Main Text

Critical Apparatus1.1

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Enter Roderigo and Iago
Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus1

roderigo Tush, never tell me! I take it much unkindly

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus2That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse

Editor’s Note3As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus4

iago 'Sblood, but you'll not hear me! If ever I

pg 196

Editor’s Note5Did dream of such a matter, abhor me.

Editor’s Note6

roderigo Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.


iago Despise me if I do not. Three great ones of the city,

8In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus9Off-capped to him; and, by the faith of man,

Editor’s Note10I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.

11But he—as loving his own pride and purposes—

Editor’s Note12Evades them with a bombast circumstance,

Editor’s Note13Horribly stuffed with epithets of war;

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus14And in conclusion

Editor’s Note15Non-suits my mediators. For 'Certes,' says he,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus16'I have already chose my officer.'

17And what was he?

pg 197

Editor’s Note18Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

Editor’s Note19One Michael Cassio, a Florentine—

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus20A fellow almost damned in a fair wife—

Editor’s Note21That never set a squadron in the field,

Editor’s Note22Nor the division of a battle knows

Editor’s Note23More than a spinster—unless the bookish theoric,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus24Wherein the toga'd consuls can propose

Editor’s Note25As masterly as he! Mere prattle without practice

Editor’s Note26Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th'election;

pg 198

Editor’s Note27And I—of whom his eyes had seen the proof

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus28At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus29Christened and heathen—must be beleed and calmed

Editor’s Note30By debitor and creditor. This counter-caster,

Editor’s Note31He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus32And I—God bless the mark!—his Moorship's ensign.


roderigo By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman!

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus34

iago Why, there's no remedy, 'tis the curse of service:

Editor’s Note35Preferment goes by letter and affection,

pg 199

Critical Apparatus36And not by old gradation, where each second

Critical Apparatus37Stood heir to th' first. Now sir, be judge yourself

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus38Whether I in any just term am assigned

39To love the Moor?

Editor’s Note40

roderigo I would not follow him then.

Editor’s Note41

iago O sir, content you.

Editor’s Note42I follow him to serve my turn upon him.

Critical Apparatus43We cannot all be masters, nor all masters

Editor’s Note44Cannot be truly followed. You shall mark

Editor’s Note45Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave

Editor’s Note46That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,

Editor’s Note47Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,

pg 200

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus48For naught but provender, and when he's old—cashiered.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus49Whip me such honest knaves! Others there are

Editor’s Note50Who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty,

Editor’s Note51Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,

Editor’s Note52And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus53Do well thrive by them, and when they have lined their coats

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus54Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul,

55And such a one do I profess myself—for, sir,

Editor’s Note56It is as sure as you are Roderigo,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus57Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:

pg 201

58In following him, I follow but myself—

Editor’s Note59Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus60But seeming so for my peculiar end;

Editor’s Note61For when my outward action doth demonstrate

Editor’s Note62The native act and figure of my heart

Editor’s Note63In compliment extern, 'tis not long after

Editor’s Note64But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus65For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus66

roderigo What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus67If he can carry't thus?

iago Call up her father:

Editor’s Note68Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight,

pg 202

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus69Proclaim him in the streets. Incense her kinsmen,

Editor’s Note70And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,

Editor’s Note71Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy,

Critical Apparatus72Yet throw such chances of vexation on't

Editor’s Note73As it may lose some colour.


roderigo Here is her father's house, I'll call aloud.

Editor’s Note75

iago Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell

Editor’s Note76As when, by night and negligence, the fire

77Is spied in populous cities.

Critical Apparatus78

roderigo What ho! Brabantio, Signor Brabantio, ho!

Critical Apparatus79

iago Awake! What ho, Brabantio! Thieves, thieves, thieves!

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus80Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!

Editor’s Note81Thieves, thieves!

Critical Apparatus Enter Brabantio at a window above
Critical Apparatus82

brabantio What is the reason of this terrible summons?

83What is the matter there?


roderigo Signor, is all your family within?

pg 203 Critical Apparatus85

iago Are your doors locked?

brabantio Why? Wherefore ask you this?

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus86

iago 'Swounds, sir, you're robbed; for shame, put on your gown!

87Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul:

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus88Even now, now, very now, an old black ram

Editor’s Note89Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!

Editor’s Note90Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,

Critical Apparatus91Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.

92Arise, I say!

brabantio What, have you lost your wits?

Editor’s Note93

roderigo Most reverend signor, do you know my voice?


brabantio Not I; what are you?

Editor’s Note95

roderigo My name is Roderigo.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus96

brabantio The worser welcome:

97I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:

98In honest plainness thou hast heard me say

99My daughter is not for thee; and now in madness,

Editor’s Note100Being full of supper, and distempering draughts,

Critical Apparatus101Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come

pg 204

Editor’s Note102To start my quiet.

roderigo Sir, sir, sir—

brabantio But thou must needs be sure

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus103My spirit and my place have in their power

104To make this bitter to thee.

roderigo Patience, good sir!

Critical Apparatus105

brabantio What tell'st thou me of robbing? This is Venice:

Editor’s Note106My house is not a grange.

roderigo Most grave Brabantio,

Editor’s Note107In simple and pure soul, I come to you.

Critical Apparatus108

iago 'Swounds, sir, you are one of those that will not serve 109God if the devil bid you. Because we come to do you Critical Apparatus110service, and you think we are ruffians, you'll have your Editor’s Note111daughter covered with a Barbary horse, you'll have your Editor’s Note112nephews neigh to you, you'll have coursers for cousins Editor’s Note113and jennets for germans.

