List iconThe Comedy of ErrorsList icon

The Comedy of Errors
Act 1, scene 1

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Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Egeon’s remaining son, Antipholus of Syracuse, and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, come to Ephesus, where—unknown to them—their lost twins…

Act 1, scene 1

Egeon, a merchant from Syracusae, is arrested for having illegally entered Ephesus. He tells the story of how he lost…

Act 1, scene 2

Antipholus of Syracuse lands in Ephesus with his servant, Dromio. He sends Dromio to an inn with their luggage and…

Act 2, scene 1

Adriana angrily awaits her husband, who is late for dinner. Dromio (of Ephesus) enters and tells about his meeting with…

Act 2, scene 2

Antipholus (of Syracuse) meets Dromio (of Syracuse), who denies having spoken of Antipholus’s wife. Adriana and her sister, Luciana, enter…

Act 3, scene 1

Antipholus of Ephesus brings a goldsmith and a merchant to his home for dinner. He finds the door locked and,…

Act 3, scene 2

Antipholus (of Syracuse) falls in love with Adriana’s sister, Luciana. Dromio (of Syracuse) is claimed by Adriana’s kitchen maid as…

Act 4, scene 1

Antipholus (of Ephesus) sends Dromio (of Ephesus) to buy a rope’s end to beat Adriana. The goldsmith demands the money…

Act 4, scene 2

Dromio (of Syracuse) tells Adriana about the arrest of Antipholus (of Ephesus). She gives him the money for Antipholus’s bail.

Act 4, scene 3

Dromio (of Syracuse) gives Antipholus (of Syracuse) the money sent by Adriana. The Courtesan enters and demands the chain that…

Act 4, scene 4

Antipholus (of Ephesus), under arrest, beats Dromio (of Ephesus) for bringing a rope’s end instead of the money for bail….

Act 5, scene 1

Adriana finds Antipholus (of Syracuse) with his sword drawn and orders that he and Dromio be bound. The Syracusans escape…

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Scene 1
Enter Solinus the Duke of Ephesus, with Egeon the
Merchant of Syracuse, Jailer, and other Attendants.


EGEON 
 Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall,
 And by the doom of death end woes and all.
DUKE 
 Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more.
 I am not partial to infringe our laws.
5 The enmity and discord which of late
 Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke
 To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,
 Who, wanting guilders to redeem their lives,
 Have sealed his rigorous statutes with their bloods,
10 Excludes all pity from our threat’ning looks.
 For since the mortal and intestine jars
 ’Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us,
 It hath in solemn synods been decreed,
 Both by the Syracusians and ourselves,
15 To admit no traffic to our adverse towns.
 Nay, more, if any born at Ephesus
 Be seen at Syracusian marts and fairs;
 Again, if any Syracusian born
 Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,
20 His goods confiscate to the Duke’s dispose,
7

9
The Comedy of Errors
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Unless a thousand marks be levièd
 To quit the penalty and to ransom him.
 Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,
 Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
25 Therefore by law thou art condemned to die.
EGEON 
 Yet this my comfort: when your words are done,
 My woes end likewise with the evening sun.
DUKE 
 Well, Syracusian, say in brief the cause
 Why thou departedst from thy native home
30 And for what cause thou cam’st to Ephesus.
EGEON 
 A heavier task could not have been imposed
 Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable;
 Yet, that the world may witness that my end
 Was wrought by nature, not by vile offense,
35 I’ll utter what my sorrow gives me leave.
 In Syracusa was I born, and wed
 Unto a woman happy but for me,
 And by me, had not our hap been bad.
 With her I lived in joy. Our wealth increased
40 By prosperous voyages I often made
 To Epidamium, till my factor’s death
 And the great care of goods at random left
 Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse;
 From whom my absence was not six months old
45 Before herself—almost at fainting under
 The pleasing punishment that women bear—
 Had made provision for her following me
 And soon and safe arrivèd where I was.
 There had she not been long but she became
50 A joyful mother of two goodly sons,
 And, which was strange, the one so like the other
 As could not be distinguished but by names.

