1.2
50Enter Viola, a Captain, and Sailors [as from a shipwreck].

[as from a shipwreck].

Perhaps wet.
Close
Viola What country, friends, is this?
Captain This is Illyria, lady.

Illyria,

East of the Adriatic Sea, particularly what is now the Dalmatian coast; Croatia and Bosnia.
Close
Viola And what should I do in Illyria?
My brother he is in Elysium.

Elysium.

The classical heaven. Similarity of sound to "Illyria" emphasizes Viola's sense of the contrast of places.
Close
55Perchance he is not drowned--what think you, sailors?

Perchance

Perhaps (see note to TLN 57).
Close
Captain It is perchance that you yourself were saved.

perchance

By chance (see note to TLN 57)
Close
Viola Oh, my poor brother! And so perchance may he be.

perchance

(a) perhaps, and (b) by chance.
Close
Captain True, madam, and to comfort you with chance,

chance,

Possibility.
Close
Assure your self, after our ship did split,
60When you, and those poor number saved with you,
Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother,

driving

Driven (by the wind), drifting.
Close

boat,

I.e. the ship's boat.
Close
Most provident in peril, bind himself--
Courage and hope both teaching him the practice--
To a strong mast, that lived upon the sea;

lived

Remained afloat (a nautical term).
Close
65Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back,

Arion

A classical poet and musician reputed to have been rescued, after jumping overboard to escape murder, by a dolphin charmed with his music.
Close
I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
So long as I could see.
Viola [Giving him gold] For saying so, there's gold.

gold.

A valuable coin, or just possibly a piece of jewellery.
Close
Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,

Mine . . . him

My escape opens the hope, supported by your account, that he too has escaped.
Close
70Whereto thy speech serves for authority,
The like of him. Know'st thou this country?

Know'st . . . country

Both Viola and the audience need this information. Equally important, Viola now puts aside her grief and faces the unknown with energy.
Close
Captain Ay, madam, well, for I was bred and born

Ay,

Pronounced, as spelled in Folio, "I" (sounds like "eye").
Close
Not three hours' travel from this very place.
Viola Who governs here?
75Captain A noble duke, in nature as in name.

duke,

For Orsino's rank, see Editors' Introduction {link to paragraph 000}.
Close
Viola What is his name?
Captain Orsino.
Viola Orsino! I have heard my father name him.
He was a bachelor then.
80Captain And so is now, or was so very late;

late;

Recently.
Close
For but a month ago I went from hence,
And then 'twas fresh in murmur (as you know,

murmur

Rumor.
Close
What great ones do, the less will prattle of)
That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.
85Viola What's she?
Captain A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
That died some twelvemonth since, then leaving her
In the protection of his son, her brother,
Who shortly also died; for whose dear love,

also died;

Close
90They say, she hath abjured the sight
And company of men.
Viola Oh, that I served that lady,
And might not be delivered to the world

And might . . . estate is

The "occasion" (business) which is not yet mature ("mellow") includes a need to confirm her status ("estate") before she is, as it were, born ("delivered") into the public world .
Close
Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,

compass,

Accomplish.
Close
95What my estate is!
Captain
That were hard to compass,
Because she will admit no kind of suit,

suit,

Petition.
Close
No, not the duke's.
Viola There is a fair behavior in thee, Captain;
100And though that nature with a beauteous wall

beauteous . . . pollution

Concern about a fair outside concealing a corrupted interior is a common Renaissance preoccupation. Compare TLN 1889-1890, TLN 2287.
Close
Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
With this thy fair and outward character.

character.

Appearance.
Close
I prithee--and I'll pay thee bounteously--
105Conceal me what I am, and be my aid

Conceal . . . am

Conceal the fact that I am a woman.
Close
For such disguise as haply shall become

haply . . . intent

As may chance to suit the shape of my plan.
Close
The form of my intent. I'll serve this duke.
Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him--

eunuch . . . sing,

Male singers were sometimes castrated before puberty to retain a soprano voice.
Close
It may be worth thy pains, for I can sing,
110And speak to him in many sorts of music,

speak

Figurative use for singing or playing an instrument.
Close

sorts

Kinds (possibly indicating instrumental as well as songs).
Close
That will allow me very worth his service.

That . . . worth

Which will prove me worthy of.
Close
What else may hap, to time I will commit,

hap,

Happen, occur by chance.
Close
Only shape thou thy silence to my wit.

wit.

(a) stratagem, (b) intelligence, ingenuity.
Close
Captain Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be;

mute

(a) dumb servant in a Turkish court, sometimes attending eunuchs, (b) a silent extra in the theatre.
Close
115When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
Viola I thank thee. Lead me on.
Exeunt.