Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Posthumus and two Gaolers
lock (n.) shackle, hobble, fetter


You shall not now be stol'n, you have locks upon you:

So graze, as you find pasture.


                         Ay, or a stomach.

Exeunt Gaolers
stomach (n.) 1 appetite, desire [for food]


Most welcome bondage; for thou art a way,

I think to liberty: yet am I better

Than one that's sick o'th' gout, since he had rather

Groan so in perpetuity than be cured

By th' sure physician, Death; who is the key

T' unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fettered
lock (n.) shackle, hobble, fetter

More than my shanks and wrists: you good gods, give me

The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,
bolt (n.) 2 fetter, shackle, iron fastening
penitent (adj.) 2 of penance, of repentance

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,
gyve (n.) 1 (plural) fetters, shackles

Desired more than constrained: to satisfy,
satisfy (v.) 2 atone, do penance, make amends

If of my freedom 'tis the mainport, take
mainport (n.) [unclear meaning] tribute, offering

No stricter render of me than my all.
render (n.) 2 rendering up, surrender, account

I know you are more clement than vile men,
clement (adj.) merciful, lenient, compassionate

Who of their broken debtors take a third,
broken (adj.) 5 bankrupt, ruined, insolvent

A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again

On their abatement: that's not my desire.
abatement (n.) 2 means remaining, reduced amount [of money]

For Innogen's dear life take mine, and though

'Tis not so dear, yet 'tis a life; you coined it:
coin (v.) 1 create, make [as in minting a coin]
dear (adj.) 3 of great worth, valuable, precious

'Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;
stamp (n.) 2 coin, impression [of the monarch's head] made on a coin

Though light, take pieces for the figure's sake:
figure (n.) 3 copy, image, likeness
light (adj.) 5 [of counterfeit coins] of less weight, worthless, cheap
piece (n.) 8 coin, piece of money

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

If you will take this audit, take this life,
audit (n.) account, reckoning [especially: in the face of God]
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities

And cancel these cold bonds. O Innogen,
bond (n.) 5 shackle, chain, fetter

I'll speak to thee in silence.

ancient, aunchient (adj.) 4 aged, very old, venerable
matron (n.) married woman
thunder-master (n.) lord of thunder; Jove

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,
chide (v.), past form chid 3 quarrel, wrangle, fight

that thy adulteries

Rates and revenges.
rate (v.) 1 berate, reproach, rebuke, scold

Hath my poor boy done aught but well,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

whose face I never saw?

I died whilst in the womb he stayed,

attending Nature's law:
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]

Whose father then – as men report

thou orphans' father art –

Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him

from this earth-vexing smart.
earth-vexing (adj.) tormenting earthly life, life-afflicting
smart (n.) suffering, grief, sorrow


Lucina lent not me her aid,

but took me in my throes,
throe (n.) (plural) labour pains, pangs of childbirth

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,
fair (adv.) 5 well, nobly, beautifully
stuff (n.) 1 substance, composition, quality, essence

That he deserved the praise o'th' 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
fruitful (adj.) 4 promising, full of potential, talented

In eye of Innogen, that best

could deem his dignity?
deem (v.) judge, estimate, appraise
dignity (n.) 1 worth, nobleness, excellence


With marriage wherefore was he mocked

to be exiled, and thrown

From Leonati seat, and cast
cast (v.) 3 exclude, bar, proscribe
seat (n.) 2 estate

from her his dearest one,

Sweet Innogen?


Why did you suffer Iachimo,
suffer (v.) 1 allow, permit, let

slight thing of Italy,
slight (adj.) 1 worthless, insignificant, good-for-nothing

To taint his nobler heart and brain

with needless jealousy;

And to become the geck and scorn
geck (n.) dupe, sucker, fool

o'th' other's villainy?


For this, from stiller seats we came,
seat (n.) 4 resting place, region, abode
still (adj.) 2 quiet, calm, subdued

our parents and us twain,

That striking in our country's cause

fell bravely and were slain,

Our fealty and Tenantius' right,
fealty (n.) [feudal obligation of obedience] duty of loyalty, allegiance, fidelity

with honour to maintain.


Like hardiment Posthumus hath
hardiment (n.) display of valour, daring deed
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count

to Cymbeline performed:

Then, Jupiter, thou king of gods,

why hast thou thus adjourned
adjourn (v.) postpone, defer, put off

The graces for his merits due,

being all to dolours turned?
dolour (n.) sorrow, grief, lamentation


Thy crystal window ope; look out;
crystal (adj.) 1 clear, bright, transparent
ope (v.) open See Topics: Frequency count

no longer exercise

Upon a valiant race thy harsh
race (n.) 4 family, house, dynasty

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 th' shining synod of the rest
synod (n.) assembly, council, gathering

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,
region (n.) 2 rank, sphere, social standing

Offend our hearing: hush! How dare you ghosts

Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt – you know –

Sky-planted, batters all rebelling coasts?
sky-planted (adj.) from a heavenly location, positioned in the skies

Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
shadow (n.) 5 spirit, phantom, spectre, ghost

Upon your never-withering banks of flowers:

Be not with mortal accidents opprest,
accident (n.) 1 occurrence, event, happening
oppress (v.) 3 trouble, distress, worry

No care of yours it is, you know 'tis ours.
care (n.) 4 anxiety, worry, solicitude [about]

Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,
cross (v.) 3 afflict, plague, go against

The more delayed, delighted. Be content,
delighted (adj.) 2 endowed with delight

Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift:
content (adj.) 3 satisfied, calm, easy in mind

His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent:
spend (v.) 1 use up, wear out, exhaust, bring to an end

Our Jovial star reigned at his birth, and in
jovial (adj.) majestic, like Jove [Jupiter]

Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.

