Chaste Treasure: Protestant Chastity and the
Creation of a National Economic Sphere
in The Rape of Lucreceand Cymbeline

Katherine Gillen

Abstract: This essay suggests that Shakespeare revises the Roman story of The Rape of Lucrece to fit the explicitly British context of Cymbeline, a play that reflects the transition from the rule of Elizabeth I to that of James I. Reading Cymbeline as a revision of the Lucrece story reveals a shift in the relationship between private chastity and its symbolic national function. This shift, I argue, is evident in Shakespeare’s use of treasure metaphors to refer to chastity alternately as a source of unquantifiable, intrinsic value or, in a more commercial discourse, as a potentially quantifiable commodity. Shakespeare uses treasure tropes in Lucrece and Cymbeline to interrogate the possessive dynamics of marriage and to consider the relationship between private and symbolic chastity. In contrast to Lucrece, which presents chastity as a material entity residing in the female body, Cymbeline presents a loosely Protestant conception of chastity as somewhat attenuated from the body, with Innogen’s chastity reified in the form of actual jewels. Cymbeline’s revised conception of chastity is suited for a context in which the female body no longer functions as a metonym for the state but is relegated to a domestic sphere that symbolically confers stability on the British economic and political realm.

According to the Roman legend, Lucretia committed suicide after being raped by Sextus Tarquinius, subsequently becoming a national symbol of the purity of the Roman Republic. In his rendition of the legend, The Rape of Lucrece (1593), Shakespeare uses this story to interrogate the relationship between personal and national chastity, demonstrating the tensions—and violence—caused by ideologies that conceive of chastity as both bodily and spiritual, both public and private. Shakespeare returns to the Lucretia legend in his late tragicomedy Cymbeline (1609), a work which similarly features a husband wagering on his wife’s chastity, an intruder’s consequent attempt at seduction and rape, and the wife’s response to violation.1 In this later work, Shakespeare realigns the relationship between personal and national chastity to suit a Jacobean context in which the state is both dominated by a male monarch and understood to be an economic entity, a player in an international trading sphere.2

In both works, shifting notions of chastity and its economic functions are evident in Shakespeare’s frequent references to treasure and jewels. Lucrece’s chastity is frequently discussed in these terms; for example, she laments after the rape that she has had her “treasure stol’n away” (ll.1056).3 In Cymbeline, similarly, Innogen’s chastity is symbolized by material jewels that circulate apart from her body.4 Although critics such as Ian Donaldson have dismissed this objectification of chastity as anachronistic in Protestant England, I suggest that chastity-as-treasure tropes are central to Shakespeare’s exploration of chastity, marriage, and the national sphere in Lucrece as well as Cymbeline.5 Critics such as Karen Bamford and Ellen Spolsky have read Cymbeline in terms of the Lucrece story, noting that Innogen’s preserved chastity permits her to play a regenerative role in the service of the state.6 Despite their attention to the national significance of chastity, however, Bamford’s and Spolsky’s insightful analyses do not fully recognize the extent to which national ideologies were bound up in contemporary economic concerns. As a result, they do not consider the way Shakespeare deploys chastity-as-treasure tropes to explore interrelations among personal attributes, markets, and national identity. Attention to treasure imagery, I suggest, not only provides a means of reading Lucrece and Cymbeline together but also highlights the ways that chastity ideologies evolved to meet the demands of an increasingly capitalist nation state.7

The writings of Arjun Appadurai and Igor Kopytoff on the social lives of commodities are useful to understanding the economic valences of both chastity and treasure in The Rape of Lucrece and Cymbeline.8 Kopytoff’s contention that “things”—people as well as objects—move in and out of commodity states helps to explain how Lucrece and Innogen are transformed through recourse to treasure imagery and how Innogen’s jewels, representing her chastity, are incorporated into the economic sphere of exchange.9 Furthermore, Appadurai demonstrates that, during moments of “massive cultural change,” entities such as chastity that are traditionally protected from the market can be endowed with new “commodity potential.”10 This threat of expanding commoditization was particularly pressing in early modern England, where emerging capitalist practices were transforming traditional understandings of value. Particularly worrying was the prospect that human attributes could potentially be reduced to the level of common commodities.11 The dualistic connotations of the word “treasure,” I suggest, make treasure tropes conducive to explorations of human and economic value. While the romance tradition often presented treasure in terms of exotic, incalculable wealth, more commercial discourses recognized that the world’s “treasures” were comprised of potential commodities. Given chastity’s own dual status as a commodity exchanged in marriage and the most prized female virtue, both connotations of treasure were resonant in topes comparing chastity to treasure. In Lucrece and Cymbeline, Shakespeare employs chastity-as-treasure tropes to interrogate the nature of chastity and to consider the extent to which it (and other human attributes) could be incorporated into commercial logics.

By regarding both chastity and treasure as entities that pass in and out of commodity stages, we can trace the function of chastity-as-treasure discourse in defining the limits of commoditization and forging chastity ideologies suitable to an increasingly capitalist world. In what follows, I will first examine the use of treasure imagery within Protestant conduct literature to note the implications of describing the supreme female virtue in terms of material, and potentially commoditizable, objects. I will then consider the chastity-as-treasure imagery in The Rape of Lucrece, which exposes the tragic ramifications of marital and national ideologies that present chastity as a material entity residing in the female body. Finally, I will turn to Shakespeare’s reconfiguration of chastity-as-treasure tropes in Cymbeline, where Innogen’s chastity, after being reified into actual jewels that circulate apart from her body, is extracted from the market and placed within the domestic realm. By end of the play, Innogen’s body is no longer a metonym for the state, but a reproductive body whose intrinsic chastity grounds the private sphere, protecting men from alienating economic life. I will argue, however, that Innogen’s intrinsic spiritual chastity serves the enduring economic function of grounding the symbolic jewels—or currency—that circulate in her name, delineating Britain’s increasingly international sphere of trade.

“A treasure without comparyson”:
Protestant Chastity and Treasure Discourse

Voicing a popular view of the heroines of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and The Rape of Lucrece, Bamford contends that Innogen, like Lucrece, “embodies the state” and that her suffering is invested with “national, political significance.”12 In this national role, the heroines resemble popular images of Elizabeth I, whose chaste bodily integrity was presented in royal portraiture and proclamations as a symbol of the nation’s impenetrable, but occasionally vulnerable, borders.13 This depiction of Elizabeth fit with common sixteenth- and seventeenth-century understandings of the virginal body, which was depicted as a closed vessel “that bears the unequivocal sign of its sexual inexperience and (particularly in a Western Christian framework) spiritual/moral integrity in the unbroken hymen.”14 Elizabethan royal discourse, which linked women’s corporeal integrity to the health of the community, endowed private chastity with national import.15

This emphasis on chastity as bodily integrity, however, conflicted with the Protestant tendency to downplay physical virginity, a virtue associated with Catholicism, in favor of a more spiritual chastity that was preserved within marriage.16 As Kathleen Coyne Kelly notes, the efforts of theologians (Catholic as well as Protestant) to emphasize the spiritual aspects of chastity “did not prevent various writers from attempting to locate virginity in the flesh.”17 Even after the Reformation, chastity was conceived of as a quality deeply rooted in the female body. Yet Protestants, eager to reject Catholic celibacy in favor of companionate marriage, placed particular emphasis on the spiritual aspects of chastity that remained even when a woman was no longer a virgin. For example, Protestant preachers Philip Stubbes and William Perkins tended to treat chastity as wifely piety and obedience, focusing on wives not as property but as subordinate extensions of the male body in the “one flesh” of marriage.18 Despite this Protestant focus on spiritual rather than physical chastity, questions remained about the precise nature of female virtue, the possessive dynamics of marriage, and national ideologies that invoked the symbolism of the intact female body.

Chastity-as-treasure discourse provided a means of exploring both the physical and spiritual aspects of chastity. In Catholic humanist Juan Luis Vives’s The Instruction of a Christian Woman, both virginity and married chastity are described as material bodily possessions. Virginity, for Vives, is characterized as “a treasure without comparyson” that is transferred from a woman’s guardianship to that of her husband.19 Once married, a woman must bring this treasure “of so great pryce” from her father’s house, at which point “Her chastity is “betaken unto her kepyng by her husbande.”20 Although Vives recognizes a spiritual dimension to chastity that is intrinsically valuable, or “without comparison,” he also presents it as a commodity that is transferred to a woman’s husband. As will become clearer in Shakespeare’s post-Reformation context, references to chastity as treasure can seem uncomfortably material, calling attention to the reality that even in Protestant marriage, chastity remains housed in the female body, viewed in many respects as a “property” exchanged between men in marriage.

