ACT II SCENE VII

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Antony and Cleopatra

 

ACT II SCENE VII On board Pompey’s galley, off Misenum.
[ Music plays. Enter two or three Servants with a banquet ]
First Servant Here they’ll be, man. Some o’ their plants are
ill-rooted already: the least wind i’ the world
will blow them down.
Second Servant Lepidus is high-coloured.
First Servant They have made him drink alms-drink. 5
Second Servant As they pinch one another by the disposition, he
cries out ‘No more;’ reconciles them to his
entreaty, and himself to the drink.
First Servant But it raises the greater war between him and
his discretion. 10
Second Servant Why, this is to have a name in great men’s
fellowship: I had as lief have a reed that will do
me no service as a partisan I could not heave.
First Servant To be called into a huge sphere, and not to be seen
to move in’t, are the holes where eyes should be, 15
which pitifully disaster the cheeks.
[ A sennet sounded. Enter OCTAVIUS CAESAR, MARK ANTONY, LEPIDUS, POMPEY, AGRIPPA, MECAENAS, DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS, MENAS, with other captains ]
MARK ANTONY [To OCTAVIUS CAESAR] Thus do they, sir: they take
the flow o’ the Nile
By certain scales i’ the pyramid; they know,
By the height, the lowness, or the mean, if dearth 20
Or foison follow: the higher Nilus swells,
The more it promises: as it ebbs, the seedsman
Upon the slime and ooze scatters his grain,
And shortly comes to harvest.
LEPIDUS You’ve strange serpents there. 25
MARK ANTONY Ay, Lepidus.
LEPIDUS Your serpent of Egypt is bred now of your mud by the
operation of your sun: so is your crocodile.
MARK ANTONY They are so.
POMPEY Sit,–and some wine! A health to Lepidus! 30
LEPIDUS I am not so well as I should be, but I’ll ne’er out.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Not till you have slept; I fear me you’ll be in till then.
LEPIDUS Nay, certainly, I have heard the Ptolemies’
pyramises are very goodly things; without
contradiction, I have heard that. 35
MENAS [Aside to POMPEY] Pompey, a word.
POMPEY [Aside to MENAS] Say in mine ear:
what is’t?
MENAS [Aside to POMPEY] Forsake thy seat, I do beseech
thee, captain, 40
And hear me speak a word.
POMPEY [Aside to MENAS] Forbear me till anon.
This wine for Lepidus!
LEPIDUS What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?
MARK ANTONY It is shaped, sir, like itself; and it is as broad 45
as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it is,
and moves with its own organs: it lives by that
which nourisheth it; and the elements once out of
it, it transmigrates.
LEPIDUS What colour is it of? 50
MARK ANTONY Of it own colour too.
LEPIDUS ‘Tis a strange serpent.
MARK ANTONY ‘Tis so. And the tears of it are wet.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Will this description satisfy him?
MARK ANTONY With the health that Pompey gives him, else he is a 55
very epicure.
POMPEY [Aside to MENAS] Go hang, sir, hang! Tell me of
that? away!
Do as I bid you. Where’s this cup I call’d for?
MENAS [Aside to POMPEY] If for the sake of merit thou 60
wilt hear me,
Rise from thy stool.
POMPEY [Aside to MENAS] I think thou’rt mad.
The matter?
[Rises, and walks aside]
MENAS I have ever held my cap off to thy fortunes. 65
POMPEY Thou hast served me with much faith. What’s else to say?
Be jolly, lords.
MARK ANTONY These quick-sands, Lepidus,
Keep off them, for you sink.
MENAS Wilt thou be lord of all the world? 70
POMPEY What say’st thou?
MENAS Wilt thou be lord of the whole world? That’s twice.
POMPEY How should that be?
MENAS But entertain it,
And, though thou think me poor, I am the man 75
Will give thee all the world.
POMPEY Hast thou drunk well?
MENAS Now, Pompey, I have kept me from the cup.
Thou art, if thou darest be, the earthly Jove:
Whate’er the ocean pales, or sky inclips, 80
Is thine, if thou wilt ha’t.
POMPEY Show me which way.
MENAS These three world-sharers, these competitors,
Are in thy vessel: let me cut the cable;
And, when we are put off, fall to their throats: 85
All there is thine.
POMPEY Ah, this thou shouldst have done,
And not have spoke on’t! In me ’tis villany;
In thee’t had been good service. Thou must know,
‘Tis not my profit that does lead mine honour; 90
Mine honour, it. Repent that e’er thy tongue
Hath so betray’d thine act: being done unknown,
I should have found it afterwards well done;
But must condemn it now. Desist, and drink.
MENAS [Aside] For this, 95
I’ll never follow thy pall’d fortunes more.
Who seeks, and will not take when once ’tis offer’d,
Shall never find it more.
POMPEY This health to Lepidus!
MARK ANTONY Bear him ashore. I’ll pledge it for him, Pompey. 100
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Here’s to thee, Menas!
MENAS Enobarbus, welcome!
POMPEY Fill till the cup be hid.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS There’s a strong fellow, Menas.
[Pointing to the Attendant who carries off LEPIDUS]
MENAS Why? 105
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS A’ bears the third part of the world, man; see’st
not?
MENAS The third part, then, is drunk: would it were all,
That it might go on wheels!
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Drink thou; increase the reels. 110
MENAS Come.
POMPEY This is not yet an Alexandrian feast.
MARK ANTONY It ripens towards it. Strike the vessels, ho?
Here is to Caesar!
OCTAVIUS CAESAR I could well forbear’t. 115
It’s monstrous labour, when I wash my brain,
And it grows fouler.
MARK ANTONY Be a child o’ the time.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Possess it, I’ll make answer:
But I had rather fast from all four days 120
Than drink so much in one.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Ha, my brave emperor!
[To MARK ANTONY]
Shall we dance now the Egyptian Bacchanals,
And celebrate our drink?
POMPEY Let’s ha’t, good soldier. 125
MARK ANTONY Come, let’s all take hands,
Till that the conquering wine hath steep’d our sense
In soft and delicate Lethe.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS All take hands.
Make battery to our ears with the loud music: 130
The while I’ll place you: then the boy shall sing;
The holding every man shall bear as loud
As his strong sides can volley.
[ Music plays. DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS places them hand in hand ]
THE SONG.
Come, thou monarch of the vine,
Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne! 135
In thy fats our cares be drown’d,
With thy grapes our hairs be crown’d:
Cup us, till the world go round,
Cup us, till the world go round!
OCTAVIUS CAESAR What would you more? Pompey, good night. Good brother, 140
Let me request you off: our graver business
Frowns at this levity. Gentle lords, let’s part;
You see we have burnt our cheeks: strong Enobarb
Is weaker than the wine; and mine own tongue
Splits what it speaks: the wild disguise hath almost 145
Antick’d us all. What needs more words? Good night.
Good Antony, your hand.
POMPEY I’ll try you on the shore.
MARK ANTONY And shall, sir; give’s your hand.
POMPEY O Antony, 150
You have my father’s house,–But, what? we are friends.
Come, down into the boat.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Take heed you fall not.
[Exeunt all but DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS and MENAS]
Menas, I’ll not on shore.
MENAS No, to my cabin. 155
These drums! these trumpets, flutes! what!
Let Neptune hear we bid a loud farewell
To these great fellows: sound and be hang’d, sound out!
[Sound a flourish, with drums]
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS Ho! says a’ There’s my cap.
MENAS Ho! Noble captain, come. 160
[Exeunt]

