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ACT I SCENE III A council-chamber. 
 The DUKE and Senators sitting at a table; Officers attending. 
DUKE OF VENICE There is no composition in these news 
 That gives them credit. 
First Senator Indeed, they are disproportion'd; 
 My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.
DUKE OF VENICE And mine, a hundred and forty. 
Second Senator And mine, two hundred: 
 But though they jump not on a just account,-- 
 As in these cases, where the aim reports, 
 'Tis oft with difference--yet do they all confirm
 A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus. 
DUKE OF VENICE Nay, it is possible enough to judgment: 
 I do not so secure me in the error,  10
 But the main article I do approve 
 In fearful sense.
Sailor Within. What, ho! what, ho! what, ho! 
First Officer A messenger from the galleys. 
 Enter a Sailor. 
DUKE OF VENICE Now, what's the business? 
Sailor The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes; 
 So was I bid report here to the state 
 By Signior Angelo.
DUKE OF VENICE How say you by this change? 
First Senator This cannot be, 
 By no assay of reason: 'tis a pageant, 
 To keep us in false gaze. When we consider 
 The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk,  20
 And let ourselves again but understand, 
 That as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes, 
 So may he with more facile question bear it, 
 For that it stands not in such warlike brace, 
 But altogether lacks the abilities
 That Rhodes is dress'd in: if we make thought of this, 
 We must not think the Turk is so unskilful 
 To leave that latest which concerns him first, 
 Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain, 
 To wake and wage a danger profitless.  30
DUKE OF VENICE Nay, in all confidence, he's not for Rhodes. 
First Officer Here is more news. 
 Enter a Messenger. 
Messenger The Ottomites, reverend and gracious, 
 Steering with due course towards the isle of Rhodes, 
 Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
First Senator Ay, so I thought. How many, as you guess? 
Messenger Of thirty sail: and now they do restem 
 Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance 
 Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano, 
 Your trusty and most valiant servitor,  40
 With his free duty recommends you thus, 
 And prays you to believe him. 
DUKE OF VENICE 'Tis certain, then, for Cyprus. 
 Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town? 
First Senator He's now in Florence.
DUKE OF VENICE Write from us to him; post-post-haste dispatch. 
First Senator Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor. 
DUKE OF VENICE Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you 
 Against the general enemy Ottoman. 
 I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior;  50
 We lack'd your counsel and your help tonight. 
BRABANTIO So did I yours. Good your grace, pardon me; 
 Neither my place nor aught I heard of business 
 Hath raised me from my bed, nor doth the general care 

