A line-by-line translation

Cymbeline

Cymbeline Translation Table of Contents

A war for independence; plots for personal revenge; and the god Jupiter himself all appear in Cymbeline, one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote. Based loosely on the history of Roman Britain, Cymbeline tells the story of the eponymous British king and his struggles for independence from the Roman Empire. The play also introduces one of Shakespeare’s most popular female characters, Imogen, Cymbeline’s daughter who is willing to sacrifice everything--even her life--for love. With the Shakescleare modern English translation of Cymbeline, you can decipher every line of the play, including some of its most well known quotes, such as “Some griefs are med’cinable” and “Pardon’s the word to all.”

Act 1, Scene 1

The king, angry at his daughter's marriage, banishes her husband. The queen wants her to marry the Queen's son.

Act 1, Scene 2

Cloten tries to pick a fight and is sad that Imogen won't marry him.

Act 1, Scene 3

Pisanio describes Posthumus's departure.

Act 1, Scene 4

Iachimo and Posthumus make a bet.

Act 1, Scene 5

The queen obtains what she thinks is poison and gives it to Pisanio.

Act 1, Scene 6

Iachimo arrives in court and tries to seduce Imogen. She agrees to store his trunk in her room.

Act 2, Scene 1

Cloten loses at cards and avoids a fight. He learns that Iachimo has arrived.

Act 2, Scene 2

Iachimo spies on Imogen and steals her bracelet.

Act 2, Scene 3

Ambassadors arrive from Rome. Cloten serenades Imogen and they argue.

Act 2, Scene 4

Iachimo convinces Posthumus that Imogen has been unfaithful.

Act 2, Scene 5

Posthumus complains about women.

Act 3, Scene 1

The Romans ask for tribute and Cymbeline is convinced by Cloten and the queen to deny it.

Act 3, Scene 2

Posthumus orders Pisanio to kill Imogen and sends her a deceitful letter. She decides to run away to meet him.

Act 3, Scene 3

Belarius reveals that he has stolen the king's two sons and raised them in the countryside.

Act 3, Scene 4

Pisanio reveals Posthumus's deception to Imogen. He has a plan that involves her dressing as a man.

Act 3, Scene 5

Britain prepares for war. Imogen's escape is discovered. Cloten makes Pisanio tell him where she is.

Act 3, Scene 6

Imogen meets her brothers and they love each other at once.

Act 3, Scene 7

The Roman forces are divided, so noblemen are recruited to fight in Britain.

Act 4, Scene 1

Cloten plans to rape Imogen while wearing Posthumus's clothes.

Act 4, Scene 2

Imogen drinks a potion and seems dead. Cloten is killed. Imogen thinks his body is Posthumus's. She finds a new master.

Act 4, Scene 3

The queen gets sick because Cloten is missing. The Romans land. Cymbeline is distressed. Pisanio worries about Imogen.

Act 4, Scene 4

The princes want to fight in the war and Belarius agrees that they will all go.

Act 5, Scene 1

Posthumus regrets ordering his wife to be murdered. He plans to die in the war dressed like a British peasant.

Act 5, Scene 2

Posthumus fights Iachimo. The Romans are defeated and run from the battlefield.

Act 5, Scene 3

Posthumus helps the princes defeat the Romans, then pretends to be a Roman in order to die.

Act 5, Scene 4

Posthumus welcomes his approaching death. He has a vision of his dead family and receives a prophecy from Jupiter.

Act 5, Scene 5

Everything is revealed. The prophecy is explained. Peace is restored.