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Prologue


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PROLOGUE: Two households, both alike in dignity, / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
[Prologue] The first two lines of Shakespeare's Prologue establish the nature of the Tragedy to follow: this will not be a fight between Lords on a battlefield but between noble families in a city. They possess the typical nobility, "dignity", and greatness of soul (megalopsychia) of Classical Greek and Roman Tragedy but the Tragedy will be a domestic one, set in Catholic Italy.
PROLOGUE: Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean
[Prologue] The double repetition of the adjective "civil" here is polysemous (has multiple meanings): "civil" as in 'civilised'; "civil" as in 'peaceful' and "civil" as in 'civic' (of the city). Whilst murder is accepted between soldiers on a battlefield, these are not people whose, or locations where, "blood" should be spilled. As also suggested by the noun prase "new mutiny", Tragedy, here, will cause a complete breakdown of the social order.
PROLOGUE: From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life
[Prologue] Shakespeare often uses the double meaning of the adjective "fatal": both 'deadly' and 'destined' (fated). The noun "loins" here - in Shakespeare's original pronunciation - would have been industinguishable from the word 'lines', so these are fatal lines (of the play, of the family tree, of fate) as well as a more overt reference to birth. Similar is also done with the adjectival "star-cross'd" where "cross'd" can be paths crossing and made-into-enemies (crossed)
PROLOGUE: death-mark'd love
[Prologue] The adjectival phrase can mean both 'surrounded by death' and 'destined to die'