List iconCymbeline:
Act 2, scene 4
List icon

Act 2, scene 4



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 4
Enter Posthumus and Philario.

 Fear it not, sir. I would I were so sure
 To win the King as I am bold her honor
 Will remain hers.
PHILARIO  What means do you make to him?
5 Not any, but abide the change of time,
 Quake in the present winter’s state, and wish
 That warmer days would come. In these feared
 I barely gratify your love; they failing,
10 I must die much your debtor.

ACT 2. SC. 4

 Your very goodness and your company
 O’erpays all I can do. By this, your king
 Hath heard of great Augustus. Caius Lucius
 Will do ’s commission throughly. And I think
15 He’ll grant the tribute, send th’ arrearages,
 Or look upon our Romans, whose remembrance
 Is yet fresh in their grief.
POSTHUMUS  I do believe,
 Statist though I am none nor like to be,
20 That this will prove a war; and you shall hear
 The legion now in Gallia sooner landed
 In our not-fearing Britain than have tidings
 Of any penny tribute paid. Our countrymen
 Are men more ordered than when Julius Caesar
25 Smiled at their lack of skill but found their courage
 Worthy his frowning at. Their discipline,
 Now wingèd with their courages, will make known
 To their approvers they are people such
 That mend upon the world.

Enter Iachimo.

PHILARIO 30 See, Iachimo!
 The swiftest harts have posted you by land,
 And winds of all the corners kissed your sails
 To make your vessel nimble.
PHILARIO  Welcome, sir.
35 I hope the briefness of your answer made
 The speediness of your return.
IACHIMO  Your lady
 Is one of the fairest that I have looked upon.
 And therewithal the best, or let her beauty
40 Look thorough a casement to allure false hearts
 And be false with them.

ACT 2. SC. 4

IACHIMO, handing him a paper  Here are letters for you.
 Their tenor good, I trust.
IACHIMO  ’Tis very like.
Posthumus reads the letter.
45 Was Caius Lucius in the Briton court
 When you were there?
 He was expected then, but not approached.
POSTHUMUS All is well yet.
 Sparkles this stone as it was wont, or is ’t not
50 Too dull for your good wearing?
He indicates his ring.
IACHIMO  If I have lost it,
 I should have lost the worth of it in gold.
 I’ll make a journey twice as far t’ enjoy
 A second night of such sweet shortness which
55 Was mine in Britain, for the ring is won.
 The stone’s too hard to come by.
IACHIMO  Not a whit,
 Your lady being so easy.
POSTHUMUS  Make not, sir,
60 Your loss your sport. I hope you know that we
 Must not continue friends.
IACHIMO  Good sir, we must,
 If you keep covenant. Had I not brought
 The knowledge of your mistress home, I grant
65 We were to question farther; but I now
 Profess myself the winner of her honor,
 Together with your ring, and not the wronger
 Of her or you, having proceeded but
 By both your wills.
POSTHUMUS 70 If you can make ’t apparent
 That you have tasted her in bed, my hand

ACT 2. SC. 4

 And ring is yours. If not, the foul opinion
 You had of her pure honor gains or loses
 Your sword or mine, or masterless leave both
75 To who shall find them.
IACHIMO  Sir, my circumstances,
 Being so near the truth as I will make them,
 Must first induce you to believe; whose strength
 I will confirm with oath, which I doubt not
80 You’ll give me leave to spare when you shall find
 You need it not.
IACHIMO  First, her bedchamber—
 Where I confess I slept not, but profess
85 Had that was well worth watching—it was hanged
 With tapestry of silk and silver, the story
 Proud Cleopatra when she met her Roman
 And Cydnus swelled above the banks, or for
 The press of boats or pride. A piece of work
90 So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive
 In workmanship and value, which I wondered
 Could be so rarely and exactly wrought
 Since the true life on ’t was—
POSTHUMUS  This is true,
95 And this you might have heard of here, by me
 Or by some other.
IACHIMO  More particulars
 Must justify my knowledge.
POSTHUMUS  So they must,
100 Or do your honor injury.
IACHIMO  The chimney
 Is south the chamber, and the chimney-piece
 Chaste Dian bathing. Never saw I figures
 So likely to report themselves; the cutter
105 Was as another Nature, dumb, outwent her,
 Motion and breath left out.

