hence.

They fight and exit.  Belarius and Arviragus enter.

ARVIRAGUS:  You did mistake him sure.

BELARIUS:  I cannot tell.  Long is it since I saw him.  I am absolute ‘twas very Cloten.

ARVIRAGUS:  I wish my brother shortly finish him.

BELARIUS:  He had not apprehension, for defect of judgment is oft the cause of fear. 

Guiderius enters carrying Cloten’s head.

GUIDERIUS:  This Cloten was a fool. 

BELARIUS:  What hast thou done?

GUIDERIUS:  I am certain what: cut off Cloten’s head, son to the Queen, after his own report, who called me traitor mountaineer. 

BELARIUS:  We are all undone.

GUIDERIUS:  Why, worthy father, what have we to lose but that he swore to take, our lives?

BELARIUS:  Not absolute madness could so far have raved to bring him here alone.  On good ground we fear, if we do fear this body hath a tail more perilous than the head.

ARVIRAGUS:  Let destiny come as the gods foresay it. Howsoe’er, my brother hath done well. 

BELARIUS:  I had no mind to hunt this day.  The boy Fidele’s sickness made my journey seem long. 

GUIDERIUS:  With his own sword, which he did wave against my throat, I have ta’en his head from him. 

He exits.

BELARIUS:  I fear ‘twill be revenged.  I wish, Guiderius, thou hadst not done ‘t.

ARVIRAGUS:  Would I had done ‘t, so the revenge alone pursued me.  Guiderius, I love thee brotherly, but envy much thou hast robbed me of this deed. 

BELARIUS:  Well, ‘tis done.  We’ll hunt no more today, nor seek for danger where there’s no profit.  You and Fidele play the cooks.  I’ll stay till hasty Guiderius return. 

ARVIRAGUS:  Poor sick Fidele.  I’ll willingly to him. 

He exits.

Belarius to Himself, No. 2 

O thou divine Nature, thou goddess, thee
Hast blazoned thyself in these two princely
Boys.  They are as gentle as the breeze that
Blows beneath the violet, yet when their royal
Blood is tested they are as the winds at
The mountain’s top, each to the other loyal,
Forcing the pines to bend.  ‘Tis a wonder
That an invisible instinct should stir
In them civility untaught; that wields
For them royalty, honor and a range
Of rough valor that grows; that for them yields
A crop as if it had been sowed.  ‘Tis strange
What Cloten’s being here to us portends,
And how for us the tale of his death ends.

Guiderius enters.

GUIDERIUS:  Where’s my brother?  I have sent Cloten’s head down the stream  in embassy to his mother.  Is he at home?

BELARIUS:  He went hence even now. 

GUIDERIUS:  What does he mean?  All solemn things should answer solemn events.  Is Arviragus mad?
Arviragus enters with Imogen, as if dead, in his arms.

ARVIRAGUS:  The bird is dead that we have made so much of.  I had rather have skipped from sixteen years of age to sixty, to have turned my leaping time into a crutch, than have seen this.

GUIDERIUS:  O sweetest, fairest lily!

BELARIUS:  Jove knows what man thou mightst have made.  How found you him?

ARVIRAGUS:  Stark, as you see.  O’ th’ floor.

GUIDERIUS:  If he be gone, he’ll make his grave a bed; with female fairies will his tomb be haunted. 

ARVIRAGUS:  With fairest flowers, whilst summer lasts and I live here, Fidele, I’ll sweeten thy sad grave. 

GUIDERIUS:  Let us bury him and not protract with admiration what is now due debt.  To th’ grave.

ARVIRAGUS:  Say, where shall ‘s lay him?

GUIDERIUS:  By good Euriphile, our mother.

ARVIRAGUS:  Be ‘t so.  And let us, Guiderius, though now our voices have got the mannish crack, sing him to th’ ground as once to our mother. 

GUIDERIUS:  Arviragus, I cannot sing.  I’ll weep.

BELARIUS:  Great griefs, I see Cloten is quite forgot.  He was a queen’s son, boys, and though he came our enemy, remember he was paid for that.  Our foe was princely, and though you took his life as being our foe, yet bury him as a prince. 

