Cymbeline "As Chaste As Unsunned Snow"
by William Shakespeare

Cymbeline book cover
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"As Chaste As Unsunned Snow"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: When news of his secret marriage to Princess Imogen reaches the ears of her father, King Cymbe-line of Britain, Posthumus Leonatus is cruelly banished. Before he leaves, he gives Imogen a bracelet of unique design, and she gives him a diamond ring that he promises to wear. He goes to Rome, where he meets a crafty villain, Iachimo, who scoffs at all feminine virtue, and soon involves Posthumus in a wager of ten thousand ducats against the diamond ring that Imogen is more fair, virtuous, and constant than any other woman. Iachimo rushes to Britain armed with a letter of introduction from Post-humus but cannot dent Imogen's virtue by fair means. He resorts to trickery by prevailing upon her to keep overnight in her bedroom a chest which Iachimo says is full of treasure entrusted to him. That night, Iachimo climbs out of the chest, makes notes describing her and her bedchamber, and steals the bracelet Posthumus gave to her. He hurries back to Rome and convinces Posthumus by means of his "proofs" that Imogen is unfaithful. Now, alone, Posthumus reflects bitterly on his wife.

POSTHUMUS. . .O vengeance, vengeance!Me of my lawful pleasure she restrained,And prayed me oft forbearance; did it withA pudency so rosy, the sweet view on'tMight well have warmed old Saturn; that I thought herAs chaste as unsunned snow. O, all the devils!. . .