List iconCymbeline:
Act 1, scene 6
List icon

Act 1, scene 6



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Cymbeline, which takes place in ancient Britain, is filled with hidden identities, extraordinary schemes, and violent acts. Long ago, the…

Act 1, scene 1

At the court of King Cymbeline, the princess, Imogen, has secretly married a gentleman named Posthumus Leonatus. Imogen is the…

Act 1, scene 2

An encounter between Cloten and Posthumus, reported in 1.1, is here discussed by Cloten and two lords.

Act 1, scene 3

Posthumus’s servant, Pisanio, describes to the grieving Imogen the departure of Posthumus toward Rome.

Act 1, scene 4

Posthumus arrives in Rome, where an Italian gentleman, Iachimo, maneuvers him into placing a bet on Imogen’s chastity. Posthumus bets…

Act 1, scene 5

The queen obtains a box that she is told contains poison. (The audience is told that the box actually contains…

Act 1, scene 6

Iachimo arrives in Britain and begins his attempt to seduce Imogen by telling her that Posthumus is betraying her with…

Act 2, scene 1

Cloten and two lords discuss the arrival of Iachimo. The Second Lord, in soliloquy, expresses the hope that Imogen will…

Act 2, scene 2

As Imogen sleeps, the trunk that she is keeping for Iachimo opens, and Iachimo emerges. Before climbing back into it,…

Act 2, scene 3

Cloten serenades Imogen in an attempt to win her love. Imogen enrages Cloten by saying that he is not as…

Act 2, scene 4

Iachimo returns to Rome with his proofs of Imogen’s unfaithfulness: descriptions of her bedroom and of private marks on her…

Act 2, scene 5

Posthumus, in soliloquy, attacks women as the embodiment of all that is vicious.

Act 3, scene 1

Caius Lucius arrives as ambassador from Augustus Caesar, demanding that Cymbeline pay the tribute Britain owes to Rome. With the…

Act 3, scene 2

Pisanio receives two letters from Posthumus—one in which Pisanio is instructed to kill Imogen, and another written to Imogen, telling…

Act 3, scene 3

Three men enter as if from a cave, the two younger men protesting the limitations of their mountain lives. When…

Act 3, scene 4

On the journey to Milford Haven, Pisanio reveals to Imogen that he is supposed to kill her. She is so…

Act 3, scene 5

When Imogen’s absence from court is discovered, Cloten forces Pisanio to tell him where she is. Pisanio shows him the…

Act 3, scene 6

Imogen, disguised as a boy named Fidele, stumbles, exhausted and famished, into the cave of Belarius and the two young…

Act 3, scene 7

A Roman senator announces that the Roman army attacking Britain will be under the control of Caius Lucius and that…

Act 4, scene 1

Cloten, dressed in Posthumus’s garments, arrives at the spot where he plans to cut off Posthumus’s head and rape Imogen.

Act 4, scene 2

Imogen, not feeling well, takes the potion given her by Pisanio, thinking it is a restorative; the potion puts her…

Act 4, scene 3

Cymbeline finds himself alone in the face of the Roman attack, with Imogen and Cloten both missing and the queen…

Act 4, scene 4

The young princes persuade Belarius that the three of them should join with the Britons against Rome.

Act 5, scene 1

Posthumus, in Britain as part of the Roman army, repents Imogen’s (reported) murder and decides to seek death by joining…

Act 5, scene 2

In a series of battles, Posthumus (disguised as a peasant) defeats and disarms Iachimo; the Britons flee and Cymbeline is…

Act 5, scene 3

Posthumus, still seeking death and failing to find it as a poor British soldier, reverts to his earlier role as…

Act 5, scene 4

Posthumus, in chains, falls asleep and is visited by the ghosts of his dead family and by the god Jupiter,…

Act 5, scene 5

Cymbeline knights Belarius and the two young men in gratitude for their valor, and sends in search of the poor…

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Scene 6
Enter Imogen alone.

 A father cruel and a stepdame false,
 A foolish suitor to a wedded lady
 That hath her husband banished. O, that husband,
 My supreme crown of grief and those repeated
5 Vexations of it! Had I been thief-stol’n,
 As my two brothers, happy; but most miserable
 Is the desire that’s glorious. Blessed be those,
 How mean soe’er, that have their honest wills,
 Which seasons comfort. Who may this be? Fie!

Enter Pisanio and Iachimo.

