The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.055 Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Date: February 8, 2012 10:06:11 AM EST
Subject: Re: Cymbeline Wager
When I directed Cymbeline a couple of years ago I used the same sort of bet arrangement that occurs in Merchant of Venice. That is a third party, in this case Posthumus’ friend and host Philario, holds the ring, and Iachimo’s gold as well. A legal, binding form of wager is referred to three times in the wager scene:
Line 137: Post.: Let there be covenants drawn between’s,
Lines 150-151: Post.: . . .let us have articles betwixt us;
Lines 158-160: Iachimo: . . .a covenant. We will have these things set down by lawful counsel . . . I will fetch my gold and have our two wagers recorded.
It is common practice to have a neutral and objective party hold the wagers and determine the final outcome. I think that Iachimo’s line about combining the prize of the bracelet with the prize of the ring is anticipatory – after all, Iachimo doesn’t have the bracelet at that moment, either. In 2.4, the resolution of the wager, my assumption was that Philario has the ring and it goes round the three of them twice – Posthumus takes it from Philario and gives it to Iachimo, Philario, protesting lack of proof, takes it back from Iachimo, whence it goes back to Posthumus once more, then finally to Iachimo.
At least, that’s how I worked it all out.
George W. Angell