Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Pisanio and Innogen


Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place

Was near at hand: ne'er longed my mother so

To see me first, as I have now – Pisanio! Man!

Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind

That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh

From th' inward of thee? One but painted thus

Would be interpreted a thing perplexed
perplexed (adj.) 1 troubled, disturbed, worried

Beyond self-explication. Put thyself
self-explication (n.) being able to explain it to oneself

Into a haviour of less fear, ere wildness
fear (n.) 5 frightfulness, terrifying appearance
haviour (n.) behaviour, manner, demeanour
wildness (n.) madness, distraction, frenzy

Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter?
sense (n.) 3 feeling, sensibility, capacity to feel
staid (adj.) balanced, settled, calm

Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with
tender (v.) 1 offer, give, present

A look untender? If't be summer news,
summer (adj.) joyful, pleasant, happy

Smile to't before: if winterly, thou need'st
winterly (adj.) harsh, cheerless, unpleasant

But keep that count'nance still. My husband's hand?
still (adv.) 2 ever, now [as before]

That drug-damned Italy hath out-craftied him,
drug-damned (adj.) damnable for its use of poisons, potion-cursed
out-crafty (v.) artfully outwit, surpass in cunning

And he's at some hard point. Speak, man, thy tongue

May take off some extremity, which to read
extremity (n.) 3 utmost severity, extreme intensity, hardship

Would be even mortal to me.
mortal (adj.) 1 fatal, deadly, lethal


                         Please you read;

And you shall find me – wretched man – a thing

The most disdained of fortune.



Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the

strumpet in my bed: the testimonies whereof lie

bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises,

but from proof as strong as my grief, and as certain
grief (n.) 1 grievance, complaint, hurt, injury

as I expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio,

must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the

breach of hers; let thine own hands take away

her life: I shall give thee opportunity at Milford-Haven:

she hath my letter for the purpose: where,
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

if thou fear to strike, and to make me certain it is

done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour, and
pander, pandar (n.) pimp, procurer, go-between

equally to me disloyal.


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, whose tongue

Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath
outvenom (v.) be more poisonous than, exceeds in venom
worm (n.) 1 serpent, snake

Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
belie (v.) 2 fill with lies, deceive, delude
posting (adj.) swift, speeding, hurrying

All corners of the world. Kings, queens, and states,
state (n.) 3 persons of rank, nobility, court, council of state

Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave

This viperous slander enters. What cheer, madam?


False to his bed? What is it to be false?
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful

To lie in watch there, and to think on him?
watch (n.) 3 sleepless state, wakefulness

To weep 'twixt clock and clock? If sleep charge Nature,
charge (v.) 7 overload, overburden, weigh down
clock and clock, 'twixt from hour to hour, without ceasing
nature (n.) 2 natural powers, normal state [of mind and body]

To break it with a fearful dream of him,
fearful (adj.) 2 causing fear, awe-inspiring, terrifying, alarming

And cry myself awake? That's false to's bed, is it?
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful


Alas, good lady!


I false? Thy conscience witness: Iachimo,

Thou didst accuse him of incontinency;
incontinency (n.) lack of sexual restraint, sexual indulgence, infidelity

Thou then look'dst like a villain: now, methinks,
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Thy favour's good enough. Some jay of Italy –
favour (n.) 1 [facial] appearance, countenance, features, looks
jay (n.) [bird of bright plumage] showy woman, whore

Whose mother was her painting – hath betrayed him:
painting (n.) 1 cosmetics, paint [for the face], beautifying

Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion,
stale (adj.) 5 worn out, past the prime of life

And, for I am richer than to hang by th' walls,

I must be ripped – to pieces with me! – O,

Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming,
seeming (n.) 1 appearance, look, aspect

By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought
revolt (n.) 1 betrayal, change of heart, faithlessness

Put on for villainy; not born where't grows,

But worn a bait for ladies.
bait (n.) 2 temptation, lure, enticement


                         Good madam, hear me.


