The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's early plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors (along with The Tempest) is one of only two of Shakespeare's plays to observe the Unity of Time (classical unities). It has been adapted for opera, stage, screen and musical theatre numerous times worldwide. The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth (Shakespeare was father to one pair of twins). Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.
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Copyright © 2016 by William Shakespeare.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing
First Edition: January 2017
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
TABLE OF CONTENT
SOLINUS, Duke of Ephesus.
AEGEON, a Merchant of Syracuse.
ANTIPHOLUS OF EPHESUS, Twin brothers and sons to Aegion and ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE, and Aemelia, but unknown to each other.
DROMIO OF EPHESUS, Twin brothers, and attendants onDROMIO OF SYRACUSE, the two Antipholuses.
BALTHAZAR, a Merchant.
ANGELO, a Goldsmith.
A MERCHANT, friend to Antipholus of Syracuse.
PINCH, a Schoolmaster and a Conjurer.
AEMILIA, Wife to Aegeon, an Abbess at Ephesus.
ADRIANA, Wife to Antipholus of Ephesus.
LUCIANA, her Sister.
LUCE, her Servant.
A COURTEZANGaoler, Officers, Attendants
A hall in the DUKE'S palace.
[Enter the DUKE, AEGEON, GAOLER, OFFICERS, and other ATTENDANTS.]
AEGEON.Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall,And, by the doom of death, end woes and all.
DUKE.Merchant of Syracuse, plead no more;I am not partial to infringe our laws:The enmity and discord which of lateSprung from the rancorous outrage of your dukeTo merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,--Who, wanting guilders to redeem their lives,Have seal'd his rigorous statutes with their bloods,--Excludes all pity from our threat'ning looks.For, since the mortal and intestine jars'Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us,It hath in solemn synods been decreed,Both by the Syracusians and ourselves,To admit no traffic to our adverse towns;Nay, more,If any born at Ephesus be seenAt any Syracusian marts and fairs;--Again, if any Syracusian bornCome to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,His goods confiscate to the Duke's dispose;Unless a thousand marks be levied,To quit the penalty and to ransom him.--Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,Cannot amount unto a hundred marks:Therefore by law thou art condemn'd to die.
AEGEON.Yet this my comfort,--when your words are done,My woes end likewise with the evening sun.
DUKE.Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the causeWhy thou departedst from thy native home,And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus.
AEGEON.A heavier task could not have been impos'dThan I to speak my griefs unspeakable!Yet, that the world may witness that my endWas wrought by nature, not by vile offence,I'll utter what my sorrow gives me leave.In Syracuse was I born; and wedUnto a woman, happy but for me,And by me too, had not our hap been bad.With her I liv'd in joy; our wealth increas'dBy prosperous voyages I often madeTo Epidamnum, till my factor's death,And he,--great care of goods at random left,--Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse:From whom my absence was not six months old,Before herself,--almost at fainting underThe pleasing punishment that women bear,--Had made provision for her following me,And soon and safe arrived where I was.There had she not been long but she becameA joyful mother of two goodly sons;And, which was strange, the one so like the otherAs could not be disdnguish'd but by names.That very hour, and in the self-same inn,A mean woman was deliveredOf such a burden, male twins, both alike:Those,--for their parents were exceeding poor,--I bought, and brought up to attend my sons.My wife, not meanly proud of two such boys,Made daily motions for our home return:Unwilling I agreed; alas! too soon!We came aboard:A league from Epidamnum had we sail'dBefore the always-wind-obeying deepGave any tragic instance of our harm;But longer did we not retain much hope:For what obscured light the heavens did grantDid but convey unto our fearful mindsA doubtful warrant of immediate death;Which though myself would gladly have embrac'd,Yet the incessant weepings of my wife,Weeping before for what she saw must come,And piteous plainings of the pretty babes,That mourn'd for fashion, ignorant what to fear,Forc'd me to seek delays for them and me.And this it was,--for other means was none.--The sailors sought for safety by our boat,And left the ship, then sinking-ripe, to us;:My wife, more careful for the latter-born,Had fast'ned him unto a small spare mast,Such as sea-faring men provide for storms:To him one of the other twins was bound,Whilst I had been like heedful of the other.The children thus dispos'd, my wife and I,Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fix'd,Fast'ned ourselves at either end the mast,And, floating straight, obedient to the stream,Were carried towards Corinth, as we thought.At length the sun, gazing upon the earth,Dispers'd those vapours that offended us;And, by the benefit of his wish'd light,The seas wax'd calm, and we discover'dTwo ships from far making amain to us,--Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this:But ere they came--O, let me say no more!--Gather the sequel by that went before.
DUKE.Nay, forward, old man, do not break off so;For we may pity, though not pardon thee.
AEGEON.O, had the gods done so, I had not nowWorthily term'd them merciless to us!For, ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues,We were encount'red by a mighty rock,Which being violently borne upon,Our helpful ship was splitted in the midst;So that, in this unjust divorce of us,Fortune had left to both of us alikeWhat to delight in, what to sorrow for.Her part, poor soul! seeming as burdenedWith lesser weight, but not with lesser woe,Was carried with more speed before the wind;And in our sight they three were taken upBy fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.At length another ship had seiz'd on us;And, knowing whom it was their hap to save,Gave healthful welcome to their ship-wreck'd guests;And would have reft the fishers of their prey,Had not their bark been very slow of sail,And therefore homeward did they bend their course.--Thus have you heard me sever'd from my bliss;That by misfortunes was my life prolong'd,To tell sad stories of my own mishaps.
DUKE.And, for the sake of them thou sorrowest for,Do me the favour to dilate at fullWhat have befall'n of them and thee till now.
AEGEON.My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,At eighteen years became inquisitiveAfter his brother, and importun'd meThat his attendant,--so his case was like,Reft of his brother, but retain'd his name,--Might bear him company in the quest of him:Whom whilst I laboured of a love to see,I hazarded the loss of whom I lov'd.Five summers have I spent in furthest Greece,Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia,And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus;Hopeless to find, yet loath to leave unsoughtOr that or any place that harbours men.But here must end the story of my life;And happy were I in my timely death,Could all my travels warrant me they live.
DUKE.Hapless Aegeon, whom the fates have mark'dTo bear the extremity of dire mishap!Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,Which princes, would they, may not disannul,My soul should sue as advocate for thee.But though thou art adjudged to the death,And passed sentence may not be recall'dBut to our honour's great disparagement,Yet will I favour thee in what I can:Therefore, merchant, I'll limit thee this dayTo seek thy help by beneficial help:Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus:Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum,And live; if not, then thou art doom'd to die.--Gaoler, take him to thy custody.
GAOLER.I will, my lord.
AEGEON.Hopeless and helpless doth Aegeon wend.But to procrastinate his lifeless end.
A public place.
[Enter ANTIPHOLUS and DROMIO OF SYRACUSE, and a MERCHANT.]
MERCHANT.Therefore, give out you are of Epidamnum,Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate.This very day a Syracusian merchantIs apprehended for arrival here;And, not being able to buy out his life,According to the statute of the town,Dies ere the weary sun set in the west.--There is your money that I had to keep.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE.Go bear it to the Centaur, where we host,And stay there, Dromio, till I come to thee.Within this hour it will be dinner-time;Till that, I'll view the manners of the town,Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings,And then return and sleep within mine inn;For with long travel I am stiff and weary.--Get thee away.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE.Many a man would take you at your word,
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