A line-by-line translation

Othello

Othello Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter RODERIGO and IAGO

RODERIGO

Tush! Never tell me. I take it much unkindlyThat thou, Iago, who hast had my purseAs if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

RODERIGO

Psh! Don't say that. Iago, I am not pleased that you've known about this, especially since I've given you access to my wallet as if it were your own.

IAGO

'Sblood, but you’ll not hear me! If ever I did dream of such a matter, abhor me.

IAGO

Christ, you're not listening to me! I never even dreamed of such a thing. If I did, you'd have every right to hate me.

RODERIGO

Thou told’st meThou didst hold him in thy hate.

RODERIGO

You told me that you hated him.

IAGO

Despise me If I do not. Three great ones of the city (In personal suit to make me his lieutenant) Off-capped to him, and by the faith of man I know my price, I am worth no worse a place. But he (as loving his own pride and purposes) Evades them with a bombast circumstance Horribly stuffed with epithets of war, And in conclusion Nonsuits my mediators. For “Certes,” says he, “I have already chose my officer.” And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine A fellow almost damned in a fair wife That never set a squadron in the field, Nor the division of a battle knows More than a spinster—unless the bookish theoric, Wherein the toged consuls can propose As masterly as he. Mere prattle without practice Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th' election And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds Christian and heathen, must be belee’d and calmed By debitor and creditor. This counter-caster He (in good time) must his lieutenant be And I, bless the mark, his Moorship’s ancient.

IAGO

If I don't hate him, you can hate me. Three noblemen of the city tipped their hats to him, making a personal plea for him to make me his lieutenant. And, truly, I know my value, and I'm worthy of that position. But of course Othello is too proud to listen and wants to do things his own way, so he speaks in circles with empty talk about war-related titles. And in the end he declines their proposal and says, "Certainly, I have already chosen my lieutenant." And who did he choose? A guy who's basically a mathematician, some Michael Cassio, from Florence. A man practically cursed with a wife too beautiful (whom he can't control). A man who has never commanded a squadron on the battlefield, who knows no more about battle than an old lady. He knows only theory from books, full of the talk of old geezers in togas. His military experience is all ideas, with no real action! But, sir, Othello chose this Cassio for lieutenant, not me—even though he's seen proof of my military prowess with his own eyes at Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on all sorts of battlefields in Christian and Pagan lands. Now, my career's stalled and I'm overtaken by some number cruncher—an accountant! That bean-counter will be his lieutenant before too long, and meanwhile I'll be carrying around his Moorship's flag, thank you very much.

RODERIGO

By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.

RODERIGO

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IAGO

Why, there’s no remedy. 'Tis the curse of service. Preferment goes by letter and affection, And not by old gradation, where each second Stood heir to th' first. Now sir, be judge yourself, Whether I in any just term am affined To love the Moor.

IAGO

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RODERIGO

I would not follow him then.

RODERIGO

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IAGO

O sir, content you. I follow him to serve my turn upon him. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters Cannot be truly followed. You shall mark Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave That (doting on his own obsequious bondage) Wears out his time much like his master’s ass For naught but provender, and when he’s old, cashiered. Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are Who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves And, throwing but shows of service on their lords, Do well thrive by them. And when they have lined their coats, Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul, And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir, It is as sure as you are Roderigo, Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him, I follow but myself. Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my peculiar end. For when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and figure of my heart In compliment extern, ’tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.

IAGO

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RODERIGO

What a full fortune does the Thick-lips oweIf he can carry’t thus!

RODERIGO

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IAGO

Call up her father. Rouse him. Make after him, Poison his delight, Proclaim him in the streets. Incense her kinsmen, And, though he in a fertile climate dwell, Plague him with flies. Though that his joy be joy Yet throw such changes of vexation on’t, As it may lose some color.

IAGO

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RODERIGO

Here is her father’s house, I’ll call aloud.

RODERIGO

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IAGO

Do, with like timorous accent and dire yellAs when, by night and negligence, the fireIs spied in populous cities.

IAGO

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RODERIGO

What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!

