Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Pisanio occupies the humblest station in life. By his virtuous deeds, he rises to heroic stature. He is a trusted servant of Posthumus who is left behind, when Posthumus is banished, to guard Imogen. His honesty is as great as his selflessness. Though tempted by the Queen and later by Cloten, he remains steadfast in his loyalty to his master. He is sagacious and resourceful. He shows a fine judgment of men and situations. After reading Posthumus's letter he instinctively concludes that his master has been abused by some subtle villain and for the first time disobeys him.
Pisanio's resourcefulness is well testified in laying out a plan for Imogen's safety. Had it fully materialized, it would have given her an opportunity to prove her innocence to her husband. When Cloten castigates him with threats and bribes, he pretends to yield. He gives him some information yet knows that Imogen will be out of his reach. His whole course of life shows not one self-regarding purpose or thought. He alone seems to live and breathe purely for others.
The two young princes with their innate nobility and charming manners stand in contrast to Cloten and Iachimo. Divine nature blazons itself in these two princely boys, says Belarius. They have been given some of the best poetry in the play, which reveals their regal status despite their appearances as humble shepards.
Although brought up in the wilds, they have a predilection for noble activities such as hunting and adventuring. Old Belarius seems to have given them enough training in all arts and sciences, then known. They also seem to have absorbed with more than average quickness the experience of a lifetime. This they get from old Belarius who has acquired much in a variety of spheres with which the life of a diplomat and a soldier abounds.
There is very little to distinguish one prince from the other, yet if their ways are closely observed, it becomes obvious that they are not duplicates. The elder, Guiderius seems to be stronger and more manly than his brother. He has no patience with "wench-like words." He is a man of action. He is more direct and cannot tolerate anything that reeks of folly. He swings Cloten's head as a gardener might swing a turnip. His education is well testified by his reference to Hercules and also his ironic statements about Cloten. Arviragus seems to be more tender and gentle, though not without a spark of spirit and valor. When Cymbeline threatens Guilderius, Arviragus does not try to safeguard himself but assures Belarius, "Your danger's ours."
They love Fidele as instinctively as they crave to "drink delight of battle with their peers." The world-weary old Belarius fails to restrain them and they rush to the battlefield. It is by their valor that they distinguish themselves. Unknown as they are, in a short time they become the talk of the whole British Army. They are also deservedly honored with a knighthood.
Belarius is an embittered old soldier and statesman. He persuades the nurse of the princes to kidnap them, but he more than compensates for the crime by educating the princes and keeping them from harm. Thanks to him the princes are able to pass their lifein an ideal home, far from the debased court. In the cave in which they live truth, piety, gentleness, and heroism are their daily companions. Moreover they get the best training for twenty years at the hands of Belarius, whose breeding is of the highest kind. Although Belarius still holds a grudge against his former ruler, he cannot prevent the princes from discovering who they are and finally admits to the court that they are the royal heirs. This confessions appears to mitigate the anger of the king who accepts his confession of kidnapping with aplomb and calls him a brother.