What is the meaning of "courtesy of nations" in act 1, scene 1 of As You Like It?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Orlando is speaking to his oldest brother Oliver.  He complains that Oliver is not treating him as an elder brother should, in particular that he is neglecting Orlando's education.  Orlando states that he has no real options because the "courtesy of nations"--that is the custom of the society in which they live which is a general custom of the time--gives the land, titles, and power to the eldest brother.  The technical name for this is primogeniture. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team