Britain. The Roman camp.

[Enter POSTHUMUS [with a bloody handkerchief.]


Yea, bloody cloth, I'll keep thee, for I wish'd

Thou shouldst be colour'd thus. You married ones,

If each of you should take this course, how many

Must murder wives much better than themselves

For wrying but a little! O Pisanio!

Every good servant does not all commands;

No bond but to do just ones. Gods! if you

Should have ta'en vengeance on my faults, I never

Had liv'd to put on this; so had you saved

The noble Imogen to repent, and struck

Me, wretch, more worth your vengeance. But, alack,

You snatch some hence for little faults; that's love,

To have them fall no more: you some permit

To second ills with ills, each elder worse,

And make them dread it, to the doer's thrift.

But Imogen is your own; do your best wills,

And make me blest to obey! I am brought hither

Among the Italian gentry, and to fight

Against my lady's kingdom. 'Tis enough

That, Britain, I have kill'd thy mistress; peace!

I'll give no wound to thee. Therefore, good heavens,

Hear patiently my purpose: I'll disrobe me

Of these Italian weeds, and suit myself

As does a Briton peasant; so I'll fight

Against the part I come with; so I'll die

For thee, O Imogen, even for whom my life

Is every breath a death; and thus, unknown,

Pitied nor hated, to the face of peril

Myself I'll dedicate. Let me make men know

More valour in me than my habits show.

Gods, put the strength o' the Leonati in me!

To shame the guise o' the world, I will begin

The fashion, less without and more within.



Field of battle between the British and Roman camps.

[Enter LUCIUS, IACHIMO, and the Roman Army at one door;

and the Briton army at another; LEONATUS POSTHUMUS

following, like a poor soldier. They march over and go out.

Alarums. Then enter again, in skirmish, IACHIMO, and

POSTHUMUS: he vanquisheth and disarmeth IACHIMO,

and then leaves him.]


The heaviness and guilt within my bosom

Takes off my manhood. I have belied a lady,

The Princess of this country, and the air on't

Revengingly enfeebles me; or could this carl,

A very drudge of nature's, have subdu'd me

In my profession? Knighthoods and honours, borne

As I wear mine, are titles but of scorn.

If that thy gentry, Britain, go before

This lout as he exceeds our lords, the odds

Is that we scarce are men, and you are gods.


[The battle continues; the BRITONS fly; CYMBELINE is taken:

then enter, to his rescue, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, and ARVIRAGUS.]


Stand, stand! We have the advantage of the ground;

The lane is guarded. Nothing routs us but

The villainy of our fears.


Stand, stand, and fight!

[Re-enter POSTHUMUS, and seconds the Britons. They rescue

CYMBELINE, and exeunt. Then re-enter LUCIUS, IACHIMO,

and IMOGEN.]


Away, boy, from the troops, and save thyself;

For friends kill friends, and the disorder's such

As war were hoodwink'd.


'Tis their fresh supplies.


It is a day turn'd strangely. Or betimes

Let's reinforce, or fly.



Another part of the field.

[Enter POSTHUMUS and a Briton LORD.]


Cam'st thou from where they made the stand?


I did;

Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.


I did.


No blame be to you, sir, for all was lost,

But that the heavens fought; the King himself

Of his wings destitute, the army broken,

And but the backs of Britons seen, all flying,

Through a strait lane; the enemy full-hearted,

Lolling the tongue with slaught'ring, having work

More plentiful than tools to do't, struck down

Some mortally, some slightly touch'd, some falling

Merely through fear, that the straight pass was damm'd

With dead men hurt behind, and cowards living

To die with length'ned shame.


Where was this lane?


Close by the battle, ditch'd, and wall'd with turf;

Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier,

An honest one, I warrant; who deserv'd

So long a breeding as his white beard came to,

In doing this for's country. Athwart the lane,

He, with two striplings--lads more like to run

The country base than to commit such slaughter;

With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer

Than those for preservation cas'd, or shame,--

Made good the passage; cried to those that fled,

"Our Britain's harts die flying, not our men.

To darkness fleet souls that fly backwards. Stand!

Or we are Romans and will give you that

Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save

But to look back in frown. Stand, stand!" These three,

Three thousand confident, in act as many--

For three performers are the file when all

The rest do nothing--with this word "Stand, stand!"

