Study Guide

Cymbeline, King of Britain Act 1, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 1

Read the full text of Cymbeline Act 1 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • Two British guys enter and start dishing to each other about what's going on with their king. The big news is that his daughter Imogen has married Posthumus. Gasp.
  • Nothing is really wrong with Posthumus, exactly. He's poor, but he's a good guy. He was orphaned as a kid, and King Cymbeline took him under his wing. He never imagined his daughter would marry the guy.
  • The problem is that the king already picked Cloten to marry Imogen. It turns out Cymbeline got hitched not that long ago himself, and he wants his daughter to marry his wife's son from her first marriage.
  • Brain Snack: In Shakespeare's England, parents really liked to pick out their kids' spouses. Sometimes, parents even filed lawsuits to try to force their kids into arranged marriages.
  • These British guys fill us in on the family history so we're up to speed. Cymbeline's two sons were kidnapped twenty years ago, when they were little kids. No one knows what happened to them.
  • It's pretty sad, the men think, that Cymbeline is fighting with the only child he has left. He's put her in prison for marrying Posthumus and banished Posthumus to boot.

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