Most grave Brabantio,
In simple and pure soul I come to you.
‘Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not
serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to
do you service and you think we are ruffians, you’ll
have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse;
you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have
coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.
What profane wretch art thou?
I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.
Thou art a villain.
You are–a senator.
This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo.
Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you,
If’t be your pleasure and most wise consent,
As partly I find it is, that your fair daughter,
At this odd-even and dull watch o’ the night,
Transported, with no worse nor better guard
But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor–
If this be known to you and your allowance,
We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs;
But if you know not this, my manners tell me
We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe
That, from the sense of all civility,
I thus would play and trifle with your reverence:
Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
I say again, hath made a gross revolt;
Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
Of here and every where. Straight satisfy yourself:
If she be in her chamber or your house,
Let loose on me the justice of the state
For thus deluding you.
- ‘zounds – an interjection expressing anger or surprise
- coursers – a swift and strong horse
- gennets – a small Spanish horse
- gondolier – a Venetian boatman
- saucy – irreverent, cheeky, disrespectful
Serious Brabantio, I am here in good will
Whoah, you are one of those guy who won’t even serve God if the devil wants you to. We’re here to help you, but you ignore us and let a horse of a man get all over your daughter; soon your nephews will neigh to you; and you whole family will be beasts.
What kind of a disgusting person are you?
I am a person who is here to tell you that your daughter and the Moor are quite simply having sex.
You’re a villain.
You are–a senator.
I know you, Roderigo, and you better have a good response to this
Sir, I will answer any query you have. But, I beg of you, if you so desire, I think it is true that your daughter, in the early hours of the morning, through no better means than a hired boatman, is in the hands of the lustful Moor. If you’re okay with this, we’re sorry for being so rude; But if you don’t know about this, then I think you have been wrong to insult us. I would never mess around with you and try to trick you: If you did not give you daughter consent to do this, then she has wronged you; She has put her future and all her good qualities in the hands of a saucy and dangerous stranger. Make yourself happy, if she’s in your house/her bed, then punish me with the help of the state for deceiving you.
Literary Devices and Meaning
This passage is filled with metaphors. Iago calls Othello a “Barbary horse,” and tells him that “you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.” He also tells Brabantio that Desdemona and Othello are “making the beast with two backs.”
All of these references and metaphors are comparing Othello and his actions with Desdemona to beasts. Calling Othello a “Barbary horse” makes it clear that he is no nice man, that he is in fact an uncontrollable beast. Telling Brabantio that his family will become beasts by saying that he’ll have his relatives all be horses (of one type or another) implicates his whole family in this incident, thus making it seem more urgent that Brabantio take action. Lastly, telling Brabantio that the two lovers are “making the beast with two backs” emphasizes the the extent of how disturbed Iago is and Brabantio should be in the actions of Desdemona by again comparing their intercourse with bestial activities.