Take hold on me, for my particular grief
 Is of so flood-gate and o'erbearing nature 
 That it engluts and swallows other sorrows 
 And it is still itself. 
DUKE OF VENICE Why, what's the matter? 
BRABANTIO My daughter! O, my daughter!
DUKE OF VENICE, Senator Dead? 
BRABANTIO Ay, to me; 
 She is abused, stol'n from me, and corrupted  60
 By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
 For nature so preposterously to err, 
 Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense, 
 Sans witchcraft could not. 
DUKE OF VENICE Whoe'er he be that in this foul proceeding 
 Hath thus beguiled your daughter of herself
 And you of her, the bloody book of law 
 You shall yourself read in the bitter letter 
 After your own sense, yea, though our proper son 
 Stood in your action. 
BRABANTIO Humbly I thank your grace.  70
 Here is the man, this Moor, whom now, it seems, 
 Your special mandate for the state-affairs 
 Hath hither brought. 
DUKE OF VENICE, Senator We are very sorry for't. 
BRABANTIO Nothing, but this is so.
OTHELLO Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors, 
 My very noble and approved good masters, 
 That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter, 
 It is most true; true, I have married her: 
 The very head and front of my offending  80
 Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech, 
 And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace: 
 For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith, 
 Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used 
 Their dearest action in the tented field,
 And little of this great world can I speak, 
 More than pertains to feats of broil and battle, 
 And therefore little shall I grace my cause 
 In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience, 
 I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver  90
 Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms, 
 What conjuration and what mighty magic, 
 For such proceeding I am charged withal, 
 I won his daughter. 
BRABANTIO A maiden never bold;
 Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion 
 Blush'd at herself; and she, in spite of nature, 
 Of years, of country, credit, every thing, 
 To fall in love with what she fear'd to look on! 
 It is a judgment maim'd and most imperfect
 That will confess perfection so could err  100
 Against all rules of nature, and must be driven 
 To find out practises of cunning hell, 
 Why this should be. I therefore vouch again 
 That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood,
 Or with some dram conjured to this effect, 
 He wrought upon her. 
DUKE OF VENICE To vouch this, is no proof, 
 Without more wider and more overt test 
 Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
 Of modern seeming do prefer against him. 
First Senator But, Othello, speak:  110
 Did you by indirect and forced courses 
 Subdue and poison this young maid's affections? 
 Or came it by request and such fair question
 As soul to soul affordeth? 
OTHELLO I do beseech you, 
 Send for the lady to the Sagittary, 
 And let her speak of me before her father: 
 If you do find me foul in her report,
 The trust, the office I do hold of you, 
 Not only take away, but let your sentence 
 Even fall upon my life. 
DUKE OF VENICE Fetch Desdemona hither.  120
OTHELLO Ancient, conduct them: you best know the place.
 Exeunt IAGO and Attendants. 
 And, till she come, as truly as to heaven 
 I do confess the vices of my blood, 
 So justly to your grave ears I'll present 
 How I did thrive in this fair lady's love, 
 And she in mine.
DUKE OF VENICE Say it, Othello. 
OTHELLO Her father loved me; oft invited me; 
 Still question'd me the story of my life, 
 From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,  130
 That I have passed.
 I ran it through, even from my boyish days, 
 To the very moment that he bade me tell it; 
 Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances, 
 Of moving accidents by flood and field 
 Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
 Of being taken by the insolent foe 
 And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence 
 And portance in my travels' history: 
 Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,  140
 Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
 It was my hint to speak,--such was the process; 
 And of the Cannibals that each other eat, 
 The Anthropophagi and men whose heads 
 Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear 
 Would Desdemona seriously incline:
 But still the house-affairs would draw her thence: 
 Which ever as she could with haste dispatch, 
 She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear 
 Devour up my discourse: which I observing,  150
 Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
 To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart 
 That I would all my pilgrimage dilate, 
 Whereof by parcels she had something heard, 
 But not intentively: I did consent, 
 And often did beguile her of her tears,
 When I did speak of some distressful stroke 
 That my youth suffer'd. My story being done, 
 She gave me for my pains a world of sighs: 
 She swore, in faith, twas strange, 'twas passing strange,  160
 'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
 She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd 
 That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me, 
 And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her, 
 I should but teach him how to tell my story. 
 And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
 She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, 
 And I loved her that she did pity them. 
 This only is the witchcraft I have used: 
 Here comes the lady; let her witness it.  170
 Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO, and Attendants. 
DUKE OF VENICE I think this tale would win my daughter too.
 Good Brabantio, 
 Take up this mangled matter at the best: 
 Men do their broken weapons rather use 
 Than their bare hands. 
BRABANTIO I pray you, hear her speak:
 If she confess that she was half the wooer, 
 Destruction on my head, if my bad blame 
 Light on the man! Come hither, gentle mistress: 
 Do you perceive in all this noble company 
 Where most you owe obedience?
DESDEMONA My noble father,  180
 I do perceive here a divided duty: 
 To you I am bound for life and education; 
 My life and education both do learn me 
 How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
 I am hitherto your daughter: but here's my husband, 
 And so much duty as my mother show'd 
 To you, preferring you before her father, 
 So much I challenge that I may profess 
 Due to the Moor my lord.
BRABANTIO God be wi' you! I have done. 
 Please it your grace, on to the state-affairs:  190
 I had rather to adopt a child than get it. 
 Come hither, Moor: 
 I here do give thee that with all my heart
 Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart 
 I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel, 
 I am glad at soul I have no other child: 
 For thy escape would teach me tyranny, 
 To hang clogs on them. I have done, my lord.
DUKE OF VENICE Let me speak like yourself, and lay a sentence, 
 Which, as a grise or step, may help these lovers  200
 Into your favour. 
 When remedies are past, the griefs are ended 
 By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
 To mourn a mischief that is past and gone 
 Is the next way to draw new mischief on. 
 What cannot be preserved when fortune takes 
 Patience her injury a mockery makes. 
 The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief;
 He robs himself that spends a bootless grief. 
BRABANTIO So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile;  210
 We lose it not, so long as we can smile. 
 He bears the sentence well that nothing bears 
 But the free comfort which from thence he hears,
 But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow 
 That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow. 
 These sentences, to sugar, or to gall, 
 Being strong on both sides, are equivocal: 
 But words are words; I never yet did hear
 That the bruised heart was pierced through the ear. 
 I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state.  220
DUKE OF VENICE The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for 
 Cyprus. Othello, the fortitude of the place is best 
 known to you; and though we have there a substitute
 of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a 
 sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer 
 voice on you: you must therefore be content to 
 slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this 
 more stubborn and boisterous expedition.
OTHELLO The tyrant custom, most grave senators,  230
 Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war 
 My thrice-driven bed of down: I do agnise 
 A natural and prompt alacrity 
 I find in hardness, and do undertake
 These present wars against the Ottomites. 
 Most humbly therefore bending to your state, 
 I crave fit disposition for my wife. 
 Due reference of place and exhibition, 
 With such accommodation and besort
 As levels with her breeding. 
DUKE OF VENICE If you please,  240
 Be't at her father's. 
BRABANTIO I'll not have it so. 
DESDEMONA Nor I; I would not there reside, 
 To put my father in impatient thoughts 
 By being in his eye. Most gracious duke, 
 To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear; 
 And let me find a charter in your voice,
 To assist my simpleness. 
DUKE OF VENICE What would You, Desdemona? 
DESDEMONA That I did love the Moor to live with him, 
 My downright violence and storm of fortunes  250
 May trumpet to the world: my heart's subdued
 Even to the very quality of my lord: 
 I saw Othello's visage in his mind, 
 And to his honour and his valiant parts 
 Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate. 
 So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
 A moth of peace, and he go to the war, 
 The rites for which I love him are bereft me, 
 And I a heavy interim shall support 
 By his dear absence. Let me go with him.  260
OTHELLO Let her have your voices.
 Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not, 
 To please the palate of my appetite, 
 Nor to comply with heat--the young affects 
 In me defunct--and proper satisfaction. 
 But to be free and bounteous to her mind:
 And heaven defend your good souls, that you think 
 I will your serious and great business scant 
 For she is with me: no, when light-wing'd toys 
 Of feather'd Cupid seal with wanton dullness  270
 My speculative and officed instruments,
 That my disports corrupt and taint my business, 
 Let housewives make a skillet of my helm, 
 And all indign and base adversities 
 Make head against my estimation! 
DUKE OF VENICE Be it as you shall privately determine,
 Either for her stay or going: the affair cries haste, 
 And speed must answer it. 
First Senator You must away to-night. 
OTHELLO With all my heart. 
DUKE OF VENICE At nine i' the morning here we'll meet again.  280
 Othello, leave some officer behind, 
 And he shall our commission bring to you; 
 With such things else of quality and respect 
 As doth import you. 
OTHELLO So please your grace, my ancient;
 A man he is of honest and trust: 
 To his conveyance I assign my wife, 
 With what else needful your good grace shall think 
 To be sent after me. 
DUKE OF VENICE Let it be so.
 Good night to every one. 
 And, noble signior, 
 If virtue no delighted beauty lack,  290
 Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. 
