This article is about Shakespeare's play. For other uses, see Cymbeline (disambiguation).
Cymbeline, one of William Shakespeare's plays, tells the story of a British king, Cymbeline, and his three children, presented as though they are in a fairy tale. The secret marriage of Cymbeline's daughter, Imogen, triggers much of the action, which includes villainous slander, homicidal jealousy, cross-gender disguise, a deathlike trance, and the appearance of Jupiter in a vision.
Kidnapped in infancy, Cymbeline's two sons are raised in a Welsh cave. As young men, they rescue a starving stranger (Imogen in disguise); kill Cymbeline’s stepson; and fight with almost superhuman valor against the Roman army. The king, meanwhile, takes on a Roman invasion rather than pay a tribute. He too is a familiar figure—a father who loses his children and miraculously finds them years later; a king who defeats an army and grants pardon to all.
Cymbeline displays unusually powerful emotions with a tremendous charge. Like some of Shakespeare's other late work—especially The Winter's Tale and The Tempest—it is an improbable story lifted into a nearly mythic realm.
Shakespeare is thought to have written Cymbeline in 1609–10; an observer saw it performed in 1611. The play was published in the 1623 First Folio. Sources for Cymbeline include Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), The Mirror for Magistrates, Boccaccio’s Decameron, and The Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune.
Productions at the Folger
Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 copy 2 v.06
In popular culture
The Folger owns almost 20 stand-alone translations of Cymbeline in various languages (not including collected works). Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.
Explore the curated image group for Cymbeline in the Folger digital image collection.
Content Advisory: this image group contains representations of nudity
- Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 2003 Folger Shakespeare Library.