ACT 2. SC. 4

POSTHUMUS  This is a thing
 Which you might from relation likewise reap,
 Being, as it is, much spoke of.
IACHIMO 110 The roof o’ th’ chamber
 With golden cherubins is fretted. Her andirons—
 I had forgot them—were two winking Cupids
 Of silver, each on one foot standing, nicely
 Depending on their brands.
POSTHUMUS 115 This is her honor?
 Let it be granted you have seen all this—and praise
 Be given to your remembrance—the description
 Of what is in her chamber nothing saves
 The wager you have laid.
IACHIMO 120 Then if you can
 Be pale, I beg but leave to air this jewel. See—
He shows the bracelet.
 And now ’tis up again. It must be married
 To that your diamond. I’ll keep them.
125 Once more let me behold it. Is it that
 Which I left with her?
IACHIMO  Sir, I thank her, that.
 She stripped it from her arm. I see her yet.
 Her pretty action did outsell her gift
130 And yet enriched it too. She gave it me
 And said she prized it once.
POSTHUMUS Maybe she plucked it off
 To send it me.
IACHIMO  She writes so to you, doth she?
135 O, no, no, no, ’tis true. Here, take this too.
He gives Iachimo the ring.
 It is a basilisk unto mine eye,
 Kills me to look on ’t. Let there be no honor
 Where there is beauty, truth where semblance, love
 Where there’s another man. The vows of women

ACT 2. SC. 4

140 Of no more bondage be to where they are made
 Than they are to their virtues, which is nothing.
 O, above measure false!
PHILARIO  Have patience, sir,
 And take your ring again. ’Tis not yet won.
145 It may be probable she lost it; or
 Who knows if one her women, being corrupted,
 Hath stol’n it from her.
POSTHUMUS  Very true,
 And so I hope he came by ’t.—Back, my ring!
He takes back the ring.
150 Render to me some corporal sign about her
 More evident than this, for this was stol’n.
 By Jupiter, I had it from her arm.
 Hark you, he swears! By Jupiter he swears.
 ’Tis true—nay, keep the ring—’tis true.
He holds out the ring.
155 I am sure
 She would not lose it. Her attendants are
 All sworn and honorable. They induced to steal it?
 And by a stranger? No, he hath enjoyed her.
 The cognizance of her incontinency
160 Is this. She hath bought the name of whore thus
 There, take thy hire, and all the fiends of hell
 Divide themselves between you!
He gives the ring to Iachimo.
PHILARIO  Sir, be patient.
165 This is not strong enough to be believed
 Of one persuaded well of.
POSTHUMUS  Never talk on ’t.
 She hath been colted by him.
IACHIMO  If you seek
170 For further satisfying, under her breast,

ACT 2. SC. 5

 Worthy the pressing, lies a mole, right proud
 Of that most delicate lodging. By my life,
 I kissed it, and it gave me present hunger
 To feed again, though full. You do remember
175 This stain upon her?
POSTHUMUS  Ay, and it doth confirm
 Another stain as big as hell can hold,
 Were there no more but it.
IACHIMO Will you hear more?
POSTHUMUS 180Spare your arithmetic;
 Never count the turns. Once, and a million!
IACHIMO I’ll be sworn—
POSTHUMUS No swearing.
 If you will swear you have not done ’t, you lie,
185 And I will kill thee if thou dost deny
 Thou ’st made me cuckold.
IACHIMO  I’ll deny nothing.
 O, that I had her here, to tear her limb-meal!
 I will go there and do ’t i’ th’ court, before
190 Her father. I’ll do something.He exits.
PHILARIO  Quite beside
 The government of patience. You have won.
 Let’s follow him and pervert the present wrath
 He hath against himself.
IACHIMO 195 With all my heart.
They exit.