First Senator Adieu, brave Moor, use Desdemona well.
BRABANTIO Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: 
 She has deceived her father, and may thee. 
 Exeunt DUKE OF VENICE, Senators, Officers, &c. 
OTHELLO My life upon her faith! Honest Iago, 
 My Desdemona must I leave to thee: 
 I prithee, let thy wife attend on her:
 And bring them after in the best advantage. 
 Come, Desdemona: I have but an hour 
 Of love, of worldly matters and direction,  300
 To spend with thee: we must obey the time. 
IAGO What say'st thou, noble heart? 
RODERIGO What will I do, thinkest thou? 
IAGO Why, go to bed, and sleep. 
RODERIGO I will incontinently drown myself. 
IAGO If thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why,
 thou silly gentleman! 
RODERIGO It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and 
 then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.  310
IAGO O villainous! I have looked upon the world for four 
 times seven years; and since I could distinguish
 betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man 
 that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say, I 
 would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I 
 would change my humanity with a baboon. 
RODERIGO What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so
 fond; but it is not in my virtue to amend it.  320
IAGO Virtue! a fig! 'tis in ourselves that we are thus 
 or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which 
 our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant 
 nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up
 thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs, or 
 distract it with many, either to have it sterile 
 with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the 
 power and corrigible authority of this lies in our 
 wills. If the balance of our lives had not one  330
 scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the 
 blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us 
 to most preposterous conclusions: but we have 
 reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal 
 stings, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that
 you call love to be a sect or scion. 
RODERIGO It cannot be. 
IAGO It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of  340
 the will. Come, be a man. Drown thyself! drown 
 cats and blind puppies. I have professed me thy
 friend and I confess me knit to thy deserving with 
 cables of perdurable toughness; I could never 
 better stead thee than now. Put money in thy 
 purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour with 
 an usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. It
 cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her 
 love to the Moor,-- put money in thy purse,--nor he 
 his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou  350
 shalt see an answerable sequestration:--put but 
 money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in
 their wills: fill thy purse with money:--the food 
 that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be 
 to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must 
 change for youth: when she is sated with his body, 
 she will find the error of her choice: she must
 have change, she must: therefore put money in thy 
 purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a 
 more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money  360
 thou canst: if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt 
 an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian not
 too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou 
 shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of 
 drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek 
 thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy joy than 
 to be drowned and go without her.
RODERIGO Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on 
 the issue?  370
IAGO Thou art sure of me:--go, make money:--I have told 
 thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I 
 hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no
 less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge 
 against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost 
 thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many 
 events in the womb of time which will be delivered. 
 Traverse! go, provide thy money. We will have more
 of this to-morrow. Adieu.  380
RODERIGO Where shall we meet i' the morning? 
IAGO At my lodging. 
RODERIGO I'll be with thee betimes. 
IAGO Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?
RODERIGO What say you? 
IAGO No more of drowning, do you hear? 
RODERIGO I am changed: I'll go sell all my land. 
IAGO Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: 
 For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane,  390
 If I would time expend with such a snipe. 
 But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor: 
 And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets 
 He has done my office: I know not if't be true; 
 But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
 Will do as if for surety. He holds me well; 
 The better shall my purpose work on him. 
 Cassio's a proper man: let me see now: 
 To get his place and to plume up my will 
 In double knavery--How, how? Let's see:--
 After some time, to abuse Othello's ear 
 That he is too familiar with his wife. 
 He hath a person and a smooth dispose  400
 To be suspected, framed to make women false. 
 The Moor is of a free and open nature,
 That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, 
 And will as tenderly be led by the nose 
 As asses are. 
 I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night 
 Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.