GUIDERIUS:  Pray you fetch him hither.  If you’ll go fetch him, we’ll say our song the whilst.  Brother, begin.
Belarius exits. The boys say the words to the song they’d sung to their mother.  Belarius enters with Cloten’s body. 

GUIDERIUS:  Come, lay him down. 

Cloten’s body is placed by Imogen’s.

BELARIUS:  Here’s a few flowers, but ‘bout midnight more.  Come on, away; apart upon our knees.  The ground that gave them first has them again.  Their pleasures here are past; so is their pain.

They exit.  Imogen awakens.

IMOGEN:  Yes, sir, to Milford Haven.  Which is the way?  Can it be six mile yet? 

She sees Cloten’s headless body.

IMOGEN:  I hope I dream, for so I thought I was a cave-keeper and cook to honest creatures.  But ‘tis not so.  Our very eyes are sometimes like our judgments, blind.  A headless man?  The garments of Posthumus?  ‘Tis gone.  Pisanio, thou conspired with that unlawful Cloten, hath here cut off my lord.  Damned Pisanio, from the most bravest vessel of the world struck the maintop.  O Posthumus, alas, where is thy head?  Pisanio?  ‘Tis he and Cloten.  Malice and lucre in them have laid this woe here.  O, ‘tis obvious, the drug he gave me, have I not found it murd’rous to th’ senses?  O my lord!  My lord!

Lucius, Captains, Soldiers and a Soothsayer enter.

CAPTAIN:  The legions garrisoned in Gallia are attending you here at Milford Haven.  They are here in readiness.

LUCIUS:  But what from Rome?

CAPTAIN:  The Senate hath stirred up the confiners and gentlemen of Italy and they come under the conduct of bold Iachimo.

LUCIUS:  When expect you them?

CAPTAIN:  With the next benefit o’ th’ wind.

LUCIUS:  Now, sir, what have you dreamed of late of our outcome in fighting this war?

SOOTHSAYER:  Last night the very gods showed me a vision which portends, unless my sins abuse my divination, success to th’ Roman host.

LUCIUS:  Dream often so.  Soft, ho, what trunk is here without his top?  How, a page? Or dead or sleeping on him?  Let’s see the boy’s face.

CAPTAIN:  He’s alive, my lord.

LUCIUS:  He’ll then instruct us of this body.  Young one, who is this thou mak’st thy bloody pillow?  Who is ‘t?  What art thou?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  I am nothing.  This was my master, a very valiant Briton that here by mountaineers lies slain.  Alas, there is no more such masters.  I may wander from east to occident and never find such another master. 

LUCIUS:  Say his name, good friend.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Richard du Champ. 

IMOGEN ASIDE:  If I do lie, and do no harm by it, the gods will pardon me. 

LUCIUS:  Thy name?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Fidele, sir.

LUCIUS:  Thy name well fits thy faith, thy faith thy name.  Wilt take thy chance with me?  I will not say thou shalt be so well mastered, but be sure no less beloved.  Go with me.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  I’ll follow, sir.  But first, an ‘t please the gods, I’ll hide my master from the flies, and when I ha’ strewed his grave a century of prayers, I’ll weep and sigh, and leaving so his service, follow you, so please you entertain me. 

LUCIUS:  Ay, good youth.  My friends, the boy hath taught us manly duties.  Let us find out the prettiest daisied plot we can and make him a grave.  Boy, he shall be interred as soldiers can.  Be cheerful; wipe thine eyes. 

They exit.  The Soldiers carry Cloten’s body.

Act 4, Scene 3 
Cymbeline, Lords and Pisanio are on stage.

CYMBELINE:  Bring me word how ‘tis with her.

An Attendant exits.

CYMBELINE:  Imogen, the great part of my comfort, gone; my queen upon a desperate bed, and in a time with fearful wars point at me; her son gone.  It strikes me past the hope of comfort.  But for thee, fellow, who needs must know of her departure and dost seem so ignorant, we’ll enforce it from thee by a sharp torture. 

PISANIO:  Sir, my life is yours.  But for my mistress, I nothing know where she remains, why gone, nor when she proposes return.

LORD:  Good my liege, the day that she was missing he was here.  For Cloten, there wants no diligence in seeking him, and will no doubt be found. 

CYMBELINE TO PISANIO:  We’ll let you go.

