Othello: Act 1, Scene 1


           Enter RODERIGO and IAGO.

      RODERIGO
1. never tell me: don't talk to me.
  1   Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly
  2   That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse
3. this: i.e., Othello's marriage to Desdemona.
  3   As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

      IAGO
4. 'Sblood: by God's (Christ's) blood.
  4   'Sblood, but you will not hear me:
  5   If ever I did dream of such a matter,
6. abhor me: i.e., loathe and abominate me.
  6   Abhor me.

      RODERIGO
  7   Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.

      IAGO
  8   Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
  9   In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
10. Off-capp'd to him: Took off their caps to him, i.e., Othello
 10   Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,
 11   I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.
 12   But he, as loving his own pride and purposes,
13. bombast circumstance: wordy rigmarole. Bombast was cotton stuffing used in padded clothing. 14. epithets of war: military jargon.
 13   Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
 14   Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;
 15   And, in conclusion,
16. Nonsuits: rejects, refuses. Certes: certainly.
 16   Nonsuits my mediators; for, "Certes," says he,
 17   "I have already chose my officer."
 18   And what was he?
19. arithmetician: i.e., one adept at figures, not at fighting; implying that Cassio's knowledge of war is purely theoretical, based on books of tactics. 21. almost damn'd in a fair wife: We never hear another mention of Cassio's wife, and when the scene . . . more 23. division: arrangement. battle: battalion. 24. spinster: i.e., housewife (one of whose duties was spinning). theoric: theory. 25. toged: wearing togas (dressed for the council-chamber, not the battlefield). consuls: senators. propose: discuss, talk.
 19   Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
 20   One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
 21   A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife,
 22   That never set a squadron in the field,
 23   Nor the division of a battle knows
 24   More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
 25   Wherein the toged consuls can propose
 26   As masterly as he. Mere prattle, without practise,
 27   Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
28. his eyes: i.e., Othello's eyes.
 28   And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
 29   At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
30. be be-lee'd and calm'd: have the wind taken out of my sails and be left becalmed. 31. debitor and creditor: i.e., bookkeeper. counter-caster: accountant; . . . more 32. in good time: Ironic, i.e., forsooth. 33. ancient: ensign, standard-bearer.
 30   Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd
 31   By debitor and creditor — this counter-caster,
 32   He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
 33   And I — God bless the mark! — his Moorship's ancient.

      RODERIGO
34. his hangman: the one to hang him.
 34   By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.

      IAGO
 35   Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service,
36. Preferment: advancement. letter and affection: private recommendation and favoritism. 37. old gradation: seniority, as in the good old days.
 36   Preferment goes by letter and affection,
 37   And not by old gradation, where each second
 38   Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,
39. term: respect. affined: bound.
 39   Whether I in any just term am affined
 40   To love the Moor.

      RODERIGO
 40                                  I would not follow him then.

      IAGO
41. content you: calm yourself.
 41   O, sir, content you;
 42   I follow him to serve my turn upon him.
 43   We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
 44   Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
 45   Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
 46   That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
 47   Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
48. cashier'd: dismissed from service.
 48   For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
 49   Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
50. trimm'd in forms and visages of duty: wearing the manners and countenance of humble service.
 50   Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
 51   Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
 52   And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
 53   Do well thrive by them and when they have lin'd their coats
 54   Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul;
 55   And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
 56   It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
 57   Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
 58   In following him, I follow but myself;
 59   Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
60. peculiar: particular, personal, private.
 60   But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
 61   For when my outward action doth demonstrate
62. figure: shape.
 62   The native act and figure of my heart
63. compliment extern: external show corresponding to these hidden motives.
 63   In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
 64   But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
 65   For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

      RODERIGO
66. thick-lips: i.e., Othello (Elizabethans often applied the term "Moor" to Blacks). owe: own. 67. carry't thus: carry this off.
 66   What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe
 67   If he can carry't thus!

      IAGO
 67                                          Call up her father,
 68   Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight,
 69   Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,
70. though he in a fertile climate dwell: i.e., though his general situation is a fortunate one. Climate = region, country. 71. flies: i.e., petty annoyances. . . . more 72. changes of vexation: vexatious changes. 73. may lose some color: i.e., may lose some of its fresh gloss or appearance (of happiness).
 70   And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,
 71   Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy,
 72   Yet throw such changes of vexation on't,
 73   As it may lose some color.

      RODERIGO
 74   Here is her father's house; I'll call aloud.

      IAGO
75. timorous: terrifying.
 75   Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell
76. by night and negligence: at night and as the result of negligence.
 76   As when, by night and negligence, the fire
 77   Is spied in populous cities.

      RODERIGO
 78   What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!

      IAGO
 79   Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves!
 80   Look to your house, your daughter and your bags!
 81   Thieves! thieves!

           [Enter BRABANTIO] above [at a window].

      BRABANTIO
 82   What is the reason of this terrible summons?
 83   What is the matter there?

      RODERIGO
 84   Signior, is all your family within?

      IAGO
 85   Are your doors lock'd?

      BRABANTIO
 85                                             Why, wherefore ask you this?

      IAGO
86. 'Zounds: by God's (Christ's) wounds.
 86   'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown;
 87   Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
 88   Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
89. tupping: copulating with (said of sheep).
 89   Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise;
90. snorting: snoring.
 90   Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
 91   Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
 92   Arise, I say.

      BRABANTIO
 92                         What, have you lost your wits?

      RODERIGO
 93   Most reverend signior, do you know my voice?

      BRABANTIO
 94   Not I; what are you?

      RODERIGO
 95   My name is Roderigo.

