ACT II SCENE I

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Antony and Cleopatra

 

ACT II SCENE I Messina. Pompey’s house.
[ Enter POMPEY, MENECRATES, and MENAS, in warlike manner ]
POMPEY If the great gods be just, they shall assist
The deeds of justest men.
MENECRATES Know, worthy Pompey,
That what they do delay, they not deny.
POMPEY Whiles we are suitors to their throne, decays 5
The thing we sue for.
MENECRATES We, ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers
Deny us for our good; so find we profit
By losing of our prayers. 10
POMPEY I shall do well:
The people love me, and the sea is mine;
My powers are crescent, and my auguring hope
Says it will come to the full. Mark Antony
In Egypt sits at dinner, and will make 15
No wars without doors: Caesar gets money where
He loses hearts: Lepidus flatters both,
Of both is flatter’d; but he neither loves,
Nor either cares for him.
MENAS Caesar and Lepidus 20
Are in the field: a mighty strength they carry.
POMPEY Where have you this? ’tis false.
MENAS From Silvius, sir.
POMPEY He dreams: I know they are in Rome together,
Looking for Antony. But all the charms of love, 25
Salt Cleopatra, soften thy waned lip!
Let witchcraft join with beauty, lust with both!
Tie up the libertine in a field of feasts,
Keep his brain fuming; Epicurean cooks
Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite; 30
That sleep and feeding may prorogue his honour
Even till a Lethe’d dulness!
[Enter VARRIUS]
How now, Varrius!
VARRIUS This is most certain that I shall deliver:
Mark Antony is every hour in Rome 35
Expected: since he went from Egypt ’tis
A space for further travel.
POMPEY I could have given less matter
A better ear. Menas, I did not think
This amorous surfeiter would have donn’d his helm 40
For such a petty war: his soldiership
Is twice the other twain: but let us rear
The higher our opinion, that our stirring
Can from the lap of Egypt’s widow pluck
The ne’er-lust-wearied Antony. 45
MENAS I cannot hope
Caesar and Antony shall well greet together:
His wife that’s dead did trespasses to Caesar;
His brother warr’d upon him; although, I think,
Not moved by Antony. 50
POMPEY I know not, Menas,
How lesser enmities may give way to greater.
Were’t not that we stand up against them all,
‘Twere pregnant they should square between
themselves; 55
For they have entertained cause enough
To draw their swords: but how the fear of us
May cement their divisions and bind up
The petty difference, we yet not know.
Be’t as our gods will have’t! It only stands 60
Our lives upon to use our strongest hands.
Come, Menas.
[Exeunt]

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 2
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Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
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1. Shall. Will, can not but assist.

4. Not deny. Do not necessarily deny.

5. Whiles. While; that is, while we are praying, the thing for which we are praying is losing in value through delay.

8. Harms. For things that would harm us.

10. Of. We should say by “the losing of.”

13. Crescent. Waxing greater.

13. Auguring. Prophetic.

22. Have. Where did you learn this?

26. Salt. Wanton.

26. Waned. Faded in beauty.

29. Epicurean. Accented on the antipenult. Epicurus was a philosopher who taught that the pursuit of pleasure was the highest good in life. He meant, however, mental rather than physical pleasures.

30. Cloyless. That is, not cloying; that sharpen rather than satisfy the appetite.

31. Prorogue. Keep his honor languishing, prevent it from asserting itself.

32. Lethe’d. Lethe was a river of Hades whose waters brought forgetfulness to everyone who drank of them.

37. Space. It is time enough even for a longer journey than that from Egypt to Rome.

40. Helm. Helmet.

44. Widow. Young Ptolemy, to whom Caesar had married Cleopatra, had been drowned.

46. Hope. Expect.

47. Well greet. Greet on good terms.

48. Trespasses. Committed offenses.

54. Pregnant. Likely, probable.

54. Square. Quarrel.

59. Yet not. Do not yet.

61. Our lives upon. It is necessary if we value our lives.

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