Accommodated by the place, more charming

With their own nobleness, which could have turn'd

A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks.

Part shame, part spirit renew'd; that some, turn'd coward

But by example--O, a sin in war,

Damn'd in the first beginners!--gan to look

The way that they did, and to grin like lions

Upon the pikes o' the hunters. Then began

A stop i' the chaser, a retire, anon

A rout, confusion thick. Forthwith they fly

Chickens, the way which they stoop'd eagles; slaves,

The strides they victors made: and now our cowards,

Like fragments in hard voyages, became

The life o' the need. Having found the back-door open

Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound!

Some slain before; some dying; some their friends

O'erborne i' the former wave; ten, chas'd by one,

Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty.

Those that would die or ere resist are grown

The mortal bugs o' the field.


This was strange chance.

A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys!


Nay, do not wonder at it; you are made

Rather to wonder at the things you hear

Than to work any. Will you rhyme upon't,

And vent it for a mockery? Here is one:

"Two boys, an old man twice a boy, a lane,

Preserv'd the Britons, was the Romans' bane."


Nay, be not angry, sir.


'Lack, to what end?

Who dares not stand his foe, I'll be his friend;

For if he'll do as he is made to do,

I know he'll quickly fly my friendship too.

You have put me into rhyme.


Farewell; you're angry.



Still going? This is a lord! O noble misery,

To be i' the field and ask "what news?" of me!

To-day how many would have given their honours

To have sav'd their carcasses! took heel to do't,

And yet died too! I, in mine own woe charm'd,

Could not find Death where I did hear him groan,

Nor feel him where he struck. Being an ugly monster,

'Tis strange he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds,

Sweet words; or hath moe ministers than we

That draw his knives i' the war. Well, I will find him;

For being now a favourer to the Briton,

No more a Briton, I have resum'd again

The part I came in. Fight I will no more,

But yield me to the veriest hind that shall

Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is

Here made by the Roman; great the answer be

Britons must take. For me, my ransom's death.

On either side I come to spend my breath;

Which neither here I'll keep nor bear again,

But end it by some means for Imogen.

[Enter two [BRITISH] CAPTAINS and soldiers.]


Great Jupiter be prais'd! Lucius is taken.

'Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.


There was a fourth man, in a silly habit,

That gave the affront with them.


So 'tis reported;

But none of 'em can be found. Stand! who's there?


A Roman,

Who had not now been drooping here, if seconds

Had answer'd him.


Lay hands on him; a dog!

A leg of Rome shall not return to tell

What crows have peck'd them here. He brags his service,

As if he were of note. Bring him to the King.




delivers him over to a Gaoler. [Then exeunt omnes.]


A British prison.

[Enter POSTHUMUS and two GAOLERS.]


You shall not now be stolen, you have locks upon you;

So graze as you find pasture.


Ay, or a stomach.

[Exeunt GAOLERS.]


Most welcome bondage! for thou art a way,

I think, to liberty; yet am I better

Than one that's sick o' the gout; since he had rather

Groan so in perpetuity than be cur'd

By the sure physician, Death, who is the key

To unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter'd

More than my shanks and wrists. You good gods, give me

The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,

Then, free for ever! Is't enough I am sorry?

So children temporal fathers do appease;

Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent,

I cannot do it better than in gyves,

Desir'd more than constrain'd: to satisfy,

If of my freedom 'tis the main part, take

No stricter render of me than my all.

I know you are more clement than vile men,

Who of their broken debtors take a third,

A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again

On their abatement. That's not my desire.

For Imogen's dear life take mine; and though

'Tis not so dear, yet 'tis a life; you coin'd it.

'Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;

Though light, take pieces for the figure's sake;

You rather mine, being yours; and so, great powers,

If you will take this audit, take this life,

And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen!

I'll speak to thee in silence.


[Solemn music. Enter, as in an apparition, SICILIUS

LEONATUS, father to POSTHUMUS, an old man, attired

like a warrior; leading in his hand an ancient matron, his wife,

and mother to POSTHUMUS, with music before them. Then,

after other music, follow the two young LEONATI, brothers

to POSTHUMUS, with wounds as they died in the wars. They

circle POSTHUMUS round, as he lies sleeping.]


