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Two houses, both alike in dignity,
Transcript of Two houses, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge, break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life:
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows,
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love
And the the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which nought but their children's end could remove,
Is now the two-hours traffic of our stage
To which if you with patient ears shall attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Romeo & Juliet
Act I, Prologue
What's a prologue?
We'll talk about that in a few minutes. First, we're going to break down the meaning of the prologue, then we'll get into some of the technical stuff.
Two families that live in two different households are equal to one another in money, power, status, reputation, and importance. They're two of the most important families in town, and, other than the Prince, they're probably THE two most important families.
These two families both live in the town of Verona, where the play is set.
For some reason, and it's not stated here, the two families have an "ancient grudge." They hate one another, and that hatred has become a big problem again, most likely the violent kind of problem.
As in blood and people getting hurt in the streets. "Civil blood" is showing up on "civil hands" -- these aren't soldiers. They're just people. Like civilians in a town, not military or police. These "civil hands" aren't supposed to fight, either, because they're supposed to be rich and proper people, not fighters.