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Antony and Cleopatra


ACT I SCENE III The same. Another room.
CLEOPATRA Where is he?
CHARMIAN I did not see him since.
CLEOPATRA See where he is, who’s with him, what he does:
I did not send you: if you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report 5
That I am sudden sick: quick, and return.
CHARMIAN Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly,
You do not hold the method to enforce
The like from him.
CLEOPATRA What should I do, I do not? 10
CHARMIAN In each thing give him way, cross him nothing.
CLEOPATRA Thou teachest like a fool; the way to lose him.
CHARMIAN Tempt him not so too far; I wish, forbear:
In time we hate that which we often fear.
But here comes Antony. 15
CLEOPATRA I am sick and sullen.
MARK ANTONY I am sorry to give breathing to my purpose,–
CLEOPATRA Help me away, dear Charmian; I shall fall:
It cannot be thus long, the sides of nature
Will not sustain it. 20
MARK ANTONY Now, my dearest queen,–
CLEOPATRA Pray you, stand further from me.
MARK ANTONY What’s the matter?
CLEOPATRA I know, by that same eye, there’s some good news.
What says the married woman? You may go: 25
Would she had never given you leave to come!
Let her not say ’tis I that keep you here:
I have no power upon you; hers you are.
MARK ANTONY The gods best know,–
CLEOPATRA O, never was there queen 30
So mightily betray’d! yet at the first
I saw the treasons planted.
MARK ANTONY Cleopatra,–
CLEOPATRA Why should I think you can be mine and true,
Though you in swearing shake the throned gods, 35
Who have been false to Fulvia? Riotous madness,
To be entangled with those mouth-made vows,
Which break themselves in swearing!
MARK ANTONY Most sweet queen,–
CLEOPATRA Nay, pray you, seek no colour for your going, 40
But bid farewell, and go: when you sued staying,
Then was the time for words: no going then;
Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows’ bent; none our parts so poor,
But was a race of heaven: they are so still, 45
Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world,
Art turn’d the greatest liar.
MARK ANTONY How now, lady!
CLEOPATRA I would I had thy inches; thou shouldst know
There were a heart in Egypt. 50
MARK ANTONY Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile; but my full heart
Remains in use with you. Our Italy
Shines o’er with civil swords: Sextus Pompeius 55
Makes his approaches to the port of Rome:
Equality of two domestic powers
Breed scrupulous faction: the hated, grown to strength,
Are newly grown to love: the condemn’d Pompey,
Rich in his father’s honour, creeps apace, 60
Into the hearts of such as have not thrived
Upon the present state, whose numbers threaten;
And quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge
By any desperate change: my more particular,
And that which most with you should safe my going, 65
Is Fulvia’s death.
CLEOPATRA Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
It does from childishness: can Fulvia die?
MARK ANTONY She’s dead, my queen:
Look here, and at thy sovereign leisure read 70
The garboils she awaked; at the last, best:
See when and where she died.
CLEOPATRA O most false love!
Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill
With sorrowful water? Now I see, I see, 75
In Fulvia’s death, how mine received shall be.
MARK ANTONY Quarrel no more, but be prepared to know
The purposes I bear; which are, or cease,

As you shall give the advice. By the fire
That quickens Nilus’ slime, I go from hence 80
Thy soldier, servant; making peace or war
As thou affect’st.
CLEOPATRA Cut my lace, Charmian, come;
But let it be: I am quickly ill, and well,
So Antony loves. 85
MARK ANTONY My precious queen, forbear;
And give true evidence to his love, which stands
An honourable trial.
CLEOPATRA So Fulvia told me.
I prithee, turn aside and weep for her, 90
Then bid adieu to me, and say the tears
Belong to Egypt: good now, play one scene
Of excellent dissembling; and let it look
Life perfect honour.
MARK ANTONY You’ll heat my blood: no more. 95
CLEOPATRA You can do better yet; but this is meetly.
MARK ANTONY Now, by my sword,–
CLEOPATRA And target. Still he mends;
But this is not the best. Look, prithee, Charmian,
How this Herculean Roman does become 100
The carriage of his chafe.
MARK ANTONY I’ll leave you, lady.
CLEOPATRA Courteous lord, one word.
Sir, you and I must part, but that’s not it:
Sir, you and I have loved, but there’s not it; 105
That you know well: something it is I would,
O, my oblivion is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten.
MARK ANTONY But that your royalty
Holds idleness your subject, I should take you 110
For idleness itself.
CLEOPATRA ‘Tis sweating labour
To bear such idleness so near the heart
As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me;
Since my becomings kill me, when they do not 115
Eye well to you: your honour calls you hence;
Therefore be deaf to my unpitied folly.
And all the gods go with you! upon your sword
Sit laurel victory! and smooth success
Be strew’d before your feet! 120
MARK ANTONY Let us go. Come;
Our separation so abides, and flies,
That thou, residing here, go’st yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee. Away!

