Study Guide

Cymbeline, King of Britain Act 2, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 4

Read the full text of Cymbeline Act 2 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • Welcome back to Rome.
  • Posthumus and Philario are discussing politics. Cymbeline was supposed to pay a tribute (as in money, not a nice speech) to the Romans. The two countries have worked out a system where Britain pays Rome so they don't go to war. Cymbeline hasn't paid up yet.
  • But who can think about politics when there's news of Imogen? Iachimo is back from his little adventure, and he's about to catch these guys up.
  • Posthumus is sure that Iachimo's swift return means he was unsuccessful with Imogen.
  • Iachimo tells him his bride is the fairest of them all. Then he says: "The ring is won." Translation: he slept with Imogen and won the bet.
  • But Posthumus has more faith in Imogen than that. He doesn't believe Iachimo for one minute.
  • So Iachimo describes Imogen's bedchamber in detail. He doesn't leave anything out.
  • Posthumus still refuses to believe Iachimo. That proves nothing, he says; Iachimo might have heard those particulars from him or from someone else. It doesn't mean Imogen cheated on him.
  • Iachimo brings in the heavy artillery: he shows Posthumus the bracelet.
  • Posthumus is ready to hand over the ring. He still can't believe his dear Imogen would do this to him, especially with nasty Iachimo, but he can't think of how else this dude could have nabbed the bracelet.
  • Posthumus goes through all the scenarios but can't come up with one that makes sense. Imogen wears it everywhere—even her maids know she loves that bracelet. She wouldn't part with it.
  • So Posthumus finally believes Iachimo.
  • Philario says the bracelet isn't proof enough: it could have been stolen. (Ahem. It was.)
  • Then Iachimo delivers the fatal blow: did he mention that Imogen has a mole on her breast? He kissed it when he was with her.
  • Posthumus hands over the ring and curses all women everywhere. Every evil and cruel thing men do can be traced back to women, he says. How can women be so charming when they're always just deceiving men?

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