ACT II SCENE II

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Antony and Cleopatra

 

ACT II SCENE II Rome. The house of Lepidus
[Enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS and LEPIDUS]
LEPIDUS Good Enobarbus, ’tis a worthy deed,
And shall become you well, to entreat your captain
To soft and gentle speech.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS I shall entreat him
To answer like himself: if Caesar move him, 5
Let Antony look over Caesar’s head
And speak as loud as Mars. By Jupiter,
Were I the wearer of Antonius’ beard,
I would not shave’t to-day.
LEPIDUS ‘Tis not a time 10
For private stomaching.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Every time
Serves for the matter that is then born in’t.
LEPIDUS But small to greater matters must give way.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Not if the small come first. 15
LEPIDUS Your speech is passion:
But, pray you, stir no embers up. Here comes
The noble Antony.
[Enter MARK ANTONY and VENTIDIUS]
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS And yonder, Caesar.
[Enter OCTAVIUS CAESAR, MECAENAS, and AGRIPPA]
MARK ANTONY If we compose well here, to Parthia: 20
Hark, Ventidius.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR I do not know,
Mecaenas; ask Agrippa.
LEPIDUS Noble friends,
That which combined us was most great, and let not 25
A leaner action rend us. What’s amiss,
May it be gently heard: when we debate
Our trivial difference loud, we do commit
Murder in healing wounds: then, noble partners,
The rather, for I earnestly beseech, 30
Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,
Nor curstness grow to the matter.
MARK ANTONY ‘Tis spoken well.
Were we before our armies, and to fight.
I should do thus. 35
[Flourish]
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Welcome to Rome.
MARK ANTONY Thank you.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Sit.
MARK ANTONY Sit, sir.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Nay, then. 40
MARK ANTONY I learn, you take things ill which are not so,
Or being, concern you not.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR I must be laugh’d at,
If, or for nothing or a little, I
Should say myself offended, and with you 45
Chiefly i’ the world; more laugh’d at, that I should
Once name you derogately, when to sound your name
It not concern’d me.
MARK ANTONY My being in Egypt, Caesar,
What was’t to you? 50
OCTAVIUS CAESAR 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.
MARK ANTONY How intend you, practised? 55
OCTAVIUS CAESAR You may be pleased to catch at mine intent
By what did here befal me. Your wife and brother
Made wars upon me; and their contestation
Was theme for you, you were the word of war.
MARK ANTONY You do mistake your business; my brother never 60
Did urge me in his act: I did inquire it;
And have my learning from some true reports,
That drew their swords with you. Did he not rather
Discredit my authority with yours;
And make the wars alike against my stomach, 65
Having alike your cause? Of this my letters
Before did satisfy you. If you’ll patch a quarrel,
As matter whole you have not to make it with,
It must not be with this.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR You praise yourself 70
By laying defects of judgment to me; but
You patch’d up your excuses.
MARK ANTONY Not so, not so;
I know you could not lack, I am certain on’t,
Very necessity of this thought, that I, 75
Your 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’ the world is yours; which with a snaffle 80
You may pace easy, but not such a wife.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Would we had all such wives, that the men might go
to wars with the women!
MARK ANTONY So much uncurbable, her garboils, Caesar
Made out of her impatience, which not wanted 85
Shrewdness of policy too, I grieving grant
Did you too much disquiet: for that you must
But say, I could not help it.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR I wrote to you
When rioting in Alexandria; you 90
Did pocket up my letters, and with taunts
Did gibe my missive out of audience.
MARK ANTONY Sir,
He fell upon me ere admitted: then
Three kings I had newly feasted, and did want 95
Of what I was i’ the morning: but next day
I told him of myself; which was as much
As to have ask’d him pardon. Let this fellow
Be nothing of our strife; if we contend,
Out of our question wipe him. 100
OCTAVIUS CAESAR You have broken
The article of your oath; which you shall never
Have tongue to charge me with.
LEPIDUS Soft, Caesar!
MARK ANTONY No, 105
Lepidus, let him speak:
The honour is sacred which he talks on now,
Supposing that I lack’d it. But, on, Caesar;
The article of my oath.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR To lend me arms and aid when I required them; 110
The which you both denied.
MARK ANTONY Neglected, rather;
And then when poison’d hours had bound me up
From mine own knowledge. As nearly as I may,
I’ll play the penitent to you: but mine honesty 115
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
So far ask pardon as befits mine honour 120
To stoop in such a case.
LEPIDUS ‘Tis noble spoken.
MECAENAS If it might please you, to enforce no further
The griefs between ye: to forget them quite
Were to remember that the present need 125
Speaks to atone you.
LEPIDUS Worthily spoken, Mecaenas.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Or, if you borrow one another’s love for the
instant, you may, when you hear no more words of
Pompey, return it again: you shall have time to 130
wrangle in when you have nothing else to do.
MARK ANTONY Thou art a soldier only: speak no more.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
MARK ANTONY You wrong this presence; therefore speak no more.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Go to, then; your considerate stone. 135