Othello, Act 2, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 3

From Othello. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard.

Abbreviations. — A.-S. = Anglo-Saxon: M.E. = Middle English (from the 13th to the 15th century) ; Fr. = French ; Ger. = German ; Gr. = Greek ; Cf. = compare (Lat. confer) ; Abbott refers to the excellent Shakespearean Grammar of Dr. Abbott; Schmidt, to Dr. Schmidt's invaluable Shakespeare Lexicon.


1. Composition, agreement.

5. Jump, tally.

6. Aim reports, conjecture bandies about reports.

10. Secure, Der. se (as in se-paro) cura, without care. I do not lay aside anxiety on account of the discrepancy in the accounts.

12. In fearful sense, in feeling fearful,

15. The Turks tried to recover Cyprus (which they had lost a century before) in 1570.

17. By, about.

18. If we put the statement to the test of common sense, we cannot believe it. Pageant, a mock, or show, Der. Latin pagina, page, in later times the scaffold on which mysteries were acted. Root, pag, to fasten.

22-3. Not only is it more important but he can bear (ferre) the business more easily — win the place.

24. It is not so well fortified.

33. Ottomites, derived from Othman, or Osman, founder of the Turkish empire in A.D. 1299.

52. Good your grace. The possessive adjective is really combined with the noun, as in monsieur.

57. Engluts, French engloutir, to swallow.

61. Mountebank, a quack doctor, one who mounts a bench to puff his wares.

64. Sans, used for without, for metre's sake. A favorite word with Shakespeare. As You Like It, ii, 7, 166, "Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

69. Proper, own.

80. This is the head and front, and the sum of my offence.

84. Till within the last nine months.

85. All their chief work has been in the field.

94. Some such word as with understood.

95. Every emotion blushed at and revealed itself.

99. A person who could confess. . . is not of sound judgment.

101. The ideas are compressed. An unmaimed judgment must look for . . .

108. Hunter explains thin habits, the thin garb in which you invest the matter.

109. Modern, used contemptuously. Commoplace, trite.

111. Indirect, wrong, unfair.

129. Still, always. Questioned me the story. Omission of preposition of.

131. The hemistich adds to the effect of the enumeration by giving the actor time to think over the list.

139. Portance. (French porter.) My bearing.

140. Antres, caves. Idle, wild.

141. Quarries, Der. quadraria, the place where the blocks are squared.

143. Cannibal, corruption of Caribal, Caribbean.

145. Raleigh gave an account of such men in his Description of Guiana, 1596.

154. By parcels, by small portions.

173. Make the best of a bad business.

176. If she admits that she met him half-way, then I blame him no more.

199. Like yourself, either briefly, or as your case demands. Lay a sentence, pronounce a maxim, which he proceeds to do in rhyming verse, in sententious couplets.

200. Grise, a step.

209. Bootless, useless.

210. So, upon that theory.

213. Free, cheap.

214. Who, to get rid of pressing grief, has to draw upon his stock of patience.

217. These maxims cut both ways.

219. Piercing would not be a remedy for a bruise, so that we must take the word as meaning merely reached.

222. Fortitude, the strength.

225. Opinion that overawes all plans and their results.

227. To slubber, obscure, slur over.

232. I admit that difficulty brings out quickness of action, which is natural to me.

238. Due arrangement as to her home and allowance. Exhibition in this sense still so used at the Universities.

245. Prosperous, propitious.

249. To live. Understand enough.

250. Downright, uncontrolled. For storm the first Quarto has scorne, which Johnson accepted.

260. By. The idea of instrumentality passes into causality — because of.

265. Proper satisfaction, self-gratification.

267. Defend, prevent that you should think.

269. For, because.

270. Seel, to close the eyes. Originally a term of falconry.

271. i.e. my eyes.

272. Disports, amusements.

273. Skillet, small pot. From Latin scutella, a small dish.

274. May my reputation be damaged by all attacks, however base.

290. Delighted, here for delightful, as in Cymbeline, v. 4, 102 — "To make my gift the more delayed, delighted."

294. Brabantio's unnatural pique belies his daughter's chastity. The disobedience in eloping was severely punished, but her subsequent story about the handkerchief was not the deliberate attempt to conceal the truth, and did not really touch the constancy of her heart.

306. Incontinently, immediately.

307. Roderigo, another dupe of Iago's, differs from Othello in this, that the latter never suspects honest Iago, the former is constantly suspicious that he is being cheated, and is as constantly satisfied, notwithstanding the grossest indications that should have put him on his guard.

313. Iago's comparative youth is a touch in the picture. So young, yet so utterly unable to believe in the existence of goodness, even in Desdemona, pure as Dian's visage. "All things are to him common and unclean." — Gervinus.

321. Fond, foolish. Virtue, power.

322, sq. To Iago reason alone is the measure of things. He is one of those beings whose brains have become sharp with the hardening of their hearts. In this passage he poses as the sceptic who ignores any higher constraint of the passions than that supplied by the reason and the will.

326. Gender, kind.

328. Corrigible, corrective.

334. Sect, cutting.

340. Stead, help.

342. Defeat thy favor, conceal thy face. Cf. Julius Ccesar, i. 2, 91, "As well as I do know your outward favor."

347. Answerable sequestration, corresponding estrangement.

349. Locusts. (1) A winged insect; (2) the fruit of the carob tree.

350. Coloquintida, colocynth, a bitter yellow gourd.

354. A more delicate way. By committing mortal sin with Desdemona. Iago is here ironical.

The repetition, Put money in thy purse, is equivalent to This is your game. But you must be prepared to pay for it.

395. Proper, fine, pretty.

396. Plume up, make to triumph.

400. Dispose for disposition.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1892. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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