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene 1
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Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 7
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
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Banquet. This word generally means the dessert.

1. Plants. A play on words, as plants also means the soles of the feet.

5. Alms’ drink. The leavings, liquor that one drinks to accommodate a companion.

6. Disposition. That is, banter one another.

13. Partisan. A kind of halberd or battle axe.

14. Huge sphere. The comparison is expressed elliptically. The meaning is, for a man such as Lepidus to be called to a high position, and remain a mere nonentity in it, is to be no better than are empty sockets where eyes should be, which only disfigure the face.

Sennet. A series of notes sounded on the trumpet or cornet.

19. Scales. That is, they measure the rise of the Nile by marks made on the pyramid for that purpose.

20. Mean. That is, the average height, neither very high nor very low.

21. Foison. Plenty.

24. Shortly comes. That is, is soon rewarded by a harvest without any further trouble on his part.

28. Your. A colloquial use of the pronoun, not indicat- ing, of course, actual possession.

31. Out. Never refuse to drink a toast.

32. In. That is, in a state of drunkenness; a play on the word “out.”

34. Pyramises. This form of the plural is of Shakespeare’s own coining, although the singular, pyramis — the Greek form for pyramid — was in common use. Shakespeare probably uses it here to show that Lepidus was already fast getting “in.”

42. Anon. For a few moments.

47. It own. It was an old provincial genitive, usually used with own.

48. Elements. Principles of life.

49. Transmigrates. The ancients beheved that the spirit, on leaving the body, passed into some other body to live again.

56. Epicure. A skillful judge of physical delights.

60. Merit. That is, out of regard for my merit.

65. Cap off. That is, I have ever been your faithful follower.

79. Jove. That is, ruler of the world, as Jove is ruler of the heavens.

80. Pales. Encloses, bounds.

80. Inclips. Embraces.

83. Competitors. Associates.

86. There. This has been variously explained; some change it to then or theirs, some think it means “by that act,” and some simply, “All there is in the vessel is thine.”

90. Mine honor. Mine honor leads it.

96. Pall’d. Waning, declining.

97. Seeks. Compare the proverb, “He who will not when he may, when he will, he shall have nay.”

106. A’. He.

109. Wheels. “The World Goes Upon Wheels” was the title of a pamphlet written by Taylor, a poet of the period.

110. Reels. That is, help to make the world go round faster.

112. Alexandrian. It cannot compare with Cleopatra’s feasts at Alexandria.

113. Strike the vessels. Open fresh casks of wine.

115. Forbear’t Desist.

119. Possess. That is, master the times rather than be guided by them.

120. From. That is, from drinking.

123. Bacchanals. Dances performed in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine; wild orgies.

132. Holding. The burden or refrain of a song.

132. Bear. Shout the refrain.

135. Pink eyneEyne is the old plural of “eye.” Pink probably means small or half-closed eyes.

136. Fats. A dialect form of “vats.”

141. Off. To be off, to leave the vessel.

143. Burnt. Flushed them with wine.

146. Antick’d. This motley dress of drunkenness has made buffoons, or fools, of us.

Try. That is, test your friendship.

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