Editor’s Note114

brabantio What profane wretch art thou?

Critical Apparatus115

iago I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus116the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.

pg 205 Editor’s Note117

brabantio Thou art a villain.

iago You are a senator.

Editor’s Note118

brabantio This thou shalt answer. I know thee, Roderigo.


roderigo Sir, I will answer anything. But I beseech you,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus120If't be your pleasure and most wise consent—

Editor’s Note121As partly I find it is—that your fair daughter,

Critical Apparatus122At this odd-even and dull watch o'th' night,

123Transported with no worse nor better guard

124But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,

125To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor—

Editor’s Note126If this be known to you and your allowance,

Editor’s Note127We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs.

128But if you know not this, my manners tell me

129We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe

Editor’s Note130That from the sense of all civility

131I thus would play and trifle with your reverence.

132Your daughter—if you have not given her leave—

Editor’s Note133I say again hath made a gross revolt,

134Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes

Editor’s Note135In an extravagant and wheeling stranger,

pg 206

Editor’s Note136Of here and everywhere. Straight satisfy yourself:

137If she be in her chamber or your house,

138Let loose on me the justice of the state

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus139For thus deluding you.

brabantio Strike on the tinder, ho!

Editor’s Note140Give me a taper. Call up all my people.

Editor’s Note141This accident is not unlike my dream;

Editor’s Note142Belief of it oppresses me already.

Critical Apparatus143Light, I say, light!

Exit Brabantio

iago Farewell, for I must leave you.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus144It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus145To be produced—as, if I stay, I shall—

146Against the Moor; for I do know the state—

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus147However this may gall him with some check—

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus148Cannot with safety cast him. For he's embarked

Editor’s Note149With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars

Editor’s Note150(Which even now stands in act) that, for their souls,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus151Another of his fathom they have none,

152To lead their business; in which regard,

Critical Apparatus153Though I do hate him as I do hell pains,

Editor’s Note154Yet, for necessity of present life,

pg 207

Editor’s Note155I must show out a flag and sign of love—

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus156Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus157Lead to the Sagittary the raised search,

Critical Apparatus158And there will I be with him. So farewell.

Exit Editor’s Note Enter Brabantio in his nightgown, and servants with torches

brabantio It is too true an evil. Gone she is;

Editor’s Note160And what's to come of my despisèd time

Critical Apparatus161Is naught but bitterness. Now Roderigo,

162Where didst thou see her?—O, unhappy girl!—

163With the Moor sayst thou?—Who would be a father?—

Critical Apparatus164How didst thou know 'twas she?—O, she deceives me

Editor’s Note165Past thought!—What said she to you?—Get more tapers;

166Raise all my kindred.—Are they married, think you?


roderigo Truly, I think they are.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus168

brabantio O heaven, how got she out? O treason of the blood!

169Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds

Editor’s Note170By what you see them act. Is there not charms

pg 208

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus171By which the property of youth and maidhood

Editor’s Note172May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,

Critical Apparatus173Of some such thing?

roderigo Yes sir, I have indeed.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus174

brabantio Call up my brother!—O, would you had had her!—

175Some one way, some another!—Do you know

176Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?

Editor’s Note177

roderigo I think I can discover him, if you please

178To get good guard and go along with me.

Critical Apparatus179

brabantio Pray you lead on. At every house I'll call—

180I may command at most. Get weapons, ho!

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus181And raise some special officers of night:

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus182On, good Roderigo; I will deserve your pains.


Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
1.1] f (Actus Primus. Scœna Prima.); not in q
Critical Apparatus
0.1 Roderigo and Iago] f; Iago and Roderigo q
Editor’s Note
1.1.0–1 Enter … Iago F typically prefers to arrange the characters in order of conventional precedence, while Q (which has Iago enter first here) may sometimes register the dramatic suggestiveness of having the ensign precede his natural superiors (see e.g. 1.3.48, 4.1.0). How However, in this case the ensuing dialogue suggests that Roderigo is walking impatiently away, while Iago, following behind, begs him to listen.
Critical Apparatus
1 Tush] q; not in f
Editor’s Note
1 Tush Mild expletive expressing impatience; seemingly cut here as part of F's often over-cautious suppression of oaths and profanities (see App. B, pp. 420–1, 430–1). Cf. also 'Sblood (l. 4). McMillin, noting their extra-metricality, suggests that both expletives were actors' interpolations (Q, p. 30). However, such exclamations are often extra-metrical, and in any case elision will readily smooth out the irregularity of this line ('take't').
Critical Apparatus
2 thou … hast ] f; you … has q1; thou who hast q2
Editor’s Note
2 thou Since th could be written in a form that closely resembled y, Q's 'you' is almost certainly based on a misreading; the Q2 editor, spotting the error, restored not simply the grammar of the original, but the aggressive condescension of the singular pronoun. Iago soothingly adopts the more respectful plural form (see Anthony and Cleopatra, ed. M. Neill (Oxford, 1994), App. C, 'A Note on Pronoun Usage').
Editor’s Note
3 this Roderigo presumably rebukes Iago for having been party to Othello's courtship of Desdemona even while he was supposedly hired to act in Roderigo's interest; but Shakespeare plays on the audience's curiosity by leaving the event unspecified.
Critical Apparatus
4 'Sblood] q1; not in f, q2
you'll] f, q2; you will q1
Critical Apparatus
1.1.4–7 'Sblood … city ] This edition; f divides after 'dream', 'abhor me', 'told'st me', 'hate', 'despise me', but probably assumes that 'Of … told'st me' and 'Thou … Despise me' constitute shared lines; q divides after 'hear me', 'abhor me', 'hate'; steevens and many eds. divide after 'hear me', 'matter', 'Abhor me', 'hate'
Editor’s Note
4–7 'Sblood … city The lineation here is problematic. Neither Q nor F (whose expurgation of Iago's oath may have forced some realignment) seems satisfactory; but no obvious solution presents itself. With the notable exception of Honigmann, who follows F, most editions have accepted Steevens's solution, partially regularizing Q by transferring 'abhor me' to a line by itself. However, this renders both 4 and 6 as incomplete lines; and although a pause at the end of l. 4, after Iago's outburst of irritation and before the more conciliatory 'if ever I did dream …', might be dramatically appropriate, it is harder to justify a second lengthy pause after 'Abhor me'. The present arrangement, whilst regularizing ll. 4–6, preserves Q's overcrowded l. 7; this might, however, be smoothed over in performance by rapid delivery.
Editor’s Note
4 'Sblood God's blood. A strong oath expurgated from F.
Editor’s Note
5 abhor Stress on first syllable.
Editor’s Note
6–39 him … his Moorship … the Moor For more than thirty lines the object of Iago's and Roderigo's outrage remains completely anonymous, a dismissive stratagem that also serves to arouse further curiosity in the audience. When at last he is identified it is only in contemptuously generic terms: not until his entry in 1.3, when the Duke needs to exploit his good will, is Othello dignified with his personal name. Cf. 5.2.289, 365.
Critical Apparatus
9 Off-capped] f; Oft capt q
Editor’s Note
9 Off-capped removed their hats (as a gesture of deference). First citation in OED.
Editor’s Note
10 I know … place Iago's telling alteration of the usual deferential expression, 'I know my place' (cf. Twelfth Night, 2.5.51–2) is emphasized by the subdued word-play in the second half of this line, where 'price' is explained as the 'place' of which he has been deprived (see Introduction, pp. 150–4).
price personal worth, excellency (OED n. 7b); but also 'prize' (OED n. 14); and 'the amount of money or other consideration by which a man's support … may be purchased' (OED n. 4).
place position, office, rank
Editor’s Note
12 Evades avoids giving a direct answer to (OED v. 3b; earliest citation)
bombast rhetorically inflated or grandiloquent. 'Bombast' was a form of cotton wool used to pad doublets, breeches, codpieces, etc.; hence stuffed (l. 13).
circumstance circumlocution
Editor’s Note
13 stuffed Earliest instance of the metaphorical application of this ppl. a. in OED.
epithets of war specialized military terminology
Critical Apparatus
14 And in conclusion] q1; not in f, q2
Editor’s Note
14 And in conclusion A Q-only line that Rizvi suggests may represent a linking phrase inserted by the scribe to replace an illegible passage. Something is certainly missing from F at this point, however, and Q2's decision to drop the Q1 line is difficult to account for.
Editor’s Note
15 Non-suits my mediators causes my petitioners to withdraw their suit
Certes assuredly, or 'to tell the truth'; sometimes (as here) monosyllabic.
Critical Apparatus
16 chose] f, q2; chosen q1
Critical Apparatus
16–17 I have … he ] pope; as one line f, q
Editor’s Note
16 officer office-holder (here close to 'lieutenant', in the sense that it denotes someone capable of deputizing in Othello's Office')
Editor’s Note
