The Two Noble Kinsmen


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter Palamon and Arcite
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship


Dear Palamon, dearer in love than blood

And our prime cousin, yet unhardened in
prime (adj.) 3 chief, dearest, favourite

The crimes of nature, let us leave the city
crime (n.) 1 sin, offence, wrong-doing
nature (n.) 3 human nature

Thebes, and the temptings in't, before we further

Sully our gloss of youth;
gloss (n.) 2 brightness, freshness, shine, lustre
sully (v.) dim, stain, tarnish

And here to keep in abstinence we shame
shame (v.) be ashamed, be embarrassed

As in incontinence; for not to swim
incontinence (n.) lacking self-restraint, indulgence [in the pleasures of the flesh]

I'th' aid o'th' current were almost to sink,

At least to frustrate striving; and to follow

The common stream, 'twould bring us to an eddy
eddy (n.) whirlpool

Where we should turn or drown; if labour through,
turn (v.) 8 spin round, whirl about, go round and round

Our gain but life and weakness.


                         Your advice

Is cried up with example. What strange ruins,
cry up (v.) show to be true, proclaim, announce in public [by]
ruin (n.) 2 [metaphor for] destitute, case of hardship

Since first we went to school, may we perceive

Walking in Thebes? Scars and bare weeds
bare (adj.) 2 threadbare, shabby, ragged
weed (n.) 1 (plural) garments, dress, clothes

The gain o'th' martialist, who did propound
martialist (n.) soldier, military man [i.e. follower of Mars]
propound (v.) set before oneself, propose [as a goal]

To his bold ends honour and golden ingots,
ingot (n.) 2 coin, piece

Which though he won he had not, and now flirted
flirt (v.) scorn, jeer at, scoff at
win (v.) 3 earn, deserve, merit

By peace for whom he fought; who then shall offer

To Mars's so scorned altar? I do bleed

When such I meet, and wish great Juno would

Resume her ancient fit of jealousy

To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
purge (v.) 4 make up for, be rid [of], compensate

For her repletion, and retain anew
repletion (n.) over-indulgence, excessive living
retain (v.) employ, take into service

Her charitable heart, now hard and harsher

Than strife or war could be.
out (adv.) 1 in error, at fault, wrong


                         Are you not out?

Meet you no ruin but the soldier in
ruin (n.) 2 [metaphor for] destitute, case of hardship

The cranks and turns of Thebes? You did begin
crank (n.) 2 winding path, twisting street, sidestreet
turn (n.) 4 winding path, twisting street, sidestreet

As if you met decays of many kinds;
decay (n.) 3 destitute person, case of hardship

Perceive you none that do arouse your pity

But th' unconsidered soldier?
unconsidered (adj.) ignominious, unrespected, disregarded


                         Yes, I pity

Decays where'er I find them, but such most
decay (n.) 3 destitute person, case of hardship

That sweating in an honourable toil

Are paid with ice to cool 'em.
ice (n.) [metaphor for] cold contempt


                         'Tis not this

I did begin to speak of; this is virtue,

Of no respect in Thebes. I spake of Thebes,

How dangerous, if we will keep our honours,

It is for our residing, where every evil

Hath a good colour; where every seeming good's
colour (n.) 3 semblance, outward appearance, character

A certain evil; where not to be even jump
jump (adv.) exactly, precisely

As they are, here were to be strangers, and
stranger (n.) foreigner, alien, outsider

Such things to be, mere monsters.
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count


                         'Tis in our power –

Unless we fear that apes can tutor's – to

Be masters of our manners. What need I

Affect another's gait, which is not catching
affect (v.) 4 imitate, copy, mimic
catching (adj.) contagious, infectious
gait (n.) 1 manner of walking, bearing, movement

Where there is faith, or to be fond upon
faith (n.) 5 self-confidence, self-assurance
fond (adj.) 5 eager [for], desirous [of]

Another's way of speech, when by mine own

I may be reasonably conceived – saved too,
conceive (v.) 1 understand, comprehend, follow

Speaking it truly? Why am I bound

By any generous bond to follow him
follow (v.) 4 imitate, copy; take as a model [in fashion]
generous (adj.) well-bred, mannerly, noble-minded

Follows his tailor, haply so long until
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count

The followed make pursuit? Or let me know

Why mine own barber is unblest, with him
unblest (adj.) out of favour, disapproved of

My poor chin too, for 'tis not scissored just

To such a favourite's glass? What canon is there
canon (n.) 1 law, decree, rule
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count

That does command my rapier from my hip

To dangle't in my hand, or to go tiptoe

Before the street be foul? Either I am
foul (adj.) 4 dirty, miry, muddy

The fore-horse in the team, or I am none
forehorse, fore-horse (n.) foremost horse, leader [in a team of horses]

That draw i'th' sequent trace. These poor slight sores
sequent (adj.) 1 following, ensuing, consequent
trace (n.) 1 path, way; or: team [of horses, linked by traces]

Need not a plantain; that which rips my bosom

Almost to th' heart's –


                         Our uncle Creon.



