Cymbeline

by

William Shakespeare

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Cymbeline Characters

Read our modern English translation.

Cymbeline

Cymbeline is the King of Britain, who was raised in Caesar’s court. With his first wife, he had three children: his daughter Imogen, and sons Arviragus and Guiderius. The young princes were stolen… read analysis of Cymbeline

Imogen/Fidele

Imogen is the British princess. After her brothers were abducted from the nursery as infants, Imogen became Cymbeline’s sole heir. To consolidate power, he wants her to marry his stepson Cloten, but headstrong… read analysis of Imogen/Fidele

Posthumus Leonatus

Posthumus received his name because he was born after the death of his father, the fierce soldier Sicilius Leonatus. He is a Roman with wealth, but not a royal. Cymbeline raised Posthumus in his… read analysis of Posthumus Leonatus

The Queen

The nameless Queen is Cymbeline’s second wife and the mother of Cloten. She is a master of manipulation who has bad intentions. These are clearly evident in her desire to learn about poison—the… read analysis of The Queen

Cloten

Cloten is the Queen’s son from her first marriage, and Cymbeline’s stepson. He is hotheaded, always looking to pick a fight or gamble. Though Cloten has a high opinion of himself, the Secondread analysis of Cloten
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Iachimo

Iachimo is a Roman lord and an acquaintance of Posthumus. He is sly and tricky, traits epitomized in his wager with Posthumus over Imogen’s chastity. A womanizer, Iachimo bets Posthumus that he can… read analysis of Iachimo

Pisanio

Pisanio is Posthumus’ loyal servant. After Cymbeline banishes Posthumus for his secret marriage to Imogen, Pisanio (under Posthumus’ orders) pledges his loyalty to Imogen and promises to serve her faithfully. The Queen and… read analysis of Pisanio

Belarius/Morgan

Belarius is a nobleman and soldier. Twenty years prior to the play’s action, Cymbeline banished Belarius because of court gossip alleging Belarius’ ties to Rome. In retaliation, Belarius kidnapped Cymbeline’s sons Guiderius and Arviragus as… read analysis of Belarius/Morgan

Guiderius/Polydor

One of Cymbeline’s sons, stolen by Belarius from the nursery as a baby. Belarius raised Guiderius with the Welsh pseudonym “Polydor.” Like his brother Arviragus, Guiderius is hearty and inherently noble. The two… read analysis of Guiderius/Polydor

Arviragus/Cadwal

Cymbeline’s other son, whom Belarius raised under the name of Cadwal. Like Guiderius, Arviragus is also a fierce fighter and he is eager to take up arms in the war with the Romans… read analysis of Arviragus/Cadwal

Caius Lucius

Most often referred to as Lucius throughout the play, he is the Roman ambassador to Britain who prizes honor and truth. Lucius is good friends with Cymbeline, and he is reluctant to start a… read analysis of Caius Lucius

Cornelius

Cornelius is a doctor at Cymbeline’s court. He has instructed the Queen in medicine and the healing properties of herbs. When she asks him for poison, he pretends to give it to her, but… read analysis of Cornelius

Philario

Philario is Posthumus’ host in Rome and a friend of Posthumus’ family, since he was a soldier with Posthumus’ father, Sicilius Leonatus. Philario tries to make Posthumus feel welcome in his new home… read analysis of Philario

Jupiter

The king of the gods. Characters often pray to the gods throughout the play for protection and favor. Descending on an eagle and in a cloud of thunder, Jupiter visits Posthumus in a dream and… read analysis of Jupiter

Soothsayer (Philarmonus)

The Soothsayer Philarmonus is employed by Lucius to interpret signs from the gods. Before the battle, he has a vision of a Roman eagle, which signifies victory in the upcoming British invasion. He clarifies… read analysis of Soothsayer (Philarmonus)

The First Lord

One of the two Lords who attend Cloten and give crucial information about his character. The First Lord generally accepts what Cloten says, supports him, and obeys his orders. He echoes Cloten’s remarks about Imogenread analysis of The First Lord

The Second Lord

One of the two Lords who attend Cloten and give crucial information about his character. Unlike the First Lord, the Second Lord seems not to respect Cloten, making many snide remarks to the audience… read analysis of The Second Lord

British Captains

In the battle, the British Captains establish that Lucius was taken captive, and they remark on the valor of Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus as fighters. They discover Posthumus in his Roman uniform and… read analysis of British Captains

Jailers

The Jailers imprison Posthumus, who was found in a Roman uniform after the battle and condemned for opposing the British. The First Jailer has a philosophical discussion with Posthumus about death being an escape… read analysis of Jailers

Ghost of Sicilius Leonatus

Father of Posthumus. Sicilius Leonatus had an honorable reputation. He fought with Cassibelan (Cymbeline’s uncle) against the Romans and gained the name “Leonatus”—meaning “lion-like”—for his valor in battle. Besides Posthumus, he had… read analysis of Ghost of Sicilius Leonatus
Minor Characters
The Frenchman
The Frenchman is an acquaintance of Posthumus from their soldiering days in Orleans. He describes Posthumus’ past, and says that the two fought over the merits of their respective countrywomen. He encounters Posthumus in Rome at Philario’s house.
Gentlemen
The First and Second Gentlemen are members of Cymbeline’s court. At the very beginning of the play, they introduce the strife in Cymbeline’s family, caused by Imogen’s secret marriage to Posthumus.
Roman Senators
The two Roman Senators establish the configuration of troops for the British invasion. They explain that, in addition to forces fighting in Gallia, soldiers will need to be recruited from among the Roman gentry for the upcoming war.
Roman Tribunes
The Tribunes (Roman officials elected by the plebeians, or lower social class) discuss the invasion with the Senators and receive a commission for the battle.
Ghost of Posthumus’ Mother
The Ghost of Posthumus’ mother visits him in the dream vision. She explains that she died while giving birth to Posthumus and begs Jupiter to relieve Posthumus of his misery.
Ghosts of the Brothers of Posthumus
The Ghosts of Posthumus’ brothers also visit Posthumus in his dream vision. They explain how they died in battle and remained loyal to their country, and they say that Posthumus has been largely loyal to Cymbeline. For this, they ask Jupiter to restore Posthumus to favor.
Roman Captain
The Roman Captain keeps Lucius up to date about the latest military developments from Rome. He ensures that Fidele—swooning after finding Cloten’s body—is, indeed, alive, which prompts Lucius to take Fidele on as a servant.