18 arithmetician As the full title of Digges's An arithemetical warlike treatise named Stratioticos indicates, the study of mathematics was actually recommended by most theorists of military art. In his epistle 'To the Reader', Thomas Digges set out to counter the resentful arguments of those like Iago who, having 'been in a few skirmishes, or taken any degree in field … thought it … a disgrace that anything should be desired in a soldier that wanted in themselves' (sig. B2). See also Jorgenson, pp. 113–15.
Editor’s Note
19 Florentine i.e. a foreigner (Florence and Venice being independent city-states). Iago's contempt is conveyed by the extra stress placed on the first syllable by the preceding succession of three unstressed syllables. Honigmann may be right in supposing that the familiar association of Florence with the craft of Machiavelli is relevant in the context of Iago's disdain for 'bookish theoric', especially in view of the irony that Iago himself is the true machiavel of the play.
Critical Apparatus
20 damned] f (damn'd); dambd q.
Editor’s Note
20 damned in a fair wife Apparently based on the Italian proverb 'L'hai tolta bella? Tuo danno' ('Have you a fair wife? Then you're damned'), this clearly expresses both Iago's misogyny and his sexual envy of Cassio; but its precise reference, which provokes five pages of commentary in Furness, remains obscure. It may represent a change of intention on Shakespeare's part, since there is no evidence in the play that Cassio is married; it may mean that Cassio is on the brink of marriage to a beautiful woman, and will soon suffer the consequences (cuckoldry in Iago's opinion); or perhaps (as Ridley suggested) Iago is speaking loosely, and means simply that Cassio is a ladies' man. Alternatively it might be taken to imply that Cassio is already engaged in an adulterous affair—something that accords with Iago's later suspicions of the lieutenant's relations with both Desdemona and Bianca. Bradshaw (pp. 156–9) argues that this is a proleptic reference to Bianca who is to be understood as a Venetian courtesan accompanying him to Cyprus (see 4.1.116).
Editor’s Note
21 squadron body of troops drawn up in a defensive square
Editor’s Note
22 division of a battle organization of an army into battle array
Editor’s Note
23 unless … theoric except as a matter of academic theorizing
Critical Apparatus
24 toga'd] q1 (toged); Tongued f, q2
Editor’s Note
24 togad' consuls A contemptuously anachronistic description of the civilian authorities in Venice; the toga (a garment worn in peacetime by the citizens of ancient Rome) sarcastically alludes to their lack of military expertise. Q1's reading has been generally accepted; but the fact that the editor of Q2 preferred F's 'tongued' should give pause for thought (see App. B, pp. 407–8), especially since OED records no earlier instance of either word. 'Tongued' (= loquacious) would certainly make acceptable sense here, forming a chain of association with 'spinster' (loquacity being regarded as a typically feminine characteristic) and 'prattle'.
propose discourse; put forward a scheme
Editor’s Note
25 prattle without practice Cf. Dent P550.1, 'More prattle than practice' (1611).
Editor’s Note
26 had th'election was chosen
Editor’s Note
27 eyes … proof A casual anticipation of the play's obsession with 'ocular proof'.
Critical Apparatus
28 Cyprus] f (Ciprus); Cipres q (throughout)
other] q; others f
Editor’s Note
28 Rhodes … Cyprus Important island strongholds in the struggle between Venice and Turkey for control of the Eastern Mediterranean. After a failed attack in 1480, Rhodes was finally captured by the Turks in 1522; the Venetians retained control of Cyprus until 1571 when the principal city of Famagusta fell to a year-long siege.
Critical Apparatus
29 Christened] f (Christen'd), q2; Christian q1
be beleed] f (be-leed), q2; be led q1; be leed heath conj.
Editor’s Note
29 Christened Here again Q2 prefers the F reading which there seems no particular reason to change, since 'christened' could be applied to land as well as people (cf. Drayton (1596), 'As well in Christened as in heathen land', cited in OED).
beleed cut off from the wind and becalmed (as a ship is by another vessel's standing in the way). Many editors are persuaded by Heath's emendation ('be leed'), which can be justified as lying behind Q1's 'be led', as well as being metrically more regular; but 'heathen' (like 'heaven') can be treated as monosyllabic, and Q2 once again opts for the F reading. OED cites no examples of 'lee' used as a verb in this way, and gives this passage as its only instance of 'belee'.
Editor’s Note
30 debitor … creditor … counter-caster Iago dismisses Cassio as a mere pen pusher or accountant; ironically it is he himself who typically employs the language and calculus of accounting (cf. 'price … worth', l. 15).
Editor’s Note
30 counter-caster Apparently Shakespeare's coinage (OED).
Editor’s Note
31 in good time opportunely (sarcastic)
Critical Apparatus
32 God bless the mark] q1; (blesse the marke) f; Sir (blesse the marke) q2
Moorship's] f (Mooreships), q2; Worships q1
ensign] f (Auntient), q (Ancient); so throughout, various spellings
Editor’s Note
32 God … mark 'An apologetic or impatient exclamation when something horrible or disgusting has been said' (OED, mark, n.1 18).
his Moorship Sarcastically coined mock honorific (cf. 'his worship').
ensign standard-bearer (see 'Persons of the Play', above)
Critical Apparatus
34 Why] f; But q
Critical Apparatus
34 Why … service ] rowe; f, q divide after 'remedy'
Editor’s Note
34 service military service; serving a master. The two meanings were closer in the 17th century when captains appointed their own officers, who were thus effectively in the individual service of their commanders; but it is typical of Iago's social resentment that he more than once equivocates on the military and domestic connotations of the word (see e.g. 1.1.41–54), as though his military rank were a mark of servile inferiority.
