Antony and Cleopatra
|ACT I SCENE II||The same. Another room.|
|[Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer]|
|CHARMIAN||Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas,|
|almost most absolute Alexas, where’s the soothsayer|
|that you praised so to the queen? O, that I knew|
|this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns|
|CHARMIAN||Is this the man? Is’t you, sir, that know things?|
|Soothsayer||In nature’s infinite book of secrecy|
|A little I can read.||10|
|ALEXAS||Show him your hand.|
|[Enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS]|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough|
|Cleopatra’s health to drink.|
|CHARMIAN||Good sir, give me good fortune.|
|Soothsayer||I make not, but foresee.||15|
|CHARMIAN||Pray, then, foresee me one.|
|Soothsayer||You shall be yet far fairer than you are.|
|CHARMIAN||He means in flesh.|
|IRAS||No, you shall paint when you are old.|
|ALEXAS||Vex not his prescience; be attentive.|
|Soothsayer||You shall be more beloving than beloved.|
|CHARMIAN||I had rather heat my liver with drinking.|
|ALEXAS||Nay, hear him.||25|
|CHARMIAN||Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married|
|to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all:|
|let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry|
|may do homage: find me to marry me with Octavius|
|Caesar, and companion me with my mistress.||30|
|Soothsayer||You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.|
|CHARMIAN||O excellent! I love long life better than figs.|
|Soothsayer||You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune|
|Than that which is to approach.|
|CHARMIAN||Then belike my children shall have no names:||35|
|prithee, how many boys and wenches must I have?|
|Soothsayer||If every of your wishes had a womb.|
|And fertile every wish, a million.|
|CHARMIAN||Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.|
|ALEXAS||You think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.||40|
|CHARMIAN||Nay, come, tell Iras hers.|
|ALEXAS||We’ll know all our fortunes.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall|
|be–drunk to bed.|
|IRAS||There’s a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.||45|
|CHARMIAN||E’en as the o’erflowing Nilus presageth famine.|
|IRAS||Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.|
|CHARMIAN||Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful|
|prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear. Prithee,|
|tell her but a worky-day fortune.||50|
|Soothsayer||Your fortunes are alike.|
|IRAS||But how, but how? give me particulars.|
|Soothsayer||I have said.|
|IRAS||Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?|
|CHARMIAN||Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than||55|
|I, where would you choose it?|
|IRAS||Not in my husband’s nose.|
|CHARMIAN||Our worser thoughts heavens mend! Alexas,–come,|
|his fortune, his fortune! O, let him marry a woman|
|that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee! and let||60|
|her die too, and give him a worse! and let worst|
|follow worse, till the worst of all follow him|
|laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good|
|Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a|
|matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!||65|
|IRAS||Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people!|
|for, as it is a heartbreaking to see a handsome man|
|loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a|
|foul knave uncuckolded: therefore, dear Isis, keep|
|decorum, and fortune him accordingly!||70|
|ALEXAS||Lo, now, if it lay in their hands to make me a|
|cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Hush! here comes Antony.||75|
|CHARMIAN||Not he; the queen.|
|CLEOPATRA||Saw you my lord?|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||No, lady.|
|CLEOPATRA||Was he not here?|
|CLEOPATRA||He was disposed to mirth; but on the sudden|
|A Roman thought hath struck him. Enobarbus!|
|CLEOPATRA||Seek him, and bring him hither.|
|ALEXAS||Here, at your service. My lord approaches.|
|CLEOPATRA||We will not look upon him: go with us.|
|[Enter MARK ANTONY with a Messenger and Attendants]|
|Messenger||Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.|
|MARK ANTONY||Against my brother Lucius?|
|But soon that war had end, and the time’s state|
|Made friends of them, joining their force ‘gainst Caesar;|
