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Shakespeare quotes page

PLAY: Cymbeline ACT/SCENE: 3.2 SPEAKER: Belarius CONTEXT: A goodly day not to keep house with such
Whose roof’s as low as ours! Stoop, boys. This gate
Instructs you how t’ adore the heavens and bows you
To a morning’s holy office. The gates of monarchs
Are arched so high that giants may jet through
And keep their impious turbans on, without
Good morrow to the sun. Hail, thou fair heaven!
We house i’ th’ rock, yet use thee not so hardly
As prouder livers do. DUTCH: Een dag te schoon om thuis te blijven, onder
Een dak zoo laag als ‘t onze

Keep the house=Stay home
Jet=Strut, swagger
Stoop=Bow down
Impious=Sinful, wicked (turbans: Giants were often depicted in romantic novels as turban-wearing Saracens)

To keep house=Huis houden; binnens huis blyven
To jet or jut=Uitstooten, uitwaards loopen
To stoop=Buigen, bokken of bukken
Impious=Ongodvruchtig, godloos Topics: nature, life, equality, status, authority

PLAY: Cymbeline
SPEAKER: Cymbeline
You must know,
Till the injurious Romans did extort
This tribute from us, we were free. Caesar’s ambition,
Which swelled so much that it did almost stretch
The sides o’ th’ world, against all colour here
Did put the yoke upon ’s, which to shake off
Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon
Ourselves to be.

t Zij u bewust,
Wij waren , tot ons Rome met geweld
Tot cijns verplichtte, vrij; eerst Caesars eerzucht, —
Die zoo zich opblies, dat de wereld schier
Te klein haar werd

Against all colour=Against any opposition, whatever the reason
Injurious=Detractory, hurting reputation, insulting
Tribute=Stated payment made in acknowledgment of submission, or as the price of peace, or by virtue of a treaty
Colour=Specious pretence, palliation, appearance of right

Injurious=Verongelykend, beledigend, smaadelyk, lasterlyk
Tribute=Tol, impost
Under colour of peace=Onder den schyn van vreede
Under colour of friendship=Onder den dekmantel van vriendschap

Topics: independence, free will, ambition, rights, equality

PLAY: Richard II
SPEAKER: King Richard II
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?

Bedekt uw hoofd, drijft niet door huldebrenging
Den spot met vleesch en bloed; verzaakt den eerbied,
Gebruik en vorm en statig plichtbetoon


Antic=Buffoon, practising odd gesticulations (a fool in old farces, whose main purpose was to disrupt the more serious actors)
Tradition=Traditional practices, established or customary homage (‘state’ and ‘pomp’)
Mock=Treat with exaggerated respect (hence solemn reverence)
Subjected=(a) turned into a subject under the dominion of the king; (b) subjugated, exposed
Monarchize=Play at being King (OED cites this from Nashe (1592) suggesting a mockery that is not so evident in this use of the term)

To humour=Involgen, believen, opvolgen, naar den mond spreeken
Tradition=Overleevering van leerstukken of gevoelens
Mock=Bespotting, beschimping
Subject=Onderworpen; onderdaan

Topics: equality, status, order/society, respect, custom

PLAY: Coriolanus
SPEAKER: First Citizen
Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there’s all the love they bear us.

Als de oorlog ons niet opeet, dan doen zij het; en dat is al hunne liefde jegens ons.

Piercing statutes=Biting laws (See Measure for Measure, 1.3)
True indeed=Ironical
Edicts for usury=Laws, decrees for money-lending

Eat us up=To devour, to consume, to waste, to destroy
Suffer=To bear, to allow, to let, not to hinder

Edict=Een gebod, bevel, afkondiging
Eat up=Opeeten, vernielen

Topics: poverty and wealth, order/society, punishment, equality

PLAY: Romeo and Juliet
SPEAKER: Mercutio
Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. Was I with you there for the goose?

Neen, als wij onze geestigheden als wilde ganzen tegen
elkaar op laten snateren, dan ben ik verloren; want gij
hebt in uw pink meer van een wilde gans dan ik in mijn
geheele lichaam, dat is zeker

Wild goose chase originally meant a horse race that was popular in Shakespeare’s time. It’s modern meaning was probably coined by Dr Samuel Johnson, who defined it as a pursuit of something as unlikely to be caught as a wild goose. Current definition is a hopeless search.
Five wits = Another reference to the five inward wits which were originally memory, estimation, fancy, imagination and common sense.

Topics: intellect, dispute, equality, still/talent

PLAY: King Lear
SPEAKER: King Lear
No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the king himself.
O thou side-piercing sight!
Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your press- money. That fellow handles his bow like a crowkeeper. Draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace,

Neen, zij kunnen niets tegen mij doen voor het muntslaan . Ik
ben de koning zelf;/
Ze kunnen me niet van valsemunterij betichten.
Ik ben de koning zelf.

