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Cymbeline

Cymbeline Translation Act 5, Scene 3

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Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and a British Lord

LORD

Camest thou from where they made the stand?

LORD

Did you come from where they made a stand?

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

I did.Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

I did. But it seems like you were one of the people who ran away.

LORD

I did.

LORD

I was.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

No blame be to you, sir; for all was lost, But that the heavens fought: the king himself Of his wings destitute, the army broken, And but the backs of Britons seen, all flying Through a straight lane; the enemy full-hearted, Lolling the tongue with slaughtering, having work More plentiful than tools to do't, struck down Some mortally, some slightly touch'd, some falling Merely through fear; that the straight pass was damm'd With dead men hurt behind, and cowards living To die with lengthen'd shame.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

I don't blame you, sir, because there was no hope except that the gods fought for us. The king was trapped alone, the army beaten up, and no one could see anything except the backs of Britons running away through a narrow alley. The enemy, rejoicing, was eager to slaughter them, with more people to kill than they had weapons to do it with. Some people were killed, some a little injured, some just fell down from fear. The narrow way was dammed up with dead men hit in the back, and cowards who stayed alive to die of shame later. 

LORD

Where was this lane?

LORD

Where was this alley?

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

Close by the battle, ditch'd, and wall'd with turf; Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier, An honest one, I warrant; who deserved So long a breeding as his white beard came to, In doing this for's country: athwart the lane, He, with two striplings-lads more like to run The country base than to commit such slaughter With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer Than those for preservation cased, or shame— Made good the passage; cried to those that fled, 'Our Britain s harts die flying, not our men: To darkness fleet souls that fly backwards. Stand; Or we are Romans and will give you that Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save, But to look back in frown: stand, stand.' These three, Three thousand confident, in act as many— For three performers are the file when all The rest do nothing—with this word 'Stand, stand,' Accommodated by the place, more charming With their own nobleness, which could have turn'd A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks, Part shame, part spirit renew'd; that some, turn'd coward But by example—O, a sin in war, Damn'd in the first beginners!—gan to look The way that they did, and to grin like lions Upon the pikes o' the hunters. Then began A stop i' the chaser, a retire, anon A rout, confusion thick; forthwith they fly Chickens, the way which they stoop'd eagles; slaves, The strides they victors made: and now our cowards, Like fragments in hard voyages, became The life o' the need: having found the backdoor open Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound! Some slain before; some dying; some their friends O'er borne i' the former wave: ten, chased by one, Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty: Those that would die or ere resist are grown The mortal bugs o' the field.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

Next to the battlefield, with ditches on the sides and walls made of grass. This gave an opportunity to an ancient solder, an honest one I bet. He deserved to be made as noble as his white beard was long for doing this in the service of his country. He, along with two young boys more likely to run races in the countryside than kill people this way, with faces attractive enough to make masks out of, or rather more beautiful than anyone whose face was made into a mask to remind people of their virtue or shame—they protected the passageway. They called to the men running away: "British deer die while running away, not British men. The souls of people who run away go to hell. Stand your ground, or we will act like Romans and treat you like animals because you're running away like animals. You can save yourselves by just turning around and frowning. Stand your ground." These three were as confident as if there were three thousand of them, and had the same effect as three thousand—because three people can make a difference when no one else is doing anything. They said "stand your ground" and looked at home where they were, and convinced people by their example, which could even have turned a woman's stick for spinning wool into a spear. They made people seem less afraid, partly because they were ashamed to and partly because their courage came back. Some people, who were acting like cowards just because everyone else was—which is a sin in war and the people who began this trend should be damned!—began to act the same as the three men and to bare their teeth like lions at hunters' spears. Then the chase ended, the enemy fell back and was defeated, and there was nothing but confusion in their ranks. Immediately they ran like chickens when before they acted like eagles. They went back like slaves over the space they first crossed like conquerors. And now those who were cowards at first on our side, like crumbs that save your life when you're starving on a long journey, saved the day. Finding the enemies' backs unprotected, they stabbed them to the heart! They trampled over some men who had been killed before, some who were dying, some who fell over in the crowd. Before, ten men were chased by one, but those men turned around and killed twenty. The men who chose to die rather than give up became the terror of the battlefield.

