Study Guide

Cymbeline, King of Britain Act 4, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 2

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


  • Inside Belarius's cave, the three hunters and Imogen talk. Belarius declares that Imogen doesn't look well.
  • Guiderius and Arviragus also express their concern, but Imogen urges them to go out, anyway.
  • The boys call Imogen "brother" and wish her well. Then, they wonder why they are more devoted to her than to their own father. After all, they've only known her a short time. Or have they?
  • Belarius hears this and starts to worry. He knows he's not the boys' real father, and he thinks they might find that out soon.
  • Imogen feels comforted. She remembers that she has the potion from Pisanio, and she takes it. She goes into the cave to sleep while the men go out to hunt.
  • Just then, Cloten enters, muttering about how he's trying to find some "runagates" (fugitives). He means Imogen and Posthumus, of course, but Guiderius thinks the slur is about them.
  • There's some trash talk between Cloten and the boys. Cloten thinks he can fight just about anybody, and Guiderius doesn't back down.
  • The men fight, and it's not long before Guiderius emerges with Cloten's head. He showed that fool.
  • Arviragus is impressed with his bro, but Belarius fears the worst. He recognizes the Queen's son and wonders if Cymbeline and the Queen know that Guiderius and Arviragus are still alive.
  • Belarius and the boys decide they've had enough excitement for the day. Belarius says they'll return to the cave and bring Imogen some dinner.
  • Belarius and the boys discover that Imogen is dead. (We know she has just taken the magic potion, but they don't know that.)
  • Guiderius and Arviragus are deeply saddened. They decide to lay the body next to the grave of Euripile, their mom—or, you know, the lady they think is their mom.
  • Guiderius and Arviragus place flowers around Imogen. They want to sing but can't bring themselves to do it, so they speak the words of a song for her. Belarius brings Cloten's body in and lays it next to Imogen.
  • After the men leave, Imogen awakes and sees Cloten's dead body next to her. She recognizes Posthumus's clothes and mourns the death of her husband. Then she figures out she must have been given a potion by Pisanio instead of medicine.
  • Oh, that tricky Pisanio, she thinks: he must have been in cahoots with Cloten all along. She falls on Cloten's body.
  • Just then, a Captain, a Soothsayer, and Lucius enter. They think that Cloten and Imogen are dead, but then Imogen arises.
  • Imogen—still disguised as a boy—offers her services to Lucius. The Roman ambassador accepts; he likes Imogen immediately.
  • Lucius tells Imogen that he'd rather be like a mentor than a master to her.

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