No more, thou thunder-master, show

Thy spite on mortal flies:

With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,

That thy adulteries

Rates and revenges.

Hath my poor boy done aught but well,

Whose face I never saw?

I died whilst in the womb he stay'd

Attending Nature's law;

Whose father then, as men report

Thou orphans' father art,

Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him

From this earth-vexing smart.


Lucina lent not me her aid,

But took me in my throes,

That from me was Posthumus ript,

Came crying 'mongst his foes,

A thing of pity!


Great Nature, like his ancestry,

Moulded the stuff so fair,

That he deserv'd the praise o' the world,

As great Sicilius' heir.


When once he was mature for man,

In Britain where was he

That could stand up his parallel,

Or fruitful object be

In eye of Imogen, that best

Could deem his dignity?


With marriage wherefore was he mock'd,

To be exil'd, and thrown

From Leonati seat, and cast

From her his dearest one,

Sweet Imogen?


Why did you suffer Iachimo,

Slight thing of Italy,

To taint his nobler heart and brain

With needless jealousy;

And to become the geck and scorn

O' the other's villainy?


For this from stiller seats we came,

Our parents and us twain,

That striking in our country's cause

Fell bravely and were slain,

Our fealty and Tenantius' right

With honour to maintain.


Like hardiment Posthumus hath

To Cymbeline perform'd.

Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,

Why hast thou thus adjourn'd

The graces for his merits due,

Being all to dolours turn'd?


Thy crystal window ope; look out;

No longer exercise

Upon a valiant race thy harsh

And potent injuries.


Since, Jupiter, our son is good,

Take off his miseries.


Peep through thy marble mansion; help;

Or we poor ghosts will cry

To the shining synod of the rest

Against thy deity.


Help, Jupiter; or we appeal,

And from thy justice fly.

[JUPITER descends in thunder and lightning, sitting

upon an eagle; he throws a thunderbolt. The GHOSTS

fall on their knees.]


No more, you petty spirits of region low,

Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts

Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know,

Sky-planted batters all rebelling coasts?

Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest

Upon your never-withering banks of flowers.

Be not with mortal accidents opprest:

No care of yours it is; you know 'tis ours.

Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,

The more delay'd, delighted. Be content;

Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift.

His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.

Our jovial star reign'd at his birth, and in

Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.

He shall be lord of Lady Imogen,

And happier much by his affliction made.

This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein

Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine.

And so, away! No farther with your din

Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.

Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.



He came in thunder; his celestial breath

Was sulphurous to smell. The holy eagle

Stoop'd, as to foot us. His ascension is

More sweet than our blest fields. His royal bird

Prunes the immortal wing and cloys his beak,

As when his god is pleas'd.


Thanks, Jupiter!


The marble pavement closes, he is enter'd

His radiant roof. Away! and, to be blest,

Let us with care perform his great behest.

[The GHOSTS] vanish.]



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' favour dream as I have done,

Wake and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve.

Many dream not to find, neither deserve,

And yet are steep'd in favours; so am I,

That have this golden chance and know not why.

What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one!

Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment

Nobler than that it covers! Let thy effects

So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,

As good as promise!


"Whenas a lion's whelp shall, to himself unknown, without

seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of tender air; and

when from a stately cedar shall be lopp'd branches, which,

being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old

stock and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries,

Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty."

'Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen

Tongue and brain not; either both or nothing,

Or senseless speaking or a speaking such

As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,

The action of my life is like it, which

I'll keep, if but for sympathy.

[Re-enter GAOLER.]


Come, sir, are you ready for death?


Over-roasted rather; ready long ago.


Hanging is the word, sir If you be ready for that, you are

well cook'd.


So, if I prove a good repast to the spectators, the dish

pays the shot.


A heavy reckoning for you, sir. But the comfort is, you shall

be called to no more payments, fear no more tavern-bills,

which are often the sadness of parting, as the procuring of

mirth. You come in faint for want of meat, depart reeling with

too much drink; sorry that you have paid too much, and sorry that

you are paid too much; purse and brain both empty; the brain the

heavier for being too light, the purse too light, being drawn of

heaviness. O, of this contradiction you shall now be quit. O, the

charity of a penny cord! It sums up thousands in a trice. You

have no true debitor and creditor but it; of what's past, is, and

to come, the discharge. Your neck, sir, is pen, book, and counters;

so the acquittance follows.


