Please explain the following quote from As You Like It: "Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold."

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Gold is desirable and tempting to robbers. We would not want to walk around in a strange place carrying lots of gold—especially waving it out in the open—for fear of the gold attracting dangerous people.

With that understanding, Rosalind is saying that beauty is also desirable to dangerous people and that walking around with beauty could also put someone at risk. Just as a thief would want to steal gold, a thief might also want to "steal" this beauty. Thus, Rosalind is saying that physical appearance can be even more provoking than wealth; Rosalind and Celia are young, pretty maids, and so it is dangerous for them to walk alone in a strange place.

Based on this assumption, they resolve that they have to disguise themselves. Celia says she will dress in "poor and mean attire," and "smirch [her] face" with dirt. If she looks like a peasant no one will rob her, and if she marks up her face no one will assault her. Rosalind is tall, so decides that she will disguise herself as a man to further protect the both of them.

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The quote you have identified comes from Act I scene 3, and is said by Rosalind to Celia, following Celia's suggestion that they escape the court together and go to the Forest of Arden. If we have a look at the quote in context, it will help us explain what Rosalind is trying to suggest. Note how she responds to her cousin's idea:

Alas, what danger will it be to us,

Maids as we are, to travel forth so far!

Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.

Rosalind is thus greatly afraid of Celia's suggestion, because of their status as virgin "maids." The quote you have identified thus refers the way that virgin beauty often provides a greater temptation than gold to surly, rough thieves, who would be greatly attracted by the prospect of attacking, and, it is inferred, raping such beautiful young women as Celia and Rosalind. Thus their beauty would "provoke" thieves even more than if they carried vast quantities of gold with them.

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