Act V, Scene 3
Another part of the field of battle between the British and Roman camps.
- Enter Posthumus and a British Lord.
- Cam’st thou from where they made the stand?
Posthumus2 - 3
- I did,
- Though you it seems come from the fliers?
- I did.
Posthumus5 - 15
- 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 Britains seen, all flying
- Through a strait lane; the enemy full-hearted,
- Lolling the tongue with slaught’ring—having work
- More plentiful than tools to do’t—struck down
- Some mortally, some slightly touch’d, some falling
- Merely through fear, that the strait pass was damm’d
- With dead men hurt behind, and cowards living
- To die with length’ned shame.
- Where was this lane?
Posthumus17 - 54
- Close by the battle, ditch’d, and wall’d with turf,
- Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier
- (An honest one, I warrant), who deserv’d
- 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 cas’d, 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’ th’ hunters. Then began
- A stop i’ th’ 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’ th’ need. Having found the back door open
- Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound
- Some slain before, some dying, some their friends
- O’erborne i’ th’ former wave. Ten chas’d by one
- Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty.
- Those that would die or ere resist are grown
- The mortal bugs o’ th’ field.
British Lord55 - 56
- This was strange chance.
- A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys!
Posthumus57 - 62
- 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 mock’ry? Here is one:
- “Two boys, an old man (twice a boy), a lane,
- Preserv’d the Britains, was the Romans’ bane.”
- Nay, be not angry, sir.
Posthumus64 - 68
- ’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.
- Farewell, you’re angry.
Posthumus70 - 89
- Still going? This is a lord! O noble misery,
- To be i’ th’ field, and ask “what news?” of me!
- Today how many would have given their honors
- To have sav’d 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’ th’ war. Well, I will find him;
- For being now a favorer to the Britain,
- No more a Britain, I have resum’d 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 th’ Roman; great the answer be
- Britains 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.
- Enter two British Captains and Soldiers.
First British Captain90 - 91
- Great Jupiter be prais’d! Lucius is taken.
- ’Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.
Second British Captain92 - 93
- There was a fourth man, in a silly habit,
- That gave th’ affront with them.
First British Captain94 - 95
- So ’tis reported;
- But none of ’em can be found. Stand! Who’s there?
Posthumus96 - 98
- A Roman,
- Who had not now been drooping here, if seconds
- Had answer’d him.
Second British Captain99 - 102
- 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 th’ King.
- Enter Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisanio,
- and Roman captives.
- The Captains present Posthumus to Cymbeline, who delivers
- him over to a Jailer.
- Then exeunt omnes.