Ill met by moonlight


Enter Oberon, the King of Fairies, at one side with his train, and Titania, the Queen, at the other, with hers.
Oberon: Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
Titania: What, jealous Oberon?—Fairies, skip hence.
I have forsworn his bed and company.

-- Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 2, scene1.

What does "Ill met by moonlight" mean? Does "Ill met" mean "ill-matched?" Does Titania is so proud that she doesn't match with moonlight??? :confused:
  • maxiogee

    Ill means unlucky, unfavourable.
    Moonlight just means "at night"
    Proud means unbending. You must remember that in Shakespeare's time everyone was subservient to a king. For a king to remark on someone's pride would indicate that he sees them as very independent and lacking in respect.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Ill met' is the opposite of 'well met', an archaic greeting meaning 'It is fortunate that we meet', or simply 'nice to see you'. Clearly the king and queen are hostile to one another at this point! Come to think of it, maybe 'well met' is not quite archaic.

    Ill and evil are cognates, and have some similar meanings. Moonlight is considered to have evil effects (we also say 'ill effect') - hence expressions such as lunatic and moonstruck.

    I think that 'ill met by moonlight' means 'It's bad luck that we have met when the moon is shining'. Puck has just said 'Take care the queen come not within [the king's] sight' - as it can only cause trouble!