Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Othello: Act 1, Scene 1

           Enter RODERIGO and IAGO.

  1   Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly
1. never tell me: I don't want to hear your explanations.

  2   That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse
  3   As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.
3. this: i.e., Othello's marriage to Desdemona.

  4   'Sblood, but you will not hear me:
4. 'Sblood: by God's (Christ's) blood.

  5   If ever I did dream of such a matter,
  6   Abhor me.
Roderigo and Iago

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

  8   Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
  9   In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
10. Off-capp'd to him: Took off their caps to him, i.e., Othello
 10   Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,
 11   I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.
 12   But he, as loving his own pride and purposes,
 13   Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
13. bombast circumstance: wordy rigmarole. Bombast was cotton stuffing used in padded clothing.

 14   Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;
14. epithets of war: military jargon.

 15   And, in conclusion,
 16   Nonsuits my mediators; for, "Certes," says he,
16. Nonsuits: rejects, refuses. Certes: certainly.

 17   "I have already chose my officer."
 18   And what was he?
 19   Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
19. arithmetician: i.e., one adept at figures, not at fighting.

 20   One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
 21   A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife,
21. almost damn'd in a fair wife: We never hear another mention of Cassio's wife.

 22   That never set a squadron in the field,
 23   Nor the division of a battle knows
23. division: arrangement. battle: battalion.

 24   More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
24. spinster: i.e., housewife (one of whose duties was spinning). theoric: theory.

 25   Wherein the toged consuls can propose
25. toged: wearing togas (dressed for the council-chamber, not the battlefield). consuls: senators. propose: discuss, talk.

 26   As masterly as he. Mere prattle, without practise,
 27   Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
 28   And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
28. his eyes: i.e., Othello's eyes. the proof: the proof of Iago's capabilities as a soldier.

 29   At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
 30   Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd
 31   By debitor and creditor — this counter-caster,
30-31. be . . . counter-caster: have the wind taken out of my sails and be left behind by this bookkeeper. . . . more

 32   He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
32. in good time: all of a sudden.

 33   And I — God bless the mark! — his Moorship's ancient.
33. ancient: ensign, standard-bearer.

 34   By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.
34. his hangman: the one to hang him.

 35   Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service,
 36   Preferment goes by letter and affection,
36. Preferment: promotion. letter and affection: private recommendation and favoritism.

 37   And not by old gradation, where each second
37. old gradation: seniority, as in the good old days.

 38   Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,
39. term: respect. affined: bound.
 39   Whether I in any just term am affined
 40   To love the Moor.
Iago and Roderigo

                                     I would not follow him then.

 41   O, sir, content you;
41. content you: calm yourself.

 42   I follow him to serve my turn upon him.
 43   We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
 44   Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
 45   Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
 46   That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
 47   Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
 48   For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
48. cashier'd: dismissed from service.

 49   Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
 50   Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
50. trimm'd in forms and visages of duty: wearing the manners and countenance of humble service.

 51   Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
 52   And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
 53   Do well thrive by them and when they have lin'd their coats
 54   Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul;
 55   And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
 56   It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
 57   Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
 58   In following him, I follow but myself;
 59   Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
 60   But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
60. peculiar: particular, personal, private.

 61   For when my outward action doth demonstrate
 62   The native act and figure of my heart
62. figure: shape.

 63   In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
63. compliment extern: external show corresponding to these hidden motives.

 64   But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
 65   For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

 66   What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe
66. thick-lips: i.e., Othello. owe: own, have.

 67   If he can carry't thus!
67. carry't thus: carry this off.

                                             Call up her father,
 68   Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight,
 69   Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,
 70   And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,
70. though he in a fertile climate dwell: i.e., though his general situation is a fortunate one.

 71   Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy,
71. flies: i.e., petty annoyances.

 72   Yet throw such changes of vexation on't,
72. changes of vexation: vexatious changes.

 73   As it may lose some color.
73. may lose some color: i.e., may lose some of its fresh gloss or appearance (of happiness).

 74   Here is her father's house; I'll call aloud.

 75   Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell
75. timorous: terrifying.

 76   As when, by night and negligence, the fire
76. by night and negligence: at night and as the result of negligence.

 77   Is spied in populous cities.

 78   What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!

 79   Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves!
 80   Look to your house, your daughter and your bags!
 81   Thieves! thieves!

           [Enter BRABANTIO] above [at a window].
Iago and Roderigo yelling at Brabantio

 82   What is the reason of this terrible summons?
 83   What is the matter there?

 84   Signior, is all your family within?

 85   Are your doors lock'd?

 85                                             Why, wherefore ask you this?

 86   'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown;
86. 'Zounds: by God's (Christ's) wounds.

 87   Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
 88   Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
 89   Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise;
89. tupping: topping, copulating with (said of sheep).

 90   Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
90. snorting: snoring.

 91   Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
 92   Arise, I say.

                            What, have you lost your wits?
Brabantio yelling at Roderigo

 93   Most reverend signior, do you know my voice?

 94   Not I; what are you?

 95   My name is Roderigo.

 95                                          The worser welcome:
 96   I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:
 97   In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
 98   My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
 99   Being full of supper and distempering draughts,
99. distempering: disordering, intoxicating.