Editor’s Note
35–6 Preferment … gradation promotion is decided by patronage, by letters of recommendation and by favouritism, not by the old system of seniority (a frequent complaint in early modern military circles). Henry Knyvett, for example, advocates returning to 'the ancient custom … to rise from place to place even from private soldiers to every degree in the field not above a colonel, as the fortune of the wars may afford their worthy actions; and not to be chopped and changed and misplaced for favour, as nowadays to the great discouragement of forward spirits is so much used' (The Defence of the Realme, 1596 (Oxford, 1906), pp. 60–1). Iago's complaint is of course completely inconsistent with his assertion that Othello ignored the pressure brought to bear by his own influential friends, and indeed with his claim that he ought to have been promoted as the better soldier; but his inconsistencies do not necessarily mean that his expressed motives are merely concocted (see Introduction, pp. 31–2).
Critical Apparatus
36 And not by] f; Not by the q
Critical Apparatus
37 Stood … yourself ] f; q divides after 'first'
Critical Apparatus
38 assigned] q1; Affin'n f, q2
Editor’s Note
38 in … term under any fair and reasonable conditions of service (usually plural)
assigned designated, directed, required (OED v. 6–7). Despite Q2's endorsement of F, Q seems to offer the better reading here, since the word has specifically military resonances and is consistent with the bitter quibbling on Iago's rank that continues with 'flag and sign of love' (l. 155). Affined would be an easy misreading for 'assi[g]ned' when written with the long 's'. It is usually defended as = 'bound by any tie', though this is the only instance of this meaning cited in OED.
Editor’s Note
40 I … then The line is metrically amphibious: i.e. it can be treated as completing both lines 39 and 41. The scansion requires a slurring together of 'Follow him'.
Editor’s Note
40, 42, 44 follow serve
Editor’s Note
41–65 O sir … I am For discussion of this speech in the context of the play's treatment of service, see Introduction, pp. 150–1, 160–1; and Michael Neill, '“His Master's Ass:” Slavery, Service, and Subordination in Othello', in Tom Clayton et al. (eds.), Shakespeare in the Mediterranean (Newark, Del., 2004), 215–92. Stratioticos urges that the ensign should be 'a man of good account, honest and virtuous, that the captain may repose affiance in, and not as some captains fondly do commit the same to some of his inferior servants' (sig. O4v).
Editor’s Note
42 serve … upon him exploit him in pursuit of my own interests (Dent TT25). Iago's quibble on 'serve' (see above, l. 34) also has an edge of menace, by association with serve = deal blows; play a trick; do a bad turn (OED v. 45).
Critical Apparatus
43 all be] f, q2; be all q1
Editor’s Note
44 You shall mark you may readily observe
Editor’s Note
45 knee-crooking abjectly bowing
knave (a) servant, menial; (b) one of low degree; (c) rogue
Editor’s Note
46 obsequious compliant; sycophantic (with a quibble on its derivation from the Latin sequor = follow). OED's earliest citation for this derogatory use of a word that had originally meant merely 'dutiful' is from Marston's Antonio and Mellida (1602); the older, complimentary meaning is still preserved in Hamlet (1.2.92) dating from the same year. The shift in meaning is symptomatic of changing attitudes to service (see Introduction, pp. 149–50).
Editor’s Note
47 his master's ass in scripture the ass (which carried Christ into Jerusalem) is a type of servantly compliance: 'The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib' (Isaiah 1: 3); but Iago probably intends a sly reference to Balaam's ass, an exemplar of justified disobedience. Balaam's ass defied the punishments of its master for refusing to carry him past the angel of the Lord, by reminding him of its lifetime of service: 'Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine own?' (Numbers 22: 30).
Critical Apparatus
48 naught] f; noughe q
Editor’s Note
48 provender food (esp. dry food for horses, etc.)
cashiered Though it can be metrically accommodated by treating this line as a hexameter, this word should perhaps be treated as a part-line on its own, since a pause after old would be dramatically appropriate. The verb to cashier was a newly coined term-of-art, apparently imported by soldiers returning from the Low Countries in 1585, and Iago should probably produce it with something of a flourish—especially since it plays on Cassio's name (which could itself mean 'cashiered'; see 'Persons') and on his alleged mercenary credentials as a 'counter-caster' (l. 30).
Critical Apparatus
49–52 Whip … lords ] f; q divides after 'knaves', 'forms', 'hearts', 'throwing'
Editor’s Note
49 Whip me … knaves for my part I'd like to see all such honest menials whipped. Me is a so-called 'ethic [or ethical] dative', a relatively common construction in Shakespearian English, implying that a person other than the subject or object of the sentence has an indirect interest in the stated facts.
honest knaves An oxymoronic quibble on knave = villain; whipping was the usual punishment for one judged to be a dishonest knave.
Editor’s Note
50 trimmed in forms and visages decked in the conventional appearances
Editor’s Note
51 attending on serving
Editor’s Note
52 throwing directing towards, offering; usually with a suggestion of hostility or contempt (OED, throw, v.1 15a).
Critical Apparatus
53 them] f; em q
Critical Apparatus
53–4 Do well … soul ] rowe; f, q divide after 'them', 'coats', 'homage'
Editor’s Note
53 Do … coats Can be scanned as a hexameter; but Q's by 'em suggests that elision was intended, and with the easy further elision of they have this will produce a pentameter.
