Othello

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 3

page Act 2 Scene 3 Page 10

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Or do but lift this arm, the best of you
Shall sink in my rebuke. Give me to know
How this foul rout began, who set it on,
And he that is approved in this offence,
175Though he had twinned with me, both at a birth,
Shall lose me. What, in a town of war
Yet wild, the people’s hearts brimful of fear,
To manage private and domestic quarrel?
In night, and on the court and guard of safety?
180'Tis monstrous. Iago, who began ’t?
avoided a war, everyone’s still on edge, and you’re getting into private fights while you’re supposed to be on guard duty? That’s unbelievably bad. Iago, who started it?

MONTANO

If partially affined or leagued in office
Thou dost deliver more or less than truth
Thou art no soldier.

MONTANO

I know you’re close to Cassio, but if you diverge from the truth in any way, you’re not a true soldier.

IAGO

    Touch me not so near.
I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth
185Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio.
Yet I persuade myself to speak the truth
Shall nothing wrong him. This it is, general:
Montano and myself being in speech,
There comes a fellow crying out for help
190And Cassio following him with determined sword
To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman
Steps in to Cassio and entreats his pause,
Myself the crying fellow did pursue,
Lest by his clamor—as it so fell out—
195The town might fall in fright. He, swift of foot,
Outran my purpose, and I returned then rather
For that I heard the clink and fall of swords
And Cassio high in oath, which till tonight
I ne'er might say before. When I came back—
200For this was brief— I found them close together
At blow and thrust, even as again they were
When you yourself did part them.
More of this matter cannot I report.

IAGO

You’re hitting close to home there. I’d rather cut my tongue out of my mouth than say anything bad about Michael Cassio. But I don’t think it’ll hurt him to tell the truth. This is what happened, General. Montano and I were talking when a man came running, crying for help. Cassio was chasing him with his sword out, trying to kill the guy. This gentleman stopped Cassio and told him to put away his sword. I followed the guy who was crying for help, to keep him from scaring the public. But he was fast and outran me. When I got back, I heard the swords clinking and Cassio swearing. I’d never heard him swear before. They were nearly killing each other, as you saw when you pulled them apart. I can’t tell you anything else.