A most unbounded tyrant, whose successes
unbounded (adj.) unrestrained, uninhibited, uncontrollable

Makes heaven unfeared, and villainy assured
unfeared (adj.) not feared, unfrightening

Beyond its power there's nothing; almost puts

Faith in a fever, and deifies alone
faith (n.) 3 religious belief See Topics: Swearing

Voluble chance; who only attributes
voluble (adj.) 3 changeable, inconstant, mutable

The faculties of other instruments
instrument (n.) 2 agent, servant, retainer

To his own nerves and act; commands men service,
act (n.) 1 activity, action, performance
nerve (n.) 2 strength, vigour, forcefulness

And what they win in't, boot and glory; one
boot (n.) 4 booty, plunder, spoils

That fears not to do harm; good, dares not. Let

The blood of mine that's sib to him be sucked
sib (adj.) kin, related

From me with leeches! Let them break and fall
break (v.) 9 burst, rupture

Off me with that corruption.
clear-spirited (adj.) noble-hearted, of noble soul


                         Clear-spirited cousin,

Let's leave his court, that we may nothing share

Of his loud infamy; for our milk
loud (adj.) 1 heard everywhere, resounding

Will relish of the pasture, and we must
relish (v.) 1 have a flavour [of], taste, savour

Be vile or disobedient, not his kinsmen

In blood unless in quality.


                         Nothing truer.

I think the echoes of his shames have deafed
deaf (v.) deafen

The ears of heavenly justice; widows' cries

Descend again into their throats, and have not

Due audience of the gods.

Enter Valerius
audience (n.) 1 hearing, attention, reception See Topics: Attention signals



The King calls for you; yet be leaden-footed

Till his great rage be off him. Phoebus, when

He broke his whipstock and exclaimed against
exclaim against / on (v.) decry, cry out against, rail at
whipstock (n.) whip-handle

The horses of the sun, but whispered to

The loudness of his fury.


                         Small winds shake him.

But what's the matter?


Theseus, who where he threats appals, hath sent
threat (v.) threaten

Deadly defiance to him and pronounces

Ruin to Thebes; who is at hand to seal
seal (v.) 2 accomplish, carry out, fulfil

The promise of his wrath.


                         Let him approach;

But that we fear the gods in him, he brings not

A jot of terror to us. Yet what man

Thirds his own worth – the case is each of ours –
third (v.) achieve a third of, reduce to a third

When that his action's dregged with mind assured
action (n.) 2 engagement, combat, fighting
dreg (v.) [metaphor of] make cloudy [with dregs]

'Tis bad he goes about.
unreasoned (adj.) not to be thought about, undebated


                         Leave that unreasoned;

Our services stand now for Thebes, not Creon.

Yet to be neutral to him were dishonour,

Rebellious to oppose; therefore we must

With him stand to the mercy of our fate,

Who hath bounded our last minute.
bound (v.) 3 determine, mark out, define


                         So we must.

Is't said this war's afoot, or it shall be

On fail of some condition?
fail (n.) 1 failure [to comply with], lack


                         'Tis in motion;

The intelligence of state came in the instant

With the defier.
defier (n.) 2 herald declaring war


                         Let's to the King, who were he

A quarter carrier of that honour which

His enemy come in, the blood we venture

Should be as for our health, which were not spent,

Rather laid out for purchase. But alas,
lay out (v.) expend, spend, use up

Our hands advanced before our hearts, what will
advance (v.) 3 be active, go forward

The fall o'th' stroke do damage?
event (n.) outcome, issue, consequence


                         Let th' event,

That never-erring arbitrator, tell us

When we know all ourselves, and let us follow

The becking of our chance.
becking (n.) beckoning, calling. nodding [to action]
chance (n.) 5 fortune, lot, destiny


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