lined their coats A servant wore a livery-coat (or 'blue-coat'); Iago's alteration of the more usual 'lined their pockets' reflects his bitter obsession with the marks of servile status.
Critical Apparatus
54 These] f; those q
Editor’s Note
54 Do themselves homage become their own masters. Homage was the formal action by which a vassal declared himself the 'man' of a feudal lord or master and bound himself to his service.
soul i.e. spirit
Editor’s Note
56 Roderigo As sometimes happens with proper names in Shakespeare (e.g. Coriolanus), the pronunciation of this name appears to vary: here the metre requires the sounding of all four syllables, with a stress on the third ('Roderigo'). More commonly, it is trisyllabic; either, as at l. 172, with the stress on the penultimate syllable ('Rod'rigo'), or, as at l. 95, with the stress on the first syllable ('Rod'rigo').
Critical Apparatus
57 Moor] f, q (Moore); Moor's kellner conj.
Editor’s Note
57 Were … Iago The first of a number of oddly gnomic formulations that characterize Iago's devious way of speaking. It seems to mean something like 'If I were able to rise to the position of mastery now occupied by Othello, I would have no wish to return to my present servile status.' But, in the context of Iago's bitter obsession with the humiliations of service, Kellner's conjecture (p. 132) that QF 'Moore' is a mistake for 'Moors' or 'Moores' (i.e. Moor's) is worth consideration: in which case Iago would mean 'If I really belonged to the Moor (were the Moor's true servant) then I would not be the man I am.'
Editor’s Note
59 not I for I don't do this out of
Critical Apparatus
61 doth] f, q2; does q1
Editor’s Note
60 peculiar end private purposes
Editor’s Note
61 demonstrate exhibit. Placing the accent on the second syllable, as required by the metre, will make the word resonate with the play's obsessive anxiety about the 'monstrous'—to which it was in any case linked by the false etymology which derived 'monster' from the Latin monstro (show).
Editor’s Note
62 native innate, natural
act and figure activity and form. Perhaps, since Iago is contrasting 'visages of duty' with his inner truth, a play on French figure (face) is involved.
Editor’s Note
63 compliment extern outward exhibitions of courtesy. But as 'complement' and 'compliment' were not distinct in early 17th-century usage, it may also suggest outward behaviour that complements and completes the feelings of the heart.
Editor’s Note
64 wear … sleeve expose my feelings to everyone (the earliest example of this proverbial phrase in OED; see heart, n. 15f). Servants wore their badge of household allegiance upon their sleeve.
Critical Apparatus
65 daws] f (Dawes), q2; Doues q1
Editor’s Note
65 daws The proverbial foolishness of jack-daws was expressed in their appetite for gawdy trifles. Q's 'doves', though an easy misreading for 'dawes', is defensible since doves are associated with love, and so might be sarcastically linked to the tender heart that Iago despises.
I … am Another of Iago's teasingly obscure formulations; parodying the scriptural name of God, 'I am that I am' (Exodus 3: 14), which Shakespeare also plays with in Sonnet 121 and in Richard III, it seems to mean something like 'I am playing a role that does not correspond to my true nature'. For a similarly gestic use of 'I am', see Antony, 1.3.13, 'I am sick and sullen' (= 'Watch me do my sick and sullen act').
Critical Apparatus
66 full] q; fall f
thick-lips] q (thicklips); Thicks-lips f1; Thicke-lips f2
Editor’s Note
66 full fortune abundant or perfect good luck (perhaps with a glance at Desdemona's dowry)
thick-lips A strong indication that Shakespeare conceived his Moor as a black African. A Shakespearian coinage (OED). See Introduction, fig. 7.
owe own
Critical Apparatus
67 carry't] f, q2; carry'et q1
father:] f; ⁓, q
Editor’s Note
67 carry't thus succeed in this way; get away with this
Editor’s Note
68–9 Rouse … Proclaim him Editors are divided as to whether the pronouns refer to Othello (as F's punctuation might suggest), or to Brabantio (as Q appears to indicate). Though 'rouse' might seem to anticipate the noisy waking of Brabantio which follows, the other injunctions seem more appropriate to Othello.
Editor’s Note
68 make after pursue
Critical Apparatus
69 streets] f; streete q
Editor’s Note
69 Proclaim denounce as a traitor or outlaw
Editor’s Note
70–1 though … flies though he is in a state of apparent good fortune and happiness, torment him with miseries
Editor’s Note
71–3 though … As Paraphrases the previous metaphor: 'no matter how real his happiness may be, taint it with such infuriating possibilities that'.
Critical Apparatus
72 chances] f; changes q; charges walker conj.
on't] f; out q
Editor’s Note
73 colour ground or reason for its existence
Editor’s Note
75 timorous fearful, terrifying
Editor’s Note
76 by night … fire a nocturnal fire caused by negligence. In Stratford, hundreds of buildings were destroyed by fires in 1594 and 1596 (Wells, All Time, p. 28).
Critical Apparatus
78 Signor] q ('seignior' throughout); Siginor f (elsewhere 'Signior')
Critical Apparatus
79 Thieves, thieves, thieves] q (theeues); Theeues, Theeues f
Critical Apparatus
79 Awake … thieves! ] f; q divides after 'Brabantio'
Critical Apparatus
80 your daughter] f, q2; you ⁓ q1
Editor’s Note
80 house … bags Desdemona is regarded simply as an item in Brabantio's catalogue of property. Cf. Shylock's reported reaction to his daughter's abduction in Merchant, 2.8.15–22.
Editor’s Note
81.1 window above Most Elizabethan playhouses had a balcony or 'tarras' that could serve either as a playing space for action 'above', or to accommodate spectators when not so required; in some cases it seems to have been flanked by windows, placed above the entry doors on the main stage.
