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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Enobarbus and Lepidus.
    Good Enobarbus, 'tis a worthy deed
    680And shall become you well to entreat your captain
    To soft and gentle speech.
    I shall entreat him
    To answer like himself. If Caesar move him,
    Let Antony look over Caesar's head
    685And speak as loud as Mars. By Jupiter,
    Were I the wearer of Antonio's beard,
    I would not shave't today.
    'Tis not a time
    For private stomaching.
    Every time
    Serves for the matter that is then 690born in't.
    But small to greater matters must give way.
    Not if the small come first.
    Your speech is passion.
    But pray you stir no embers up. Here comes
    The noble Antony.
    695Enter Antony and Ventidius [at one door in conversation].
    And yonder Caesar.
    Enter Caesar, Maecenas, and Agrippa [at another door in conversation].
    If we compose well here, to Parthia.
    Hark, Ventidius.
    I do not know, Maecenas; ask Agrippa.
    Noble friends:
    That which combined us was most great, and let not
    A leaner action rend us. What's amiss,
    May it be gently heard. When we debate
    705Our trivial difference loud, we do commit
    Murder in healing wounds. Then, noble partners,
    The rather for I earnestly beseech,
    Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,
    Nor curstness grow to'th'matter.
    'Tis spoken well.
    Were we before our armies, and to fight,
    I should do thus. [Embracing Caesar]
    Welcome to Rome.
    Thank you.
    Sit, sir.
    Nay, then.
    [Caesar sits, then Antony.]
    I learn you take things ill which are not so,
    Or, being, concern you not.
    I must be laughed at
    If, or for nothing or a little,
    I should say myself offended, and with you
    Chiefly i'th'world. More laughed at that I should
    Once name you derogately, when to sound your name
    It not concerned me.
    My being in Egypt, Caesar, what was't to you?
    No more than my residing here at Rome
    Might be to you in Egypt. Yet if you there
    Did practise on my state, your being in Egypt
    Might be my question.
    How intend you "practised"?
    You may be pleased to catch at mine intent
    By what did here befall me. Your wife and brother
    Made wars upon me, and their contestation
    Was theme for you. You were the word of war.
    You do mistake your business. My brother never
    Did urge me in his act. I did enquire it,
    And have my learning from some true reports
    That drew their swords with you. Did he not rather
    Discredit my authority with yours,
    740And make the wars alike against my stomach,
    Having alike your cause? Of this, my letters
    Before did satisfy you. If you'll patch a quarrel--
    As matter whole you have to make it with--
    It must not be with this.
    You praise yourself
    By laying defects of judgement to me;
    But you patched up your excuses.
    Not so, not so:
    I know you could not lack--I am certain on't--
    Very necessity of this thought, that I,
    750Your partner in the cause 'gainst which he fought,
    Could not with graceful eyes attend those wars
    Which fronted mine own peace. As for my wife,
    I would you had her spirit in such another;
    The third o'th'world is yours, which with a snaffle
    755You may pace easy, but not such a wife.
    Would we had all such wives, that the men might go to wars with the women.
    So much uncurbable her garboils, Caesar--
    Made out of her impatience, which not wanted
    760Shrewdness of policy too--I grieving grant
    Did you too much disquiet. For that you must
    But say I could not help it.
    I wrote to you,
    When rioting in Alexandria you
    Did pocket up my letters, and with taunts
    765Did gibe my missive out of audience.
    He fell upon me ere admitted, then.
    Three kings I had newly feasted, and did want
    Of what I was i'th'morning; but next day
    I told him of myself, which was as much
    770As to have asked him pardon. Let this fellow
    Be nothing of our strife; if we contend,
    Out of our question wipe him.
    You have broken the article of your oath,
    Which you shall never have tongue to charge me with.
    Soft, Caesar.
    No, Lepidus, let him speak:
    The honor is sacred which he talks on now,
    Supposing that I lacked it. But on, Caesar:
    The article of my oath.
    To lend me arms and aid when I required them,
    The which you both denied.
    Neglected, rather;
    And then when poisoned hours had bound me up
    From mine own knowledge. As nearly as I may
    785I'll play the penitent to you. But mine honesty
    Shall not make poor my greatness, nor my power
    Work without it. Truth is, that Fulvia,
    To have me out of Egypt, made wars here
    For which myself, the ignorant motive, do
    790So far ask pardon as befits mine honor
    To stoop in such a case.
    'Tis noble spoken.
    If it might please you to enforce no further
    The griefs between ye. To forget them quite
    795Were to remember that the present need
    Speaks to atone you.
    Worthily spoken, Maecenas.
    Or if you borrow one another's love for the instant, you may when you hear no more words of 800Pompey return it again. You shall have time to wrangle in when you have nothing else to do.
    Thou art a soldier only; speak no more.
    That truth should be silent, I had almost forgot.
    You wrong this presence, therefore speak no more.
    Go to, then. Your considerate stone.
    I do not much dislike the matter but
    The manner of his speech. For't cannot be
    810We shall remain in friendship, our conditions
    So diff'ring in their acts. Yet if I knew
    What hoop should hold us staunch, from edge to edge
    O'th'world I would pursue it.
