The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 1

page Act 2 Scene 1 Page 3

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LEONTES

How blest am I
In my just censure, in my true opinion!
50Alack, for lesser knowledge! how accursed
In being so blest! There may be in the cup
A spider steep’d, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
Is not infected: but if one present
55The abhorr’d ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
With violent hefts. I have drunk,
and seen the spider.
Camillo was his help in this, his pander:
60There is a plot against my life, my crown;
All’s true that is mistrusted: that false villain
Whom I employ’d was pre-employ’d by him:
He has discover’d my design, and I
Remain a pinch’d thing; yea, a very trick
65For them to play at will. How came the posterns
So easily open?

LEONTES

I’m so blessed to have such accurate judgment, and such a correct opinion! Alas, if only I knew less! I’m cursed to be so blessed! There may be a spider in your cup, and if you drink without realizing it, you aren’t hurt. But if you see the spider and know you have drunk it, you will wretch and heave violently. I have drunk from the cup, and I know that the spider was in it. Camillo helped him and acted as his pimp. There is a plot to kill me and take my place as king. Everything that I suspected is true. That traitorous villain I employed actually worked for Polixenes. He has discovered my plan, and I’m still tormented, a toy for them to play with. How were the gates so easily opened?

FIRST LORD

By his great authority;
Which often hath no less prevail’d than so
On your command.

FIRST LORD

By Camillo’s authority, which he’s often wielded by your command.

LEONTES

70I know’t too well.
Give me the boy: I am glad you did not nurse him:
Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
Have too much blood in him.

LEONTES

I know it too well. Give me the boy. I am glad you didn’t breastfeed him. He may look a bit like me, but he looks too much like you.