Critical Apparatus
81.1 Enter Brabantio … above ] This edition; Bra. Aboue. f (as speech prefix); Brabantio at a window q
Critical Apparatus
82–3 What summons … there ] q; f divides after 'terrible'
Critical Apparatus
85 Are … locked ] f, q2; Are all doore lockts? q1
Critical Apparatus
86 'Swounds] q1 (Zounds); not in f, q2
you're] f (y'are); you are q
Editor’s Note
86 'Swounds by Christ's wounds (a strong oath)
gown i.e. the 'nightgown' in which Brabantio appears at l. 158.1.
Critical Apparatus
88 now, now, very] f; now, very q
Editor’s Note
88 black ram Apart from the ram's association with lust and sexual potency, its blackness (like its horns) suggests that it is an incarnation of the devil (cf. l. 91). The animal imagery here and elsewhere in the play presents miscegenation as a violation of the natural order: something literally monstrous, in the sense that monsters were supposed to be the offspring of unnatural coupling between different kinds of creatures. Devils too were often represented as having monstrous shapes.
Editor’s Note
89 tupping copulating with (from the northern dialect tup = ram; first use of the verb cited in OED)
white ewe For the subdued pun (ewe/you) that makes Brabantio the victim of Othello's violation by identifying the daughter as a mere extension of the patriarchal body, see Neill, 'Places', pp. 208–36.
Editor’s Note
90 snorting snoring (perhaps with a further suggestion of animality)
Critical Apparatus
91–2 Or … say ] f; as one line q
Editor’s Note
93 reverend worthy of respect
Editor’s Note
95 My … Roderigo An amphibious line: Roderigo is trisyllablic (see l. 56 n.).
Critical Apparatus
96 worser] f (worsser); worse q
Editor’s Note
96 worser Double comparative; common in Shakespeare.
Editor’s Note
100 distempering draughts intoxicating drinks
Critical Apparatus
101 bravery] q; knauerie f
Critical Apparatus
101 bravery defiance, bravado. F's 'knavery', though it makes reasonable sense, is an easy misreading and misses the point of Brabantio's indignation, which is that Roderigo, despite having been sent packing, has stubbornly persisted in returning to the house.
Editor’s Note
102 start my quiet disturb my peace
Sir, sir, sir— An extra-metrical interruption. The fact that Brabantio completes his own verse line may indicate that he speaks over the top of Roderigo's interruption.
Critical Apparatus
103 spirit] q; spirits f
their] f; them q
Critical Apparatus
105 What tell'st] f; What, tell'st q
Editor’s Note
103 spirit character; mettle, willingness to assert myself
place rank, office
Critical Apparatus
105–6 What … grange ] q; f divides after 'robbing'
Editor’s Note
106 grange country house (isolated and vulnerable)
Editor’s Note
107 simple honest, straightforward
Critical Apparatus
108 'Swounds] q1 (Zouns); not in f, q2
Critical Apparatus
110 and] f; not in q
Editor’s Note
111 covered with mated by
Barbary horse Arab stallion (with a quibble on 'barbarian'); i.e. the Moor, Othello. 'Barbary' was strictly the home of the Barbary Moors (Berbers), west of Egypt, but sometimes referred more loosely to the larger North African littoral.
Editor’s Note
112 nephews grandsons (OED 3)
neigh Cf. Jeremiah 5: 8: They rose up in the morning like fed horses: for every man neighed after his neighbour's wife'; and 13: 27: 'I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the filthiness of thy whoredom … and thine abominations' (Geneva Bible, 1560). The second passage closely follows that in which the prophet identifies blackness as the mark of ingrained sin: 'Can the black Moor change his skin …?' (13: 23).
coursers chargers, war-horses; stallions (with a pun on 'corsair' = Barbary pirate)
cousins Punning on 'cozen' = deceive, beguile. For Shakespeare's habitual wordplay on cousin and german (l. 113), see Parker, Margins, pp. 127–36, 154–5, 177–8.
Editor’s Note
113 jennet small Spanish horse
germans close relatives (with a quibble on Germans)
Editor’s Note
114 profane foul-mouthed
Critical Apparatus
115 comes] f; come q
Critical Apparatus
116 now] q; not in f
Editor’s Note
116 making … backs copulating. Italian and French proverb (Dent B151): Far la bestia a due dossi; faire la beste a deux dos. See e.g. Rabelais, 1.3; 5.30 (Honigmann).
Editor’s Note
117 Thou … You Iago responds to Brabantio's contemptuous 'thou' with sarcastic mock-politeness.
villain Not merely 'scoundrel' but also 'low-born peasant'.
Editor’s Note
118 answer answer for
Critical Apparatus
120–36 If't … yourself ] f, q2; not in q1
Editor’s Note
120–36 If't … yourself The incomplete syntax of the sentence begun by 'I beseech you' might suggest, as Honigmann once argued, that these lines were added to F ('Revised Plays', pp. 161–2); but Shakespeare sometimes uses such incompletion to register the speaker's emotional excitement; and Honigmann himself (Texts, p. 12) now argues that, because Brabantio's questioning at ll. 162–8 seems to refer back to this passage, a cut must have been involved.
Editor’s Note
121 As … is as [given your response to our news] I half think it must be
Critical Apparatus
122 odd-even] malone; odde Euen f
Critical Apparatus
122 odd-even Usually explained by reference to Macbeth, 3.4.125–6: 'What is the night? | Almost at odds with morning, which is which.' Johnson suggested that 'the even of night is midnight, the time when night is divided into even parts'; thus odd might indicate a time on either side of the midnight hour.
dull gloomy, dark; drowsy
Editor’s Note
126 and … allowance and has your approval
Editor’s Note
127 saucy insolent
Editor’s Note
130 from contrary to
Editor’s Note
133 gross flagrant; disgusting
Editor’s Note
135 extravagant wandering, vagrant (a characteristic attributed to barbarians generally: cf. erring barbarian, 1.3.348–9)
