List iconCymbelineList icon

Cymbeline
Act 3, scene 3

Synopsis:

Contents

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…

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 3
Enter, as from a cave, Belarius as Morgan, Guiderius
as Polydor, and Arviragus as Cadwal.


BELARIUS, as Morgan 
 A goodly day not to keep house with such

113
Cymbeline
ACT 3. SC. 3

 Whose roof’s as low as ours! Stoop, boys. This gate
 Instructs you how t’ adore the heavens and bows you
 To a morning’s holy office. The gates of monarchs
5 Are arched so high that giants may jet through
 And keep their impious turbans on, without
 Good morrow to the sun. Hail, thou fair heaven!
 We house i’ th’ rock, yet use thee not so hardly
 As prouder livers do.
GUIDERIUS, as Polydor 10 Hail, heaven!
ARVIRAGUS, as Cadwal  Hail, heaven!
BELARIUS, as Morgan 
 Now for our mountain sport. Up to yond hill;
 Your legs are young. I’ll tread these flats. Consider,
 When you above perceive me like a crow,
15 That it is place which lessens and sets off,
 And you may then revolve what tales I have told you
 Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war.
 This service is not service, so being done,
 But being so allowed. To apprehend thus
20 Draws us a profit from all things we see,
 And often, to our comfort, shall we find
 The sharded beetle in a safer hold
 Than is the full-winged eagle. O, this life
 Is nobler than attending for a check,
25 Richer than doing nothing for a robe,
 Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
 Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine
 Yet keeps his book uncrossed. No life to ours.
GUIDERIUS, as Polydor 
 Out of your proof you speak. We poor unfledged
30 Have never winged from view o’ th’ nest, nor know
 not
 What air ’s from home. Haply this life is best
 If quiet life be best, sweeter to you
 That have a sharper known, well corresponding
35 With your stiff age; but unto us it is

115
Cymbeline
ACT 3. SC. 3

 A cell of ignorance, traveling abed,
 A prison for a debtor that not dares
 To stride a limit.
ARVIRAGUS, as Cadwal  What should we speak of
40 When we are old as you? When we shall hear
 The rain and wind beat dark December, how
 In this our pinching cave shall we discourse
 The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing.
 We are beastly: subtle as the fox for prey,
45 Like warlike as the wolf for what we eat.
 Our valor is to chase what flies. Our cage
 We make a choir, as doth the prisoned bird,
 And sing our bondage freely.
BELARIUS, as Morgan  How you speak!
50 Did you but know the city’s usuries
 And felt them knowingly; the art o’ th’ court,
 As hard to leave as keep, whose top to climb
 Is certain falling, or so slipp’ry that
 The fear’s as bad as falling; the toil o’ th’ war,
55 A pain that only seems to seek out danger
 I’ th’ name of fame and honor, which dies i’ th’ search
 And hath as oft a sland’rous epitaph
 As record of fair act—nay, many times
 Doth ill deserve by doing well; what’s worse,
60 Must curtsy at the censure. O boys, this story
 The world may read in me. My body’s marked
 With Roman swords, and my report was once
 First with the best of note. Cymbeline loved me,
 And when a soldier was the theme, my name
65 Was not far off. Then was I as a tree
 Whose boughs did bend with fruit. But in one night
 A storm or robbery, call it what you will,
 Shook down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves,
 And left me bare to weather.
GUIDERIUS, as Polydor 70 Uncertain favor!

117
Cymbeline
ACT 3. SC. 3

BELARIUS, as Morgan 
 My fault being nothing, as I have told you oft,
 But that two villains, whose false oaths prevailed
 Before my perfect honor, swore to Cymbeline
 I was confederate with the Romans. So
75 Followed my banishment; and this twenty years
 This rock and these demesnes have been my world,
 Where I have lived at honest freedom, paid
 More pious debts to heaven than in all
 The fore-end of my time. But up to th’ mountains!
80 This is not hunters’ language. He that strikes
 The venison first shall be the lord o’ th’ feast;
 To him the other two shall minister,
 And we will fear no poison, which attends
 In place of greater state. I’ll meet you in the valleys.
Guiderius and Arviragus exit.
BELARIUS 
85 How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!
 These boys know little they are sons to th’ King,
 Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive.
 They think they are mine, and, though trained up
 thus meanly,
90 I’ th’ cave wherein they bow, their thoughts do hit
 The roofs of palaces, and nature prompts them
 In simple and low things to prince it much
 Beyond the trick of others. This Polydor,
 The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, who
95 The King his father called Guiderius—Jove!
 When on my three-foot stool I sit and tell
 The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out
 Into my story; say “Thus mine enemy fell,
 And thus I set my foot on ’s neck,” even then
100 The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,
 Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in posture
 That acts my words. The younger brother, Cadwal,
 Once Arviragus, in as like a figure

119
Cymbeline
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Strikes life into my speech and shows much more
105 His own conceiving. Hark, the game is roused!
 O Cymbeline, heaven and my conscience knows
 Thou didst unjustly banish me; whereon,
 At three and two years old I stole these babes,
 Thinking to bar thee of succession as
110 Thou refts me of my lands. Euriphile,
 Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for their
 mother,
 And every day do honor to her grave.
 Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan called,
115 They take for natural father. The game is up!
He exits.