ACT IV SCENE XIV

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Antony and Cleopatra

 

ACT IV SCENE XIV The same. Another room.
[Enter MARK ANTONY and EROS]
MARK ANTONY Eros, thou yet behold’st me?
EROS Ay, noble lord.
MARK ANTONY Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish;
A vapour sometime like a bear or lion,
A tower’d citadel, a pendent rock, 5
A forked mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon’t, that nod unto the world,
And mock our eyes with air: thou hast seen
these signs;
They are black vesper’s pageants. 10
EROS Ay, my lord,
MARK ANTONY That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct,
As water is in water.
EROS It does, my lord. 15
MARK ANTONY My good knave Eros, now thy captain is
Even such a body: here I am Antony:
Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.
I made these wars for Egypt: and the queen,–
Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine; 20
Which whilst it was mine had annex’d unto’t
A million more, now lost,–she, Eros, has
Pack’d cards with Caesar, and false-play’d my glory
Unto an enemy’s triumph.
Nay, weep not, gentle Eros; there is left us 25
Ourselves to end ourselves.
[Enter MARDIAN]
O! thy vile lady!
She has robb’d me of my sword.
MARDIAN No, Antony;
My mistress loved thee, and her fortunes mingled 30
With thine entirely.
MARK ANTONY Hence, saucy eunuch; peace!
She hath betray’d me and shall die the death.
MARDIAN Death of one person can be paid but once,
And that she has discharged: what thou wouldst do 35
Is done unto thy hand: the last she spake
Was ‘Antony! most noble Antony!’
Then in the midst a tearing groan did break
The name of Antony; it was divided
Between her heart and lips: she render’d life, 40
Thy name so buried in her.
MARK ANTONY Dead, then?
MARDIAN Dead.
MARK ANTONY Unarm, Eros; the long day’s task is done,
And we must sleep. 45
[To MARDIAN]
That thou depart’st hence safe,
Does pay thy labour richly; go.
[Exit MARDIAN]
Off, pluck off:
The seven-fold shield of Ajax cannot keep
The battery from my heart. O, cleave, my sides! 50
Heart, once be stronger than thy continent,
Crack thy frail case! Apace, Eros, apace.
No more a soldier: bruised pieces, go;
You have been nobly borne. From me awhile.
[Exit EROS]
I will o’ertake thee, Cleopatra, and 55
Weep for my pardon. So it must be, for now
All length is torture: since the torch is out,
Lie down, and stray no farther: now all labour
Mars what it does; yea, very force entangles
Itself with strength: seal then, and all is done. 60
Eros!–I come, my queen:–Eros!–Stay for me:
Where souls do couch on flowers, we’ll hand in hand,
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze:
Dido and her AEneas shall want troops,
And all the haunt be ours. Come, Eros, Eros! 65
[Re-enter EROS]
EROS What would my lord?
MARK ANTONY Since Cleopatra died,
I have lived in such dishonour, that the gods
Detest my baseness. I, that with my sword
Quarter’d the world, and o’er green Neptune’s back 70
With ships made cities, condemn myself to lack
The courage of a woman; less noble mind
Than she which by her death our Caesar tells