True honest men, being heard like false Æneas,
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Were in his time thought false: and Sinon's weeping

Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity
scandal (v.) 2 discredit, disgrace, bring into ill repute

From most true wretchedness: so thou, Posthumus,

Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men;
leaven (n.) [baking] fermenting element, infusing mixture, adulteration
proper (adj.) 7 honest, honourable, worthy

Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

From thy great fail. Come, fellow, be thou honest:
fail (n.) 2 failure, fault, wrong

Do thou thy master's bidding. When thou see'st him,

A little witness my obedience. Look,
witness (v.) 1 bear witness to, attest, testify to

I draw the sword myself, take it, and hit

The innocent mansion of my love, my heart:

Fear not, 'tis empty of all things, but grief:

Thy master is not there, who was indeed

The riches of it. Do his bidding, strike.

Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause;

But now thou seem'st a coward.


                         Hence, vile instrument!

Thou shalt not damn my hand.


                         Why, I must die:

And if I do not by thy hand, thou art

No servant of thy master's. Against self-slaughter

There is a prohibition so divine

That cravens my weak hand. Come, here's my heart –
craven (v.) make cowardly, make timorous

Something's afore't – soft, soft! we'll no defence –

Obedient as the scabbard. What is here?

The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,
scripture (n.) letter, writing, composition

All turned to heresy? Away, away,

Corrupters of my faith! You shall no more

Be stomachers to my heart: thus may poor fools
stomacher (n.) piece of clothing used by women under their bodice to help cover the chest See Topics: Clothing

Believe false teachers: though those that are betrayed
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor

Stands in worse case of woe.

And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up

My disobedience 'gainst the king my father,

And make me put into contempt the suits
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
fellow (n.) 2 counterpart, match, equal

It is no act of common passage, but
passage (n.) 1 incident, occurrence, event, happening

A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself

To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her
disedge (v.) take the edge off, have appetite satisfied

That now thou tirest on, how thy memory
tire (v.) 1 feed greedily, prey ravenously

Will then be panged by me. Prithee, dispatch:
dispatch, despatch (v.) 3 kill, put to death, make away with, finish off
pang (v.) afflict with pangs, torture, torment

The lamb entreats the butcher. Where's thy knife?

Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding

When I desire it too.


                         O gracious lady:

Since I received command to do this business

I have not slept one wink.


                         Do't, and to bed then.


I'll wake mine eye-balls out first.
wake out (v.) cause to come out through staying awake


                         Wherefore then

Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused

So many miles, with a pretence? This place?

Mine action, and thine own? Our horses' labour?

The time inviting thee? The perturbed court

For my being absent? Whereunto I never

Purpose return. Why hast thou gone so far,
purpose (v.) 1 intend, plan

To be unbent when thou hast ta'en thy stand,
stand (n.) 1 [hunting] standing-place, hiding-place
unbent (adj.) 2 [archery] not bent, not prepared to release an arrow

Th' elected deer before thee?
elected (adj.) chosen, selected, picked out


                         But to win time

To lose so bad employment, in the which

I have considered of a course: good lady,
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

Hear me with patience.


                         Talk thy tongue weary, speak:

I have heard I am a strumpet, and mine ear,
strumpet (n.) harlot, prostitute, whore

Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,
false (adv.) 1 slanderously, faithlessly, with such calumny

Nor tent, to bottom that. But speak.
bottom (v.) 1 reach a lower level than, probe more deeply than
tent (n.) 3 probe, insert [for exploring wounds]


                         Then, madam,

I thought you would not back again.
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count


                         Most like,

Bringing me here to kill me.


                         Not so, neither:

But if I were as wise as honest, then

My purpose would prove well: it cannot be
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

But that my master is abused: some villain,
abuse (v.) 1 deceive, mislead, fool, cheat

Ay, and singular in his art, hath done you both
singular (adj.) unmatched, preeminent, outstanding

This cursed injury.


Some Roman courtezan?
courtesan, courtezan (n.) prostitute, strumpet


                         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: you shall be missed at court,

And that will well confirm it.


                         Why, good fellow,

What shall I do the while? Where bide? How live?
bide (v.) 4 abide, dwell, live

Or in my life what comfort, when I am

Dead to my husband?


                         If you'll back to th' court –


No court, no father, nor no more ado

With that harsh, noble, simple nothing,

That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me

As fearful as a siege.


                         If not at court,

Then not in Britain must you bide.


                         Where then?

Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day? Night?