LORD:   So please your Majesty, the Roman legions, all from Gallia drawn, are landed on your coast with a supply of Roman gentlemen by the Senate sent. 

CYMBELINE:  I am overwhelmed by these events.

LORD:  Good my liege, all that is lacking is to put those powers in motion that long to move.

CYMBELINE:  I thank you.  Let’s withdraw, and meet the time as it seeks us.

They exit, except for Pisanio.

PISANIO:  I heard no letter from my master since I wrote him Imogen was slain.  ‘Tis strange.  Nor hear I from my mistress, who did promise to yield me often tidings.  Neither know I what has become of Cloten.  These present wars shall find I love my country, even to the uncertainties of the King.  Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.

He exits.

Act 4, Scene 4 
Belarius, Guiderius and Arviragus are on stage.

GUIDERIUS:  The noise is round about us.

BELARIUS:  Let us from it.

ARVIRAGUS:  What pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it from action and adventure?

GUIDERIUS:  Nay, what hope have we in hiding us?

BELARIUS:  Sons, we’ll higher to the mountains, there secure us.  Newness of Cloten’s death may drive them to extort from ‘s that which we have done, whose answer would be death drawn on with torture. 

ARVIRAGUS:  It is not likely that they will waste their time upon our note, to know from whence we are.

BELARIUS:  O, I am known of many in the army.  And besides, the King hath not deserved my service nor your loves.

GUIDERIUS:  Than be so better to cease to be.  Pray, sir, to th’ army.  I and my brother are not known; yourself so out of thought and thereto so with age cannot be questioned. 

ARVIRAGUS:  By this sun that shines, I’ll thither.  I am ashamed to look upon the holy sun, to have the benefit of his blest beams, remaining so long a poor unknown.

GUIDERIUS:  By heavens, I’ll go!  If you will bless me, sir, and give me leave.

ARVIRAGUS:  So say I.  Amen.

BELARIUS:  Have with you, boys!  If in your country wars you chance to die that is my bed, too, lads, and there I’ll lie.

BELARIUS ASIDE:  Their blood thinks scorn till it fly out and show them princes born.

They exit.

Act 5, Scene 1
Posthumus is on the stage alone, wearing Roman garments.

POSTHUMUS:  You married ones, if each of you should take this path, how many must murder wives much better than themselves for erring but a little!  O Pisanio, every good servant does not all commands; he being bound to do just ones. 

Posthumus to Himself, No. 2

Gods, it wouldn’t have come to this had you
Permitted the noble Imogen to
Repent for a little fault and taken
Out your vengeance by striking me.  I’m brought
Here among th’ Italian gentry’s men
To fight my lady’s kingdom, having fought
For its mistress’s hand.  I’ll wound peace not.  
I’ll dress as a peasant; exchange my lot
For Britain’s; discard these Italian clothes. 
I’ll fight against those I come with and die
For thee, Imogen.  I’ll, for what life owes,
As unknown, display more valor than my
Garments show.  With your strength, I will begin
To fashion less with show and more within. 

He exits.

Act 5, Scene 2
Lucius, Iachimo and the Roman army enter one door and cross the stage.  The British army (with Posthumus following behind like a poor soldier) enters another.  Posthumus crosses the stage and exits. 

IACHIMO:  I have belied a lady, the Princess of this country, and its air revengingly enfeebles me; or else how could this lowborn man, a very drudge of nature, have subdued me?  If that thy gentry, Britain, surpass this lout as he exceeds our lords, the odds are that we scarce are men and you are gods. 

He exits.  The battle continues.  The British fly and Cymbeline is taken.  Belarius, Guiderius and Arviragus then enter and rescue the King.

BELARIUS:  Stand, you fleeing Britons.  We have th’ advantage of the ground.  The lane is guarded.


Posthumus enters.  They rescue Cymbeline and exit.  Lucius, Iachimo and Imogen as Fidele then enter.

LUCIUS TO FIDELE:  Away, boy, from the troops, and save thyself, for friends kill friends.

IACHIMO:  ‘Tis their fresh reinforcement of troops.

LUCIUS:  It is a day turned strangely.  Let’s either reinforce or fly.

They exit.

Act 5, Scene 3 
Posthumus and a British Lord enter.

LORD:  Cam’st thou from where they made the stand?