OCTAVIUS CAESAR I do not much dislike the matter, but
The manner of his speech; for’t cannot be
We shall remain in friendship, our conditions
So differing in their acts. Yet if I knew
What hoop should hold us stanch, from edge to edge 140
O’ the world I would pursue it.
AGRIPPA Give me leave, Caesar,–
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Speak, Agrippa.
AGRIPPA Thou hast a sister by the mother’s side,
Admired Octavia: great Mark Antony 145
Is now a widower.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Say not so, Agrippa:
If Cleopatra heard you, your reproof
Were well deserved of rashness.
MARK ANTONY I am not married, Caesar: let me hear 150
Agrippa further speak.
AGRIPPA To hold you in perpetual amity,
To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
With an unslipping knot, take Antony
Octavia to his wife; whose beauty claims 155
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,
And all great fears, which now import their dangers, 160
Would then be nothing: truths would be tales,
Where now half tales be truths: her love to both
Would, each to other and all loves to both,
Draw after her. Pardon what I have spoke;
For ’tis a studied, not a present thought, 165
By duty ruminated.
MARK ANTONY Will Caesar speak?
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Not till he hears how Antony is touch’d
With what is spoke already.
MARK ANTONY What power is in Agrippa, 170
If I would say, ‘Agrippa, be it so,’
To make this good?
OCTAVIUS CAESAR The power of Caesar, and
His power unto Octavia.
MARK ANTONY May I never 175
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
And sway our great designs! 180
OCTAVIUS CAESAR There is my hand.
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
Fly off our loves again! 185
LEPIDUS Happily, amen!
MARK ANTONY 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,
Lest my remembrance suffer ill report; 190
At heel of that, defy him.
LEPIDUS Time calls upon’s:
Of us must Pompey presently be sought,
Or else he seeks out us.
MARK ANTONY Where lies he? 195
OCTAVIUS CAESAR About the mount Misenum.
MARK ANTONY What is his strength by land?
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Great and increasing: but by sea
He is an absolute master.
MARK ANTONY So is the fame. 200
Would we had spoke together! Haste we for it:
Yet, ere we put ourselves in arms, dispatch we
The business we have talk’d of.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR With most gladness:
And do invite you to my sister’s view, 205
Whither straight I’ll lead you.
MARK ANTONY Let us, Lepidus,
Not lack your company.
LEPIDUS Noble Antony,
Not sickness should detain me. 210
[ Flourish. Exeunt OCTAVIUS CAESAR, MARK ANTONY, and LEPIDUS ]
MECAENAS Welcome from Egypt, sir.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Half the heart of Caesar, worthy Mecaenas! My
honourable friend, Agrippa!
AGRIPPA Good Enobarbus!
MECAENAS We have cause to be glad that matters are so well 215
digested. You stayed well by ‘t in Egypt.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance, and
made the night light with drinking.
MECAENAS Eight wild-boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and
but twelve persons there; is this true? 220
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more
monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.
MECAENAS She’s a most triumphant lady, if report be square to
her.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up 225
his heart, upon the river of Cydnus.
AGRIPPA There she appeared indeed; or my reporter devised
well for her.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS I will tell you.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne, 230
Burn’d on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The 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, 235
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar’d 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 240
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour’d fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.
AGRIPPA O, rare for Antony! 245
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides,
So many mermaids, tended her i’ the 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, 250
That yarely frame the office. From the barge
A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her; and Antony,
Enthroned i’ the market-place, did sit alone, 255
Whistling to the air; which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in nature.
AGRIPPA Rare Egyptian!
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Upon her landing, Antony sent to her, 260
Invited her to supper: she replied,
It should be better he became her guest;
Which she entreated: our courteous Antony,
Whom ne’er the word of ‘No’ woman heard speak,
Being barber’d ten times o’er, goes to the feast, 265
And for his ordinary pays his heart
For what his eyes eat only.
AGRIPPA Royal wench!
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed:
He plough’d her, and she cropp’d. 270
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS I saw her once
Hop 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. 275
MECAENAS Now Antony must leave her utterly.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS 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 280
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her: that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.
MECAENAS If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle
The heart of Antony, Octavia is 285
A blessed lottery to him.
AGRIPPA Let us go.
Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest
Whilst you abide here.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Humbly, sir, I thank you. 290
[Exeunt]

