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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 3

In another part of the field, Posthumus is accosted by a British lord who asks him about the progress of the battle. Posthumus recounts that at one stage, the British army was overcome and in disarray, and the soldiers were fleeing down a narrow path leaving the King to the mercy of the enemy. Yet out of nowhere an old man accompanied by two young lads had appeared, and with their words and deeds, instilled such courage in the fleeing Britons that they turned back and fought bravely as lions, freeing the King from the clutches of the enemy. As Posthumus relates the strange story, the listener is amazed at the way the two young men had wrought such a change in the hearts of the fleeing men. Posthumus does not relay his own act of courage in this decisive battle and infers that he only acted with such bravery because he sought death.

Now that Britain is victorious, Posthumus decides to rejoin the Italian army so that he may find his end at the hands of his British captors. He is so full of remorse at Imogen's death and his role in it that he wishes to lay down his life. Just then, two British captains enter and find Posthumus who claims to be Roman. He is brought before Cymbeline who delivers him over to a jailer.


Notes

The scene is devoted to the recounting of the last valiant phase of the battle and Posthumus' own humble version of his contribution to it. Belarius and the two princes distinguish themselves in stemming the rout that had set in the British army. Posthumus is modest enough to eliminate from his account the glorious part that he himself played in turning the defeat into a decisive victory. The applause and glory are nothing to him as his interest in life has all dried up. In fact so low has he fallen in spirit that he is willing to pretend he is a Roman soldier so that he may be imprisoned and even sentenced to death for his crime against the state: his supposed murder of Imogen and the dissolution of the royal family.

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