William Shakespeare

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Eagles Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Eagles Symbol Icon

Since eagles are associated with Jupiter (the king of the Roman gods), Shakespeare frequently uses eagles to symbolize honor, victory, and the Roman Empire. In one of the more famous quotes from the play, Imogen explains that when she picked Posthumus for a husband over Cloten, she “chose an eagle/ And did avoid a puttock” (a predatory bird, whose nature is not unlike Cloten’s). Imogen’s deliberate use of the eagle to stand in for Posthumus reinforces her husband’s nobility and the comparison also emphasizes that Posthumus, like an eagle, is associated with Rome, which is his place of origin. Furthermore, after having a vision of “Jove’s bird,” the Soothsayer predicts Roman victory, which foreshadows the play’s ultimate outcome. The Soothsayer’s vision of the eagle also affirms the fate of the play’s nobler characters, who find peace and restoration by the play’s end. Using an eagle to symbolize the restoration of honor and peace is particularly notable when Jupiter descends on an eagle in Posthumus’ dream vision, assuring Posthumus that he will have a second chance at life. Thus, an eagle is associated with nobility and Rome, and the actual sight of an eagle suggests the restoration of harmony and virtue after troubling times.

Eagles Quotes in Cymbeline

The Cymbeline quotes below all refer to the symbol of Eagles. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Cymbeline published in 2003.
Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

No more, you petty spirits of region low,
Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know,
Sky-planted batters all rebelling coasts?
Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
Upon your never-withering banks of flowers:
Be not with mortal accidents opprest;
No care of yours it is; you know ‘tis ours.
Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,
The more delay’d, delighted. Be content;
Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift:
His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.
Our Jovial star reign’d at his birth, and in
Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.
He shall be lord of lady Imogen,
And happier much by his affliction made.
This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine:
and so, away: no further with your din
Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.

Related Symbols: Eagles
Page Number: 5.4.Lines 96-116
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

The fingers of the powers above do tune
The harmony of this peace. The vision
Which I made known to Lucius, ere the stroke
Of this yet scarce-cold battle, at this instant
Is full acomplish’d; for the Roman eagle,
From south to west on wing soaring aloft,
Lessen’d herself, and in the beams o’ the sun
So vanish’d: which foreshow’d our princely eagle,
The imperial Caesar, should again unite
His favour with the radiant Cymbeline,
Which shines here in the west.

Related Characters: Soothsayer (Philarmonus) (speaker), Cymbeline
Related Symbols: Eagles
Page Number: 5.5.571-581
Explanation and Analysis:
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Eagles Symbol Timeline in Cymbeline

The timeline below shows where the symbol Eagles appears in Cymbeline. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
...“base” Posthumus, Imogen counters that Cloten is worthless next to Posthumus—a “puttock” next to an “eagle.” She reminds Cymbeline that he himself raised Posthumus and Imogen together, and she weeps when... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
...for his prediction on the battle’s outcome. The Soothsayer reports having a vision of Jove’s eagle flying and vanishing into the sun—a sign of impending Roman success. Lucius thanks him, but... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
...tides turned, allowing Britain to defeat the Romans. The Romans, who once acted bravely like eagles, looked more like frightened chickens. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Suddenly, Jupiter himself descends amid thunder and lighting. He sits on top of an eagle and throws a thunderbolt down. The ghosts all fall on their knees, and Jupiter commands... (full context)
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Sicilius marvels at Jupiter’s ascent on an eagle that almost threatened to kick them. He interprets that the god was pleased, because the... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
...for harmony, saying that the gods are orchestrating this peace. He explains that seeing the eagle fly and vanish into the sun before battle indicated a reunion between Britain and Rome.... (full context)