‘I am conqueror of myself.’ Thou art sworn, Eros,
That, when the exigent should come, which now 75
Is come indeed, when I should see behind me
The inevitable prosecution of
Disgrace and horror, that, on my command,
Thou then wouldst kill me: do’t; the time is come:
Thou strikest not me, ’tis Caesar thou defeat’st. 80
Put colour in thy cheek.
EROS The gods withhold me!
Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts,
Though enemy, lost aim, and could not?
MARK ANTONY Eros, 85
Wouldst thou be window’d in great Rome and see
Thy master thus with pleach’d arms, bending down
His corrigible neck, his face subdued
To penetrative shame, whilst the wheel’d seat
Of fortunate Caesar, drawn before him, branded 90
His baseness that ensued?
EROS I would not see’t.
MARK ANTONY Come, then; for with a wound I must be cured.
Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn
Most useful for thy country. 95
EROS O, sir, pardon me!
MARK ANTONY When I did make thee free, sworest thou not then
To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once;
Or thy precedent services are all
But accidents unpurposed. Draw, and come. 100
EROS Turn from me, then, that noble countenance,
Wherein the worship of the whole world lies.
MARK ANTONY Lo thee!
[Turning from him]
EROS My sword is drawn.
MARK ANTONY Then let it do at once 105
The thing why thou hast drawn it.
EROS My dear master,
My captain, and my emperor, let me say,
Before I strike this bloody stroke, farewell.
MARK ANTONY ‘Tis said, man; and farewell. 110
EROS Farewell, great chief. Shall I strike now?
MARK ANTONY Now, Eros.
EROS Why, there then: thus I do escape the sorrow
Of Antony’s death.
[Kills himself]
MARK ANTONY Thrice-nobler than myself! 115
Thou teachest me, O valiant Eros, what
I should, and thou couldst not. My queen and Eros
Have by their brave instruction got upon me
A nobleness in record: but I will be
A bridegroom in my death, and run into’t 120
As to a lover’s bed. Come, then; and, Eros,
Thy master dies thy scholar: to do thus
[Falling on his sword]
I learn’d of thee. How! not dead? not dead?
The guard, ho! O, dispatch me!
[Enter DERCETAS and Guard]
First Guard What’s the noise? 125
MARK ANTONY I have done my work in, friends: O, make an end
Of what I have begun.
Second Guard The star is fall’n.
First Guard And time is at his period.
All Alas, and woe! 130
MARK ANTONY Let him that loves me strike me dead.
First Guard Not I.
Second Guard Nor I.
Third Guard Nor any one.
[Exeunt Guard]
DERCETAS Thy death and fortunes bid thy followers fly. 135
This sword but shown to Caesar, with this tidings,
Shall enter me with him.
[Enter DIOMEDES]
DIOMEDES Where’s Antony?
DERCETAS There, Diomed there.
DIOMEDES Lives he? 140
Wilt thou not answer, man?
[Exit DERCETAS]
MARK ANTONY Art thou there, Diomed? Draw thy sword, and give me
Sufficing strokes for death.
DIOMEDES Most absolute lord,
My mistress Cleopatra sent me to thee. 145
MARK ANTONY When did she send thee?
DIOMEDES Now, my lord.
MARK ANTONY Where is she?
DIOMEDES Lock’d in her monument. She had a prophesying fear
Of what hath come to pass: for when she saw– 150
Which never shall be found–you did suspect
She had disposed with Caesar, and that your rage
Would not be purged, she sent you word she was dead;
But, fearing since how it might work, hath sent
Me to proclaim the truth; and I am come, 155
I dread, too late.
MARK ANTONY Too late, good Diomed: call my guard, I prithee.
DIOMEDES What, ho, the emperor’s guard! The guard, what, ho!
Come, your lord calls!
[Enter four or five of the Guard of MARK ANTONY]
MARK ANTONY Bear me, good friends, where Cleopatra bides; 160
‘Tis the last service that I shall command you.
First Guard Woe, woe are we, sir, you may not live to wear
All your true followers out.
All Most heavy day!
MARK ANTONY Nay, good my fellows, do not please sharp fate 165
To grace it with your sorrows: bid that welcome
Which comes to punish us, and we punish it
Seeming to bear it lightly. Take me up:
I have led you oft: carry me now, good friends,
And have my thanks for all. 170
[Exeunt, bearing MARK ANTONY]

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 4, Scene 15
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Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 14
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
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2. Dragonish. That is, shaped like a dragon.

10. Vesper’s. Evening’s.

10. Pageants. Spectacles common at public festivals in which events were represented by animals and other scenery of wood.

13. Rack dislimns. The vapor dissolves and floats away.

16. Knave. Boy, fellow; not necessarily in a bad sense.

23. Pack’d cards. To pack cards is to shuffle them unfairly so that the best cards come to the dealer or to his partner.

33. Die the death. That is, the death deserved by traitors. The same expression is used in the New Testament.

40. Render’d. Rendered up, offered up.

50. Battery from my heart. The sevenfold shield of Ajax cannot confine the beatings of my heart.

51. Continent. What contains thee.

57. Length. That is, all lengthening of life.

60. Seal. Complete the work. Sealing a legal document was the final act that completed it.

63. Port. Demeanor.

64. Dido. The Queen of Carthage, who fell in love with Aeneas, a fugitive from Troy, when he landed in her kingdom, and who put an end to her life when he took his departure. Virgil represents her as avoiding Aeneas in Hades.

64. Troops. That is, troops of attendants.

70. Neptune. God of the sea.

72. Less noble mind. That is, I, possessing a less noble mind, etc.

75. Exigent. The moment for immediate action.

67. Prosecution. Used in its literal meaning of “pursuit.”

80. Defeat’st. Disappointed of his prey.

86. Window’d. Stand at a window.

87. Pleach’d. Folded.

88. Corrigible. Submissive.

89. Penetrative. To pain which had pentrated deeply.

91. Ensued. Branded more deeply with disgrace the one who followed.

95. Useful. Here, an adverb.

99. Precedent. Former.

106. Why. For which.

118. Got upon me. Literally, got ahead of me in making a noble record, forestalled me in making a noble ending.

129. Period. End.

137. Enter me. Recommend me to his favor.

143. Sufficing. That is, strokes sufficient to cause death.

151. Found. That is, found to be true.

152. Disposed. Made terms with.

166. To grace. By gracing it.

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