Moreover, by the late sixteenth century, references to treasure were increasingly embedded in commercial discourses, as global exploration sought riches to be traded on international markets. Although in romantic terms, treasure was considered a qualitative “virtue” of the East, commercial traders coveted treasure for its commodity potential.21 The ambiguity of treasure discourse is evident in the correspondence of Sir Thomas Roe, James I’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Roe frequently describes treasure that he encounters in both romantic and commercial terms, describing jewels and trunks of gold with adjectives such as “inestimable” and “infinite,” yet simultaneously noting the prices that such valuables could garner on the market. Describing a convoy transporting the possessions of an Egyptian ruler, for instance, Roe remarks on the “chests 80 of gold, in every chest 40000 checquins; besides his jewells, and the moveables of infinite valew.”22 Although the word “infinite” suggests that such vast Eastern wealth cannot be measured, Roe’s calculating view of the chests and coins suggests an awareness of the market value of the items listed. Indeed, throughout his correspondence, Roe dedicates considerable time to assessing the prices of specific jewels or antiques and to determining how he might access them so that they may be sold or given to patrons as gifts. Specific treasure items, such as Roe’s “unparalleled” jewels, were often regarded in romantic terms as unique; yet merchants acknowledged that these treasure items could be treated as commodities, their singularity made common by mechanisms of exchange.23

References to chastity as treasure highlight similar tensions within social constructions of female value. Like treasure acquired through global trade, chastity seemed at times to be singular and unquantifiable, but, in other contexts, was presented as easily commoditized and reduced to market values. Throughout The Rape of Lucrece and Cymbeline, Shakespeare exposes ambiguities within chastity-as-treasure discourse as a means of exploring the role of chastity in both marital and national ideologies and of interrogating the process by which human attributes are subject to commoditization.

The Rape of Lucrece:
Corporeal Chastity as National Treasure

Lucrece’s violation is first associated with the founding of the Roman Republic in the opening Argument of the poem, which explains that, after Brutus published the crime “with a bitter invective against the tyranny of the king,” the Romans “were so moved that &helip; the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state governments changed from kings to consuls” (150). Although Lucrece’s story is situated in this national context, for much of the poem she is considered the private treasure of her husband Collatine.24 Collatine initially uses treasure imagery as he “extols the incomparable chastity of his wife,” that “rich jewel he should keep unknown / From thievish ears because it is his own” (ll.33-5). “Unlocking the treasure of his happy state” (l.16), Collatine boasts of

What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate
Reck’ning his fortune at such high-proud rate
That kings might be espoused to more fame,
But king nor peer to such a peerless dame. (ll.17-21)
This “rich jewel,” “priceless wealth,” and “fortune” all refer to Lucrece herself, Collatine’s “beauteous mate.” If, as Barbara Sebek notes, Renaissance moralists attempted to maintain a strict separation between the “inestimable” value of women, which belonged to the sphere of affective relations, and the “reckoned” value of commodities, then Collatine fails to uphold this distinction.25 As with Roe’s jewels, Lucrece’s commodity potential becomes visible through the use of quantitative language. Collatine’s praise of Lucrece is ambiguous: she is “priceless” and therefore cannot be reduced to the level of market exchange; but, if calculated, or “reckoned,” she would be rated higher than any other woman. The narrator settles on calling her “incomparable,” a slippery adjective suggesting an inability to be quantified or compared as well as superiority when compared to others.

Collatine’s boasts illuminate the possessive dynamics of chastity in marriage, as he presents Lucrece as a possession that augments his own value. His desire to reckon his wife’s worth, albeit to deem her superior to all others, associates her with commodities that could be rated—and perhaps exchanged—on the market. In Appadurai’s terms, Collatine calls attention to his wife’s “commodity candidacy,” that is, her potential to be exchanged for items of similar value.26 Despite cultural codes marking women and their chastity as “terminal commodities,” which can be exchanged only once in marriage, Collatine’s treasure imagery suggests that Lucrece may be a source of potentially alienable wealth that could be accessed by others.

Inspired by lust and homosocial competition, Tarquin is seduced by the idea of usurping such an extraordinary possession. Viewing Collatine’s wife as an object to be stolen, Tarquin is quick to incorporate Lucrece into a discourse of mercantile exploration and colonial conquest. He pictures himself as a seafaring merchant adventurer, averring that the worth of a treasure obscures the dangers of its pursuit: “when great treasure is the meed proposed, / Though death be adjunct, there's no death supposed” (ll.131-33). A treasure so great, according to Tarquin’s logic, justifies otherwise immoral actions. In other words, Tarquin transforms Lucrece into an “economic object,” a category of objects which, for Appadurai, “exist in the space between pure desire and immediate enjoyment, with some distance between them and the person who desires them.”27 This distance is usually overcome through economic exchange, a possibility foreclosed by Collatine’s possessive protection of his wife’s virtue. Unable to pursue this commercial form of acquisition, Tarquin turns to the language of theft, employing imperialist imagery to depict Lucrece’s chastity as an entity that can be alienated from Collatine’s possession.

Tarquin imagines this treasure within a scene of colonial conquest, using conventional associations between women and land to transform Lucrece’s body verbally into a New World landscape replete with riches to be acquired.28 Weaving themes of merchantry and conquest into the Petrarchan blazon, Tarquin represents Lucrece’s body as uncharted territory:

Her breasts like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they know,
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred,
Who like a foul usurper went about
From this far throne to heave the owner out. (ll.407-13)
This discourse of colonial exploration, complemented by a Protestant idealization of married chastity, permits Tarquin to imagine Lucrece as a (nearly) virginal landscape that he is the first to (truly) discover. Her breasts are like “maiden worlds,” yet they have been “yoked” and “owned” by their lord, whom Tarquin wishes to vanquish. Adopting the Protestant view that marriage does not substantially alter a woman’s purity, Tarquin depicts Lucrece as “untouched” property, capable of being alienated from its current possessor.

Classical and Protestant positions collide in Tarquin’s fantasy with unfortunate results. In keeping with Protestant marriage ideology, Lucrece remains seemingly virginal. The physical quality of classical (and Catholic) chastity, however, suggests that the source of Lucrece’s value can be stolen through rape. Obscuring the cultural reality that chastity does not function like other commodities, mercantile treasure discourse creates the impression that Lucrece could be stolen from her husband and that her chastity would remain intact throughout this transaction, as it did in the exchange from her father to her husband. Yet, as the narrator’s comments suggest, such assessments are misguided, and Tarquin’s rapacious desire for treasure leads him to destroy the “maiden” landscape he covets, leaving him “bankrupt in this poor-rich gain” (l.140). Lucrece’s chastity, in the end, is not a commodity that can be circulated among many owners like a material jewel; instead Lucrece’s value, according to classical conceptions, is depleted by rape. Treasure discourse, Tarquin finds, applies catachrestically to the possession of women and their chastity.

Despite Tarquin’s misapplication of mercantile tropes, treasure imagery remains integral to the conclusion of the poem, particularly to Lucrece’s attempt to comprehend the effects of rape. Her response to bodily violation hinges largely on her analysis of her chastity and its relation to her honor. After the rape, Lucrece adopts Collatine and Tarquin’s treasure imagery, examining the chastity-as-treasure trope to ascertain the nature of her loss. In her lament, “Poor helpless help, the treasure stol’n away, / To burn the guiltless casket where it lay!” (ll.1056-57), Lucrece suggests that her chastity is the treasure and that her body is “guiltless,” not just unadorned, but uncontaminated. In contrast to Tarquin and Collatine’s view that Lucrece herself constitutes the treasure, Lucrece limits treasure discourse to her chastity rather than applying it to her person. Treasure discourse allows her to contemplate the possibility that the rape does not corrupt her body but instead constitutes a loss of a possession, something partially alienated from her even before the rape. For example, she calls her husband the “Dear lord of that dear jewel I have lost” (l.1191), insisting to him, “thou shalt know thy int’rest was not bought / Basely with gold, but stol’n from forth thy gate" (l.1067-69).29 Viewing chastity as a possession, forcibly stolen rather than sold, Lucrece carves out a space in the patriarchal chastity-as-treasure discourse to imagine that, although her chastity has been stolen, the rape might not compromise her personal honor.

Lucrece, however, ultimately abandons her idea of chastity as a potentially alienable possession and accepts Collatine’s view that she herself is the possession, the value of which resides in her chastity. Shifting her focus to the possible pregnancy that may result from the rape, Lucrece laments that her body has been contaminated: in place of her chastity, she “bears the load of lust Tarquin left behind” (l.734). Now the rape signifies to her not simply the loss of a possession, the treasure she had dedicated herself to guarding, but the forceful replacement of chastity with Tarquin’s seed.30 This contamination, in the form of a potential pregnancy, would transform her entire body.