    Give me leave, Caesar.
    Speak, Agrippa.
    Thou hast a sister by the mother's side,
    Admired Octavia. Great Mark Antony
    Is now a widower.
    Say not so, Agrippa;
    If Cleopatra heard you, your proof
    Were well deserved of rashness.
    I am not married, Caesar. Let me hear
    Agrippa further speak.
    To hold you in perpetual amity,
    To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
    With an unslipping knot, take Antony
    825Octavia to his wife, whose beauty claims
    No worse a husband than the best of men,
    Whose virtue and whose general graces speak
    That which none else can utter. By this marriage,
    All little jealousies which now seem great
    830And all great fears which now import their dangers
    Would then be nothing. Truth's would be tales,
    Where now half tales be truth's. Her love to both
    Would each to other, and all loves to both
    Draw after her. Pardon what I have spoke,
    835For 'tis a studied not a present thought,
    By duty ruminated.
    Will Caesar speak?
    Not till he hears how Antony is touched
    With what is spoke already.
    What power is in Agrippa,
    If I would say "Agrippa, be it so"
    To make this good?
    The power of Caesar,
    And his power unto Octavia.
    May I never
    To this good purpose that so fairly shows
    Dream of impediment! Let me have thy hand
    Further this act of grace, and from this hour
    The heart of brothers govern in our loves
    850And sway our great designs.
    There's my hand.
    [Caesar and Antony shake hands.]
    A sister I bequeath you whom no brother
    Did ever love so dearly. Let her live
    To join our kingdoms and our hearts, and never
    855Fly off our loves again.
    Happily, amen.
    I did not think to draw my sword 'gainst Pompey,
    For he hath laid strange courtesies and great
    Of late upon me. I must thank him only,
    860Lest my remembrance suffer ill report;
    At heel of that, defy him.
    Time calls upon's.
    Of us must Pompey presently be sought,
    Or else he seeks out us.
    Where lies he?
    About the Mount Misena.
    What is his strength
    By land?
    Great and increasing, but by sea
    He is an absolute master.
    So is the fame.
    Would we had spoke together. Haste we for it.
    Yet ere we put ourselves in arms, dispatch we
    The business we have talked of.
    With most gladness;
    875And do invite you to my sister's view,
    Whither straight I'll lead you.
    Let us, Lepidus,
    Not lack your company.
    Noble Antony,
    Not sickness should detain me.
    880Flourish. Exeunt all but Enobarbus, Agrippa, Maecenas.
    Welcome from Egypt, sir.
    Half the heart of Caesar, worthy Maecenas! My honorable friend Agrippa!
    Good Enobarbus!
    We have cause to be glad that matters are so well digested. You stayed well by't in Egypt.
    Ay, sir, we did sleep day out of countenance, and made the night light with drinking.
    Eight wild boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and but twelve persons there. Is this true?
    This was but as a fly by an eagle. We had much more monstrous matter of feast which worthily deserved noting.
    She's a most triumphant lady, if report be square to her.
    When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart upon the river of Cydnus.
    There she appeared indeed, or my reporter de900vised well for her.
    I will tell you:
    The barge she sat in like a burnished throne
    Burned on the water. The poop was beaten gold,
    Purple the sails, and so perfumèd that
    905The winds were love-sick with them. The oars were silver,
    Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
    The water which they beat to follow faster,
    As amorous of their strokes. For her own person--
    910It beggared all description. She did lie
    In her pavilion, cloth of gold, of tissue,
    O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
    The fancy outwork nature. On each side her
    Stood pretty dimpled boys like smiling Cupids,
    915With divers-colored fans whose wind did seem
    To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
    And what they undid did.
    O rare for Antony!
    Her gentlewomen, like the Nereïdes,
    920So many mermaids, tended her i'th'eyes,
    And made their bends adornings. At the helm
    A seeming mermaid steers. The silken tackle
    Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands
    That yarely frame the office. From the barge
    925A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
    Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
    Her people out upon her; and Antony
    Enthroned i'th'marketplace did sit alone,
    Whistling to'th'air, which but for vacancy
    930Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
    And made a gap in nature.
    Rare Egyptian!
    Upon her landing, Antony sent to her,
    Invited her to supper. She replied
    935It should be better he became her guest,
    Which she entreated. Our courteous Antony,
    Whom ne'er the word of 'no' woman heard speak,
    Being barbered ten times o'er goes to the feast;
    And for his ordinary, pays his heart
    940For what his eyes eat only.
    Royal wench!
    She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed;
    He ploughed her and she cropped.
    I saw her once
    945Hop forty paces through the public street;
    And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted,
    That she did make defect perfection,
    And breathless power breathe forth.
    Now Antony must leave her utterly.
    Never. He will not.
    Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
    Her infinite variety; other women cloy
    The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
    Where most she satisfies. For vilest things
    955Become themselves in her, that the holy priests
    Bless her when she is riggish.
    If beauty, wisdom, modesty can settle
    The heart of Antony, Octavia is
    A blessèd lottery to him.
    Let us go.
    Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest
    Whilst you abide here.
    Humbly, sir, I thank you.