He shall be lord of lady Innogen,

And happier much by his affliction made.

This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
tablet (n.) document presented within special covers

Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine,
confine (v.) 1 enclose, retain, contain
full (adj.) 1 whole, entire, complete

And so away: no farther with your din

Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.

Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.
crystalline (adj.) transparent as crystal, translucent



He came in thunder; his celestial breath

Was sulphurous to smell: the holy eagle

Stooped, as to foot us: his ascension is
foot (v.) 3 seize with talons, clutch with claws
stoop (v.) 2 [falconry] swoop, descend swiftly

More sweet than our blest fields: his royal bird

Prunes the immortal wing, and cloys his beak,
cloy (v.) 2 scratch with claws
prune (v.) [of birds] trim feathers with the beak, preen

As when his god is pleased.


                         Thanks, Jupiter!


The marble pavement closes, he is entered

His radiant roof. Away! And to be blest

Let us with care perform his great behest.
behest (n.) command, bidding, decree

The Ghosts vanish


beget (v.), past form begot 2 produce, engender, give rise to

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:
swerve (v.) go astray, err, be wrong

Many dream not to find, neither deserve,

And yet are steeped in favours; so am I,

That have this golden chance, and know not why.

What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one,
rare (adj.) 2 unusual, striking, exceptional

Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment
fangled (adj.) fashion-conscious, novelty-obsessed, trendy

Nobler than that it covers. Let thy effects
effect (n.) 4 drift, tenor, import

So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,

As good as promise.

(reads) When as 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
tender (adj.) 8 mild, soft, gentle

cedar shall be lopped branches, which, being

dead many years, shall after revive, be jointed to
joint (v.) unite, combine, join together

the old stock, and freshly grow, then shall
stock (n.) 2 stem, trunk, tree

Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate,

and flourish in peace and plenty.

'Tis still a dream: or else such stuff as madmen
stuff (n.) 3 rubbish, nonsense

Tongue, and brain not: either both, or nothing,
brain (v.) 1 understand, comprehend, grasp
tongue (v.) 2 speak, babble about, utter

Or senseless speaking, or a speaking such
senseless (adj.) 3 lacking in sense, stupid, foolish

As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
sense (n.) 5 mind, power of reason, wits

The action of my life is like it, which

I'll keep, if but for sympathy.

Enter Gaolers


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 cooked.


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

dish pays the shot.
shot (n.) 4 tavern bill, reckoning


A heavy reckoning for you sir: But the comfort
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count
reckoning (n.) 4 [of personal qualities] rendering of account, settlement of debts

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
want (n.) 1 lack, shortage, dearth

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
heavy (adj.) 4 weary, exhausted, worn out
light (adj.) 2 joyful, merry, light-hearted

purse too light, being drawn of heaviness. O, of this
draw (v.) 14 empty, drain, exhaust

contradiction you shall now be quit. O, the charity
quit (v.) 3 acquit, absolve, clear

of a penny cord! It sums up thousands in a trice: you
cord (n.) hangman's rope
trice (n.) 2 single pull

have no true debitor and creditor but it: of what's
creditor (n.) credit [column in an account book]
debitor (n.) debtor [debt column in an account book]

past, is, and to come, the discharge: your neck, sir,
discharge (n.) 3 payment, settlement, release from all liability

is pen, book, and counters; so the acquittance
acquittance (n.) 2 acquittal, exoneration, excusing
counter, compter (n.) 1 round piece of metal used for counting



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
officer (n.) 2 executioner, hangman, gaoler

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 pictured: you must either be
picture (v.) depict, represent, portray

directed by some that take upon them to know, or
take upon (v.) 1 profess, pretend, affect [oneself]

to take upon yourself that which I am sure you do
take upon (v.) 3 undertake a role, assume a responsibility [for oneself]

not know, or jump the after-inquiry on your own
after-inquiry (n.) divine interrogation after death, last judgement
jump (v.) 2 risk, hazard, imperil

peril: and how you shall speed in your journey's
speed (v.) 2 fare, manage, get on

end, I think you'll never return to tell on.


I tell thee, fellow, there are none want eyes to
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

direct them the way I am going, but such as wink,
wink (v.) 2 [of the eyes] close, shut

and will not use them.


What an infinite mock is this, that a man
mock (n.) 1 act of mockery, mocking remark, derisive action, scornful irony

should have the best use of eyes to see the way of

blindness! I am sure hanging's the way of winking.
winking (n.) shutting the eyes

Enter a Messenger


Knock off his manacles, bring your prisoner to

the king.


Thou bring'st good news, I am called to be made



I'll be hanged then.


Thou shalt be then freer than a gaoler; no bolts for
bolt (n.) 2 fetter, shackle, iron fastening

the dead.

Exeunt all but First Gaoler


Unless a man would marry a gallows, and

beget young gibbets, I never saw one so prone: yet,
beget (v.), past form begot 1 give birth to, father, conceive
prone (adj.) 1 eager, ready

on my conscience, there are verier knaves desire to
very (adj.) 1 [intensifying] thorough-going, absolute

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
desolation (n.) 2 barren emptiness, dreary absence

and gallowses! I speak against my present profit,

but my wish hath a preferment in't.
preferment (n.) advancement, promotion


  Previous scene     Next scene