Reflecting Roman and Elizabethan ideologies in which chastity signified both moral and physical integrity, Lucrece conceptualizes this physical injury as having spiritual effects. Although she considers the possibility that her soul may remain uncontaminated, she finally concludes that it cannot thrive in a corrupt body; like a tree whose bark has been stripped away, her soul is left to “wither” and “decay” (l.1168). Lucrece therefore decides that suicide will “bail” her soul from the “polluted prison” of her body (ll.1725-26). Although it contravenes her earlier hope that she could live honorably in absence of physical chastity, Lucrece’s conclusion accords with dominant Roman and Elizabethan sexual ideologies in which moral and physical integrity were ambiguously intertwined in notions of chastity. The divided blood that streams from Lucrece’s wounds after the suicide—some “still pure and red remained, / And some looked black, and that false Tarquin-stained” (l.1743)—attests to the ambiguous nature of chastity in the poem, where the material and spiritual effects of rape are ostensibly distinguished from one another, yet are simultaneously present in the physical blood.

Although Lucrece exhibits a subjecthood apart from her chastity when she kills herself, her suicide is quickly reincorporated into a patriarchal system in which women are used as a means of exchange.31 After her death, Collatine persists in seeing Lucrece as his possession, calling himself “the hopeless merchant of this loss” (l.1660). The inadequacy of viewing women in this way is evident in the squabble Collatine has with Lucrece’s father Lucretius. Both claim the sole right to mourn her, the one having given her life and the other having “owned” her in marriage, “Yet neither may possess the claim they lay” (l. 1803,1793). The men’s possessiveness is presented as futile in the wake of Lucrece’s death; their cries of “my wife” and “my daughter” echo all around, alienating them from their claims (l.1806). Moreover, their argument underscores the patriarchal dynamics that initially inspired the rape of Lucrece.

Such individual possessiveness leads to the violation of women and, in the men’s language, to the loss of valuable possessions.

Intervening in the argument, Brutus amends Collatine and Lucretius’ view of Lucrece as a personal treasure, transforming her from an object of male rivalry to a national “treasure” of the Roman state. Brutus conflates the rape of Lucrece with treason against the state, asserting that “Rome herself in these abominations hath been disgraced” and swearing “To show her bleeding body thorough Rome, / And so to publish Tarquin’s foul offence” (l.1833, ll.1851-52). A metonym for the state itself and an example of the damage the tyrannical Tarquins inflict on the possessions of their subjects, Lucrece’s violated (but paradoxically still chaste) body is used to inspire support for the Republican cause. Lucrece’s self-inflicted wounds are presented to the public as an inscription of the invisible wounds of the rape and as evidence of Lucrece’s chaste mind. Rather than a privately-owned treasure that has provoked rivalry, theft, and rape, Lucrece’s body becomes a collective national possession, a “commonwealth” in which men share interest. Only with a dead woman is such collective ownership possible: freed from the responsibility of ensuring patriarchal reproduction, Lucrece becomes a national symbol.

This image of Lucrece as a national symbol is not unproblematic in Shakespeare’s poem. Not only does it glorify violation of the female body, but it also relies on pre-Protestant ideologies of chastity as bodily integrity. Such ideologies were still current in Elizabethan political mythology where Elizabeth’s bodily chastity served as a metonymy for the integrity of the state, alternately signifying its power and its vulnerability. Yet, as discussed earlier, this official rhetoric did not square with Protestant attempts to elide the commodity exchange of marriage through a focus on spiritual chastity and romantic love. In The Rape of Lucrece, bodily understandings of chastity lead to the objectification of women’s bodies and ultimately to violence. The events of the poem transpire as they do because chastity and its value remain rooted in the female body; it is this belief that inspires Tarquin to rape Lucrece physically and that causes Lucrece to kill herself. Although Lucrece gestures toward more Protestant avenues of thought, considering the possibility that her physical chastity may be separate from her value as a person, she is ultimately reincorporated by political and narrative exigencies into Roman ideologies attributing her entire value to her bodily chastity.

 Chastity as Jewelry: Cymbeline and
the Making of an International Economic Sphere

Shakespeare returns to the Lucretia story and its metaphor of chastity as treasure in the explicitly British context of Cymbeline, a play set in Roman-conquered Britain and commonly associated with James I’s attempts to unify Great Britain.32 Lucrece’s depiction of bodily chastity was problematic in the context of James’s England not only because it conflicted with ideas of spiritual Protestant chastity but also because it placed women’s bodies at the forefront of political discourse as they had been during Elizabeth I’s reign. Cymbeline begins with its heroine Innogen, like Lucrece, occupying a central role as a metonym for the state: in keeping with her name, which she shares with the wife of Brutus, the legendary founder of Britain, Innogen exhibits an almost regal autonomy and, like Elizabeth, refers to herself as “Britain” (1.6.113). By the end of the play, Innogen is excluded from the political realm, her chastity anchoring a private domestic sphere which nurtures personal value and protects men from alienating market forces. As I will argue in this section, Cymbeline’s shifting chastity ideologies are reflective of a broader political transition—both in Jacobean England and within the play itself—from an insular martial state, like that presented in Lucrece, to a more modern nation state involved in international commerce. Just as Lucrece’s chastity was central to the formation of the Roman Republic, Innogen’s chastity proves integral to Cymbeline’s articulation of a British economic sphere. Throughout the play, chastity and its national symbolic role are re-envisioned to better suit the Protestant and early capitalist context of Jacobean England, as Innogen is relegated to a domestic sphere that symbolically confers stability on the economic and political realm.

Even as it presents a unified Britain engaged in broader European exchange, Cymbeline exhibits anxiety about commercial activity, which objectifies men as well as women, reducing them to their wealth, clothes, and class status and depleting them of intrinsic personal value. The opening scenes of the play are specifically concerned with the objectification of male value and how men’s value can be augmented by women. The courtiers debate Posthumous’s worth, observing that Innogen’s “own price / Proclaims how she esteemed him; and his virtue / By her election may be truly read / what kind of man he is” (1.1.51-54). In the courtiers’ view, Posthumous’s social status and moral worth are augmented—and defined—by his association with Innogen. His value relies on the “price” of Innogen herself, which is determined largely by her chastity and her status as the heir to the throne. For King Cymbeline, Posthumous’s value is reduced to his social class, as his common blood will allegedly turn the throne into a “place for baseness” (1.1.142). In either case, any personal or moral qualities Posthumous may possess are disregarded in favor of external estimations judging him based on his wealth or on Innogen’s admiration for him.

Although she too uses economic language, Innogen rejects the dominant court logic of calculable and transferable worth, considering people to be intrinsically valuable for their own unique qualities. She prefers to view Posthumous in terms of the inestimable value generally reserved for women, calling him “a jewel” that she cannot live without, who will add “luster” to the throne (1.1.91,143). In contrast to the common perception that Posthumous must compensate for his low class status, Innogen asserts that Posthumous “is / A man worth any woman, over-buys me /Almost the sum he pays,” suggesting that any trouble Posthumous endures on her behalf is superfluous because both lovers are intrinsically and equally valuable (1.1.145-47). But as we have seen in The Rape of Lucrece, such treasure discourse is dangerous territory, especially when interlopers interpret metaphors literally. Later, Iachimo invokes economic interpretations of these tropes in his efforts to attack Innogen’s chastity and deflate Posthumous’s value. Throughout the course of the play, however, Innogen’s travails recuperate the more spiritual and romantic connotations of the jewel imagery, removing both female chastity and masculine value from the international marketplace and protecting them within the domestic sphere.

Innogen and Posthumous’s divergent attitudes toward value are evident in their respective assessments of the ring and bracelet they exchange in the quasi-marriage ceremony that establishes their fidelity.33 Throughout this scene, Innogen’s language works to shelter the jewels—and the lovers—from the logic of commoditization. Imbuing her ring with sentimental, familial value, Innogen explains, “This diamond was my mother’s. Take it, heart, / But keep it till you woo another wife, / When Innogen is dead” (1.1.112-14).34 Innogen imbues her ring with a singularity incommensurate with logics of commoditization, which reduce objects to a common nexus of exchange, showing it instead to be “uncommon, incomparable, unique, singular, and therefore not exchangeable for anything else.”35 The ring binds Posthumous to Innogen and to her maternal heritage, unsullied by the corrupting influence of her conniving stepmother. Innogen’s regard for the ring resembles Lucrece’s view of the figurative jewel of wifely chastity: it belongs to the possessor, as an inalienable extension of the woman possessed. It therefore cannot be given away until the woman dies or, what Innogen does not say, until her chastity is compromised.

