Slaver with lips as common as the stairs that mount the Capitol;

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Senior Member

It's the movie "Cymbeline"
Text is copy paste from Shakespeare.
There's Iachimo trying to woo Imogene.
And he says,
"Had I this cheek to bathe my lips upon; this hand, whose touch,
whose every touch, would force the feeler's soul
to the oath of loyalty; this object, which
takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye,
fixing it only here; should I, damn'd then,
slaver with lips as common as the stairs that mount the Capitol".

I am lost at "slaver with lips as common as..."
Any idea?

Thank you
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I'm not familiar with 'Cymbeline', but I get the idea that Iachimo might be talking about giving up his social station for Imogene. Is Iachimo a nobleman? If he "slavers with royal lips" now, he could say that he "slavered with common lips" if he gave up his claim to nobility.

    If you can provide a little more context about what is going on, members can give you better ideas about what that line might mean.


    Senior Member
    Thank you, Owlman.
    I thought that only someone familiar with Shakespeare would have an idea about this.
    Iachimo, a roman, has made a bet with the lover of Imogen, the daughter of Britain's king, that he will woo her.
    Imogen's lover is cast away by the king, who doesn't like their union, and is residing in Rome.
    That's it, more or less.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Iachimo is trying to discredit his rival Posthumus. He is saying to Imogen (Posthumus's wife):

    "If I had your cheek and hand to kiss, would I waste my kisses on prostitutes, as common as a public staircase?" (implication: " your husband is doing, back in Rome").

    Slaver with (/slævə/, not /sleɪvə/) means to drool over, to dribble over. We're talking about French kissing, nothing to do with slavery.


    Senior Member
    Yeah, slavery was not an option.
    But even drool was not so easy to get.
    At last, some light.
    Thank you very much, Keith.
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