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ACT 1. SC. 1

 That very hour, and in the selfsame inn,
 A mean woman was deliverèd
55 Of such a burden, male twins, both alike.
 Those, for their parents were exceeding poor,
 I bought and brought up to attend my sons.
 My wife, not meanly proud of two such boys,
 Made daily motions for our home return.
60 Unwilling, I agreed. Alas, too soon
 We came aboard.
 A league from Epidamium had we sailed
 Before the always-wind-obeying deep
 Gave any tragic instance of our harm;
65 But longer did we not retain much hope,
 For what obscurèd light the heavens did grant
 Did but convey unto our fearful minds
 A doubtful warrant of immediate death,
 Which though myself would gladly have embraced,
70 Yet the incessant weepings of my wife,
 Weeping before for what she saw must come,
 And piteous plainings of the pretty babes,
 That mourned for fashion, ignorant what to fear,
 Forced me to seek delays for them and me.
75 And this it was, for other means was none:
 The sailors sought for safety by our boat
 And left the ship, then sinking-ripe, to us.
 My wife, more careful for the latter-born,
 Had fastened him unto a small spare mast,
80 Such as seafaring men provide for storms.
 To him one of the other twins was bound,
 Whilst I had been like heedful of the other.
 The children thus disposed, my wife and I,
 Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fixed,
85 Fastened ourselves at either end the mast
 And, floating straight, obedient to the stream,
 Was carried towards Corinth, as we thought.

13
The Comedy of Errors
ACT 1. SC. 1

 At length the sun, gazing upon the earth,
 Dispersed those vapors that offended us,
90 And by the benefit of his wished light
 The seas waxed calm, and we discoverèd
 Two ships from far, making amain to us,
 Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this.
 But ere they came—O, let me say no more!
95 Gather the sequel by that went before.
DUKE 
 Nay, forward, old man. Do not break off so,
 For we may pity though not pardon thee.
EGEON 
 O, had the gods done so, I had not now
 Worthily termed them merciless to us.
100 For, ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues,
 We were encountered by a mighty rock,
 Which being violently borne upon,
 Our helpful ship was splitted in the midst;
 So that, in this unjust divorce of us,
105 Fortune had left to both of us alike
 What to delight in, what to sorrow for.
 Her part, poor soul, seeming as burdenèd
 With lesser weight, but not with lesser woe,
 Was carried with more speed before the wind,
110 And in our sight they three were taken up
 By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
 At length, another ship had seized on us
 And, knowing whom it was their hap to save,
 Gave healthful welcome to their shipwracked guests,
115 And would have reft the fishers of their prey
 Had not their bark been very slow of sail;
 And therefore homeward did they bend their course.
 Thus have you heard me severed from my bliss,
 That by misfortunes was my life prolonged
120 To tell sad stories of my own mishaps.

15
The Comedy of Errors
ACT 1. SC. 1

DUKE 
 And for the sake of them thou sorrowest for,
 Do me the favor to dilate at full
 What have befall’n of them and thee till now.
EGEON 
 My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,
125 At eighteen years became inquisitive
 After his brother, and importuned me
 That his attendant—so his case was like,
 Reft of his brother, but retained his name—
 Might bear him company in the quest of him,
130 Whom whilst I labored of a love to see,
 I hazarded the loss of whom I loved.
 Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece,
 Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia,
 And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus,
135 Hopeless to find, yet loath to leave unsought
 Or that or any place that harbors men.
 But here must end the story of my life;
 And happy were I in my timely death
 Could all my travels warrant me they live.
DUKE 
140 Hapless Egeon, whom the fates have marked
 To bear the extremity of dire mishap,
 Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,
 Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,
 Which princes, would they, may not disannul,
145 My soul should sue as advocate for thee.
 But though thou art adjudgèd to the death,
 And passèd sentence may not be recalled
 But to our honor’s great disparagement,
 Yet will I favor thee in what I can.
150 Therefore, merchant, I’ll limit thee this day
 To seek thy life by beneficial help.
 Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus;
 Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum,

17
The Comedy of Errors
ACT 1. SC. 2

 And live. If no, then thou art doomed to die.—
155 Jailer, take him to thy custody.
JAILER I will, my lord.
EGEON 
 Hopeless and helpless doth Egeon wend,
 But to procrastinate his lifeless end.
They exit.