wheeling giddy, restless, wandering (see OED ppl. a. d, citing this as the earliest example)
stranger The usual term for 'foreigner' or 'alien'.
Editor’s Note
136 Of here and everywhere of no fixed abode
Critical Apparatus
139 For … you ] f, q2; For this delusion q1
Editor’s Note
139 Strike … tinder strike up a light. A reminder that the scene (though played in daylight on the Globe stage) is imagined as taking place in the dark. Like Macbeth, Othello contains an unusually high number of night scenes (1.1–3; 2.3; 5.1–2) which help to set the mood of the play and resonate with its black-white, light-dark symbolism.
Editor’s Note
140 taper wax candle
Editor’s Note
141 accident misfortune
Editor’s Note
142 oppresses me weighs heavily on my spirits
Critical Apparatus
143 Exit] f; not in q
Critical Apparatus
144 place] f, q2; pate q1
Editor’s Note
144 meet fitting
place position (as Othello's ensign)
Critical Apparatus
145 produced] q (produc'd); producted f
Editor’s Note
145 produced i.e. as a witness. F's 'producted' is a possible reading, since 'product' sometimes occurs as an alternative verbal form; but, since there are no other instances in Shakespeare and it disrupts the metre without altering the meaning, F probably reflects a simple misreading.
Critical Apparatus
147 However] f, q (corr.) (How euer); Now euer q (uncorr.)
Editor’s Note
147 gall … check bring the trouble of a reproof upon him. Sanders suggests a subdued equestrian metaphor: 'slightly hurt a horse by pulling back the rein'.
Critical Apparatus
148 cast him] q; cast-him f
Editor’s Note
148 cast cast off, discharge
embarked involved (in), committed (to)
Editor’s Note
149 With … reason for such clamorously urgent reasons
Editor’s Note
150 stands in act are under way (a singular verb with a plural noun is not uncommon in Shakespeare, especially when, as in the case of wars, the noun can be thought of as a collective).
for their souls to save their souls
Critical Apparatus
151 none] f, q2; not q1
Editor’s Note
151 fathom depth of understanding, grasp; ability (OED n. 2b; first example of this usage)
Critical Apparatus
153 hell pains] dyce (hell-paines); hells paines q; hell apines f
Editor’s Note
154 life livelihood
Editor’s Note
155 flag and sign Playing ironically on Iago's 'place' as Othello's ensign or standard-bearer.
Critical Apparatus
156–7 Which … search ] f; q divides after 'surely'
Editor’s Note
156 sign show, pretence (punning on sign = standard)
Critical Apparatus
157 Sagittary] f (Sagitary); Sagittar q
Editor’s Note
157 Sagittary an inn with the sign of Sagittarius (one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, depicting a centaur with a bow and arrow). The Centaur was a monster with the body of a horse and torso of a man: the inn-sign thus becomes another perverted 'sign of love' with an ironic appropriateness to the union of Othello and Desdemona which Iago has already depicted as a monstrous coupling of horse and woman (ll. 110–13); see above, pp. 140–1. Calderwood notes the monster's ancient significance as a symbol of lust, barbarism, and (through the Centaurs' assault on Lapith women) the violation of kind (pp. 22–5, 36).
Critical Apparatus
158.1–2 Enter … torches ] q; Enter Brabantio, with Seruants and Torches. f
Editor’s Note
158.1 nightgown 'an ankle-length gown with long sleeves and collar … worn for warmth both indoors and out' (M. C. Linthicum, Costume in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (Oxford, 1936), p. 184).
Editor’s Note
160 what's … time the rest of my despicable life
Critical Apparatus
161 bitterness. Now] f; ⁓‸ now q
Critical Apparatus
164 she deceives] f, q2; thou deceiuest q1
Editor’s Note
165 Past thought beyond belief
Critical Apparatus
168 O … blood ] q; f divides after 'out'
Editor’s Note
168 treason of the blood Brabantio's exclamation plays on several senses of blood: Desdemona's elopement is a violation of her noble nature and lineage (blood); a betrayal of duty to her family (blood) and especially to her father (whose authority, in patriarchal theory, was directly analogous to that of a monarch); and an instance of treacherous rebellion against the sovereign reason by rebellious passion (blood).
Editor’s Note
170 charms magical devices, spells
Critical Apparatus
171 maidhood] f; manhood q
Editor’s Note
171 property nature (what is proper to something)
Editor’s Note
172 abused deceived, taken advantage of; perverted (from its natural condition); violated, ravished
Critical Apparatus
173 Yes … indeed ] f, q2; I haue sir q1
Critical Apparatus
174 would] f, q2; that q1
Editor’s Note
174 brother Presumably Gratiano (see 5.2.199).
Editor’s Note
177 discover Literally 'uncover', 'reveal'; a term with specific theatrical resonances, appropriate to a play obsessed with the hidden scene of erotic consummation that is finally revealed when Desdemona's bed is 'discovered' in the last scene (see
Critical Apparatus
179 Pray … on ] f, q2; Pray leade me on q1
Critical Apparatus
181 night] q1; might f, q2
Editor’s Note
181 officers of night The role of these officials (one elected from each of the city's six 'tribes') is described in Lewkenor in a passage marginally annotated 'Officers of night' (pp. 96–8). Charged with ensuring 'that there be not any disorder done in the darkness of the night, which always emboldeneth men ill-disposed to naughtiness, and that there be not any houses broken up, nor thieves, nor rogues lurking in corners with intent to do violence' (p. 98), these officials had authority to punish minor offences with summary imprisonment or whipping.
Critical Apparatus
183 I will] f; Ile q
Editor’s Note
182 deserve your pains recompense you for your trouble
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