"The Game Is Up"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Belarius, a banished lord and ex-friend of Cymbeline, is living in the forest with Guiderius and Arviragus, actually the sons of Cymbeline whom he thinks dead. The two boys are brought up to believe that Belarius is their father. But blood will tell, and although they have spent most of their lives in the woods being taught only the pursuits of peace, Belarius has watched their eyes light up with fire when he has recounted his warrior days. Now, however, the only killing they know is that of game for food. Today the two go to the top of a hill to try to rouse game, and while they are there, Belarius thinks about the two boys and fortune. It is obvious that the phrase "The game is up" did not, in Shakespeare's time, have its modern colloquial meaning of "All is lost." Rather, it was a hunting term meaning that the quarry had been started and was running from the hunter.

Hark, the game is roused.
O Cymbeline, heaven and my conscience knows
Thou didst unjustly banish me; whereon,
At three, and two years old, I stole these babes,
Thinking to bar thee of succession, as
Thou refts me of my lands. Euriphile,
Thou wast their nurse, they took thee for their mother,
And every day do honour to her grave.
Myself Belarius, that am Morgan called,
They take for natural father. The game is up.