100   Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come
100. Upon malicious bravery: with hostile intent to defy me.

101   To start my quiet.
101. start: disrupt, startle.

102   Sir, sir, sir, —

                             But thou must needs be sure
103   My spirit and my place have in them power
104   To make this bitter to thee.

                                                      Patience, good sir.

105   What tell'st thou me of robbing? this is Venice;
106. a grange: an isolated farmhouse.
106   My house is not a grange.

                                                   Most grave Brabantio,
107. simple: sincere.
107   In simple and pure soul I come to you.

108   'Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not
109   serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to
110   do you service and you think we are ruffians, you'll
111   have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse;
111. covered: mounted for copulation. Barbary: the arabic states of northern Africa.

112   you'll have your nephews neigh to you; you'll have
112. nephews: i.e., grandsons.

113   coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.
113. coursers: powerful horses. cousins: kinsmen. gennets: small Spanish horses. germans: close relatives.

114   What profane wretch art thou?

115   I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
116   and the Moor are now making the beast with two
117   backs.

118   Thou art a villain.
118. villain: disgusting low-life.

                                     You are — a senator.

119   This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo.
119. This thou shalt answer: you will be held answerable for this.

120   Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you,
121   If't be your pleasure and most wise consent,
122   As partly I find it is, that your fair daughter,
123   At this odd-even and dull watch o' the night,
123. this . . . dull watch o' the night: i.e., the wee hours of the morning, when nothing much is happening.

124   Transported, with no worse nor better guard
125   But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
125. But with: than with.

126   To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor —
127   If this be known to you and your allowance,
127. and your allowance: i.e., and has your approval.

128   We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs;
128. saucy: insolent.

129   But if you know not this, my manners tell me
130   We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe
131   That, from the sense of all civility,
131. from the sense of all civility: contrary to all sense of decency.

132   I thus would play and trifle with your reverence:
133   Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
134   I say again, hath made a gross revolt;
135   Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
136   In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
136. extravagant: expatriate; literally, wandering beyond his limits. wheeling: roving. stranger: foreigner.

137   Of here and every where. Straight satisfy yourself:
137. Straight: straightway, immediately.

138   If she be in her chamber or your house,
139   Let loose on me the justice of the state
140   For thus deluding you.

                                              Strike on the tinder, ho!
140. tinder: charred linen ignited by a spark from flint and steel, used to light torches.

141   Give me a taper! call up all my people!
142   This accident is not unlike my dream:
142. accident: occurrence, event.

143   Belief of it oppresses me already.
144   Light, I say! light!

           Exit [above].

                                     Farewell; for I must leave you:
145   It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place,
146   To be produced — as, if I stay, I shall —
146. produced: brought forward (to give evidence).

147   Against the Moor: for, I do know, the state,
148   How ever this may gall him with some check,
148. gall him with some check: bring on him some irritating rebuke (gall = rub sore, check = rebuke).

149   Cannot with safety cast him, for he's embark'd
149. cast: dismiss.

150   With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars,
150. loud reason: i.e., evident rightness of choice.

151   Which even now stand in act, that, for their souls,
151. stands in act: are under way.

152   Another of his fathom they have none,
152. fathom: i.e., capability, depth of experience.

153   To lead their business; in which regard,
153. in which regard: because of which consideration.

154   Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains,
155   Yet, for necessity of present life,
156   I must show out a flag and sign of love,
157   Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,
158   Lead to the Sagittary the raised search;
158. Sagittary: an inn where Othello and Desdemona are staying (so called because its sign bore the conventional figure of Sagittarius, the Archer—a Centaur shooting an arrow). raised search: party of searchers who have been roused from their beds.

159   And there will I be with him. So, farewell.


           Enter [below] BRABANTIO,
           with SERVANTS and torches.

160   It is too true an evil: gone she is;
161   And what's to come of my despised time
161. my despised time: i.e., the hateful remainder of my life.

162   Is nought but bitterness. Now, Roderigo,
163   Where didst thou see her? O unhappy girl!
164   With the Moor, say'st thou? Who would be a father!
164. Who would be a father!: i.e., no man would ever be a father if he knew what suffering it caused.

165   How didst thou know 'twas she? O she deceives me
166   Past thought! What said she to you? Get moe tapers:
166. moe: more.

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

168   Truly, I think they are.

169   O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood!
169. of the blood: within the family.

170   Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds
171   By what you see them act. Is there not charms
171. charms: magic spells.

172   By which the property of youth and maidhood
172. property: special quality, nature.

173   May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,
173. abused: deceived.

174   Of some such thing?

                                         Yes, sir, I have indeed.

175   Call up my brother. O, would you had had her!
176   Some one way, some another. Do you know
177   Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?

178   I think I can discover him, if you please,
178. discover: uncover, bring to light.

179   To get good guard and go along with me.

180   Pray you, lead on. At every house I'll call;
181   I may command at most. Get weapons, ho!
181. I may command at most: i.e., I can be sure of help from most of them.

182   And raise some special officers of night.
183   On, good Roderigo: I'll deserve your pains.
183. deserve: i.e., show gratitude for, reward.