Study Guide

Cymbeline, King of Britain Act 3, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 3, Scene 1

Read the full text of Cymbeline Act 3 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • The Roman ambassador Caius Lucius has not come to Britain on a friendly visit: he wants to know why Cymbeline has not paid the tribute money to Rome yet.
  • Lucius fills us in on the history of the tribute. Back when Julius Caesar conquered Britain, he set up a tribute in the sum of 3,000 pounds to be paid every year to Rome. In return, Rome would refrain from invading Britain.
  • The Queen jumps in and says the fee will never be paid again. Hmm… that seems like a decision Cymbeline should make, doesn't it?
  • Always looking for a chance to make a fool of himself, Cloten blunders through some reasons why Britain shouldn't pay.
  • Cymbeline finally puts a stop to the madness, mainly because no one can really understand what Cloten is going on about. Cymbeline refuses to pay the money, and Lucius declares Britain an enemy. He's sorry to do it, but it has to be done.
  • Cymbeline knows that this means war, and he hates the thought of it. He wants peace with Rome.
  • Cloten, however, is boastful and taunts Lucius all the more.

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