Enter [several of both houses, who join the fray, and] three or four Citizens [as OFFICERS of the Watch,] with clubs or partisans.

OFFICERS       Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!

Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues! (1.1.64-5)

A rare observation (in this context) on performance: the stage is filling up, and it’s not impossible that both Romeo and Juliet might be doubling here; the Nurse and Friar Lawrence probably are. And the stage direction is an excellent example of authorial copy (just as these lines are perfect crowd-speak): the playwright isn’t yet sure about the exact resources available, so is non-specific about numbers, and about weapons. It’s notable, however, that there are now swords and bucklers, clubs, bills, and partisans, and (presumably) daggers and rapiers being employed; the weapons become a kind of synecdoche not just for the conflict, but for the way in which it’s involved the whole community. That these are the Officers of the watch, condemning Verona’s leading families, also speaks of frustration, and the parallel formulation (at least as it’s expressed here: Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!) suggests both the division into two camps and that there is equal blame on both sides. It could be comic, again, but it’s certainly getting out of control.

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