POSTHUMUS:  Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.

LORD:  Ay.

POSTHUMUS:  No blame be to you, sir, for all was lost.  The King himself of his wings destitute, the army broken, and but the backs of Britons seen, all flying through a narrow lane; the enemy full-hearted struck down some mortally, some slightly, leaving cowards living to die with lengthened shame.

LORD:  Where was this lane?

Posthumus to Lord  

A white-bearded, ancient man did this for
His country.  He and two handsome lads, more
Boys than men, secured the pass, crying “our
Timid die flying, not our men.” Halt, or
We will act like Romans; do not cower,
Halt.  These three men, through their actions, did more
Than the whole army that did nothing.  Sir,
They grinned like lions, routing the chaser,
Turning our poor cowards, as one could see,
Overcome when ten chased one, into men,
Each man now a slaughterman of twenty. 
Do not wonder at it!  Believe it when
Two boys, a man twice a boy, and a lane
Preserved the Britons.  ‘Twas the Romans bane.

LORD:  Farewell.  You’re angry.

He exits.

Posthumus to Himself, No. 3      

I am charmed, not finding Death, but hearing
His groan.  ‘Tis strange how Death is found hiding
In fresh cups, soft beds and sweet words with more
Attendants than we who draw his knives in
Th’ war.  But I’ll find him when I favor
Briton no more; when I resume again
The part I came in.  I will fight no more,
Rather yield to the peasant as before.
The slaughter made by the Romans is great;
Great must be the answer the Briton’s make.
But for me my ransom’s death.  Death’s come late,
Hoping here is where my last breath I’ll take.
Whomever for, but not to take again;
Somehow I will end it for Imogen. 

Soldiers and two British Captains enter.

FIRST CAPTAIN:  Lucius is taken!  ‘Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.

SECOND CAPTAIN:  There was a fourth man in peasant’s clothes that gave th’ attack with them.

FIRST CAPTAIN:  So ‘tis reported, but none of ‘em can be found.


SECOND CAPTAIN:  Lay hands on him.  A dog.  He brags his service as if he were of note.  Bring him to th’ King. 

Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisanio and Roman captives enter.  Posthumus is presented to Cymbeline, who turns him over to a jailer.

Act 5, Scene 4
Two Jailers with Posthumus in chains enter.

JAILER:  You shall not now be stol’n; you have locks upon you.  So graze as you find pasture.
The Jailers exit.

POSTHUMUS TO HIMSELF:  Am I better than one that’s sick o’ th’ gout, since he had rather groan so in perpetuity than be cured by th’ reliable physician, Death, who is the key t’ unbar these locks.  You good gods, the penitent instrument to pick that bolt, then free forever.  Is ‘t enough I am sorry?  For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though ‘tis not so dear, yet ‘tis a life; you coined it.  And so, great powers, if you will take this audit, take this life and cancel these cold debts.  O Imogen, I’ll speak to thee in silence.

He lies down and sleeps.  Posthumus’ father, Sicilius Leonatus, dressed as an old warrior, holding hands with his wife and Posthumus’ mother, enters.  Later, Posthumus’ younger brothers, with wounds as they died in the wars, enter, all appearing to Posthumus in his sleep as ghosts.  All have comments to make.  In the end, they are asking Jupiter for help for their son and brother.

MOTHER:  Since, Jupiter, our son is good, take off his miseries.

BROTHERS:  Help, Jupiter, or we appeal and from thy justice fly.

Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning.  The Ghosts fall to their knees.

JUPITER:  No more, you petty spirits of region low, offend our hearing!  Hush.  Whom best I love I cross, to make my gift the more delayed, delighted.  Rise, and fade.  He shall be lord of Lady Imogen, and happier much by his affliction made.

He hands Posthumus’ father, Sicilius, a tablet.

JUPITER:  This table lay upon his breast.  No farther with your din express impatience, lest you stir up mine.

Jupiter ascends.

ALL: Thanks, Jupiter.

Sicilius places the tablet on Posthumus’ breast. They vanish. Posthumus wakens.

POSTHUMUS:  Sleep, thou hast been a grandsire and begot a father to me, and thou hast created a mother and two brothers.  But,  O scorn, Gone!  They went hence so soon as they were born.  And so I am awake.  Poor wretches that depend on greatness’ favor dream as I have done, wake, and find nothing.  But, alas, I swerve.  Many dream not to find, neither deserve, and yet are steeped in favors; so am I that have this golden chance and know not why.