Throughout the course of the play, the jewels—and the people and relationships they represent—are subject to contested evaluations. Rejecting Innogen’s focus on affective and intrinsic value, Posthumous initially correlates the jewels with the unequal worth of the respective givers: “As I my poor self did exchange for you / To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles / I still win of you” (1.1.119-21). As Appadurai points out, the context of marriage highlights the commodity potential of women and, in this case, of Posthumous, whose worth has been a topic of considerable debate throughout the play.36 Posthumous understands the marriage as an exchange in which he must compensate for perceived inadequacies. To him, Innogen not only lost personal value by marrying him but also made an unprofitable trade when she exchanged her precious diamond for his less costly bracelet. Whereas Innogen uses jewel imagery to refer to abstract, inestimable value, Posthumous insists on a quantitative analysis that weighs the lovers’ respective value in terms of class status and considers the love tokens to be symbolic of their givers’ unequal worth.

Perhaps attempting to erase these inequalities, Posthumous discursively turns the bracelet from a representation of his own low value into a “manacle of love” symbolizing the marriage and, in turn, Innogen’s chastity (1.1.122). Posthumous’s verbal shift reflects the dynamics of marriage, in which female chastity functions as a jointly owned possession, leaving male fidelity tangential. Where Innogen had hoped for a fair exchange of inestimable and therefore equal jewels, she is instead given a “manacle” symbolic not of Posthumous’s value but of the joint ownership of her chastity. Posthumous, in contrast, has gained: his person, like Collatine’s, is now augmented by the “jewel” of his wife’s chastity. It is Innogen’s fidelity rather than that of Posthumous that is integral to the marriage contract and which is represented by both the ring and the bracelet. The prominence of the ring and bracelet in this scene highlights the possessive dynamic of Protestant marriage: even as it abstracts chastity from the body, Protestant marriage involves a sort of symbolic commodity exchange. Furthermore, the presumption that chastity is retained, rather than lost, in marriage opens space for it to be viewed as a commodity which could potentially be lost, stolen, or sold.

The dangerous ramifications of Posthumous’s economic logic of love are exposed when he wagers on his wife’s chastity, submitting it to an overtly economic agreement. As in The Rape of Lucrece, the wager takes place in the context of homosocial competition, with the husband’s boasts tempting other men to usurp the prized female jewel. In the competitive atmosphere of the Italian setting, European men assess Posthumous’s worth—and by extension English masculinity—in economic terms.37 As Paul Innes has argued, the presence of a Frenchman, a Dutchman, and a Spaniard in this international scene speaks to contemporary concerns over Britain’s role in the European economy, “condensing the associations of emerging empire and competition between nation states in the representative persons of the figures on stage.”38 In this competitive setting, Iachimo calls attention to Posthumous’ contingent class status, in which “he must be weighted rather by Innogen’s value than his own” (1.4.10-11). Recognizing that he is being judged in relation to his lover Posthumous appeals to Innogen’s chastity, boasting that he has “abated her nothing” since his youthful claims that her chastity surpassed that of women of other countries (1.4.55). Iachimo, also understanding that Posthumous’s value rests in his possession of Innogen, sets out to deflate or appropriate her value, thus demoting Posthumous himself.

Iachimo baits Posthumous into the wager by focusing on the relationship between the ring and Innogen’s chastity, insisting that her chastity can be treated in the same manner as the material property: like the ring, it could be lost, stolen, rated, sold, or wagered in a bet. Iachimo exploits the ambiguities in Posthumous’s defense of Innogen: “I praised her as I rated her; so do I my stone” (1.4.162). Questioning the worth of the diamond, Iachimo observes that, although it “outlustres many I have beheld&helip; I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady” (1.4.59, 60-61). Like Tarquin, Iachimo imagines the chaste woman in economic terms, but where Tarquin favored romantic imperialist imagery, Iachimo draws out the unsavory connotations of comparing Innogen to a trinket that could easily be sold on the market. He notes, for instance, that Posthumous’s lady is “outprized by a trifle” (1.4.66). Through insistent references to the ring, Iachimo undermines Posthumous’s confidence in Innogen, suggesting that she too might be worth less than he had presumed. Even when Posthumous distinguishes between Innogen and the ring, protesting that “the one may be sold or given&helip; The other is not a thing for sale, and only the gift of the gods,” Iachimo returns to the equivalence between the two (1.4.67-68). Comparing the ring with Innogen’s genitalia, he taunts Posthumous, saying, “Your ring may be stolen too, so your brace of unprizable estimations, the one is but frail and the other casual. A cunning thief or a that-way accomplished courtier would hazard the winning both of first and last” (1.4.75-76). Contrary to Posthumous’ protestations, Iachimo maintains that both the diamond ring and Innogen’s bodily “ring” are “prizable” and therefore can be integrated into market exchange. Iachimo indicates that Innogen’s chastity is not unique, as Posthumous wishes to assert, but instead has entered a “commodity state” in which “its exchangeability&helip; for some other thing is its socially relevant feature.”39 Iachimo’s logic, then, raises the threatening possibility that, like the material ring, Innogen’s chastity may be alienated from Posthumous, becoming the property of another through exchange or theft.

The terms of the wager fully incorporate Innogen’s chastity into an economic logic of commensurability. Iachimo offers to “pawn the moiety of his estate, to the ring,” betting both on Innogen’s chastity (1.4.88). If Innogen proves chaste, Posthumous wins both the ring and the estate; if unchaste, the two go to Iachimo, who would have also “won” Innogen in the process. The contract with Iachimo, which symbolically replaces Posthumous’s marriage contract with Innogen, codifies the logic of exchange value, equating Innogen’s chastity with the ring. As Iachimo says,

If I bring you no sufficient testimony that I have enjoyed the dearest bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand ducats are yours, so is your diamond too. If I come off, and leave her in such honour as you have trust in, she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are yours, provided I have your commendation for my more free entertainment. (1.4.121-26)
Iachimo asserts the equivalence of the diamond and the ducats but their dual equivalence with Innogen's chastity as well: a triple equivalence syntactically reiterated in Iachimo’s list “she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold.” His language commoditizes Innogen’s chastity and designates the ring as both the symbol of her chastity and a commodity in its own right equal to ten thousand ducats. The bracelet, which Iachimo later uses as proof that he has succeeded in seducing Innogen, becomes a second symbol of her chastity. Although Posthumous initially resists such commoditization of both Innogen and the ring, which he holds “as dear as his finger” and rates at “more than the world enjoys,” he ultimately accepts the wager and its economic assessments of human value, as he had previously shown a propensity to do (1.4.106-7; 64).

As in The Rape of Lucrece, attempted sexual violation in Cymbeline is inspired by a commoditizing discourse, which suggests that chastity can be transferred among men or usurped by interlopers. Drawing explicit parallels to “our Tarquin” who “thus did softly press the rushes, ere he waken’d / The chastity he wounded,” Iachimo uses specular violation and theft as mercantile substitutes for rape (2.2. 12-13).40 The threat of rape is emphasized throughout the scene. Iachimo observes, for example, that Innogen has been reading about Tereus’s rape of Philomela, an event that Lucrece also studies at length. Rather than physically violate Innogen, however, Iachimo surveys her body, recording details such as the “cinque-spotted” mole on her left breast, which could later be relayed as proof to Posthumous (2.2.38). As Patricia Parker has noted, this inventory of Lucrece’s body and chamber resembles mercantile reports of foreign lands to be plundered, and Iachimo’s fabrication of a trunk full of “plate of rare devise, and jewels / Of rich and exquisite form” recalls Tarquin’s imperialist conflation of rape and mercantile conquest (1.7.189-90).41 The extraction of the bracelet from Innogen’s arm is infused with the mercantile language of rape. Punning lasciviously, Iachimo whispers, “Come off, come off; / As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard. / ‘Tis mine” (2.2.33-35). Iachimo’s sexual satisfaction—as the pun suggests—comes from stealing the bracelet, which becomes a fourth term in the equivalencies established by the wager and which will prove to Posthumous that Innogen has been unfaithful.

Due to the wager’s commoditization of Innogen’s chastity, Iachimo is content to steal an object equivalent to her chastity rather than to physically rape her. Unlike the “treasure” of Lucrece’s chastity, which cannot ultimately be separated from her person, Innogen’s chastity is understood (at least by Iachimo and Posthumous) to be equivalent to the ring and the bracelet that symbolize it. Iachimo plans to convince Posthumous of Innogen’s guilt primarily through reference to the bracelet, which “will witness outwardly, / As strongly as the conscience doe within, / To the madding of her lord” (2.2.35-37). As he gloats, Iachimo insists on the equivalences of the wager, stating, “If I had lost it the ring, / I had lost the worth of it in gold &helip;. the ring is won” (2.4.41-42; 45). This economic language, as well as the verbal quibbling on the diamond “ring” and Innogen’s bodily “ring,” recalls the wager in which Posthumous agreed to define Innogen’s chastity as a fungible commodity equivalent to her jewels.

