"Where Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean" is a passage from the prologue of Romeo and Juliet, describing the city of Verona. The essential meaning of the phrase is somewhat open to interpretation, with some supposing that it meant that events turned otherwise civil people into bloodletters of their neighbors (and so, into uncivil people), while others have supposed that it means that the bloody feud itself was a civil matter -- a thing allowed by law and custom of the time and place itself, such that the hand, though "unclean" for the spilling of civil blood was still itself technically "civil." Shakespeare was a master of double meanings, so it could mean both (or "civil" could simply mean, or additionally mean, existing within civilization, or within the city.)

The whole of the passage is something of an example of "tell them what you're going to tell them" story telling, since it is made known in this prologue that, spoiler alert, "a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life" and so "with their death bury their parents' strife." Still, this revelation of the coming ending leaves the audience undeterred, since they will surely wish to see the civil blood making civil hands unclean which leads up to this result.



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