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 4

Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 3
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

1. Since. The use of since with the imperfect tense is not uncommon in Shakespeare.

4. Did. That is, you must appear as if I did not send you.

7. Did love. Implying that she does not.

10. Do. Supply “which.”

12. The way. That is the way.

13. I wish. I wish you would forbear; I pray you, forbear.

14. Often. Are frequently obliged to fear.

16. Sullen. That is, I mean to pretend to be sick and melancholy.

17. Breathing. To put my purpose in words.

19. Sides. As illustrative of her meaning, Stevens quotes the lines:

“There is no woman’s sides
Can hide the beating of so strong a passion.”

24. Eye. By your very appearance.

25. Married. A scornful reference to Fulvia.

32. Treasons. The treachery you intended against me.

37. Mouth-made. Empty, false.

40. Color. Excuse, pretext.

41. Sued. Sued that you might stay.

43. Eternity. This is a mocking echo of what Antony has previously said.

44. Bent. The arch of our eyebrow.

44. None. None of our parts.

45. Race. Had a heavenly origin.

54. In use. In trust, a legal term.

55. Civil swords. Is torn by civil wars.

56. Port. Probably Ostia, which was the harbor of Rome.

58. Breed. Agrees with “powers,” rather than with its subject, “equality.”

58. Scrupulous. Factions that keep narrow watch on each other. By a confusion of ideas “breed” agrees with the nearest noun.

59. Condemn’d. It is necessary to accent this word on the first syllable.

63. Purge. Would be cured, changed.

64. Particular. More private reasons.

65. Safe. Make safe; render you secure regarding me.

68. Childishness. That is, from being so childish as to believe that Fulvia is really dead.

71. Garboils. Commotions, turmoils. The word is adopted from the French.

71. Best. This remark has been variously interpreted. Some take it to mean that the last part of the letter, telling the good news of Fulvia ‘s death, is the best part; some that nothing in Fulvia’ s life so became her as her death, Cleopatra’s reply seems to favor the first interpretation.

74. Sacred vials. The Romans sometimes placed bottles of tears, or lachrymatory vials, in the urns of their friends.

78. Bear. My intentions.

78. Cease. Which shall be carried out or not.

79. Fire. That is, by the sun that brings verdure out of the Nile mud.

82. Affect’st. As it may please thee.

83. Lace. Stay lace, lest I faint.

85. So. If.

87. Evidence. Testimony.

87. Trial. Test.

92. Egypt. That is, Egypt’s queen.

92. Good now. A common vocative, my good lord.

96. Meetly. Very well.

98. Target. Shield.

100. Herculanean. According to Plutarch, Antony claimed descent from Anton, a son of Hercuies.

101. Chafe. How well he maintains his pretended anger.

107. Oblivion. My forgetfulness. That is, my memory plays me as false as does Antony himself, and I have forgotten all I would say.

110. Idleness. But that your royalty holds idleness in subjection to your purposes, I should think you were the very spirit of idleness yourself.

113. Heart. It is hard work to carry on such trifling when it covers such a sorry heart.

115. Becomings. Graces and charms.

116. Eye. Appear becoming in your eyes.

119. Laurel. Laurel crowned victory. Laurel has always been the symbol of the victor.

123. Abide. That is, we both remain with and yet fly from each other, since you, though remaining here, yet go with me, and I, though going hence, still in spirit am here with you.


How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company, 1908.