Nonetheless, Iachimo’s case against Innogen is incomplete without reference to her body. If the bracelet did not fully convince Posthumous of Innogen’s infidelity, Iachimo’s description of the mole on Innogen’s breast acts as “a voucher / Stronger than ever law could make,” proving that Iachimo has “picked the lock and ta'en /The treasure of her honour” (2.2.39-42). Although he initially defends Innogen through reference to ring, stating, “All is well yet / Sparkles this stone as it was want” (2.4.39-40), Posthumous becomes incensed by the combination of the bracelet and Iachimo’s corporeal evidence, expressing the cuckold’s desire to “tear Innogen limb-meal” and focusing on the mole as a sign that “confirms / Another stain, as big as hell can hold” (2.4.147,139-40). Here, Posthumous returns to a pre-Protestant conception of rape or unchastity as bodily contamination. This ideological reversion, however, transpires largely because he has been convinced that the ring and the bracelet are in some sense equal to Innogen’s physical chastity.

As the play progresses, it will become clear that Iachimo has misrepresented the proper relationship between Innogen’s chastity and her jewels. He reconfigures what should be a relationship of signification, with the jewelry representing but not replacing Innogen’s value, as a commercial relationship of exchange, with Innogen’s chastity presented as a fungible commodity. This tension surrounding the representative jewels finds a parallel in early modern debates about money: in one respect, currency simply serves to represent value, yet currency can also be exchanged for the items it represents, reconfiguring these items as commodities in the process. The representative function of currency, as I will demonstrate, comes to the fore at the end of Cymbeline, where signs of “chaste” British value work to secure Britain’s distinct identity in an increasingly international economy.

Beyond the Possession of Women:
Toward a Chaste English Economic Sphere

Although Posthumous’s faulty assumptions about Innogen’s infidelity show that Innogen’s chastity is not, in fact, equivalent to the price of her ring, the remainder of the play negotiates the proper relationship between her chastity (both physical and spiritual) and its material signs. As a result of Iachimo’s vivid descriptions of Innogen as she purportedly “stripp’d it from her arm,” the bracelet becomes firmly associated with Innogen’s body in Posthumous’s mind and in the minds of the audience members viewing the play (2.4.101). Nonetheless, the relationship between Innogen’s body and the jewelry remains a source of dramatic tension as the jewels and Innogen’s body travel in divergent directions. These jewels, as I will demonstrate, work to delineate a British economic sphere and to quell anxieties about overseas trade by suggesting that British currency, which remains grounded by its chaste referent in Innogen’s body, is endowed with stable, intrinsic value.

Through its interrogation of the relationship between Innogen and her jewels, Cymbeline intervenes in mercantilist debates about the manipulation of British currency values in foreign markets.42 Expressing a common mercantilist concern, Gerard de Malynes complains in Saint George for England Allegorically Described (1601) that the manipulation of exchange rates upsets “equilibrium” across all levels of society by destroying the yardstick by which value is measured. This “unnatural” manipulation of currency leads to “the ouerthrow of equality & concord&helip; within the realm&helip;and equality in the course of traffike between the realme and other countries.”43 Currency fluctuations, for Malynes, were related to the loss of English bullion, as they gave rise to trade imbalances, with England importing more foreign commodities than it could sell abroad. According to much mercantilist thought therefore, the value of currency must remain stable, even if its “intrinsic” value had to be enforced by royal edict.44 As Bradley Ryner notes, Cymbeline engages in this debate, demonstrating “the difficulty of determining a coin’s value as it traveled from country to country.”45 Furthermore, Iachimo’s treacherous misrepresentation of the ring reflects both the uncertainty that British currency could accurately represent British value, either of goods or of the sovereign’s power, and the fear that manipulations of currency could damage the reputation of the sovereign, whose face or seal is imprinted on the coins.46 In an allegorical trope shedding light on Innogen’s economic relevance, Malynes depicts England’s national treasure in the form of the King’s virgin daughter beset by the Dragon of International Usury. The daughter is endowed with an intrinsic chastity that persists throughout myriad transactions; yet she is in constant danger of corruption and in need of external protection. National sovereignty itself, the tract suggests, is reliant upon the “chastity” of the King’s Treasure.

Cymbeline, similarly, engages in concerns over value and its representation through an exploration of female chastity, specifically by negotiating the relationship between Innogen’s bodily chastity and her jewels. Through Innogen’s travails, her chastity is transformed from a possession that can be commodified to an immediately recognizable intrinsic virtue. Critics often claim that Innogen’s trials—Iachimo’s assault on her chastity, her failed suicide attempt in the forest, and her near death by sleeping potion—serve the same function as a literal rape and death, marginalizing her from political power and relegating her to the domestic sphere.47 Although the byproduct of violence against Innogen’s person, this domestic trajectory also ensures that Innogen—and her symbolic jewels—are extracted from the commodity realm. During her sojourn in Milford Haven, romance conventions work to affirm Innogen’s intrinsic value, which had been threatened by market logic in the wager scene. In Milford Haven, Innogen’s body assumes a nearly transparent, semi-divine state, inspiring the servant Pisanio to describe her as “More goddess-like than wife-like” (3.2.8).48 Upon meeting her, her long-lost brothers Guiderius and Arviragus and their guardian Belarius fawn over her, with Belarius exclaiming, “By Jupiter, an angel—or, if not, / An earthly paragon. Behold divineness / No elder than a boy!” (3.6.42-44). Innogen’s virtue is evident despite her disguise as a boy, a disguise which temporarily removes her from the sexual marketplace that had compromised her chastity.

The romance world, which Belarius calls an escape from “the city’s usuries,” is characterized by the absence of the court’s market-driven estimations of character and of misleading representation (3.3.45). It is for this reason that the brothers immediately vanquish Innogen’s stepbrother Cloten, who, like Iachimo, substitutes signs for value itself, believing that clothing and other external signifiers of status wholly constitute a person’s identity. Divorced from her representative jewelry in Milford Haven, Innogen’s chastity speaks for itself, proving that it cannot be reduced to a reductive cataloging of attributes, to social class, or to men’s boasts of ownership. In the romance setting, identities cannot be obscured despite disguises: not Cloton’s perfidy, not the brothers’ nobility, and not Innogen’s chaste virtue, which shines through her male garments, nearly inspiring her brothers to fall in love with her. Away from court, Innogen’s chastity is no longer conceived of as a jewel to be appropriated and exchanged by men, a view that almost led to her death. Rather, circulating apart from her material jewels, Innogen’s chastity is shown to have less in common with the physical ring and bracelet than with the less easily quantified (and fantastic) treasure that Iachimo claims to be guarding in his trunk. In Milford Haven, Innogen’s chastity is removed from the realm of economic transactions, becoming what Appadurai calls an “enclaved” commodity, a category of commodity which is protected from the market except in periods of “massive cultural change.”49 As a result of this transition, Innogen and her chastity are endowed with intrinsic, singular value that will later ground the “currency” that circulates in her name.

In the final acts of the play, the intrinsic virtue of Innogen and her brothers acts as a purifying force counteracting the court’s corruption and the objectifying force of the international economy. The men’s valor, like Innogen’s chastity, shines through their beggar’s weeds, and they courageously lead the Britons to triumph against the Romans. Guilt over Innogen’s supposed death inspires Posthumous to reject his earlier economic thinking and to cultivate his own internal value: “To shame the guise o'th'world, I will begin / The fashion – less without, and more within” (5.2.33-34).50 Altering his orientation toward human value, he abandons the perspective that allowed him to treat his wife and her ring as commodities and adopts Innogen's emphasis on intrinsic and unique human value. Posthumous and the brothers’ demonstrations of intrinsic British virtue persuade even Iachimo to renounce his former economic logic and admit to the emptiness of his status symbols, conceding that “Knighthoods and honours borne / As I wear mine are titles but of scorn” (5.3.6-7). By this point, the extrinsic value assessments marking the homosocial competition of the wager have been replaced by a respect for intrinsic national and sexual virtue.

The closing of the play delineates a revised function for chastity suitable for a nation invested in global economic trade. King Cymbeline’s voluntary agreement to pay tribute to Rome signals an elevation of Britain’s international status and an interest in international exchange. Cymbeline suggests that Britain will no longer exist as a political and economic island—the policy stance held by the xenophobic Cloten and the Queen—but will claim a place as part of a larger empire. As Innogen had previously wished, the country will become a page in the “world’s volume,” recognizing that “There’s livers out of Britain” and engaging in cooperative interchange with other nations (3.4. 136, 39). Cymbeline’s gesture places Britain on more equal footing with Rome and depicts Britain as a nation fueled by peaceful exchange in contrast to the martial domination of the Romans.51 Cymbeline implies a parallel between Britain’s commercial and political exchange with Rome and the affective exchange of family members. Describing the reunion of the siblings and lovers at the play’s conclusion, Cymbeline expounds:

Posthumous anchors upon Innogen,
And she, like harmless lightning, throws her eye
On him, her brothers, me, her master, hitting
Each object with a joy. The counterchange
Is severally in all.  (5.4.393-7)
Such “counterchange” will be the hallmark of the peace that Cymbeline inaugurates by agreeing to pay the tribute to Rome, thus “ Letting / A Roman and a British ensign wave / Friendly together” (5.4.477-79). Just as Cymbeline’s affective language of gifts and friendship obscures the competitive and proto-imperialist realities of early seventeenth-century trade, it also elides the possessive dynamics of Posthumous and Innogen’s marriage, which is now marked by a joyous “counterchange,” a voluntary and affective relationship seemingly free of coercion and possession.

