Meanwhile, in Rome, two Senators and Tribunes discuss the upcoming war. The commoners in the Emperor’s army are fighting against the rebelling Pannonians and the Dalmatians. What’s more, there are a few legions in Gallia unable to undertake fighting in Britain. As things stand, the gentry must be recruited to fight the war against Cymbeline. The Second Senator confirms that Lucius will be the invading army’s general. He also says that the Emperor has given the Tribunes the authority to recruit the gentlemen soldiers, and will provide further information about when and where to send the army. The Tribune promises to follow through with the order.
This brief scene adds historical context to the Roman invasion. It provides a glimpse at governmental structure in the Roman capital, showing how Senators and Tribunes—elected officials who represented the lower classes—collaborated to make military decisions in support of the Emperor’s agenda. This scene also demonstrates how personal the armed conflict will be for Lucius, since he has to lead Roman troops into Britain to fight his friend Cymbeline. The audience sees here firsthand how organized and precise the Romans are in executing their strategy, raising questions about how the Britons will fare against their imperial foe.