Are they not but in Britain? I'th' world's volume

Our Britain seems as of it, but not in't:

In a great pool, a swan's nest: prithee think

There's livers out of Britain.
liver (n.) 2 living creature, inhabitant, being


                         I am most glad

You think of other place: th' ambassador,

Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford-Haven

Tomorrow. Now, if you could wear a mind
mind (n.) 2 intention, purpose, intent

Dark, as your fortune is, and but disguise
dark (adj.) 3 undivulged, secret, unrevealed

That which, t' appear itself, must not yet be
appear (v.) 2 reveal, disclose, show

But by self-danger, you should tread a course
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count
self-danger (n.) endangering oneself, putting oneself in jeopardy

Pretty, and full of view; yea, haply, near
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count
pretty (adj.) 2 nice, proper, apt

The residence of Posthumus; so nigh – at least –
nigh (adj.) near, close

That though his actions were not visible, yet

Report should render him hourly to your ear
render (v.) 5 describe, represent, depict [as]

As truly as he moves.


                         O, for such means,

Though peril to my modesty, not death on't,

I would adventure!
adventure (v.) venture, dare, chance, risk


                         Well then, here's the point:

You must forget to be a woman: change

Command into obedience: fear and niceness –
niceness (n.) coyness, fastidiousness, excessive scruple

The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,

Woman it pretty self – into a waggish courage,
waggish (adj.) playful, mischievous, impish

Ready in gibes, quick-answered, saucy, and
gibe (n.) scoff, taunt, jeer
quick-answered (adj.) ready with sharp answers
saucy (adj.) 1 insolent, impudent, presumptuous, defiant

As quarrelous as the weasel: nay, you must
quarrelous (adj.) quarrelsome, argumentative, cantankerous

Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek,
forget (v.) 1 neglect, disregard, give no thought to

Exposing it – but, O, the harder heart!

Alack, no remedy – to the greedy touch

Of common-kissing Titan: and forget
common-kissing (adj.) touching everyone
forget (v.) 1 neglect, disregard, give no thought to

Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein
laboursome (adj.) laborious, assiduous, hard-working
trim (n.) 3 adornment, frill

You made great Juno angry.


                         Nay, be brief:

I see into thy end, and am almost
end (n.) 1 purpose, aim, design

A man already.


                         First, make yourself but like one.

Fore-thinking this, I have already fit –
fit (adj.) 2 ready, prepared, made suitable
forethink (v.) anticipate, foresee, predict

'Tis in my cloak-bag – doublet, hat, hose, all
cloak-bag (n.) bag for carrying clothes [such as a cloak], portmanteau

That answer to them: would you, in their serving –
answer (v.) 15 go along with, belong with
serving (n.) means, agency, assistance

And with what imitation you can borrow

From youth of such a season – 'fore noble Lucius
season (n.) 5 age [duration of life]

Present yourself, desire his service: tell him

Wherein you're happy; which will make him know,
happy (adj.) 3 accomplished, favoured, proficient

If that his head have ear in music, doubtless

With joy he will embrace you: for he's honourable,
embrace (v.) 1 welcome, joyfully accept

And, doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad:
abroad (adv.) 1 in the outside world, freely at large, elsewhere, everywhere
holy (adj.) 1 virtuous, upright, of great excellence

You have me, rich, and I will never fail

Beginning, nor supplyment.
supplyment (n.) continuing with a supply, ongoing provision


                         Thou art all the comfort

The gods will diet me with. Prithee away,
diet (v.) 1 feed, be given food, fatten

There's more to be considered: but we'll even
even (v.) 2 [unclear meaning] keep pace with; or: sort out, reach agreement over

All that good time will give us. This attempt
attempt (n.) 1 exploit, undertaking, enterprise

I am soldier to, and will abide it with
abide (v.) 1 endure, undergo, face
soldier (n.) dedicated person, committed individual

A prince's courage. Away, I prithee.


Well, madam, we must take a short farewell,

Lest being missed, I be suspected of

Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress,
carriage (n.) 4 carrying, conveyance, removal

Here is a box, I had it from the queen,

What's in't is precious: if you are sick at sea,

Or stomach-qualmed at land, a dram of this
stomach-qualmed (adj.) taken sick, fallen ill

Will drive away distemper. To some shade,
distemper (n.) 1 malady, illness, derangement
shade (n.) 4 covered place, sheltered spot

And fit you to your manhood: may the gods
fit (v.) 3 adapt, conform, accommodate

Direct you to the best!


                         Amen: I thank thee.

Exeunt severally

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