Montano, Governor of Cyprus before Othello

When the Duke of Venice is trying to figure out just where the Turkish fleet is headed, a messenger comes in with the news that it is headed towards Cyprus. The messenger tells the Duke that "Signior Montano, / Your trusty and most valiant servitor, / With his free duty [voluntary loyalty] recommends [informs] you thus, / And prays you to believe him" (1.3.39-42). "Servitor" is just another word for "servant," but it's assumed that the Duke's servant in Cyprus must be the Governor of Cyprus. Later in the scene the Duke tells Othello that he must go to Cyprus, even though the Duke already has "there a substitute [representative] of most allowed [acknowledged] sufficiency" (1.3.223-224). The "substitute" to whom the Duke refers is probably Montano. [Scene Summary]

"What from the cape can you discern at sea?" (2.1.1), Montano asks a gentleman of Cyprus as they are awaiting the arrival of the Venetian fleet. When he is informed that it is Othello who is coming to be governor of the island, he says, "I am glad on't; 'tis a worthy governor" (2.1.30). [Scene Summary]

As part of his plan to get Cassio fired, Iago persuades him to drink with some gentlemen of Cyprus. Against his better judgment, Cassio agrees, and goes out to meet the gentlemen. A few moments later he returns with the gentlemen, one of whom is Montano. Cassio announces that they have already given him a drink, and Montano jests, "Good faith, a little one; not past a pint, as I am a soldier" (2.3.66-67). Cassio and the rest then drink some more, and Cassio gets quite drunk, as Iago has planned. (Montano is not a party to Iago's plan.) Then when Cassio starts off for guard duty, Iago sends Roderigo after him, to provoke him. Meanwhile Iago tells Montano that Cassio is a habitual drunk, and pretty soon Roderigo comes running in, chased by the angry Cassio. Montano tries to intervene, but when he tells Cassio that he's drunk, Cassio turns on him. In a swordfight, Cassio wounds Montano, and then Othello enters and stops the fight. Trying to find out what happened, Othello addresses Montano: "Worthy Montano, you were wont be civil; / The gravity and stillness of your youth / The world hath noted, and your name is great / In mouths of wisest censure" (2.3.190-193). Othello's point is that Montano is the last person he would expect to be involved in a street brawl. Montano answers that he did nothing wrong, unless self-defense is wrong. After Othello fires Cassio, he says to Montano, "Sir, for your hurts, / Myself will be your surgeon" (2.3.253-254). Othello isn't a doctor ("surgeon"); he means that he personally will make sure that Montano is well cared for. [Scene Summary]

After Othello kills Desdemona and tries to justify himself to Emilia, she calls out for help. Montano, Gratiano, Iago and some others answer the call. As they come in Montano asks "What is the matter? How now, general!" (5.2.168). After that Montano is an onlooker until Othello attacks Iago. Montano wrests Othello's sword from him. In the commotion Iago stabs his wife and runs away. At this point Montano takes charge of the situation. He gives Gratiano the sword he has taken from Othello and instructs Gratiano to guard the door from the outside, making sure that Othello doesn't escape. Montano and the rest of the men then leave to chase down Iago. A little later Montano returns with Cassio, Lodovico, and Iago, who has been taken prisoner. Lodovico is now in charge and Montano is again an onlooker. [Scene Summary]