The Comedy of Errors

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 4

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DUKE

Nay, forward, old man. Do not break off so,
For we may pity though not pardon thee.

DUKE

No, keep going, old man; don’t stop like that. For we may take pity on you, even if we can’t pardon you.

EGEON

O, had the gods done so, I had not now
Worthily termed them merciless to us.
100For, ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues,
We were encounterd by a mighty rock,
Which being violently borne upon,
Our helpful ship was splitted in the midst;
So that, in this unjust divorce of us,
105Fortune had left to both of us alike
What to delight in, what to sorrow for.
Her part, poor soul, seeming as burdenèd
With lesser weight, but not with lesser woe,
Was carried with more speed before the wind,
110And in our sight they three were taken up
By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
At length, another ship had seized on us
And, knowing whom it was their hap to save,
Gave healthful welcome to their shipwracked guests,
115And would have reft the fishers of their prey
Had not their bark been very slow of sail;
And therefore homeward did they bend their course.
Thus have you heard me severed from my bliss;
That by misfortunes was my life prolonged
120To tell sad stories of my own mishaps.

EGEON

Had the gods taken pity on us, I wouldn’t be here calling them merciless. The two ships hadn’t come within ten leagues of us when our ship hit a huge rock and split down the middle. As we were unjustly separated from each other, both my wife and I were left with something to delight in and something to sorrow over. For her part–the poor soul! Her half of the mast weighed less, but she was no luckier than I was: the wind carried her away more quickly. I saw them rescued by fishermen from Corinth–or so I thought. After a while, another ship rescued me and the two boys who were with me. The sailors knew me, so they took good care of us. Our ship would have caught up with the other ship and taken back my wife and the children, but we sailed too slowly and their ship sped toward their home. So now you’ve heard how I was separated from everything I love. It’s been my bad luck to remain alive long enough to be able to tell the sad stories of my own misfortunes.

DUKE

And for the sake of them thou sorrowest for,
Do me the favour to dilate at full
What hath befall'n of them and thee till now.

DUKE

And for the sake of those you grieve for, do me a favor: tell me the full story of what has happened to you and them, up to this point.

EGEON

My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,
125At eighteen years became inquisitive
After his brother, and importuned me
That his attendant–so his case was like,

EGEON

My youngest son, whom I care about the most, turned eighteen and started to wonder about his twin brother. He asked me to let him take his attendant–who had also lost a brother, though he had kept his brother’s

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