I am merrier to die than thou art to live.


Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the toothache; but a man

that were to sleep your sleep, and a hangman to help him to bed, I

think he would change places with his officer; for, look you, sir,

you know not which way you shall go.


Yes, indeed do I, fellow.


Your Death has eyes in's head, then; I have not seen him so

pictur'd. You must either be directed by some that take upon them

to know, or to take upon yourself that which I am sure you do not

know, or jump the after inquiry on your own peril. And how you

shall speed in your journey's end, I think you'll never return to

tell one.


I tell thee, fellow, there are none want eyes to direct them the

way I am going, but such as wink and will not use them.


What an infinite mock is this, that a man should have the best

use of eyes to see the way of blindness! I am sure hanging's the

way of winking.

[Enter a MESSENGER.]


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


Thou bring'st good news; I am call'd to be made free.


I'll be hang'd then.


Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for the dead.

[Exeunt all but the GAOLER.]


Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget young gibbets, I

never saw one so prone. Yet, on my conscience, there are verier

knaves desire to live, for all he be a Roman; and there be some

of them too that die against their wills. So should I, if I were

one. I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good. O, there

were desolation of gaolers and gallowses! I speak against my

present profit, but my wish hath a preferment in't.





LORDS, [OFFICERS, and Attendants.]


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 sham'd gilded arms, whose naked breast

Stepp'd before targes of proof, cannot be found.

He shall be happy that can find him, if

Our grace can make him so.


I never saw

Such noble fury in so poor a thing;

Such precious deeds in one that promis'd nought

But beggary and poor looks.


No tidings of him?


He hath been search'd among the dead and living,

But no trace of him.


To my grief, I am

The heir of his reward;


which I will add

To you, the liver, heart, and brain of Britain,

By whom I grant she lives. 'Tis now the time

To ask of whence you are. Report it.



In Cambria are we born, and gentlemen.

Further to boast were neither true nor modest,

Unless I add, we are honest.


Bow your knees.

Arise my knights o' the battle. I create you

Companions to our person and will fit you

With dignities becoming your estates.


There's business in these faces. Why so sadly

Greet you our victory? You look like Romans,

And not o' the court of Britain.


Hail, great King!

To sour your happiness, I must report

The Queen is dead.


Who worse than a physician

Would this report become? But I consider

By medicine life may be prolong'd, yet death

Will seize the doctor too. How ended she?


With horror, madly dying, like her life,

Which, being cruel to the world, concluded

Most cruel to herself. What she confess'd

I will report, so please you. These her women

Can trip me, if I err; who with wet cheeks

Were present when she finish'd.


Prithee, say.


First, she confess'd she never lov'd you; only

Affected greatness got by you, not you;

Married your royalty, was wife to your place,

Abhorr'd your person.


She alone knew this;

And, but she spoke it dying, I would not

Believe her lips in opening it. Proceed.


Your daughter, whom she bore in hand to love

With such integrity, 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.


O most delicate fiend!

Who is't can read a woman? Is there more?


More, sir, and worse. 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 purpos'd,

By watching, weeping, tendance, kissing, to

O'ercome you with her show, and, in time,

When she had fitted you with her craft, to work

Her son into the adoption of the crown;

But, failing of her end by his strange absence,

Grew shameless-desperate; open'd, in despite

Of heaven and men, her purposes; repented

The evils she hatch'd were not effected; so

Despairing died.


Heard you all this, her women?


We did, so please your Highness.


Mine eyes

Were not in fault, for she was beautiful;

Mine ears, that heard her flattery; nor my heart,

That thought her like her seeming. It had been vicious

To have mistrusted her; yet, O my daughter!

That it was folly in me, thou mayst say,

And prove it in thy feeling. Heaven mend all!

[Enter LUCIUS, IACHIMO, [the SOOTHSAYER] and other

Roman prisoners [guarded]; POSTHUMUS behind, and IMOGEN.]

Thou com'st not, Caius, now for tribute; that

The Britons have raz'd out, though with the loss

Of many a bold one, whose kinsmen have made suit

That their good souls may be appeas'd with slaughter

Of you their captives, which ourself have granted.

