Two households, 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.
– William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Prologue. The opening lines of Shakespeare’s tragic love story introduces us to the ancient feud between two great houses in Verona, the Capulets and Montagues. There is irony in the repeated use of the word "civil" in the Chorus’s introductory words. While Verona’s citizens ought to be civil, we learn that their hands are metaphorically stained ("unclean") with the blood of the victims of their civil war. There is also irony in the description of the warring families being "alike in dignity," since we later learn that they are alike in their undignified behavior.