Cited in Shakespeare’s Legal Maxims (William Lowes Rushton)
Coining=Minting coins (a royal prerogative)
Crow-keeper=Scarecrow or person employed to scare off crows; here a bad archer
Clothier’s yard=Full length of the arrow
Press-money=Payment for enlistment or impressment into the king’s army.
To coin=Geld slaan, geld munten
To coin new words=Nieuwe woorden smeeden (of verzinnen)
Press-money=Vroeger hand-, loop- of aanritsgel
Burgersdijk notes:
Zij kunnen mij niets doen voor het muntslaan. Er loopt een draad door de waanzinnige redeneringen van Lear. Hij wil met een legermacht zich op zijne ondankbare dochters wreken. Daarom wil hij geld slaan, om krijgers te werven; maar zich van de deugdelijkheid zijner manschappen overtuigen, door hunne bekwaamheid in de behandeling van den handboog te toetsen; ook komt hem eene uitdaging voor den geest, zoowel eene mondelinge, waarvoor hij zijn handschoen nederwerpt, als een schriftelijke; daartoe ook het toelaten van ontucht om krijgers te erlangen en het bekleeden der paardehoeven met vilt.

Topics: law/legal, justice, punishment, equality, order/society, status

PLAY: Richard II
SPEAKER: King Richard II
Give me the crown. Here, cousin, seize the crown;
Here cousin:
On this side my hand, and on that side yours.
Now is this golden crown like a deep well
That owes two buckets, filling one another,
The emptier ever dancing in the air,
The other down, unseen and full of water:
That bucket down and full of tears am I,
Drinking my griefs, whilst you mount up on high.

Nu is de goudhand als een diepe put,
Een met twee emmers, die elkander vullen;
De ledige altijd dansend in de lucht,
De tweede omlaag en ongezien, vol water;
Ik hen die eene omlaag, vol, uit het oog,
Ik drink mijn kommer en hef u omhoog.


Proverb: Like two buckets of a well, if one go up the other must go down

Topics: proverbs and idioms, judgment, equality, achievement, value

PLAY: King Lear
SPEAKER: King Lear
The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tattered clothes great vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.

Bepantser zonde met goud, en de sterke lans van rechtvaardigheid zal zonder pijn te doen breken, bewapen het met vodden, en een rietje van een pygmee zal het doorboren./
Dek zonde af met goud;
de sterke lans van ’t recht schampt eropaf;
een vod wordt door een strohalm nog doorboord.

Proverb: The great thieves hang the little ones
Proverb: When looked at through tattered clothes, all vices are great
Usery became legal in 1571 and userers were gaining respectabillty.
Cozener=Sharper, cheat
Plate=Cover in armour plate
Pygmy’s straw=Weak weapon
To lend upon usury=Op rente leenen

Topics: poverty and wealth, justice, equality, law/legal, order/society

PLAY: King Lear
SPEAKER: Goneril
Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it.—Hold, sir,
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.—
(to Goneril) Nay, no tearing, lady. I perceive you know it.
Say, if I do? The laws are mine, not thine.
Who can arraign me for ’t?

En wat dan nog? Ik ben de wet, niet jij.
Wie klaagt mij daarvoor aan?/
En wat dan nog! Mij is de wet, niet u.
Wie heeft de macht mij aan to klagen?

The sovereign could not be tried, having no equal
Cited in Shakespeare’s Legal Maxims (William Lowes Rushton)
Evil=Moral offence, crime
Arraign=To summon before a court of justice
Arraign=Voor ‘t recht ontbieden; voor ‘t recht daagen

Topics: law/legal, offence, justice, equality

PLAY: The Comedy of Errors
We came into the world like brother and brother,
And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another

Neen, dan zij ‘t zoo:
Wij sprongen samen de wereld in, als broeders, met elkander;
Zoo gaan wij nu samen hand aan hand, en de een niet na den ander


Topics: relationship, love, respect, resolution, equality

PLAY: Measure for Measure
SPEAKER: Escalus
Which is the wiser here? Justice or Iniquity? Is
this true?
O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked
Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married
to her! If ever I was respected with her, or she
with me, let not your worship think me the poor
duke’s officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or
I’ll have mine action of battery on thee.

Wie is hier de snuggerste van de twee, de Gerechtigheid
of de Boosheid? – Is dit waar?

See also
“Sparing justice feeds iniquity” (The Rape of Lucrece)
“Thus, like the formal Vice, Iniquity, I moralize two meanings in one word.” (Richard III, 3.1)
Justice and Iniquity (also called Vice) were common characters in medieval morality plays, with personifications of vices and virtues seeking to gain control of the ‘everyman’ main character.
Justice (personified as female)=equal distribution of right, conformity to the laws and the principles of equity, either as a quality or as a rule of acting
Vice (wickedness, buffoon, comic character).

Topics: law/legal, good and bad, justice, equality, order/society

PLAY: King Lear
SPEAKER: King Lear
Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these?
Oh, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.

O naakte stakkers, waar u ook maar bent,
die ’t neerslaan van dit woest, wreed ontij duldt,
hoe kunt u zich, dakloos, met lege magen,
in lompen vol met gaten, weren tegen
zulk weer als dit?

Looped and windowed raggedness = tattered clothes, full of holes. Loopholes were small apertures in thick walls, e.g. arrowslit (through which small bodies could escape, one explanation for the current definition of loophole as a means of escape or avoidance).
Shake=Lay aside, get rid of, discard
Superflux=the superfluous, their abundance of wealth
Ragged=Aan flenteren (fladderen) gescheurd, versleeten, haaveloos

Topics: poverty and wealth, value, regret, adversity, equality, excess

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