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 3
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Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 2
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
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7. Mars. The god of war.

9. Shave’t. I would not show him even so small a mark of respect.

11. Stomaching. Resentment, quarreling.

20. Compose. Agree well together, come to terms.

20. Parthia. We will set out for Parthia.

22. I do not know. Said in answer to some question without the scenes.

25. Combined. United.

26. Leaner. Lesser, more trivial.

28. Loud. In angry words.

30. Rather. All the more because.

32. Curstness. Do not let anger make our differences greater.

34. To fight. About to fight.

47. Derogately. In disparaging terms.

48. It. Did.

53. Practise. Plotted against me.

54. Question. That is, a question that concerned me.

56. Intend. What do you mean by “practiced”?

58. Contestation. Quarrel.

59. Theme. Had you for its theme or cause.

59. Word. Watchword of the war.

60. Business. Misunderstood the matter.

61. Urge me. Urge my name as a pretext for making war.

61. Inquire. Make inquiries about it.

62. Reports. Reporters, people who supported you.

64. Discredit. Throw discredit over me as well as you.

65. Stomach. Desire.

66. Alike. Since I am engaged in the same cause with yourself.

67. Patch. If you insist upon patching up a quarrel with me out of mere trivialities, for you have no real cause, you must find some better ground than this.

72. Patch’d. You had just as little real ground for your excuses.

74. Lack. I know you could not help thinking.

77. Graceful eyes. Look favorably upon.

78. Fronted. Opposed.

80. Snaffle. Light rein.

81. Pace. Teach to go lightly.

81. Wife. That is, if you were married to a woman of such spirit you would find that, although you may easily govern a third of the world, you cannot govern her.

84. Uncurbable. Ungovernable as she was, her commotions, etc.

87. Did you. Gave you too much reason for disquiet.

87. For that. As for all that.

92. Gibe. Drive out with gibes.

92. Missive. The bearer of my missive.

95. Want. Was not myself.

97. Myself. What my condition had been.

100. Question. Let us put him out of the question.

102. Article. The promise, that to which you swore.

107. Sacred. My honor, about which he is now speaking, is a sacred matter; let him say all that he has to say, therefore, that I may vindicate it.

113. Poison’d. Tainted with slothfulness and pleasure.

117. It. That is, my honesty.

122. Noble. Nobly.

123. Enforce. Lay stress upon, urge.

124. Griefs. Grievances.

126. Atone. Reconcile, make friends.

129. Instant. Time being.

135. Stone. That is, I will be as silent as a stone; I am discretion itself.

138. Conditions. Dispositions, temperaments.

140. Hoop. Bond would hold us in friendship.

149. Rashness. That is, your rashness would deserve reproof.

154. Unslipping. A slip knot is one that will come untied if one of its ends is pulled.

155. To. For.

157. General. All her various virtues.

160. Import. Carry with them dangers.

161. Tales. Only idle reports.

165. Studied. One that has been duly pondered.

165. Present. Uttered on the spur of the moment.

166. Ruminated. One which my sense of duty has made me carefully consider.

174. Unto. Over.

176. Fairly. Shows so fair, plausible.

178. Further. Help on.

185. Fly off. May our affections never become estranged again.

189. Only. I must just thank him, lest I seem forgetful of his courtesies.

191. Calls. Presses.

193. Of. By.

196. Misenum. A promontory in the province of Campania where there was an excellent harbor.

200. Fame. Report.

204. Most. The utmost.

205. View. To come to see my sister.

216. Digested. Settled.

216. Well by’t. Had a capital time.

219. Wild-boars. Plutarch says: “When he (Philotus) was in the kitchen and saw . . . eight wild boars roasted whole, he began to wonder at it, and said: ‘Sure you have a great number of guests to supper.’ . . . ‘No,’ quoth he (the cook), ‘not many guests, not above twelve in all.'”

221. By. In comparison with.

223. Square. Do her justice.

225. Pursed. Took it captive.

226. Cydnus. A river flowing through the city of Tarsus. “Upon” means “on the banks of.”

227. Reporter. Informant made up the story.

230. The barge, etc. This follows Plutarch’s description.

231. Poop. Stem.

238. Of tissue. Probably cloth of gold on a ground-work of tissue.

239. O’er-picturing. Outdoing that picture of Venus. According to Warburton, this was the Venus of Protogenes, a celebrated Greek painter, mentioned by the Latin poet, Pliny.

240. Outwork. Where the fancy of the artist exceeds the beauty of nature.

241. Cupids. Cupid was god of love.

244. Undid did. That is, made the cheeks glow whose warmth they were intended to cool.

246. Nereides. Mermaids, the fifty daughters of Nereus.

247. i’ the eyes. Waited upon her, observant of her every look.

248. Bends adornings. Pages of commentary have been written on this passage, but the simplest explanation seems the best. Their very acts of observance in waiting upon her were so graceful as to add a fresh charrn to their beauty.

251. Yarely. Deftly, nimbly.

251. Office. Perform the duty.

253. Wharfs. Banks.

254. Upon. Rushed forth to greet her.

256. Vacancy. An allusion to the doctrine then in vogue, that nature abhors a vacuum.

262. Should. Would.

265. barber’d. A sign of great respect.

266. Ordinary. Meal.

268. Wench. Girl, not necessarily in a bad sense.

274. Defect perfection. That is, her breathlessness only made her seem more lovely.

278. Stale. Render stale, destroy the charm.

282. Becomes. Seem becoming.

282. That. So that.

283. Riggish. Wanton. Rig means a frolic.

284. Settle. Content.

286. Lottery. Prize.

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