He finds the tablet. He reads the tablet.

POSTHUMUS READS:  When from a stately cedar shall be lopped branches which, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow, then Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.

POSTHUMUS:  ‘Tis still a dream.  Be what it is, the action of my life is like it, which I’ll keep.

The Jailer enters.

JAILER:  Come, sir, are you ready for death?

POSTHUMUS:  Ready long ago.

JAILER:  Hanging is the word, sir.

POSTHUMUS:  I am merrier to die than thou art to live. 

JAILER:  Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the toothache.  Look you, sir, you know not which way you shall go.

POSTHUMUS:  Yes, indeed do I, fellow.

JAILER:  Your death has eyes in ‘s head, then.

A Messenger enters.

MESSENGER:  Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the King.

POSTHUMUS:  Thou bring’st good news.  I am called to be made free.

JAILER:  I’ll be hanged then.

He removes Posthumus’ chains.

POSTHUMUS:  Thou shalt be then freer than a jailer.  No leg irons for the dead.

All exit.

Act 5, Scene 5 
Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisanio and others enter.

CYMBELINE TO BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS AND ARVIRAGUS:  Stand by my side, you whom the gods have made preservers of my throne.  Woe is my heart that the poor soldier that so richly fought, whose rags shamed gilded arms, cannot be found. 

BELARIUS:  I never saw such noble fury in so poor a thing, such precious deeds in one that promised naught but beggary and poor looks.

CYMBELINE:  No tidings of him?

PISANIO:  He hath been searched among the dead and living, but no trace of him.

CYMBELINE:  To my grief, I am the heir of his reward. ‘Tis now the time to ask of whence you are.  Report us. 

BELARIUS:  In Cambria are we born.  Further, we are honest.

CYMBELINE: Bow your knees.

They kneel. He taps their shoulders with his sword.

CYMBELINE:  Arise my knights o’ th’ battle.  I create you companions to our person, and will fit you with dignities becoming your ranks. 

They rise. Cornelius and Ladies enter.

CYMBELINE:  Why so sadly greet you our victory?

CORNELIUS:  Hail, great king.  To sour your happiness I must report the Queen is dead.

CYMBELINE:  Who worse than a physician would this report become?  But death will seize the doctor too.  How ended she?

CORNELIUS:  With horror, madly dying, like her life, which, being cruel to the world, concluded most cruel herself.  What she confessed I will report, so please you.  These her women can trip me if I err, who with wet cheeks were present when she finished.

CYMBELINE:  Prithee, say.

CORNELIUS:  First, she confessed she never loved you, only affected greatness got by you, not you; married your royalty, abhorred your person.

CYMBELINE:  She alone knew this.  Proceed.

CORNELIUS:  Your daughter, she did confess was as a scorpion to her sight, whose life, but that her flight prevented it, she had ta’en off by poison. 

CYMBELINE:  O, most delicate fiend!  Is there more?

CORNELIUS:  She did confess she had for you a mortal mineral which, being took, should by the minute feed on life and, ling’ring, by inches waste you.  In which time she purposed, by watching, kissing, to o’ercome you with her show and, in time, to work her son into th’ adoption of the crown; but failing of her end by his strange absence, grew shameless desperate; opened her purposes; so despairing died. 

CYMBELINE:  Heard you all this, her women? 

LADIES:  We did, so please your Highness.

CYMBELINE:  Mine eyes were not in fault, for she was beautiful.  It had been vicious to have mistrusted her.  Yet, O my daughter.  Heaven med all.

Lucius, Iachimo, Soothsayer and other Roman prisoners, Posthumus, Imogen as Fidele with guards.

CYMBELINE:  Thou com’st now, Caius, nor for tribute.  So think of your condition.

LUCIUS:  Consider, sir, the way things fall out in war.  The day was yours by accident.  Had it gone with us, we should not have threatened our prisoners with the sword.  But since the gods will have it thus, let it come.  Sufficeth a Roman with a Roman’s heart can suffer.  This one thing only I will entreat: my boy, a Briton born, let him be ransomed.  Let his virtue join with my request.  He hath done no Briton harm.  Save him, sir, and spare no blood beside. 