As King Cymbeline metaphorically gestures toward international trade, the reunion of Innogen with her jewels works to allay anxieties about the loss of British bullion and about the connection between coins and their royal referents.52 The events of the play have demonstrated the threatening nature of the European economic sphere, both for British masculinity and for signs of British value such as Innogen’s ring. Mitigating these concerns, Innogen and her signifying jewels, like coins invested in foreign ventures, return to court, this time with the “added value” of her brothers in tow. Furthermore, the conclusion’s emphasis on intrinsic value reduces anxieties about the fate of English travelers, commodities, and coins: English people and products, the play suggests, are inherently valuable, even when compared to others or exchanged in market transactions. The ending also re-affirms a positive connection between Innogen and her jewels, suggesting that they both have retained their value. In the context of the lovers’ reunion, the jewels regain the singular, affective value Innogen initially attributed to them. Like the currency whose intrinsic value mercantilists such as Malynes hoped to affirm, the jewels have (at least temporarily) been distinguished from other common commodities. Having preserved her own value, therefore, Innogen implicitly helps to secure the worth of her representative signs, endowing them with a stable value that can survive the vicissitudes of circulation.

The play’s reification of chastity into currency and its subsequent extraction of chastity from the overtly economic realm results in a clearer delineation between a feminine domestic sphere charged with protecting intrinsic value and a masculine public sphere fueled by the logic of exchange and circulation. Although Innogen begins like Lucrece as a metonym for the state whose bodily integrity is central to national formation, she ends as an individual subject, her body displaced from the political sphere and returned to its reproductive role. Her brothers discovered, Innogen is no longer poised to become queen; instead, her status lowered, she can forge a more egalitarian marriage with Posthumous since her “price” is now “less, and so more equal ballasting” (3.6.74-6). At the play’s conclusion, Innogen is prepared to bear Posthumous’s children, her confirmed intrinsic value and excision from the economic public sphere placing her solidly within spiritualizing Protestant ideologies of the family. 53

Despite her demotion in political status, Innogen’s bodily chastity remains central to the national project. Now officially married and poised to become a mother but not a queen, Innogen brings the intrinsic and transparent virtue of Milford Haven with her to the private realm. Harnessing the ethic of the romance world, the feminized domestic sphere becomes a redemptive and restorative “haven” from life in the early capitalist economy. In her maternal role, Innogen will protect the home, where intrinsic human value and relationships are nurtured and shielded from encroaching economic forces that threaten to corrupt them. Chastity is essential within this sphere, not just because it serves as a stable signifier of transparent value but also because it ensures that Innogen will reproduce noble and legitimate Englishmen whose intrinsic virtue will enhance Britain’s national prosperity.

Innogen represents intrinsic British value and her chaste body, protected from the vicissitudes of economic life, remains a referent for the “jewels”—coins and commodities—that circulate in Britain’s name. This currency is backed by the power of the king and by the transparent, intrinsic value associated with the domestic sphere. Stabilized by a chaste referent, British coins can be handled by many men as they circulate throughout the international economy. Earlier in the play, believing that Innogen had betrayed him, Posthumous wished for a method of human reproduction that bypassed women:

Is there no way for men to be, but women
Must be half-workers. We are all bastards,
And that most venerable man which I
Did call my father was I know not where
When I was stamped. Some coiner with his tools
Made me a counterfeit. (2.5.1-6)
It is, of course, impossible for women to be banished from reproductive responsibilities; nonetheless, Posthumous’s image of all men as counterfeit coins gestures toward the play’s ultimate resolution of the problem of unstable female value.54 Coins, in contrast to men, can be produced without the help of women, and, by the end of Cymbeline, women have been exiled from Britain’s political and economic realms—realms in which women’s chastity played a significant, if problematic, role in both classical Rome and Elizabethan England.

Having been distinguished from Innogen’s physical chastity—a quasi-commodity that can be traded only once in patriarchal exchange—Innogen’s jewelry becomes a sort of currency that can be passed through the hands of many men without losing value and without damaging the physical body of the woman whose value it signifies. The jewelry, therefore, serves as an important marker of a society that defines itself through its cooperative relationships with its trading partners and through the exchange of symbolic value, often in lands far away from British sources of production. This national vision differs not only from Rome’s martial orientation but also from Tarquin’s ethic of merchant adventuring, which depicts economic activity as imperial conquest built on seizing property. The reification of Innogen’s chaste treasure into jewelry, then, permits the men to overcome the central tensions in The Rape of Lucrece’s chastity-as-treasure trope: that bodily chastity can be stolen but never repossessed, and that chastity’s status as a private possession at times conflicts with its national ideological function. In Cymbeline, Innogen is able privately to retain her bodily chastity, which presumably will soon be shared by Posthumous, while the other men collectively benefit from her chastity in its reified public forms: the bracelet and the ring (which are returned to their owners) and all of the jewels and coins of Britain. Nonetheless, we see the specter of Lucrece’s violated body underlying Cymbeline’s masculine economy: an economy which has devised a way to collectively possess the symbols of female chastity while excising women from the political sphere.


Katherine Gillen is a doctoral candidate at the University of New Hampshire. She is currently writing a dissertation considering the economic resonances of chastity tropes on the early modern stage. She also has published an article on John Bale’s biblical plays in Cahiers Elisabethains and is working on an essay exploring anti-theatrical anxieties in Pericles which will appear in a collection on Shakespeare and the Reformation.

End Notes

1 Despite many notes on the similarities between Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece and Cymbeline, there remain relatively few critical assessments of the relation between the two works, perhaps because of the presence of more direct sources for Cymbeline, including Book Nine of Boccaccio’s Decameron, the anonymous Frederick of Jennen, and Holinshed’s The Life of Kymbeline. R. Thomas Simone laments this critical gap in his 1974 study, Shakespeare and Lucrece: A Study of the Poem and its Relation to the Plays (Salzburg: Institut fur Englische Sprache und Literatur, Universitat Salzburg, 1974). Of the critics who do address Cymbeline’s relationship to The Rape of Lucrece, most focus on the generic shift to tragicomedy that permits Innogen to escape Lucrece’s tragic fate. For two such articles, see Karen Bamford, “Imogen’s Wounded Chastity,” Studies in Theatre 12.1 (1993): 51-61, and Ellen Spolsky, “Women’s Work is Chastity: Lucretia, Cymbeline, and Cognitive Impenetrability,” The Work of Fiction: Cognition, Culture, and Complexity, ed. Alan Richardson and Ellen Spolsky (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 51-84.

2 In the recent collection Global Traffic, Barbara Sebek notes that “economically based conceptions of the state emerged” in the early modern period in which “long distance trade increasingly became identified with the interests of the state” (10). See “Global Traffic: An Introcution,” in Global Traffic: Discourses and Practices of Trade in English Literature and Culture: 1550-1700, ed. Barbara Sebek and Stephen Deng (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2008), 1-18.

3 All quotations from The Rape of Lucrece refer to The Poems, ed. John Roe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 148-238, and will be cited parenthetically.

4 All quotations refer to Martin Butler’s edition of Cymbeline (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) and are cited parenthetically.

5 Ian Donaldson, “‘A Theme for Disputation’: Shakespeare’s Lucrece,” in The Rapes of Lucretia: A Myth and its Transformation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 40-56, 48-49. Katharine Maus notes in “Taking Tropes Seriously: Language and Violence in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece,” Shakespeare Quarterly 37 (1986): 66-82, that characters in The Rape of Lucrece interpret tropes literally, construing them “in their strong form” (76) rather than recognizing them as figurative, a technique which demonstrates the power and pitfalls of poetic language. This idea is helpful here, as characters explore the ramifications of literally conceiving of chastity as a treasure.

6 Ellen Spolsky contends that Shakespeare uses the conventions of tragicomic theatre, in which moral value is often transparent, to resolve the problem of the unknowable nature of chastity, thus allowing Innogen to assume her rightful national role. Karen Bamford, in contrast, argues that, despite the tragicomic trajectory, Innogen’s fate is similar to Lucrece’s, as she becomes a national martyr, “redeeming both family and country” with her “wounded chastity” (57). See Bamford, “Imogen’s Wounded Chastity” and Spolsky, “Women’s Work is Chastity.”