So think of your estate.


Consider, sir, the chance of war. The day

Was yours by accident. Had it gone with us,

We should not, when the blood was cool, have threaten'd

Our prisoners with the sword. But since the gods

Will have it thus, that nothing but our lives

May be call'd ransom, let it come. Sufficeth

A Roman, with a Roman's heart can suffer.

Augustus lives to think on't; and so much

For my peculiar care. This one thing only

I will entreat: my boy, a Briton born,

Let him be ransom'd. Never master had

A page so kind, so duteous, diligent,

So tender over his occasions, true,

So feat, so nurse-like. Let his virtue join

With my request, which I'll make bold your Highness

Cannot deny. He hath done no Briton harm,

Though he have serv'd a Roman. Save him, sir,

And spare no blood beside.


I have surely seen him;

His favour is familiar to me. Boy,

Thou hast look'd thyself into my grace,

And art mine own. I know not why, wherefore,

To say "Live, boy." Ne'er thank thy master; live,

And ask of Cymbeline what boon thou wilt,

Fitting my bounty and thy state, I'll give it,

Yea, though thou do demand a prisoner,

The noblest ta'en.


I humbly thank your Highness.


I do not bid thee beg my life, good lad,

And yet I know thou wilt.


No, no, alack,

There's other work in hand. I see a thing

Bitter to me as death; your life, good master,

Must shuffle for itself.


The boy disdains me,

He leaves me, scorns me. Briefly die their joys

That place them on the truth of girls and boys.

Why stands he so perplex'd?


What wouldst thou, boy?

I love thee more and more; think more and more

What's best to ask. Know'st him thou look'st on? Speak,

Wilt have him live? Is he thy kin? thy friend?


He is a Roman, no more kin to me

Than I to your Highness; who, being born your vassal,

Am something nearer.


Wherefore ey'st him so?


I'll tell you, sir, in private, if you please

To give me hearing.


Ay, with all my heart,

And lend my best attention. What's thy name?


Fidele, sir.


Thou'rt my good youth, my page;

I'll be thy master. Walk with me; speak freely.

[CYMBELINE and IMOGEN talk apart.]


Is not this boy, reviv'd from death,--


One sand another

Not more resembles,--that sweet rosy lad

Who died, and was Fidele. What think you?


The same dead thing alive.


Peace, peace! see further. He eyes us not; forbear;

Creatures may be alike. Were't he, I am sure

He would have spoke to us.


But we saw him dead.


Be silent; let's see further.



It is my mistress.

Since she is living, let the time run on

To good or bad.

[CYMBELINE and IMOGEN come forward.]


Come, stand thou by our side;

Make thy demand aloud.


Sir, step you forth;

Give answer to this boy, and do it freely;

Or, by our greatness and the grace of it,

Which is our honour, bitter torture shall

Winnow the truth from falsehood. On, speak to him.


My boon is, that this gentleman may render

Of whom he had this ring.



What's that to him?


That diamond upon your finger, say

How came it yours?


Thou'lt torture me to leave unspoken that

Which, to be spoke, would torture thee.


How! me?


I am glad to be constrain'd to utter that

Which torments me to conceal. By villainy

I got this ring. 'Twas Leonatus' jewel,

Whom thou didst banish; and--which more may grieve thee,

As it doth me--a nobler sir ne'er liv'd

'Twixt sky and ground. Wilt thou hear more, my lord?


All that belongs to this.


That paragon, thy daughter,--

For whom my heart drops blood, and my false spirits

Quail to remember,--Give me leave; I faint.


My daughter! What of her? Renew thy strength.

I had rather thou shouldst live while Nature will

Than die ere I hear more. Strive, man, and speak.


Upon a time,--unhappy was the clock

That struck the hour!--it was in Rome,--accurs'd

The mansion where!--'twas at a feast,--O, would

Our viands had been poison'd, or at least

Those which I heav'd to head!--the good Posthumus--

What should I say? He was too good to be

Where ill men were; and was the best of all

Amongst the rar'st of good ones,--sitting sadly,

Hearing us praise our loves of Italy

For beauty that made barren the swell'd boast

Of him that best could speak, for feature, laming

The shrine of Venus, or straight-pight Minerva,

Postures beyond brief nature, for condition,

A shop of all the qualities that man

Loves woman for, besides that hook of wiving,

Fairness which strikes the eye--


I stand on fire:

Come to the matter.


All too soon I shall,

Unless thou wouldst grieve quickly. This Posthumus,

Most like a noble lord in love and one

That had a royal lover, took his hint;

And not dispraising whom we prais'd,--therein

He was as calm as virtue,--he began

His mistress' picture; which by his tongue being made,

And then a mind put in't, either our brags

Were crack'd of kitchen trulls, or his description

Prov'd us unspeaking sots.


Nay, nay, to th' purpose.


Your daughter's chastity--there it begins.

He spake of her, as Dian had hot dreams,

And she alone were cold; whereat I, wretch,

Made scruple of his praise; and wager'd with him

Pieces of gold 'gainst this which then he wore

Upon his honour'd finger, to attain

In suit the place of's bed and win this ring

By hers and mine adultery. He, true knight,

No lesser of her honour confident

Than I did truly find her, stakes this ring;

And would so, had it been a carbuncle

Of Phoebus' wheel, and might so safely, had it

Been all the worth of's car. Away to Britain

Post I in this design. Well may you, sir,

Remember me at court, where I was taught

Of your chaste daughter the wide difference

'Twixt amorous and villainous. Being thus quench'd

Of hope, not longing, mine Italian brain

Gan in your duller Britain operate

Most vilely; for my vantage, excellent;

And, to be brief, my practice so prevail'd,

That I return'd with similar proof enough

To make the noble Leonatus mad,

By wounding his belief in her renown

With tokens thus, and thus; averring notes

Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet,--

O cunning, how I got it!--nay, some marks

Of secret on her person, that he could not

But think her bond of chastity quite crack'd,

I having ta'en the forfeit. Whereupon--

Methinks, I see him now--



Ay, so thou dost,

Italian fiend! Ay me, most credulous fool,

Egregious murderer, thief, anything

That's due to all the villains past, in being,

To come! O, give me cord, or knife, or poison,

Some upright justicer! Thou, King, send out

For torturers ingenious; it is I

That all the abhorred things o' the earth amend

By being worse than they. I am Posthumus,

That kill'd thy daughter:--villain-like, I lie--

That caused a lesser villain than myself,

A sacrilegious thief, to do't. The temple

Of Virtue was she; yea, and she herself.

Spit, and throw stones, cast mire upon me, set

The dogs o' the street to bay me; every villain

Be call'd Posthumus Leonatus; and

Be villainy less than 'twas! O Imogen

My queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen,

Imogen, Imogen!


Peace, my lord; hear, hear--


Shall's have a play of this? Thou scornful page,

There lies thy part.

[Striking her; she falls.]


O gentlemen, help

Mine and your mistress! O, my lord Posthumus!

You ne'er kill'd Imogen till now. Help, help!

Mine honour'd lady!


Does the world go round?


How comes these staggers on me?


Wake, my mistress!


If this be so, the gods do mean to strike me

To death with mortal joy.


How fares my mistress?


O, get thee from my sight;

Thou gav'st me poison. Dangerous fellow, hence!

Breathe not where princes are.


The tune of Imogen!



The gods throw stones of sulphur on me, if

That box I gave you was not thought by me

A precious thing! I had it from the Queen.


New matter still?


It poison'd me.


O gods!

I left out one thing which the Queen confess'd,

Which must approve thee honest. "If Pisanio

Have," said she "given his mistress that confection

Which I gave him for cordial, she is serv'd

As I would serve a rat."


What's this, Cornelius?


The Queen, sir, very oft importun'd me

To temper poisons for her, still pretending

The satisfaction of her knowledge only

In killing creatures vile, as cats and dogs,

Of no esteem. 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?


Most like I did, for I was dead.


My boys,

There was our error.


This is, sure, Fidele.


Why did you throw your wedded lady from you?

Think that you are upon a rock, and now

Throw me again.

[Embracing him.]


Hang there like fruit, my soul,

Till the tree die!


How now, my flesh, my child!

What, mak'st thou me a dullard in this act?

Wilt thou not speak to me?



Your blessing, sir.