10 Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome
 Comes from my lord with letters.
IACHIMO  Change you,
 The worthy Leonatus is in safety
15 And greets your Highness dearly.
He gives her a letter.
IMOGEN  Thanks, good sir.
 You’re kindly welcome.
IACHIMO, aside 
 All of her that is out of door, most rich!
 If she be furnished with a mind so rare,
20 She is alone th’ Arabian bird, and I
 Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend.
 Arm me, audacity, from head to foot,
 Or like the Parthian I shall flying fight—
 Rather, directly fly.
IMOGEN reads: 25He is one of the noblest note, to whose
 kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon
 him accordingly as you value your trust.

ACT 1. SC. 6

 So far I read aloud.
30 But even the very middle of my heart
 Is warmed by th’ rest and takes it thankfully.—
 You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I
 Have words to bid you, and shall find it so
 In all that I can do.
IACHIMO 35 Thanks, fairest lady.—
 What, are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes
 To see this vaulted arch and the rich crop
 Of sea and land, which can distinguish ’twixt
 The fiery orbs above and the twinned stones
40 Upon the numbered beach, and can we not
 Partition make with spectacles so precious
 ’Twixt fair and foul?
IMOGEN  What makes your admiration?
 It cannot be i’ th’ eye, for apes and monkeys
45 ’Twixt two such shes would chatter this way and
 Contemn with mows the other; nor i’ th’ judgment,
 For idiots in this case of favor would
 Be wisely definite; nor i’ th’ appetite—
 Sluttery to such neat excellence opposed
50 Should make desire vomit emptiness,
 Not so allured to feed.
 What is the matter, trow?
IACHIMO  The cloyèd will,
 That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub
55 Both filled and running, ravening first the lamb,
 Longs after for the garbage.
IMOGEN  What, dear sir,
 Thus raps you? Are you well?
IACHIMO  Thanks, madam, well.
60 (To Pisanio.) Beseech you, sir,
 Desire my man’s abode where I did leave him.
 He’s strange and peevish.

ACT 1. SC. 6

PISANIO  I was going, sir,
 To give him welcome.He exits.
65 Continues well my lord? His health, beseech you?
IACHIMO Well, madam.
 Is he disposed to mirth? I hope he is.
 Exceeding pleasant. None a stranger there
 So merry and so gamesome. He is called
70 The Briton Reveler.
IMOGEN  When he was here
 He did incline to sadness, and ofttimes
 Not knowing why.
IACHIMO  I never saw him sad.
75 There is a Frenchman his companion, one
 An eminent monsieur that, it seems, much loves
 A Gallian girl at home. He furnaces
 The thick sighs from him, whiles the jolly Briton—
 Your lord, I mean—laughs from ’s free lungs, cries “O,
80 Can my sides hold to think that man who knows
 By history, report, or his own proof
 What woman is, yea, what she cannot choose
 But must be, will ’s free hours languish for
 Assurèd bondage?”
IMOGEN 85 Will my lord say so?
 Ay, madam, with his eyes in flood with laughter.
 It is a recreation to be by
 And hear him mock the Frenchman. But heavens
90 Some men are much to blame.
IMOGEN  Not he, I hope.
 Not he—but yet heaven’s bounty towards him might
 Be used more thankfully. In himself ’tis much;

ACT 1. SC. 6

 In you, which I account his, beyond all talents.
95 Whilst I am bound to wonder, I am bound
 To pity too.
IMOGEN  What do you pity, sir?
 Two creatures heartily.
IMOGEN  Am I one, sir?
100 You look on me. What wrack discern you in me
 Deserves your pity?
IACHIMO  Lamentable! What,
 To hide me from the radiant sun and solace
 I’ th’ dungeon by a snuff?
IMOGEN 105 I pray you, sir,
 Deliver with more openness your answers
 To my demands. Why do you pity me?
IACHIMO That others do—
 I was about to say, enjoy your—but
110 It is an office of the gods to venge it,
 Not mine to speak on ’t.
IMOGEN  You do seem to know
 Something of me or what concerns me. Pray you,
 Since doubting things go ill often hurts more
115 Than to be sure they do—for certainties
 Either are past remedies, or, timely knowing,
 The remedy then born—discover to me
 What both you spur and stop.
IACHIMO  Had I this cheek
120 To bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch,
 Whose every touch, would force the feeler’s soul
 To th’ oath of loyalty; this object which
 Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,
 Fixing it only here; should I, damned then,
125 Slaver with lips as common as the stairs
 That mount the Capitol, join gripes with hands
 Made hard with hourly falsehood—falsehood as
 With labor; then by-peeping in an eye