|Whose better issue in the war, from Italy,|
|Upon the first encounter, drave them.|
|MARK ANTONY||Well, what worst?||95|
|Messenger||The nature of bad news infects the teller.|
|MARK ANTONY||When it concerns the fool or coward. On:|
|Things that are past are done with me. ‘Tis thus:|
|Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death,|
|I hear him as he flatter’d.||100|
|This is stiff news–hath, with his Parthian force,|
|Extended Asia from Euphrates;|
|His conquering banner shook from Syria|
|To Lydia and to Ionia; Whilst–||105|
|MARK ANTONY||Antony, thou wouldst say,–|
|Messenger||O, my lord!|
|MARK ANTONY||Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue:|
|Name Cleopatra as she is call’d in Rome;|
|Rail thou in Fulvia’s phrase; and taunt my faults||110|
|With such full licence as both truth and malice|
|Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth weeds,|
|When our quick minds lie still; and our ills told us|
|Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.|
|Messenger||At your noble pleasure.||115|
|MARK ANTONY||From Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak there!|
|First Attendant||The man from Sicyon,–is there such an one?|
|Second Attendant||He stays upon your will.|
|MARK ANTONY||Let him appear.|
|These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,||120|
|Or lose myself in dotage.|
|[Enter another Messenger]|
|What are you?|
|Second Messenger||Fulvia thy wife is dead.|
|MARK ANTONY||Where died she?|
|Second Messenger||In Sicyon:||125|
|Her length of sickness, with what else more serious|
|Importeth thee to know, this bears.|
|[Gives a letter]|
|MARK ANTONY||Forbear me.|
|[Exit Second Messenger]|
|There’s a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it:|
|What our contempt doth often hurl from us,||130|
|We wish it ours again; the present pleasure,|
|By revolution lowering, does become|
|The opposite of itself: she’s good, being gone;|
|The hand could pluck her back that shoved her on.|
|I must from this enchanting queen break off:||135|
|Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,|
|My idleness doth hatch. How now! Enobarbus!|
|[Re-enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS]|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||What’s your pleasure, sir?|
|MARK ANTONY||I must with haste from hence.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Why, then, we kill all our women:||140|
|we see how mortal an unkindness is to them;|
|if they suffer our departure, death’s the word.|
|MARK ANTONY||I must be gone.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Under a compelling occasion, let women die; it were|
|pity to cast them away for nothing; though, between||145|
|them and a great cause, they should be esteemed|
|nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of|
|this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty|
|times upon far poorer moment: I do think there is|
|mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon||150|
|her, she hath such a celerity in dying.|
|MARK ANTONY||She is cunning past man’s thought.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Alack, sir, no; her passions are made of nothing but|
|the finest part of pure love: we cannot call her|
|winds and waters sighs and tears; they are greater||155|
|storms and tempests than almanacs can report: this|
|cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a|
|shower of rain as well as Jove.|
|MARK ANTONY||Would I had never seen her.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece||160|
|of work; which not to have been blest withal would|
|have discredited your travel.|
|MARK ANTONY||Fulvia is dead.|
|MARK ANTONY||Fulvia is dead.||165|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When|
|it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man|
|from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth;||170|
|comforting therein, that when old robes are worn|
|out, there are members to make new. If there were|
|no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut,|
|and the case to be lamented: this grief is crowned|
|with consolation; your old smock brings forth a new||175|
|petticoat: and indeed the tears live in an onion|
|that should water this sorrow.|
|MARK ANTONY||The business she hath broached in the state|
|Cannot endure my absence.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||And the business you have broached here cannot be||180|
