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Antony and Cleopatra


ACT II SCENE III The same. Octavius Caesar’s house
[ Enter MARK ANTONY, OCTAVIUS CAESAR, OCTAVIA between them, and Attendants ]
MARK ANTONY The world and my great office will sometimes
Divide me from your bosom.
OCTAVIA All which time
Before the gods my knee shall bow my prayers
To them for you. 5
MARK ANTONY Good night, sir. My Octavia,
Read not my blemishes in the world’s report:
I have not kept my square; but that to come
Shall all be done by the rule. Good night, dear lady.
Good night, sir. 10
[Enter Soothsayer]
MARK ANTONY Now, sirrah; you do wish yourself in Egypt?
Soothsayer Would I had never come from thence, nor you Thither!
MARK ANTONY If you can, your reason?
Soothsayer I see it in 15
My motion, have it not in my tongue: but yet
Hie you to Egypt again.
MARK ANTONY Say to me,
Whose fortunes shall rise higher, Caesar’s or mine?
Soothsayer Caesar’s. 20
Therefore, O Antony, stay not by his side:
Thy demon, that’s thy spirit which keeps thee, is
Noble, courageous high, unmatchable,
Where Caesar’s is not; but, near him, thy angel
Becomes a fear, as being o’erpower’d: therefore 25
Make space enough between you.
MARK ANTONY Speak this no more.
Soothsayer To none but thee; no more, but when to thee.
If thou dost play with him at any game,
Thou art sure to lose; and, of that natural luck, 30
He beats thee ‘gainst the odds: thy lustre thickens,
When he shines by: I say again, thy spirit
Is all afraid to govern thee near him;
But, he away, ’tis noble.
MARK ANTONY Get thee gone: 35
Say to Ventidius I would speak with him:
[Exit Soothsayer]
He shall to Parthia. Be it art or hap,
He hath spoken true: the very dice obey him;
And in our sports my better cunning faints
Under his chance: if we draw lots, he speeds; 40
His cocks do win the battle still of mine,
When it is all to nought; and his quails ever
Beat mine, inhoop’d, at odds. I will to Egypt:
And though I make this marriage for my peace,
I’ the east my pleasure lies. 45
O, come, Ventidius,
You must to Parthia: your commission’s ready;
Follow me, and receive’t.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 4

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

1. Office. Affairs of state.

8. Square. That is, I have not squared or ordered my conduct well.

12. Sirrah. Sir. This word is generally addressed to inferiors.

16. Motion. Mind, mental vision.

22. Demon. Familiar spirit, the spirit that watches over a man.

25. Fear. Becomes the very personification of fear; is utterly afraid.

31. Gainst the odds. In spite of the odds being in your favor.

31. Thickens. Grows dull.

37. Parthia. A province in western Asia.

37. Hap. Chance.

38. Dice. Even when he throws dice, he turns up the lucky numbers.

39. Cunning. Skill.

40. Chance. Good luck.

40. Speeds. Is successful.

41. Cocks. Cock fights were popular sports in England.

41. Still. Always.

42. Nought. Even when the odds are as much in my favor as everything to nothing.

42. Quails. These birds were often used in place of cocks as fighters.

43. Inhoop’d. The birds were confined within a hoop to keep them fighting.

43. At odds. Though the odds were in my favor.


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