Act II - Scene I

The sea-coast.

[Enter Antonio and Sebastian.]

Will you stay no longer, nor will you not that I go with
By your patience, no. My stars shine darkly over me:
the malignancy of my fate might perhaps distemper yours;
therefore I shall crave of you your leave that I may bear my(5)
evils alone: it were a bad recompense for your love, to lay any
of them on you.
Let me know of you whither you are bound.
No, sooth, sir: my determinate voyage is mere
extravagancy. But I perceive in you so excellent a touch of(10)
modesty, that you will not extort from me what I am willing
to keep in; therefore it charges me in manners the rather
to express myself. You must know of me then, Antonio, my
name is Sebastian, which I called Rodorigo. My father was
that Sebastian of Messaline, whom I know you have heard of.(15)
He left behind him myself and a sister, both born in an hour:
if the heavens had been pleased, would we had so ended!
but you, sir, altered that; for some hours before you took me
from the breach of the sea was my sister drowned.
Alas the day!(20)
A lady, sir, though it was said she much resembled
me, was yet of many accounted beautiful: but, though I
could not with such estimable wonder overfar believe that,
yet thus far I will boldly publish her; she bore a mind that
envy could not but call fair. She is drowned already, sir, with(25)
salt water, though I seem to drown her remembrance again
with more.
Pardon me, sir, your bad entertainment.
O good Antonio, forgive me your trouble.
If you will not murder me for my love, let me be(30)
your servant.
If you will not undo what you have done—that
is, kill him whom you have recovered—desire it not.
Fare ye well at once: my bosom is full of kindness, and I
am yet so near the manners of my mother, that upon the(35)
least occasion more mine eyes will tell tales of me. I am
bound to the Count Orsino's court: farewell.

[Exit Sebastian.]

The gentleness of all the gods go with thee!
I have many enemies in Orsino's court,
Else would I very shortly see thee there.(40)
But, come what may, I do adore thee so,
That danger shall seem sport, and I will go.

[Exit Antonio.]


  1. By this, Antonio means that he is willing to put himself in danger so that he can follow Sebastian. This claim suggests an undeveloped backstory in which Antonio does something illegal in Illyria and makes “enemies” in Orsino’s court.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. While Sebastian and Antonio’s relationship could be read as a restoration of the social order, it could also be read through a romantic lens: Antonio’s devotion to Sebastian could be a sign of homoerotic love. This love would explain Antonio’s hyperbolic loyalty.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Sebastian recognizes that his melancholy “drowns” the memory of his sister. Unlike Olivia, who cannot recognize that her excessive melancholy tarnishes the memory of her brother, Sebastian honors Viola by realizing that his tears will do her no good.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Sebastian recalls many of his sister’s better qualities and begins to cry as he does so. In this line, we learn that Viola has always had a keen wit, which helps explain how good she is at deception. To emphasize how creative and powerful her mind is, Sebastian personifies the emotion Envy to say that even the essence of jealousy would consider Viola’s wit and cunning impressive.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. This means that Antonio saved Sebastian from drowning. This might suggest that Sebastian would then be indebted to Antonio for saving his life. However, throughout the rest of the scene we will see Antonio’s extreme dedication to Sebastian. This marks a restoration of the social order: Sebastian's servant Antonio is devoted because Sebastian is his master.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. The adjective “determinate” here refers to a voyage, or journey, that has a fixed destination or purpose. Since Sebastian says that such a voyage is mere extravagancy, meaning in this usage a wandering beyond bounds or out of one's course, he is saying that his goal is to wander without any particular location in mind. That Sebastian says this with such language reveals his education and pretentiousness.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. By this phrase, Sebastian means that he and Viola are twins. Notice that Shakespeare waits until Act II, scene i to explain Viola’s backstory. This delay in identification could add to the mystery of the character and build the audience's intrigue just as Cesario’s vague answers build Olivia’s interest in him.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Sebastian has just said that his “stars shine darkly,” and this line further indicates that he feels as if his destiny were cursed. Here, the noun “malignancy” means baleful, unpropitious, or unfavorable; the verb “to distemper,” to disturb, to disorder, or to trouble. Sebastian worries that his ill fate will affect Antonio negatively.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. Sebastian’s alias “Rodorigo” is never mentioned again within this play. This suggests that there was another sub plot or backstory that was never actually developed. It could also suggest a printing error in which a scene explaining this alias was lost.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Sebastian reveals his identity and gives up deception, disguise, and performance in order to assert his aristocratic “manners.” In this way, Sebastian becomes a symbol of aristocratic order: his appearance in the play signals a return to order contrary to the social inversion that characterizes the rest of the relationships in the play.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff