Cymbeline "Great Griefs I See Medicine The Less"

William Shakespeare

"Great Griefs I See Medicine The Less"

Context: Imogen's husband, Posthumus, who has been banished by King Cymbeline and the queen, sends for her to meet him. Actually, he plans to have her slain by the faithful Pisanio, because through the treachery of an Italian, Iachimo, he believes her to be a strumpet and untrue to him. Pisanio, who knows she is virtuous, cannot bring himself to kill her, but sends her on her way dressed as a man and carrying pills, given to him by the deceitful queen, supposedly to aid her in time of sickness. She meets two woodsmen and their father Belarius. They give her shelter, and being tired and ill she takes the pills and falls into a deathlike coma. Her hosts, meanwhile, have gone out to hunt, only to meet the revenge-thirsty Cloten, the queen's son, who wants to kill Posthumus and rape Imogen for spurning him for Posthumus. The woodsman Guiderius, challenged, beheads Cloten. Arviragus, his brother, finds Imogen and believes her to be dead. The brothers forget Cloten in their grief over the disguised Imogen, but Belarius entreats them to remember that he was a queen's son and that his body deserves respect.

Great griefs I see medicine the less, for Cloten
Is quite forgot. He was a Queen's son, boys;
And though he came our enemy, remember
He was paid for that. Though mean and mighty rotting
Together have one dust, yet reverence,
That angel of the world, doth make distinction
Of place 'tween high and low. Our foe was princely,
And though you took his life as being our foe,
Yet bury him as a Prince.