Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 4
From Cymbeline. A.W. Verity. Cambridge, University Press.
1. Philario has been praising Posthumus, and his friends show a touch of jealousy.
2. crescent note, growing reputation. The affected euphuistic style is that of the courtier Osric in Hamlet. It is satirised in Twelfth Night, III. 1. 76-102.
8. makes him; is the making of him -- as we say.
14. words him ... from the matter, gives him a notoriety beyond his real merits.
16-21. A fantastic way of saying that the partisans of Imogen will exaggerate the merits of Posthumus, in order to justify her marrying beneath her rank.
19, 20. without less quality; the reduplication of the negative idea in phrases denoting want is common in Shakespeare and similar to his use of double negatives for emphasis. quality, qualifications, qualities
to recommend him.
35. atone, reconcile; see Glossary.
40, 41. rather shunned to go even. This seems to mean 'was less disposed to judge things for myself than to follow the experience of others, the beaten track.' But does he picture himself as modest, or presumptuous with the self-confidence of youth?
Furness paraphrases: "rather than appear to be guided by others' experience, I avoided giving assent to what I heard."
45. confounded; a stronger word then; 'destroyed.' Cf. confusion ('ruin'), III. 1. 64.
50. suffer the report, bear repeating. This leads up to the wager.
54, 55. constant-qualified, of a constant (i.e. faithful) quality.
63. friend, lover; a common Elizabethan euphemism. The contrast is between the rhapsody of a lover and the graver, more measured, eulogy of a worshipper.
81. in title, nominally.
83, 84. i.e. it is so with your articles esteemed priceless: one (the
woman) is but frail, the other (the ring) subject to accidents, e.g. liable
to be lost or stolen.
88. to convince the honour, to overcome the chastity. For the verb cf. Macbeth, I. 7. 64, IV. 3. 142. Lat. con, implying 'wholly' + vincere, 'to conquer.'
93. signior; the Shakespearean form of Mod. Ital. signor (Lat. senior).
104. abused, mistaken in your assurance. See G.
113, 114. put ... on the approbation, staked on making good.
124. You are afraid. F. has a Friend, which might possibly mean: 'you are a friend to the lady, and therein the wiser, as you will not expose her to hazard' (by wagering your diamond) -- Johnson. But the
correction is generally adopted; it anticipates "you fear."
126. religion; used sometimes with the idea 'religious fidelity, conscientious devotion.'
131. undergo, undertake, perform; cf. III. 5. 109.
136. i.e. I forbid the wager.
141, 142. provided I have, etc., provided you give me an introduction to her and the Court which will ensure my reception.
143. articles, a formal agreement; "a covenant".
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Cymbeline. Ed. A.W. Verity. Cambridge, University Press, 1899. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/cymbel_1_4.html >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/cymbel_1_4.html >.
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