LORD

This was strange chanceA narrow lane, an old man, and two boys.

LORD

This was a strange coincidence: a narrow road, an old man, and two boys.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

Nay, do not wonder at it: you are made Rather to wonder at the things you hear Than to work any. Will you rhyme upon't, And vent it for a mockery? Here is one: 'Two boys, an old man twice a boy, a lane, Preserved the Britons, was the Romans' bane.'

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

No, don't be amazed. It's your nature to be amazed at things you hear about rather than do anything yourself. Are you going to make a poem about it and act it out? Here's one: "Two boys, an old man in his second childhood, and a road saved the British and destroyed the Romans."

LORD

Nay, be not angry, sir.

LORD

Don't be angry, sir?

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

'Lack, to what end? Who dares not stand his foe, I'll be his friend; For if he'll do as he is made to do, I know he'll quickly fly my friendship too. You have put me into rhyme.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

Why should I? I'll be friends with anyone who doesn't dare stay and fight his enemy. Because if he does what is natural to him, I know he'll run away from my friendship too. You made me rhyme.

LORD

Farewell; you're angry.

LORD

Goodbye: you're angry?

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

Still going?

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

Still running away?

Exit Lord

This is a lord! O noble misery, To be i' the field, and ask 'what news?' of me! To-day how many would have given their honours To have saved their carcasses! took heel to do't, And yet died too! I, in mine own woe charm'd, Could not find death where I did hear him groan, Nor feel him where he struck: being an ugly monster, 'Tis strange he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds, Sweet words; or hath more ministers than we That draw his knives i' the war. Well, I will find him For being now a favourer to the Briton, No more a Briton, I have resumed again The part I came in: fight I will no more, But yield me to the veriest hind that shall Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is Here made by the Roman; great the answer be Britons must take. For me, my ransom's death; On either side I come to spend my breath; Which neither here I'll keep nor bear again, But end it by some means for Imogen.

That was a lord? Oh what a noble hardship, to be in the battlefield and ask me "what's going on?" Today so many chose to give up their honor to save their bodies! They ran to do it, but died anyway! I, cloaked in my own sadness, couldn't find death even where I heard him groaning, and couldn't get hit by him even where he was striking people down. He's an ugly monster, so it's strange he hides in refreshing cups, soft beds, and sweet words, and has more minions than there are soldiers taking knives out to serve him in the war. Well, because he's on the British side, I won't be a British soldier anymore. I'll go back to the side I came here with. I won't fight any more, but surrender to the lowest soldier who just touches me on the shoulder once. The Romans killed a lot of people here, and the Britons will punish them for it. My prize will be death. I've fought on both sides, but instead of sticking with one or the other I'll die for Imogen's sake.

Enter two British Captains and Soldiers

FIRST CAPTAIN

Great Jupiter be praised! Lucius is taken.'Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.

FIRST CAPTAIN

May great Jupiter be praised! Lucius has been captured. It's believed that the old man and his sons were angels.

SECOND CAPTAIN

There was a fourth man, in a silly habit,That gave the affront with them.

SECOND CAPTAIN

There was a fourth man, in humble clothes, who fought with them.

FIRST CAPTAIN

So 'tis reported:But none of 'em can be found. Stand! who's there?

FIRST CAPTAIN

I've heard that said. But none of them can be found. Stop! Who's there?

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

A Roman,Who had not now been drooping here, if secondsHad answer'd him.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS

A Roman, who wouldn't have been stuck here if people had come to his help.

SECOND CAPTAIN

Lay hands on him; a dog! A leg of Rome shall not return to tell What crows have peck'd them here. He brags his service As if he were of note: bring him to the king.

SECOND CAPTAIN

Grab him. He's a dog! Not even a single Roman leg will make it home to report what crows pecked it here. He's bragging about his fighting as if he's important. Bring him to the king.

Enter CYMBELINE, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, ARVIRAGUS, PISANIO, Soldiers, Attendants, and Roman Captives. The Captains present POSTHUMUS LEONATUS to CYMBELINE, who delivers him over to a Gaoler: then exeunt omnes

Cymbeline
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