7 Paul Innes notes that Cymbeline is interested in asserting Britain’s significance in the European economy. In another vein, Bradley D. Ryner reads Cymbeline’s incessant economic imagery in the light of the play’s engagement with current mercantile concerns, particularly the desire to create an objective “map” of the world and to devise an abstract economic model. See Innes, “Cymbeline and Empire,” Critical Survey 19.2 (2007): 1-18, andRyner, “The Panoramic View in Mercantile Thought: Or, A Merchants Map of Cymbeline” in Global Traffic: Discourses and Practices of Trade in English Literature and Culture: 1550-1700, ed. Barbara Sebek and Stephen Deng (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2008), 77-94.

8 Arjun Appadurai, “Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value,” in The Social Life of Things, ed. Arjun Appadurai (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 3-63; Igor Kopytoff, “The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process,” in The Social Life of Things, ed. Arjun Appadurai (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 64-91. For an alternate use of Appadurai to analyze the trajectories of Innogen’s ring and bracelet, see Valerie Wayne, “The Career of Cymbeline’s Manacle,” Early Modern Culture 1 (2000): 1-21. Like Wayne, I see the jewelry as representing female chastity and/or genitalia; yet, I am focused less on the specific meanings acquired by the bracelet and ring than on the broader economic and social implications of the play’s treasure discourse.

9 Kopytoff, 64.

10 Appadurai, 16.

11 Kopytoff, 64, 84.

12 Bamford, 51.

13 See for example, Elizabeth’s speech to the troops at Tilbury before the Armada or the Ditchley portrait of Elizabeth standing on an English map. Susanne Scholz analyzes the ideological functions of the “Elizabeth-as-England” mythos which presented national integrity in terms of female chastity. She demonstrates that this mythology both served ideals of nationhood and disciplined the female body, turning it into a “an economic entity which produced, reproduced and consumed under the control and for the benefit of its ‘owner’ in accordance with the requirements of the market economy” (106). Like her, I am interested in the relationship between personal and national chastity and in the evolution of this dialectic. See “Queen Elizabeth's Armada Speech to the Troops at Tilbury” (August 9, 1588) in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 325, and Scholz’s “Textualizing the Body Politic: National Identity and the Female Body in The Rape of Lucrece,” Shakespeare-Jahrbuch 132 (1996): 103-43. For more on Elizabeth’s chastity, see Susan Frye, “Of Chastity and Violence: Elizabeth I and Edmund Spenser in the House of Busirane,” Signs 20.1 (Autumn 1994): 49-78, and “The Myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury,” Sixteenth Century Journal 23.1 (1992): 95-114.

14 Marie H. Loughlin, Hymeneutics: Interpreting Virginity on the Early Modern Stage (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1997), 29.

15 Scholz, 109.

16 For a discussion of Protestantism’s rejection of the Catholic valorization of virginity, see Patricia Crawford, Women and Religion in England: 1500-1720 (New York: Routledge, 1996), 25-39, and Lawrence Stone, “The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500-1800 (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), 498.

17 Kathleen Coyne Kelly, Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages (New York: Routledge, 2000), 7. It is worth noting that, despite popular definitions of the terms, Catholic theologians such as Thomas Aquinas contended that chastity and virginity resided in the soul rather than the body. English Protestants, however, often presented Catholics as obsessively focused on celibacy and the physical signs of chastity. See Kelly’s discussion of early Catholic views of chastity in Performing Virginity, 4-7.

18 See Philip Stubbes, A Chrystal Glass for Christian Women, Wherein they may see a most wonderful and rare example of a right virtuous life and Christian death, as by the discourse following may appear, in Daughters, Wives, and Widows: Writings by Men about Women and Marriage in England, 1500-1640, ed. Joan Larsen Klein (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 141-49. As Stubbes describes his young wife Katherine’s virtuous life and pious death, he focuses on her ethereal spiritualism with no discussion of her sexuality other than to mention that she gave birth to a child. See also the work of William Perkins who delineates the strictures of chaste sexuality within companionate marriage in Christian Economy: or, A Short Survey of the Right Manner of Erecting and Ordering a Family According to the Scriptures, trans. Thomas Pickering (London 1609) in Daughters, Wives, and Widows: Writings by Men about Women and Marriage in England, 1500-1640, ed. Joan Larsen Klein (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 154-73.

19Juan Luis Vives, “Of virginite. The .vi. Chapter,” Book One, The Instruction of a Christian Woman, trans. Richard Hyrde1 (1529), ed. Virginia Walcott Beauchamp, Elizabeth H. Hageman, and Margaret Mikesell (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 28. Barbara Sebek situates Vives’s conception of chastity as an “entity of inestimable price” within a discourse of gift-giving articulated in Seneca's De Beneficiis(trans. 1578), showing that chastity ultimately unsettles discourses of gift-giving and commodity exchange because it does not operate clearly either as a gift or a commodity. See Sebek, “‘By gift of my chaste body’: Female Chastity and Exchange Value in Measure for Measure and A Woman Killed with Kindness,” Journal of Culture and Criticism 5.1-2 (2001): 51-85.

20 Vives, “Of .ii. the greatest poyntes in a maryed woman. The .iii. Chaptre,” Book Two, The Instruction of a Christian Woman, 89, 91.

21 Kopytoff, 73-74; 88.

22Thomas Roe, Letter To Sir Edward Conway (1625) No. CCXCIX. The Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe in his Embassy to the Ottoman Porte, from the Year 1621 to 1628, printed by Samuel Richardson, London, 1740, Folger Collection, 430,

23 Roe, Letter To My Lorde Admiral. Two Letters, the first in Character 9/19 March 1621, No. XXI. The Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe in his Embassy to the Ottoman Porte, from the Year 1621 to 1628, printed by Samuel Richardson, London, 1740, Folger Collection, 27.

24 While critics such as Catherine Belsey, Oliver Arnold, and Jennifer Laws have demonstrated that The Rape of Lucrece explores the implications of treating women as possessions, there has been little discussion of chastity as a discrete possession “owned” jointly by a woman and her husband. Coppelia Kahn does point to this quality of chastity in her discussion of contradictions at the heart of the poem’s gender ideologies, noting that chastity must be “published” yet must also remain the private possession of men and women (262). Furthermore, while attention has been paid to the martial imagery in the poem, there has been little treatment of the poem’s treasure imagery. See Arnold, “‘Their tribute and their trust’: Political Representation, Property, and Rape in Titus Andronicus and The Rape of Lucrece,” in The Third Citizen: Shakespeare’s Theatre and the Early Modern House of Commons (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); Belsey, “Tarqin Dispossessed: Expropriation and Consent in The Rape of Lucrece,” Shakespeare Quarterly 52.3 (2001): 315-35); Kahn, “Publishing Shame: The Rape of Lucrece” in A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works, IV: The Poems, Problem Comedies, Late Plays, ed. Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003), 259-274; and Laws, “Paradoxes of Possession in Shakespeare's Lucrece,” Bulletin of the Australian National Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31.1 (1995): 53-68). For more on martial imagery in the poem, see Katharine Maus, “Taking Tropes Seriously”; Nancy Vickers, “‘The blazon of sweet beauty's best’: Shakespeare’s Lucrece” in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Harman (New York: Methuen, 1985), 95-115; and Vickers, “This Heraldry in Lucrece's Face,” Poetics Today 6.1-2 (1985): 171-84.

25 See Sebek, “By gift of my chaste body,” esp. 52, 60-61.

26 Appadurai, 15.

27 Appadurai, 3.

28 This trope is not unique to Shakespeare and is present in Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti, Sonnet 15 and John Donne’s “Elegy XX: To His Mistress Going to Bed.” For more on imperial uses of the blazon, see Roland Greene, Unrequited Contests: Conquest and Empire in the Colonial Americas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) and Louis Montrose, “The Work of Gender in the Discourse of Discovery,” Representations 33(1991), 1-41.

29 Lucrece develops this idea of rape as bodily depletion in her image of her chastity as a “robbed and ransacked” (ll.839) hive, her “honey lost” (ll.837). For an extended analysis of this image, see Sarah Plant, “Shakespeare’s Lucrece as Chaste Bee,” Cahiers Elisabethains 49 (1996): 51-57.

30 As Coppelia Kahn notes, the image of a stain is mentioned eighteen times in the poem, and synonyms connoting pollution are common (“Publishing Shame,” 261).