Though you did love this youth, I blame ye not;

You had a motive for't.


My tears that fall

Prove holy water on thee! Imogen,

Thy mother's dead.


I am sorry for't, my lord.


O, she was naught; and long of her it was

That we meet here so strangely; but her son

Is gone, we know not how nor where.


My lord,

Now fear is from me, I'll speak troth. Lord Cloten,

Upon my lady's missing, came to me

With his sword drawn; foam'd at the mouth, and swore,

If I discover'd not which way she was gone,

It was my instant death. By accident,

I had a feigned letter of my master's

Then in my pocket, which directed him

To seek her on the mountains near to Milford;

Where, in a frenzy, in my master's garments,

Which he enforc'd from me, away he posts

With unchaste purpose, and with oath to violate

My lady's honour. What became of him

I further know not.


Let me end the story:

I slew him there.


Marry, the gods forfend!

I would not thy good deeds should from my lips

Pluck a hard sentence. Prithee, valiant youth,

Deny't again.


I have spoke it, and I did it.


He was a prince.


A most incivil one. The wrongs he did me

Were nothing prince-like; for he did provoke me

With language that would make me spurn the sea,

If it could so roar to me. I cut off's head;

And am right glad he is not standing here

To tell this tale of mine.


I am sorry for thee.

By thine own tongue thou art condemn'd, and must

Endure our law. Thou'rt dead.


That headless man

I thought had been my lord.


Bind the offender,

And take him from our presence.


Stay, sir King;

This man is better than the man he slew,

As well descended as thyself; and hath

More of thee merited than a band of Clotens

Had ever scar for.

[To the Guard.]

Let his arms alone;

They were not born for bondage.


Why, old soldier,

Wilt thou undo the worth thou art unpaid for,

By tasting of our wrath? How of descent

As good as we?


In that he spake too far.


And thou shalt die for't.


We will die all three

But I will prove that two on's are as good

As I have given out him. My sons, I must

For mine own part unfold a dangerous speech,

Though, haply, well for you.


Your danger's ours.


And our good his.


Have at it then, by leave.

Thou hadst, great King, a subject who

Was call'd Belarius.


What of him? He is

A banish'd traitor.


He it is that hath

Assum'd this age, indeed a banish'd man;

I know not how a traitor.


Take him hence,

The whole world shall not save him.


Not too hot.

First pay me for the nursing of thy sons;

And let it be confiscate all so soon

As I have receiv'd it.


Nursing of my sons!


I am too blunt and saucy; here's my knee.

Ere I arise, I will prefer my sons;

Then spare not the old father. 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.


How! my issue!


So sure as you your father's. I, old Morgan,

Am that Belarius whom you sometime banish'd.

Your pleasure was my mere offence, my punishment

Itself, and all my treason; that I suffer'd

Was all the harm I did. These gentle princes--

For such and so they are--these twenty years

Have I train'd up. Those arts they have as

Could put into them; my breeding was, sir, as

Your Highness knows. Their nurse, Euriphile,

Whom for the theft I wedded, stole these children.

Upon my banishment I mov'd her to't,

Having receiv'd the punishment before,

For that which I did then. Beaten for loyalty

Excited me to treason. Their dear loss,

The more of you 'twas felt, the more it shap'd

Unto my end of stealing them. But, gracious sir,

Here are your sons again; and I must lose

Two of the sweet'st companions in the world.

The benediction of these covering heavens

Fall on their heads like dew! for they are worthy

To inlay heaven with stars.


Thou weep'st, and speak'st.

The service that you three have done is more

Unlike than this thou tell'st. I lost my children;

If these be they, I know not how to wish

A pair of worthier sons.


Be pleas'd awhile.

This gentleman, whom I call Polydore,

Most worthy prince, as yours, is true Guiderius;

This gentleman, my Cadwal, Arviragus,

Your younger princely son. He, sir, was lapp'd

In a most curious mantle, wrought by the hand

Of his queen mother, which for more probation

I can with ease produce.


Guiderius had

Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star;

It was a mark of wonder.


This is he,

Who hath upon him still that natural stamp.

It was wise Nature's end in the donation,

To be his evidence now.


