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Cymbeline
Act 2, scene 5

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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 5
Enter Posthumus.

POSTHUMUS 
 Is there no way for men to be, but women
 Must be half-workers? We are all bastards,
 And that most venerable man which I

97
Cymbeline
ACT 2. SC. 5

 Did call my father was I know not where
5 When I was stamped. Some coiner with his tools
 Made me a counterfeit; yet my mother seemed
 The Dian of that time; so doth my wife
 The nonpareil of this. O, vengeance, vengeance!
 Me of my lawful pleasure she restrained
10 And prayed me oft forbearance; did it with
 A pudency so rosy the sweet view on ’t
 Might well have warmed old Saturn, that I thought
 her
 As chaste as unsunned snow. O, all the devils!
15 This yellow Iachimo in an hour, was ’t not?
 Or less? At first? Perchance he spoke not, but,
 Like a full-acorned boar, a German one,
 Cried “O!” and mounted; found no opposition
 But what he looked for should oppose and she
20 Should from encounter guard. Could I find out
 The woman’s part in me—for there’s no motion
 That tends to vice in man but I affirm
 It is the woman’s part: be it lying, note it,
 The woman’s; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers;
25 Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers; revenges, hers;
 Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain,
 Nice longing, slanders, mutability,
 All faults that have a name, nay, that hell knows,
 Why, hers, in part or all, but rather all.
30 For even to vice
 They are not constant, but are changing still
 One vice but of a minute old for one
 Not half so old as that. I’ll write against them,
 Detest them, curse them. Yet ’tis greater skill
35 In a true hate to pray they have their will;
 The very devils cannot plague them better.
He exits.