Cymbeline by Valerie Wayne

Cymbeline by Valerie Wayne

Author:Valerie Wayne
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Published: 2016-12-03T04:05:34+00:00

Our peace we’ll ratify, seal it with feasts.

Set on there. Never was a war did cease,

Ere bloody hands were washed, with such

a peace.



Commentary and Textual Notes


There is no list of roles in F. Rowe provided one and subsequent editors have expanded it. These traditional listings begin with male roles, often in order of status, and then list female roles and extras. The Oxford edition of 1986 was the first to resist gender and status hierarchies in this respect; it also separated out the play’s characters by nationality, using line breaks to distinguish the Romans from the Italians. Pitcher provided headings for most of these groups but identified the Italians only as ‘Philario’s Guests in Rome’. Since the play’s blatant anachronism differentiates classical Romans from Renaissance Italians before those characters converge in Act 5, this edition provides a separate heading for the Italians to acknowledge the play’s temporal and cultural distinctions. It prioritizes family lineage among the Britons and recognizes some status in each group while reflecting the characters’ relative importance within the full action of the play. The King appears first in recognition of his royalty and the play’s name, for example, but he has fewer lines than Innogen, Posthumus, Iachimo or Belarius (Spevack, 3.1313–89).

1 CYMBELINE Shakespeare’s sources all agree that this king ruled Britain during the birth of Jesus. Holinshed says ‘Kymbeline’s’ reign began in 33 BCE and lasted for 35 years, although these dates do not tally with the year given for Jesus’ birth (23 years into the reign) or Guiderius’ assumption of the throne (17 CE; I, Hist. 32–3). According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and Holinshed, Cymbeline was free to pay or not to pay tribute and he ruled during a time of peace (Geoffrey 4.64; Holinshed I, Hist. 32). The play diverges from both sources with his refusal to pay tribute and the war that ensues, which were instead associated with Guiderius’ reign. The historical Cymbeline ruled the powerful Catuvellauni tribe of Celtic people in southeastern England from his seat in Camulodunum, modern day Colchester. His Brittonic name was Cunobelinos, which developed into the Welsh Cynfelyn and was rendered in Latin as Cunobelinus. The name’s first element, cuno-, means ‘hound, dog’. Its second element is a cognate of the name of the continental Celtic deity Belenos, who was equated with Apollo and associated with medicine and medicinal springs. According to Peter Schrijver, the etymology of Belenos connects it with the henbane plant rather than with light, radiance or a sun god (Schrijver). The personal name Belin/Belyn as well as the more common Cynfelyn occurs in medieval Welsh texts. The compound name Cynfelyn may mean ‘a hound-like Belyn’ (MH). Cymbeline is mentioned briefly by Suetonius (‘Caligula’ in The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, 44) and Cassius Dio (Roman History, 60.20), where his reign is dated c. 10–40 CE. Images of coins he had minted appear in Camden’s Britain (89–91; see Fig. 8) and Speed’s History of Great Britaine (174); some can still be seen at the Colchester Museum.


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