O, what, am I

A mother to the birth of three? Ne'er mother

Rejoic'd deliverance more. Blest pray you be,

That, after this strange starting from your orbs,

You may reign in them now! O Imogen,

Thou hast lost by this a kingdom.


No, my lord;

I have got two worlds by 't. O my gentle brothers,

Have we thus met? O, never say hereafter

But I am truest speaker. You call'd me brother,

When I was but your sister; I you brothers,

When ye were so indeed.


Did you e'er meet?


Ay, my good lord.


And at first meeting lov'd;

Continu'd so, until we thought he died.


By the Queen's dram she swallow'd.


O rare instinct!

When shall I hear all through? This fierce abridgment

Hath to it circumstantial branches, which

Distinction should be rich in. Where, how liv'd 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? These,

And your three motives to the battle, with

I know not how much more, should be demanded;

And all the other by-dependencies,

From chance to chance; but nor the time nor place

Will serve our long inter'gatories. See,

Posthumus anchors upon Imogen,

And she, like harmless lightning, throws her eye

On him, her brothers, me, her master, hitting

Each object with a joy; the counterchange

Is severally in all. Let's quit this ground,

And smoke the temple with our sacrifices.


Thou art my brother; so we'll hold thee ever.


You are my father too, and did relieve me,

To see this gracious season.


All o'erjoy'd,

Save these in bonds. Let them be joyful too,

For they shall taste our comfort.


My good master,

I will yet do you service.


Happy be you!


The forlorn soldier, that so nobly fought,

He would have well becom'd this place, and grac'd

The thankings of a king.


I am, sir,

The soldier that did company these three

In poor beseeming; 'twas a fitment for

The purpose I then follow'd. That I was he,

Speak, Iachimo. I had you down and might

Have made you finish.



I am down again;

But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee,

As then your force did. Take that life, beseech you,

Which I so often owe; but your ring first,

And here the bracelet of the truest princess

That ever swore her faith.


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.


Nobly doom'd!

We'll learn our freeness of a son-in-law;

Pardon's the word to all.


You holp us, sir,

As you did mean indeed to be our brother;

Joy'd are we that you are.


Your servant, Princes. Good my lord of Rome,

Call forth your soothsayer. As I slept, methought

Great Jupiter, upon his eagle back'd,

Appear'd to me, with other spritely shows

Of mine own kindred. When I wak'd, I found

This label on my bosom; whose containing

Is so from sense in hardness, that I can

Make no collection of it. Let him show

His skill in the construction.




Here, my good lord.


Read, and declare the meaning.



"Whenas a lion's whelp shall, to himself unknown, without

seeking find, and be embrac'd by a piece of tender air; and

when from a stately cedar shall be lopp'd branches, which,

being dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to the

old stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his

miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty."

Thou, Leonatus, art the lion's whelp;

The fit and apt construction of thy name,

Being leo-natus, doth import so much.


The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter,

Which we call mollis aer; and mollis aer

We term it mulier; which mulier I divine

Is this most constant wife, who, even now

Answering the letter of the oracle,

Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp'd about

With this most tender air.


This hath some seeming.


The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline,

Personates thee; and thy lopp'd branches point

Thy two sons forth; who, by Belarius stolen,

For many years thought dead, are now reviv'd,

To the majestic cedar join'd, whose issue

Promises Britain peace and plenty.



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, from the which

We were dissuaded by our wicked queen;

Whom heavens, in justice, both on her and hers,

Have laid most heavy hand.


The fingers of the powers above do tune

The harmony of this peace. The vision

Which I made known to Lucius, ere the stroke

Of yet this scarce-cold battle, at this instant

Is full accomplish'd; for the Roman eagle,

From south to west on wing soaring aloft,

Lessen'd herself, and in the beams o' the sun

So vanish'd; which foreshow'd our princely eagle,

The imperial Caesar, should again unite

His favour with the radiant Cymbeline,

Which shines here in the west.


Laud we the gods;

And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils

From our bless'd altars. Publish we this peace

To all our subjects. Set we forward. Let

A Roman and a British ensign wave

Friendly together. So through Lud's town march;

And in the temple of great Jupiter

Our peace we'll ratify; seal it with feasts.

Set on there! Never was a war did cease,

Ere bloody hands were wash'd, with such a peace.