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Cymbeline Scenes

Scene 5

Cymbeline’s tent.

(Cymbeline; Belarius; Guiderius; Arviragus; Pisanio; Lords; Officers; Attendants; Cornelius; Ladies; Lucius; Jachimo; Philarmonus; Roman prisoners; Leonatus Posthumus; Imogen; Guard)

All are looking for the brave but poor man who helped to save Cymbeline. The king knights Belarius, Arviragus and Guiderius in thanks for their role in the victory. It is announced that the queen is dead, and that on her deathbed she confessed to all her evil deeds: Cymbeline suddenly discovers that she never loved him and was in fact planning to poison him in the near future. The roman prisoners, including Lucius, Jachimo, Posthumus and Imogen, are brought in. Lucius asks for no mercy for himself, but begs Cymbeline to take pity on his page Fidele. Cymbeline is immediately sympathetic to the boy, though he cannot think why, and not only grants him (her) a full pardon but allows her to ask for a any boon, even the freedom of any of the Roamn prisoners. Belarius and the lads believe that they recognize the dead Fidele in this live one; Pisanio realizes that it is Imogen, and decides to wait to see how things turn out. Imogen’s boon is that Jachimo be forced to answer her question: how did he get the ring on his finger? Distraught, Jachimo confesses to his treachery. Posthumus, hearing this and realizing how he has been deceived, bursts out in rage and remorse; when the still-disguised Imogen tries to quieten him and reveal herself, he strikes her down. The shocked Pisanio reveals Imogen’s identity. The various elements of the mystery are revealed as Cornelius suddenly remembers having given the queen false poison, Pisanio reveals how he tricked Cloten into rushing off the Milford-Haven, Guiderius admits to killing him, and Belarius, to save Guiderius from execution after this revelation, informs Cymbeline that the two boys are his long-lost sons. Posthumus decides to spare Jachimo. Lucius’s soothsayer deciphers the prophecy and declares it completed. Despite having won the battle over Rome, Cymbeline decides to pay tribute anyway, and all ends happily. (570 lines)

Enter Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisanio, and 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,

to Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus

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’ th’ battle. I create you

Companions to our person, and will fit you

With dignities becoming your estates.

Enter Cornelius and Ladies.

There’s business in these faces. Why so sadly

Greet you our victory? You look like Romans,

And not o’ th’ 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 med’cine 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 th’ 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, Jachimo, Philarmonus, and other Roman prisoners guarded; Leonatus Posthumus behind, and Imogen.

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

The Britains have ras’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 Britain 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 Britain harm,

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

And spare no blood beside.


I have surely seen him;

His favor 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.

To Jachimo.

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 honor), 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 strook 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 crak’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 honor’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 honor 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 vildly; for my vantage, excellent;

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

That I return’d with simular 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’t!), 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, any thing

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 th’ abhorred things o’ th’ earth amend

By being worse than they. I am Posthumus,

That kill’d thy daughter—villain-like, I lie—

That caus’d 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’ th’ 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 lie 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 honor’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 vild, 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 pow’r 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.


To Guiderius and Arviragus.

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 honor. What became of him

I further know not.


Let me end the story:

I slew him there.


Marry, the gods forefend!

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 sorrow 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 offense, 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 I

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 th’ 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 we 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-dependances,

From chance to chance; 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, 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.

To Belarius.

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, Jachimo. 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 pow’r 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.


To Posthumus.

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.



“When as 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.

To Cymbeline

The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter,

Which we call mollis aer, and mollis aer

We term it mulier;

To Posthumus

which mulier I divine

Is this most constant wife, who, even now,

Answering the letter of the oracle,

Unknown to you, unsought, were clipt 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 stol’n,

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 pow’rs 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’ th’ sun

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

Th’ imperial Caesar, should again unite

His favor 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 blest 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.



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