RODERIGO

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IAGO

Awake! What, ho, Brabantio! Thieves! Thieves! Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!Thieves! thieves!

IAGO

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Enter BRABANTIO, above

BRABANTIO

What is the reason of this terrible summons?What is the matter there?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Signior, is all your family within?

RODERIGO

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IAGO

Are your doors locked?

IAGO

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BRABANTIO

Why, wherefore ask you this?

BRABANTIO

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IAGO

Zounds, sir, you’re robbed! For shame, put on your gown. Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul. Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise, Awake the snorting citizens with the bell Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. Arise, I say!

IAGO

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BRABANTIO

What, have you lost your wits?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Most reverend signior, do you know my voice?

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

Not I. What are you?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

My name is Roderigo.

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

The worser welcome. I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors. In honest plainness thou hast heard me say My daughter is not for thee. And now in madness, Being full of supper and distempering drafts, Upon malicious knavery dost thou come To start my quiet?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Sir, sir, sir—

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

But thou must needs be sure My spirits and my place have in their powerTo make this bitter to thee.

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Patience, good sir.

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

What tell’st thou me of robbing? This is Venice,My house is not a grange.

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Most grave Brabantio,In simple and pure soul I come to you—

RODERIGO

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IAGO

Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to do you service and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse. You’ll have your nephews neigh to you. You’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.

IAGO

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BRABANTIO

What profane wretch art thou?

BRABANTIO

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IAGO

I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter andthe Moor are now making the beast with two backs.

IAGO

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BRABANTIO

Thou art a villain!

BRABANTIO

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IAGO

You are a senator!

IAGO

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BRABANTIO

This thou shalt answer. I know thee, Roderigo.

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you, If’t be your pleasure and most wise consent (As partly I find it is) that your fair daughter At this odd-even and dull watch o' th' night Transported with no worse nor better guard But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier, To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor, If this be known to you and your allowance, We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs. But if you know not this my manners tell me We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe That, from the sense of all civility, I thus would play and trifle with your reverence. Your daughter (if you have not given her leave) I say again, hath made a gross revolt, Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes In an extravagant and wheeling stranger Of here and everywhere. Straight satisfy yourself. If she be in her chamber or your house, Let loose on me the justice of the state For thus deluding you.

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

Strike on the tinder, ho! Give me a taper, call up all my people! This accident is not unlike my dream, Belief of it oppresses me already. Light, I say, light!

BRABANTIO

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Exit above

IAGO

[to RODERIGO] Farewell, for I must leave you. It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place, To be producted (as, if I stay, I shall) Against the Moor. For I do know the state (However this may gall him with some check) Cannot with safety cast him, for he’s embarked With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars (Which even now stand in act) that, for their souls, Another of his fathom they have none To lead their business. In which regard, Though I do hate him as I do hell pains, Yet for necessity of present life I must show out a flag and sign of love, (Which is indeed but sign). That you shall surely find him, Lead to the Sagittary the raisèd search, And there will I be with him. So farewell.

IAGO

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Exit

Enter BRABANTIO, with servants and torches

BRABANTIO

It is too true an evil. Gone she is. And what’s to come of my despisèd time Is naught but bitterness. Now, Roderigo, Where didst thou see her?— Oh, unhappy girl!— With the Moor, say’st thou?—Who would be a father?— How didst thou know ’twas she?— Oh, she deceives me Past thought!—What said she to you?—Get more tapers, Raise all my kindred. Are they married, think you?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Truly, I think they are.

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

Oh, heaven, how got she out? Oh, treason of the blood! Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds By what you see them act. Is there not charms By which the property of youth and maidhood May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo, Of some such thing?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

Yes, sir, I have indeed.

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

Call up my brother—Oh, would you had had her!Some one way, some another. Do you knowWhere we may apprehend her and the Moor?

BRABANTIO

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RODERIGO

I think I can discover him, if you please To get good guard and go along with me.

RODERIGO

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BRABANTIO

Pray you lead on. At every house I’ll call. I may command at most.—Get weapons, ho! And raise some special officers of might.— On, good Roderigo. I will deserve your pains.

BRABANTIO

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Exeunt

Othello
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.