Cymbeline | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Cymbeline | Act 3, Scene 7 | Summary



In Rome, three Roman officials discuss the plans emperor Augustus Caesar is making for war against Britain. Many Roman soldiers are busy fighting elsewhere—the army is "full [too] weak" to take on the British rebellion—so the emperor plans to send an army of "gentry" to fight against Britain, led by Caius Lucius.


Rome is depicted in this scene as no stranger to war and unrest. Rebellions, perhaps not unlike Britain's, are being put down elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Since the emperor already has troops fighting in several locations, he has to form an army of gentry—gentlemen—to fight Britain. This suggests the Roman Empire is seriously overstretched and its hold on its outlying territories is not particularly strong. Since Britain would go on to gain its independence from Rome in the 5th century, this would have made sense to Shakespeare's more educated audience members.

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