Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Anthony and Cleopatra (Modern)
  • Editor: Randall Martin
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-433-2

    Copyright Randall Martin. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Randall Martin
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Anthony and Cleopatra (Modern)

    Enter Octavius [Caesar] reading a letter, Lepidus, and their train.
    You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,
    It is not Caesar's natural vice to hate
    One great competitor. From Alexandria
    This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
    The lamps of night in revel; is not more manlike
    435Than Cleopatra, nor the Queen of Ptolemy
    More womanly than he; hardly gave audience
    Or vouchsafed to think he had partners. You shall
    Find there a man who is the abstract of all faults
    That all men follow.
    I must not think there are
    Evils enough to darken all his goodness.
    His faults in him seem as the spots of heaven,
    More fiery by night's blackness; hereditary
    Rather than purchased; what he cannot change
    445Than what he chooses.
    You are too indulgent. Let's grant it is not
    Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy,
    To give a kingdom for a mirth, to sit
    And keep the turn of tippling with a slave,
    450To reel the streets at noon and stand the buffet
    With knaves that smells of sweat. Say this becomes him--
    As his composure must be rare indeed
    Whom these things cannot blemish--yet must Anthony
    No way excuse his foils when we do bear
    455So great weight in his lightness. If he filled
    His vacancy with his voluptuousness,
    Full surfeits and the dryness of his bones
    Call on him for't. But to confound such time
    That drums him from his sport and speaks as loud
    460As his own state and ours, 'tis to be chid
    As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge,
    Pawn their experience to their present pleasure
    And so rebel to judgment.
    Enter a Messenger.
    Here's more news.
    Thy biddings have been done, and every hour,
    Most noble Caesar, shalt thou have report
    How 'tis abroad. Pompey is strong at sea
    And it appears he is beloved of those
    470That only have feared Caesar. To the ports
    The discontents repair, and men's reports
    Give him much wronged.
    [Exit Messenger.]
    I should have known no less.
    It hath been taught us from the primal state
    475That he which is was wished until he were;
    And the ebbed man, ne'er loved till ne'er worth love,
    Comes feared by being lacked. This common body,
    Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,
    480Goes to, and back, lackeying the varying tide
    To rot itself with motion.
    Enter Second Messenger.
    Second Messenger
    Caesar, I bring thee word
    Menecrates and Menas, famous pirates,
    Makes the sea serve them, which they ear and wound
    485With keels of every kind. Many hot inroads
    They make in Italy; the borders maritime
    Lack blood to think on't, and flush youth revolt.
    No vessel can peep forth but 'tis as soon
    Taken as seen; for Pompey's name strikes more
    490Than could his war resisted.
    Exit Second Messenger.
    Leave thy lascivious vassals. When thou once
    Was beaten from Modena, where thou slew'st
    Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel
    495Did Famine follow, whom thou fought'st against,
    Though daintily brought up, with patience more
    Then savages could suffer. Thou didst drink
    The stale of horses and the gilded puddle
    Which beasts would cough at. Thy palate then did deign
    500The roughest berry on the rudest hedge.
    Yea, like the stag when snow the pasture sheets,
    The barks of trees thou browsed. On the Alps,
    It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh,
    Which some did die to look on. And all this--
    505It wounds thine honor that I speak it now--
    Was borne so like a soldier that thy cheek
    So much as lanked not.
    'Tis pity of him.
    Let his shames quickly 510drive him to Rome.
    'Tis time we twain did show ourselves i'th'field;
    And to that end assemble we immediate counsel.
    Pompey thrives in our idleness.
    Tomorrow, Caesar,
    515I shall be furnished to inform you rightly
    Both what by sea and land I can be able
    To front this present time.
    Till which encounter,
    It is my business too. Farewell.
    Farewell, my lord.
    What you shall know meantime 520of stirs abroad,
    I shall beseech you, sir, to let me be partaker.
    Doubt not sir. I knew it for my bond.
    Exeunt [by different doors].