|without you; especially that of Cleopatra’s, which|
|wholly depends on your abode.|
|MARK ANTONY||No more light answers. Let our officers|
|Have notice what we purpose. I shall break|
|The cause of our expedience to the queen,||185|
|And get her leave to part. For not alone|
|The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,|
|Do strongly speak to us; but the letters too|
|Of many our contriving friends in Rome|
|Petition us at home: Sextus Pompeius||190|
|Hath given the dare to Caesar, and commands|
|The empire of the sea: our slippery people,|
|Whose love is never link’d to the deserver|
|Till his deserts are past, begin to throw|
|Pompey the Great and all his dignities||195|
|Upon his son; who, high in name and power,|
|Higher than both in blood and life, stands up|
|For the main soldier: whose quality, going on,|
|The sides o’ the world may danger: much is breeding,|
|Which, like the courser’s hair, hath yet but life,||200|
|And not a serpent’s poison. Say, our pleasure,|
|To such whose place is under us, requires|
|Our quick remove from hence.|
|DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS||I shall do’t.|
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 3
Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 2
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
2. Absolute. Complete, perfect.
21. Prescience. One who knows all things; used here jokingly as a title.
24. Liver. Heart. Liver was often used as the seat of love.
27. Widow. Outlive them.
28. Herod of Jewry. A reference to Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. He is represented in the old mystery plays as a fierce tyrant.
29. Find me. Find out that it may be my destiny.
30. Companion. Make me an equal with.
35. Belike. It is likely I shall have no children to name.
37. Every. Every one.
39. For a witch. If this is the best you can do you will never be burned for a witch.
46. E’en. As little as, etc.
46. Nilus. Nile.
47. Wild. Extravagant.
49. Prognostication. A sign of fruitfulness.
50. Worky-day. Common, ordinary.
58. Come. Come, tell me his fortune.
60. Isis. The Egyptian goddess of the earth and of fertility.
82. Roman. A thought about Rome.
88. Into the field. Took up arms.
92. Time’s state. The state of affairs made friendship necessary.
92. Jointing. Joining.
93. Issue. Fortune, success.
94. Drave. An old form not commonly used by Shakespeare.
100. As. As if.
102. Stiff. Hard to tell.
103. Extended. A legal term meaning to seize upon.
103. Eurphrates. Here accented on the first syllable.
104. Syria, etc. Provinces of Asia Minor.
108. Home. Frankly, without reserve.
113. Quick. Active.
114. Earing. Ploughing. That is, the knowledge of our faults is like ploughing the mind for bringing forth a new and worthy crop instead of weeds.
117. Sicyon. One of the most ancient cities in southern Greece.
118. Stays. Awaits your pleasure.
127. Importeth. It is of importance for you to know.
128. Forbear. Have patience with me.
129. Great Spirit. A noble mind.
130. Contempt. What we fling away with careless contempt.
132. Revolution. What at the moment seems pleasure to us, by the changes of time and events, often becomes pain.
133. Being gone. Though I prized her little when alive, being gone, she seems of value.
134. Could. Could willingly, would.
142. Word. Will be the result.
149. Moment. For far less reason.
150. Mettle. Spirit.
156. Almanacs. The old almanacs used to predict changes in the weather.
158. Jove. The god of thunder.
162. Discredited. That is, made you seem but a poor traveler.
168. Thankful. Sacrifice of thanksgiving.
170. Tailors. It shows the deities as tailors of the earth who, when old robes are worn out, can make him new. So the gods can supply men with a new wife.
175. Smock. Coat.
176. Onion. Mock tears are all you need.
178. Broached. The affairs she has set on foot.
182. Abode. Abiding.
185. Expedience. Expedition.
186. Part. Depart.
187. Touches. Other matters which affect us more strongly.
189. Contriving. Our many friends who are contriving or plotting in our interests.
190. Petition. Petition us to come home.
191. Dare. Declared defiance.
192. Slippery. Fickle, changeable.
194. Deserts are past. The time has gone by for giving him his deserts.
195. Pompey. Invest the son with all the dignities of the father. Pompey was a famous Roman general.
196. Blood. Courage.
198. Main. Chief soldier of the world.
198. Quality. Disposition.
199. Sides. The whole empire of Rome.
200. Coursers. A reference to the old superstition that a horse hair, when put into water, will turn into a snake.
200. But. Only.
201. Say. Give our commands to our subordinates.
How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company, 1908.