ACT 1. SC. 6

 Base and illustrous as the smoky light
130 That’s fed with stinking tallow; it were fit
 That all the plagues of hell should at one time
 Encounter such revolt.
IMOGEN  My lord, I fear,
 Has forgot Britain.
IACHIMO 135 And himself. Not I,
 Inclined to this intelligence, pronounce
 The beggary of his change, but ’tis your graces
 That from my mutest conscience to my tongue
 Charms this report out.
IMOGEN 140 Let me hear no more.
 O dearest soul, your cause doth strike my heart
 With pity that doth make me sick. A lady
 So fair, and fastened to an empery
 Would make the great’st king double, to be partnered
145 With tomboys hired with that self exhibition
 Which your own coffers yield, with diseased ventures
 That play with all infirmities for gold
 Which rottenness can lend nature; such boiled stuff
 As well might poison poison. Be revenged,
150 Or she that bore you was no queen, and you
 Recoil from your great stock.
IMOGEN Revenged?
 How should I be revenged? If this be true—
 As I have such a heart that both mine ears
155 Must not in haste abuse—if it be true,
 How should I be revenged?
IACHIMO  Should he make me
 Live like Diana’s priest betwixt cold sheets,
 Whiles he is vaulting variable ramps,
160 In your despite, upon your purse? Revenge it.
 I dedicate myself to your sweet pleasure,
 More noble than that runagate to your bed,

ACT 1. SC. 6

 And will continue fast to your affection,
 Still close as sure.
IMOGEN 165 What ho, Pisanio!
 Let me my service tender on your lips.
 Away! I do condemn mine ears that have
 So long attended thee. If thou wert honorable,
 Thou wouldst have told this tale for virtue, not
170 For such an end thou seek’st, as base as strange.
 Thou wrong’st a gentleman who is as far
 From thy report as thou from honor, and
 Solicits here a lady that disdains
 Thee and the devil alike.—What ho, Pisanio!—
175 The King my father shall be made acquainted
 Of thy assault. If he shall think it fit
 A saucy stranger in his court to mart
 As in a Romish stew and to expound
 His beastly mind to us, he hath a court
180 He little cares for and a daughter who
 He not respects at all.—What ho, Pisanio!
 O happy Leonatus! I may say
 The credit that thy lady hath of thee
 Deserves thy trust, and thy most perfect goodness
185 Her assured credit.—Blessèd live you long,
 A lady to the worthiest sir that ever
 Country called his; and you his mistress, only
 For the most worthiest fit. Give me your pardon.
 I have spoke this to know if your affiance
190 Were deeply rooted, and shall make your lord
 That which he is, new o’er; and he is one
 The truest mannered, such a holy witch
 That he enchants societies into him.
 Half all men’s hearts are his.
IMOGEN 195 You make amends.

ACT 1. SC. 6

 He sits ’mongst men like a descended god.
 He hath a kind of honor sets him off
 More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry,
 Most mighty princess, that I have adventured
200 To try your taking of a false report, which hath
 Honored with confirmation your great judgment
 In the election of a sir so rare,
 Which you know cannot err. The love I bear him
 Made me to fan you thus, but the gods made you,
205 Unlike all others, chaffless. Pray, your pardon.
 All’s well, sir. Take my power i’ th’ court for yours.
 My humble thanks. I had almost forgot
 T’ entreat your Grace but in a small request,
 And yet of moment too, for it concerns.
210 Your lord, myself, and other noble friends
 Are partners in the business.
IMOGEN  Pray, what is ’t?
 Some dozen Romans of us and your lord—
 The best feather of our wing—have mingled sums
215 To buy a present for the Emperor;
 Which I, the factor for the rest, have done
 In France. ’Tis plate of rare device and jewels
 Of rich and exquisite form, their values great.
 And I am something curious, being strange,
220 To have them in safe stowage. May it please you
 To take them in protection?
IMOGEN  Willingly;
 And pawn mine honor for their safety. Since
 My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them
225 In my bedchamber.
IACHIMO  They are in a trunk
 Attended by my men. I will make bold

ACT 1. SC. 6

 To send them to you, only for this night.
 I must aboard tomorrow.
IMOGEN 230 O no, no.
 Yes, I beseech, or I shall short my word
 By length’ning my return. From Gallia
 I crossed the seas on purpose and on promise
 To see your Grace.
IMOGEN 235 I thank you for your pains.
 But not away tomorrow.
IACHIMO  O, I must, madam.
 Therefore I shall beseech you, if you please
 To greet your lord with writing, do ’t tonight.
240 I have outstood my time, which is material
 To th’ tender of our present.
IMOGEN  I will write.
 Send your trunk to me; it shall safe be kept
 And truly yielded you. You’re very welcome.
They exit.