It may seem odd to start with the moments when people are on the verge of absence, but a second glance sees that entrances and exits mark key junctures in a play-the beginnings and ends of acts, the engagement and disengagement of characters, the changes in the combination of the participants which alter the whole tone and direction of the drama. The timing, manner and direction of these comings and goings are fully in the control of the playwright, and his disposition of them may well signpost the way to our understanding of what he is about. The precise event, seen in its larger context, draws attention to the relationships on either side of it. Entries which come late in an act, exits which coincide with entries, arrival and departure in silence, the first entry and final exit of the play-all these are special junctures which reveal the alignment and re-alignment of interest. An entry provides the first impact of features of person, dress, stage-properties and so on; the manner and destination of an exit conjure up the future, the consequences of the scene we have just witnessed. All these potentialities depend on the context which is built up, especially by means of preparation, anticipation and prediction. My special concern in selection has been with what Maynard Mack has called ‘the emblematic entrance and exit’.1 It is not hard to find illustrations throughout Shakespeare, from the sobering shock of the unforeseen arrival of Marcade (Love’s Labours Lost, V.ii.706ff.), which suddenly overcasts affairs of state, of responsibility and of death to cloud the long holiday of idle quibbling, to the long-awaited final mission of Ariel, who speeds off at Prospero’s command, as so often before, yet this time away to his freedom in the elements (The Tempest, V.i.316ff.). But Shakespeare, by comparison with Greek tragedy, is a hurly-burly to and fro-there are so many more characters, so many scenes, often short. The measured pace and largejointed construction of ancient tragedy means that there may be as few as five entrances (and hence five exits) in a whole play; and there are seldom as many as twenty. This throws even more weight onto the structural cruces; and they are often prepared for repeatedly, sometimes hundreds of lines in advance, so that the mere paces on stage become vital, focal events. Moreover, these are large eye-catching movements, especially in the Athenian theatre, where a character might traverse 15 yards or more. This provides the dramatist with an obvious opportunity to emphasize whatever dramatic aspects he wishes to bring out. And the two side-ramps-eisodoi-are treated as part of roads leading to and from the place of action; entrances and exits are hardly ever a matter of simply stepping into or out of the action, they are proper arrivals and departures.