CYMBELINE:  I have surely seen him.  His favor is familiar to me.  Boy, thou hast brought thyself into my favor and art my own.  Ask of Cymbeline what boon thou wilt, fitting my bounty and thy state. 

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  I humbly thank your Highness.

LUCIUS:  I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad, and yet I know thou wilt.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  No, no, alack.  I see a thing bitter to me as death.  Your life, good master, must scramble for itself. 

LUCIUS:  The boy disdains me, scorns me. Why stands he so perplexed? 

Imogen stares as Iachimo.

CYMBELINE:  What would’st thou, boy?  I love thee more and more.  Know’st him thou look’st on?  Speak.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  He is a Roman, no more kin to me than I to your Highness, who, being born your vassal, am something nearer. 

CYMBELINE:  Wherefore ey’st him so?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  I’ll tell you, sir, in private, if you please to give me hearing.

CYMBELINE:  Ay, with all my heart.  What’s thy name?

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  Fidele, sir.

CYMBELINE:  Thou ‘rt my good youth, my page.  I’ll by thy master.  Walk with me.  Speak freely.

Cymbeline and Imogen walk aside and talk.

BELARIUS:  Is not this boy revived from death?

ARVIRAGUS:  What think you?

GUIDERIUS:  The same dead thing alive.

BELARIUS:  Peace, peace.  He eyes us not.  Were ‘t he, I am sure he would have spoke to us.

GUIDERIUS:  But we see him dead.

PISANIO ASIDE:  It is my mistress!

Cymbeline and Imogen come forward.

CYMBELINE TO IMOGEN:  Come, stand thou by our side.

CYMBELINE TO IACHIMO:  Sir, step you forth.  Give answer to this boy, and do it freely.  Speak to him.

Imogen points to Iachimo’s hand.

IMOGEN AS FIDELE:  My boon is that this gentleman may render of whom he had this ring.

POSTHUMUS:  What’s that to him?

CYMBELINE:  That diamond upon your finger, say how came it yours.

IACHIMO: Thou’lt torture me to leave unspoken that which to be spoke would torture thee.


IACHIMO:  By villainy I got this ring.  ‘Twas Leonatus’ jewel, whom thou didst banish, and a nobler sir ne’er lived ‘twixt sky and ground.  Wilt thou hear more, my lord?

CYMBELINE:  All that belongs to this.

IACHIMO:  That paragon, thy daughter --- give me leave, I faint.

CYMBELINE:  My daughter?  What of her?  Renew thy strength.  Strive, man, and speak.

Iachimo to Cymbeline 

It began when he spoke of your daughter’s
Honest features; those men seek that are hers.
And I made light of his praise, wagering
Pieces of gold ‘gainst this ring, which he then
Wore, to attain by wooing her, winning
The ring through double adultery. When
He stakes this ring, I away to Britain,
Figuring that my clever Italian
Brain can operate vilely was my bet.
I returned with the evidence I’d won,
Notes of thus and thus; this her bracelet
And some marks of secret on her person,
All convincing him ‘twas honor she lacked,
And that her bond of chastity had cracked.

Posthumus comes forward.

POSTHUMUS:  Ay, so thou dost, Italian fiend.  I am the most credulous fool, egregious murderer, thief, anything due to all the villains past.  I am Posthumus, that killed thy daughter --- villain like, I lie --- that caused a lesser villain than myself, a sacrilegious thief, to do ‘t.  O Imogen!  My queen, my life, my wife! 

Imogen runs to Posthumus.

IMOGEN:  Peace, my lord!  Hear, hear ---

POSTHUMUS:  Thou scornful page, there lie the part.

He pushes her away and she falls.

PISANIO:  O my lord Posthumus, you ne’er killed Imogen till now!

CYMBELINE:  Does the world go round?  The gods do mean to strike me to death with mortal joy.

PISANIO:  How fares my mistress?

IMOGEN:  O, get thee from my sight!  Thou gav’st me poison.  Breathe not where princes are.

PISANIO:  Lady, the gods throw stones of sulfur on me if that box I gave you was not thought by me a precious thing.  I had it from the Queen.

IMOGEN:  It poisoned me.