      BRABANTIO
 95                                          The worser welcome:
 96   I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:
 97   In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
 98   My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
99. distempering: disordering, intoxicating.
 99   Being full of supper and distempering draughts,
100. Upon malicious bravery: with hostile intent to defy me. 101. start: disrupt, startle.
100   Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come
101   To start my quiet.

      RODERIGO
102   Sir, sir, sir, —

      BRABANTIO
102                          But thou must needs be sure
103   My spirit and my place have in them power
104   To make this bitter to thee.

      RODERIGO
104                                                   Patience, good sir.

      BRABANTIO
105   What tell'st thou me of robbing? this is Venice;
106. a grange: an isolated farmhouse.
106   My house is not a grange.

      RODERIGO
106                                                Most grave Brabantio,
107. simple: sincere.
107   In simple and pure soul I come to you.

      IAGO
108   'Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not
109   serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to
110   do you service and you think we are ruffians, you'll
111   have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse;
112. nephews: i.e., grandsons.
112   you'll have your nephews neigh to you; you'll have
113. coursers: powerful horses. cousins: kinsmen. gennets: small Spanish horses. germans: close relatives.
113   coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.

      BRABANTIO
114   What profane wretch art thou?

      IAGO
115   I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
116   and the Moor are now making the beast with two
117   backs.

      BRABANTIO
118. villain: base fellow.
118   Thou art a villain.

      IAGO
118                                  You are — a senator.

      BRABANTIO
119. answer: be held answerable for.
119   This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo.

      RODERIGO
120   Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you,
121   If't be your pleasure and most wise consent,
122   As partly I find it is, that your fair daughter,
123. odd-even: i.e., about midnight, when there is scarcely any distinction . . . more 124. with: by.
123   At this odd-even and dull watch o' the night,
124   Transported, with no worse nor better guard
125. but: than.
125   But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
126   To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor —
127. allowance: permission, approval.
127   If this be known to you and your allowance,
128. saucy: insolent.
128   We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs;
129   But if you know not this, my manners tell me
130   We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe
131. from the sense of all civility: contrary to all sense of decency.
131   That, from the sense of all civility,
132   I thus would play and trifle with your reverence:
133   Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
134   I say again, hath made a gross revolt;
135   Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
136. extravagant: expatriate; literally, wandering beyond his limits. wheeling: roving. stranger: foreigner. 137. Straight: straightway.
136   In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
137   Of here and every where. Straight satisfy yourself:
138   If she be in her chamber or your house,
139   Let loose on me the justice of the state
140   For thus deluding you.

      BRABANTIO
140. tinder: charred linen ignited by a spark from flint and steel, used to light torches.
140                                           Strike on the tinder, ho!
141   Give me a taper! call up all my people!
142. accident: occurrence, event.
142   This accident is not unlike my dream:
143   Belief of it oppresses me already.
144   Light, I say! light!

           Exit [above].

      IAGO
144                                  Farewell; for I must leave you:
145   It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place,
146. producted: produced, brought forward (to give evidence).
146   To be produced — as, if I stay, I shall —
147   Against the Moor: for, I do know, the state,
148. gall him with some check: bring on him some irritating rebuke (gall = rub sore, check = rebuke). 149. cast: dismiss. 150. loud reason: i.e., evident rightness of choice.
148   How ever this may gall him with some check,
149   Cannot with safety cast him, for he's embark'd
150   With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars,
151. stands in act: are under way.
151   Which even now stand in act, that, for their souls,
152. fathom: i.e., capability, depth of experience.
152   Another of his fathom they have none,
153. in which regard: because of which consideration.
153   To lead their business; in which regard,
154   Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains,
155   Yet, for necessity of present life,
156   I must show out a flag and sign of love,
157   Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,
158. Sagittary: an inn where Othello and Desdemona are staying (so called because its sign bore the conventional figure of Sagittarius, the Archer—a Centaur shooting an arrow). raised search: party of searchers who have been roused from their beds.
158   Lead to the Sagittary the raised search;
159   And there will I be with him. So, farewell.

           Exit.

           Enter [below] BRABANTIO,
           with SERVANTS and torches.

      BRABANTIO
160   It is too true an evil: gone she is;
161. what's to come of my despised time: the hateful remainder of my life.
161   And what's to come of my despised time
162   Is nought but bitterness. Now, Roderigo,
163   Where didst thou see her? O unhappy girl!
164   With the Moor, say'st thou? Who would be a father!
165   How didst thou know 'twas she? O she deceives me
166. moe: more.
166   Past thought! What said she to you? Get moe tapers:
167   Raise all my kindred. Are they married, think you?

      RODERIGO
168   Truly, I think they are.

      BRABANTIO
169. of the blood: within the family.
169   O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood!
170   Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds
171. charms: magic spells.
171   By what you see them act. Is there not charms
172. property: special quality, nature.
s172   By which the property of youth and maidhood
173. abused: deceived.
173   May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,
174   Of some such thing?

      RODERIGO
174                                      Yes, sir, I have indeed.

      BRABANTIO
175   Call up my brother. O, would you had had her!
176   Some one way, some another. Do you know
177   Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?

      RODERIGO
178. discover: uncover, bring to light.
178   I think I can discover him, if you please,
179   To get good guard and go along with me.

      BRABANTIO
180   Pray you, lead on. At every house I'll call;
181. I may command at most: i.e., I can be sure of help from most of them.
181   I may command at most. Get weapons, ho!
182   And raise some special officers of night.
183. deserve: i.e., show gratitude for, reward.
183   On, good Roderigo: I'll deserve your pains.

           Exeunt.