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Cymbeline

Written: c. 1610; Text: First Folio 1623 (Tragedy); no quarto editions
Sources: Holinshed, Raphael (c. 1528-c. 1580). The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. (2nd ed., 1587); William Baldwin ed). The Mirror for Magistrates (1559 ed.); Frederyke of Jennen 3rd ed., (1560); The Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune (performed 158, printed 1589); Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-75). Decameron 2nd Day, 9th story
Characters: Cymbeline, Queen, Imogen, Posthumus Leonatus, Cloten, Pisano, Cornelius, Iachimo, Caius Lucius, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Jupiter
Setting: Mythic Pre-Christian Britain and Italy
Time: AD 16

Written late in Shakespeare's career, around 1610 or 1611, Cymbeline is included in the tragedies of the First Folio, and is titled The Tragedy of Cymbeline, which is odd. The play ends with no deaths, the lovers are happily reunited, and the only characters to die during the course of the play are far from tragic figures, let alone main characters. But the play does not neatly fit into the comedies either. There is only one love interest and the couple is married before the play begins. While there is some humor, there's not much more than what might be found in a tragedy. Nor does it fit clearly among the histories. While there is some historical evidence of an English monarch named Cymbeline, he is not the major character in this play, he does not die in the play, and there is little or no historical evidence for the characters who do engage our interest. While Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar are mentioned, neither appears in the play. The arch-villain of the story, Iachimo, seems to have stepped out of Renaissance Italy, not ancient Rome. So it does not fit neatly among Shakespeare's Roman histories. It does, however, follow in chronological historical order after Anthony and Cleopatra, and that is where the compilers of the First Folio placed it. So some scholars label it a romance.

Town and Country

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In Cymbeline, Belarius advises his two adoptive sons to embrace the idyllic life in the country rather than the political life at court:

“O, this life
Is nobler than attending for a check;
Richer than doing nothing for a bable;
Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine,
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Love and Water

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The Comedy of Error’s concluding dialogue between Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse neatly ties up an underlying theme of this farce, that true love — brotherly, marital or other — renders the lovers indistinguishable, “Methinks you are my glass, and not my brother.” But this metaphor of the mirror at the end of the play is a shift from the similes of drops of water that recurred previously.
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You do not meet a man but frowns

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First Gentleman
You do not meet a man but frowns. Our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers’
Still seem as does the King’s.Ellipsis

Second Gentleman
But what’s the matter?

Howsoe’er ’tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laughed at,
Yet is it true,
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No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,

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Queen
No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most stepmothers,
Evil-eyed unto you. You’re my prisoner, but
Your jailer shall deliver you the keys
That lock up your restraint.—For you, Posthumus,
So soon as I can win th’ offended king,
I will be known your advocate. Marry, yet
The fire of rage is in him,
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 81

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Should we be taking leave

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Posthumus
Should we be taking leave
As long a term as yet we have to live,
The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu.

There cannot be a pinch in death
More sharp than this is.

Imogen
Nay, stay a little!
Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
Such parting were too petty.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 124

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And that she should love this fellow

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Cloten
And that she should love this fellow and
refuse me!
Second Lord, aside
If it be a sin to make a true election,
she is damned.

She shines not upon fools, lest
the reflection should hurt her.

First Lord
Sir, as I told you always,
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Act 1
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Line 25

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What was the last That he spake to thee?

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Imogen
What was the last
That he spake to thee?
Pisanio
It was his queen, his queen!
Imogen
Then waved his handkerchief?
Pisanio
And kissed it, madam.
Imogen
Senseless linen, happier therein than I.
And that was all?
Pisanio
No,
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Act 1
Scene 3
Line 7

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Can we with manners ask what was the difference?

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Iachimo
Can we with manners ask what was the difference?
Frenchman
Safely, I think. ’Twas a contention in public,
which may without contradiction suffer the report.
It was much like an argument that fell out
last night, where each of us fell in praise of our
country mistresses, this gentleman at that time
vouching—and upon warrant of bloody affirmation—
his to be more fair,
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Act 1
Scene 4
Line 56

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Now, Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?

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Queen
Now, Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?
Cornelius 
Pleaseth your Highness, ay. Here they are, madam.
 He hands her a small box.
But I beseech your Grace, without offense—
My conscience bids me ask—wherefore you have
Commanded of me these most poisonous compounds,
Which are the movers of a languishing death,
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Act 1
Scene 5
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A father cruel and a stepdame false

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Imogen
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
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,
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Act 1
Scene 6
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You do seem to know Something of me

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Imogen
You do seem to know
Something of me or what concerns me. Pray you,
Since doubting things go ill often hurts more
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.

I dedicate myself to your sweet pleasure

Iachimo
Had I this cheek
To bathe my lips upon;
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Act 1
Scene 6
Line 112

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Was there ever man had such luck?

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Cloten
Was there ever man had such luck? When I
kissed the jack, upon an upcast to be hit away? I
had a hundred pound on ’t. And then a whoreson
jackanapes must take me up for swearing, as if I
borrowed mine oaths of him and might not spend
them at my pleasure.

That such a crafty devil as is his mother
Should yield the world this ass!
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Act 2
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