CORNELIUS TO PISANIO:  I left out one thing which the Queen confessed, which must prove thee honest.  Said she, “If Pisanio given his mistress that confection which I gave him for cordial, she is served as I would serve a rat.”

CYMBELINE:  What’s this, Cornelius?

CORNELIUS:  The Queen, sir, very oft importuned me to temper poisons for her.  I, dreading that her purpose was of more danger, did compound for her a certain stuff which, being ta’en, would cease the present power of life, but in short time all offices of nature should again do their due functions.  Have you ta’en of it?

IMOGEN:  Most like I did, for I was dead.


GUIDERIUS:  This is sure Fidele.

IMOGEN TO POSTHUMUS:  Why did you throw your wedded lady from you?

She embraces him.

POSTHUMUS:  Hang there like fruit, my soul, till the tree die.

CYMBELINE TO IMOGEN:  My flesh, my child?  Wilt thou not speak to me?

IMOGEN KNEELING:  Your blessing, sir.

BELARIUS TO GUIDERIUS AND ARVIRAGUS:  Though you did love this youth, I blame you not.  You had a motive for ‘t. 

CYMBELINE:  My tears that fall prove holy water on thee.  Imogen, thy mother’s dead.

IMOGEN:  I am sorry for ‘t, my lord.

She rises.

CYMBELINE:  O, she was wicked.  But her son is gone, we know not how nor where.

PISANIO:  My lord, now fear is from me, I’ll speak truth.  Lord Cloten, upon my lady’s missing, came to me and swore if I discovered not which way she was gone, it was my instant death.  By accident, I had a letter of my master’s then in my pocket, which directed him to seek her on the mountains near to Milford; where in my master’s garments, which he enforced from me, away he posts with unchaste purpose and with oath to violate my lady’s honor.  What became of him I further know not.

GUIDERIUS:  Let me end the story.  I slew him there.

CYMBELINE:  Marry, the gods forbid!  Prithee, valiant youth, deny ‘t.

GUIDERIUS:  I have spoke it, and I did it. 

CYMBELINE:  He was a prince.

GUIDERIUS:  A most uncivil one.  The wrongs he did me were nothing prince-like.  I cut off ‘s head, and am right glad he is not standing her to tell this tale of mine.

CYMBERLINE:  I am sorrow for thee, by thine own tongue thou art condemned and must endure our law.  Thou ‘rt dead.

IMOGEN:  That headless man I thought had been my lord.

CYMBELINE:  Bind the offender, and take him from our presence.

Attendants bind Guiderius.

BELARIUS:  Stay, sir king.  This man is better than the man he slew.  Let his arms alone. They were not born for bondage.

CYMBELINE:  How of descent as good as we?

ARVIRAGUS:  In that he spoke too far.

CYMBELINE:  And thou shalt die for ‘t.

BELARIUS:  We will die all three.  My sons, I must for mine own part unfold a dangerous speech, though haply well for you.

ARVIRAGUS:  Your danger’s ours.

GUIDERIUS:  And our good his.

BELARIUS:  Thou hadst, great king, a subject who was called Belarius.

CYMBELINE:  What of him?  He is a banished traitor.

BELARIUS:  He is indeed a banished man, I know not how a traitor.

CYMBELINE:  Take him hence.  The whole world shall not save him.

BELARIUS:  Not too hot.  First pay me for the nursing of thy sons.

CYMBELINE:  Nursing of my sons?

BELARIUS:  I am too blunt and saucy.  Here’s my knee.

He kneels.

BELARIUS:  Mighty sir, these two young gentlemen that call me father and think they are my sons are none of mine.  They are the issue of your loins, my liege, and blood of your begetting. 

CYMBELINE:  How?  My issue?

BELARIUS:  So sure as you your father’s. 

Belarius to Cymbeline 

I’m the Belarius for unknown reason
You banished, being accused of treason;
The harm was my suffering.  ‘Twas my sense
To aid these boys these twenty years gone bye,
Marrying Euriphile as recompense,
She being the nurse who stole them when I
Banished.  Disloyalty, charged you of us,
Led to my treason. Your loss gave purpose
To my stealing them.  But here are your sons,
And I must lose two of the world’s sweetest
Companions, they being heavenly ones
Worthy of inlaying the sky, the best
A man could have.  This is Guiderius;
This your younger son, true Arviragus.