31 Critical views vary regarding Lucrece’s level of agency at the end of the poem. Katharine Maus contends that Lucrece obscures questions of agency, positioning herself as both guilty and innocent. Similarly, Lynn Enterline suggests that Lucrece possesses partial and fragmentary agency. Catherine Belsey, in contrast, argues that by actively committing suicide, Lucrece breaks out of her position as a possession, showing herself to be a subject with agency and inspiring men to think of women as subjects rather than objects. Coppelia Kahn initially argued in “Lucrece: The Sexual Politics of Subjectivity” that Lucrece’s suicide reinscribes the violence of the rape, signaling her complicity with patriarchal Roman codes of honor, but she revises this argument in “Publishing Shame,” drawing it more in line with Belsey’s. See Belsey, “Tarqin Dispossessed”; Enterline, “‘Poor Instruments’ and Unspeakable Events in The Rape of Lucrece” in The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 152-197; Kahn, “Lucrece: The Sexual Politics of Subjectivity,” in Rape and Representation, ed. Lynn A. Higgins and Brenda R. Silver (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 141-61, and “Publishing Shame”; and Maus, “Taking Tropes Seriously.”

32 There has been a great deal of valuable scholarship on Cymbeline’s engagement with historical and political events. For an analysis of Cymbeline’s ambivalence about James I’s plans to unify Britain, see David Bergeron, “Images of Rule in Cymbeline,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 1.2(1987), 31-7; Leah Marcus, “Cymbeline and the Unease of Topicality” in New Essays on Tudor and Stuart Literature and Culture, ed. Heather Dubrow and Richard Strier (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988), 134-68; and Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). For more recent assessments of the play’s treatment of British integration, see Willy Maley, “Postcolonial Shakespeare: British Identity Formation and Cymbeline” in Shakespeare’s Late Plays: New Readings, ed. J. Richards and J. Knowles (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 145-57, and Garrett A. Sullivan, “Civilizing Wales: Cymbeline, Roads, and the Landscapes of Early Modern Britain” in The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage, ed. Garrett A. Sullivan Jr. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 127-58.

33 There has been much debate over the precise nature of Innogen and Posthumous’s relationship, with critics disagreeing as to whether they were actually married and whether the contract had been consummated. Anne Barton has argued that Innogen and Posthumous are “espoused,” having promised themselves to one another, but are not legally married and have not consummated their relationship. The couple’s liminal state, Barton argues, accounts for the anxiety surrounding their union. Martin Butler notes that Posthumous’s remark “Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain’d, / And prayed me oft forbearance” (2.4.161-62) suggests a “prehistory of sexual relations within marriage” (33). Arthur Kirsch similarly argues that the marriage was understood to be binding by the participants and was therefore consummated. For the purposes of my argument, the ambiguity surrounding Innogen’s sexual status is similar to that surrounding Lucrece, who is presented as an emblem of married fidelity but who also seems almost virginal. See Barton, “‘Wrying but a little’: Marriage, Law and Sexuality in the Plays of Shakespeare” in Essays, Mainly Shakespearean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) 3-30; Butler, “Introduction,” Cymbeline (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1-74; and Kirsch, Shakespeare and the Experience of Love (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).

34 In “The Career of Cymbeline’s Manacle,” Valerie Wayne reads the bracelet and the ring as what Arjun Appadurai calls “enclaved commodities, objects whose commodity potential is carefully hedged” (24 qtd in Wayne 21), in this case because they are understood as extensions of female bodies. For Wayne, the value of these objects, and the woman they represent, changes as they pass through multiple transactions.

35 Kopytoff, 69.

36 Appadurai, 15.

37 The influence of Boccaccio’s Decameron, may account for the preponderance of economic language in the scene. In his article “The Wager in Cymbeline” (PMLA 35.4 1920: 391-431), William Lawrence explores Shakespeare's decision to represent Boccaccio’s merchant as the nobleman Posthumous, suggesting that the change introduces chivalric themes into the play.

38 Innes, “Cymbeline and Empire,” 16.

39 Appadurai, 16.

40 Many critics have noted similarities between Iachimo’s penetration of Innogen’s chamber and Tarquin’s rape of Lucrece. Georgianna Ziegler has argued that penetrating female interior spaces prefigures literal rape, and Linda Woodbridge has noted similarities between permeable bodily and geographical boundaries in Cymbeline. See Woodbridge, The Sythe of Saturn (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994) and “Palisading the Body Politic,” Texas Studies in Language and Literature 33.3 (1991), 327-54, and Ziegler’s “My Lady’s Chamber: Female Space, Female Chastity in Shakespeare,” Textual Practice 4.1 (1990), 73-90.

41 Parker, “Rhetorics of Property: Exploration, Inventory, Blazon” in Literary Fat Ladies: Rhetoric, Gender, Property (New York: Methuen, 1987),126-54.

42 For more on the thinking of mercantilists such as Gerard de Malynes, Thomas Milles, Edward Misselden and Thomas Mun, particularly in relation to early modern drama, see Valerie Forman, Tragicomic Redemptions: Global Economics and the Early Modern Stage (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) and Jonathan Gil Harris, Sick Economies: Drama, Mercantilism, and Disease in Shakespeare's England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).

43 Malynes, Gerard de, Saint George for England Allegorically Described, A5.

44 For more on Malynes’s view of value as both intrinsic and in need of stabilization, see Jonathan Gil Harris, “‘The Enterprise is Sick’: Pathologies of Value and Transnationality in Troilus and Cressida,” Renaissance Drama 29 (1998): 3-37.

45 Ryner, 78.

46Concerns over currency were historically linked to issues of sovereignty because the sovereign possessed the sole right to determine the value of currency and because currency signified the sovereign’s power. For more on this concept, see Marc Shell, Art & Money(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) as well as Jotham Parsons who illustrates the relationship between the power of the sovereign and the state of his currency. See also Louis Montrose for an analysis of the ways in which images of Queen Elizabeth were desecrated or otherwise used to make political statements. See Parsons, “Money and Sovereignty in Early Modern France,” Journal of the History of Ideas 62 (2001): 59-79 and Montrose, The Subject of Elizabeth: Authority, Gender, and Representation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

47 See Karen Bamford, “Innogen's Wounded Chastity and Laura Di Michele, “Shakespeare’s Writing of Rome in Cymbeline” in Identity, Otherness, and Empire in Shakespeare’s Rome, ed. Maria DelSapio Garbio. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2009),157-74.

48See Ellen Spolsky, “Women’s Work is Chastity” for more on the ways that romance conventions allow Innogen’s chastity to be revealed. For or a more general analysis of the power of chastity in the romance tradition, see Kathleen Coyne Kelly, Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages.

49 Appadurai, 16.

50 Martin Butler notes that Innogen’s death paradoxically reforms Posthumous, in part because Innogen, like Lucrece, becomes public property: “her memory being public property, he can serve her as one patriot among many and without the dangers that attend on marriage to the king’s daughter” (34).

51 Critics disagree about the play’s attitude toward Rome. Robert S. Miola argues that Shakespeare sought to differentiate Britain from Roman barbarism, positing Britain as more civilized and Christian than Rome. Other critics, such as David Bergeron have focused on the play’s recuperation of Augustan Rome in the service of James I's conception of himself as inaugurating a Pax Britannica. See Bergeron, “Cymbeline: Shakespeare’s Last Roman Play,” Shakespeare Quarterly 31.1 (1980): 31-41, and Miola, “Cymbeline: Shakespeare’s Valediction to Rome” in Roman Images, Selected Papers from the English Institute, 1982, ed. Annabel Patterson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), 51-62.

52 See Valerie Forman, Tragicomic Redemptions for an analysis of how tragicomedies quell economic concerns about bullion leaving the realm by reframing loss in terms of potential gains.

53 There is some debate as to the gender coding of Britain at the end of the play, Janet Adelman argues that the infusion of the masculine sphere of Milford Haven allows Britain to form a fully male-dominated public sphere that no longer relies on women such as Innogen or the evil queen. Differing slightly from Adelman, Jodi Mikalachki contends that Shakespeare feels the need to repudiate the violent, autonomous nationalism associated with ancient queens such as Boadicea (and perhaps more modern queens like Elizabeth I). Alternately Laura Di Michele examines Innogen’s cross-dressing to argue that “Roman Britain (and James I’s Britain as well) is neither a ‘feminine’ society subject to the danger of invasions as Elizabethan England usually conceptualized itself, nor a ‘masculine’ society as Imperial Rome was in the collective imagination of the British. The new Britain (like Imogen) is both feminine and masculine” (171). In keeping with this view, Valerie Wayne suggests that the presence of the bracelet and ring symbolizing Innogen’s feminine body mitigates the excision of women from the ending, serving as a visible “mark of their commodification, containment, devaluation and circulation through exchange” (21).

See Adelman, Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare’s Plays (New York: Routledge, 1992); Di Michele, “Shakespeare’s Writing of Rome in Cymbeline”; Mikalachki, “The Masculine Romance of Roman Britain: Cymbeline and Early Modern English Nationalism,” SQ 46.3 (1995): 301-22; and Wayne, “The Career of Cymbeline’s Manacle.”

54 Janet Adelman reads Cymbeline’s comment that he has become “A mother of three” (5.4.369) as part of a similar “parthenogenesis fantasy” imagining all male reproduction (Suffocating Mothers, 202).