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
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.
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.