He weeps.

CYMBELINE:  Thou weep’st and speak’st.  I lost my children.  If these be they, I know not how to wish a pair of worthier sons.  Guiderius had upon his neck a mole, a red and confident star. 

BELARIUS:  This is he, who hath upon him still that natural stamp. 

CYMBELINE:  O, what am I, a mother to the birth of three?  Ne’er mother rejoiced deliverance more.  O Imogen, thou hast lost by this a kingdom!

IMOGEN:  No, my lord.  I have got two worlds by ‘t.  O my gentle brothers, have we thus met?  You called me “brother” when I was but your sister; I you “brothers” when we were so indeed.

CYMBELINE:  Did you e’er meet?

ARVIRAGUS:  Ay, my good lord.

GUIDERIUS:  And at first meeting loved, continued so until we thought he died.

CORNELIUS:  By the Queen’s dram she swallowed.

CYMBELINE TO IMOGEN:  When shall I hear all through?  Where, how lived you?  And when came you to serve our Roman captive?  How parted with your brothers? How first met them?  Why fled you from the court?  And whither?

CYMBELINE TO BELARIUS:  These, and what motivated you three to join the battle, should be demanded, and all the other circumstances; but nor the time nor place will serve our long interrogatories.  See, Posthumus anchors upon Imogen; and she, like harmless lightning, throws her eye on him, her brothers, me, hitting each object with a joy.  Let’s quit this ground.  Thou art my brother, so we’ll hold thee ever.

IMOGEN TO BELARIUS:  You are my father too, and did feed and rescue me to see this gracious season.

CYMBELINE:  All o’erjoyed save these in bonds; let them be joyful too, for they shall taste our comfort. 

IMOGEN TO LUCIUS:  My good master, I will yet do you service.

CYMBELINE:  The forlorn soldier that so nobly fought, he would have been well suited for this place and graced the thankings of a king.

POSTHUMUS:  I am, sir, the soldier that did company these three in poor appearance; ‘twas the plan I than followed.  That I was he, speak, Iachimo.  I had you down and might have made you die.

IACHIMO KNEELING:  Take that life, beseech you, which I owe many times over; but your ring first, and here the bracelet of the truest princess that ever swore her faith.

He holds out the ring and bracelet.

POSTHUMUS:  Kneel not to me.  The power that I have on you is to spare you; the malice towards you to forgive you.  Live and deal with others better. 

CYMBELINE:  We’ll learn our freeness of a son-in-law; pardon’s the word to all.

Iachimo rises.

ARVIRAGUS:  As you did mean indeed to be our brother, joyed are we that you are. 

POSTHUMUS:  Your servant, princes.  Good my lord of Rome, call forth your soothsayer.  As I slept, methought great Jupiter appeared to me.  When I waked, I found this parchment on my bosom, whose containing is so from sense in hardness that I can make no conclusion from it. Let me show his skill in explanation.

The Soothsayer comes forward.

LUCIUS:  Read, and declare the meaning.

SOOTHSAYER READS:  When from a stately cedar shall be lopped branches which, being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus and his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.

SOOTHSAYER TO CYMBELINE:  This piece of tender air thy virtuous daughter is this most constant wife; who, even now, answering the letter of the oracle.

SOOTHSAYER TO POSTHUMUS:  Unknown to you, unsought, were surrounded by this most tender air. 

CYMBELINE:  This hath some seeming.

SOOTHSAYER:  The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline, personates thee; and thy lopped branches point thy two sons forth, who, by Belarius stol’n, for many years thought dead, are now revived, to the majestic cedar joined, whose issue promises Britain peace and plenty. 

CYMBELINE:  Well, my peace we will begin.  And, Caius Lucius, although the victor, we submit to Caesar and to the Roman Empire, promising to pay our wonted tribute. 

SOOTHSAYER:  The fingers of the powers above do tune the harmony of this peace.  The Roman eagle, so vanished, should again unite his favor with the radiant Cymbeline, which shines here in the west. 

CYMBELINE:  Laud we the gods.  Publish we this peace to all our subjects.  Let a Roman and a British ensign ware friendly together.  Never was a war did cease, before bloody hands were washed, with such a peace.

They exit.