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The Winter's Tale

William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 19

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POLIXENES

480On, good Camillo.

POLIXENES

Go ahead, good Camillo.

CAMILLO

I am appointed him to murder you.

CAMILLO

I have been appointed by him to murder you.

POLIXENES

By whom, Camillo?

POLIXENES

By whom, Camillo?

CAMILLO

By the king.

CAMILLO

By the king.

POLIXENES

For what?

POLIXENES

Why?

CAMILLO

485He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,
As he had seen’t or been an instrument
To vice you to’t, that you have touch’d his queen
Forbiddenly.

CAMILLO

He thinks, no, he swears with as much confidence as if he had seen it or even helped you do it, that you have touched his queen in a forbidden way.

POLIXENES

O, then my best blood turn
490To an infected jelly and my name
Be yoked with his that did betray the Best!
Turn then my freshest reputation to
A savour that may strike the dullest nostril
Where I arrive, and my approach be shunn’d,
495Nay, hated too, worse than the great’st infection
That e’er was heard or read!

POLIXENES

If I did, may my blood turn to poison and my name be as despised as Judas’s! Let my reputation rot and stink so badly that even the least sensitive nose will be overwhelmed, and when I approach they’ll turn their backs! Let me be hated more than the worst disease that has ever been heard of!

CAMILLO

Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences, you may as well
500Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
Is piled upon his faith and will continue
The standing of his body.

CAMILLO

No matter how vehemently you swear his suspicions aren’t true, you are as likely to keep the sea from obeying the moon as you are to change his mind. Neither will oaths or wise words disturb the foundation of his foolish notion, which is built on his faith and will last for the rest of his life.