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Antony and Cleopatra


ACT V SCENE I Alexandria. Octavius Caesar’s camp.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Go to him, Dolabella, bid him yield;
Being so frustrate, tell him he mocks
The pauses that he makes.
DOLABELLA Caesar, I shall.
[Enter DERCETAS, with the sword of MARK ANTONY]
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Wherefore is that? and what art thou that darest 5
Appear thus to us?
DERCETAS I am call’d Dercetas;
Mark Antony I served, who best was worthy
Best to be served: whilst he stood up and spoke,
He was my master; and I wore my life 10
To spend upon his haters. If thou please
To take me to thee, as I was to him
I’ll be to Caesar; if thou pleasest not,
I yield thee up my life.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR What is’t thou say’st? 15
DERCETAS I say, O Caesar, Antony is dead.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR The breaking of so great a thing should make
A greater crack: the round world
Should have shook lions into civil streets,
And citizens to their dens: the death of Antony 20
Is not a single doom; in the name lay
A moiety of the world.
DERCETAS He is dead, Caesar:
Not by a public minister of justice,
Nor by a hired knife; but that self hand, 25
Which writ his honour in the acts it did,
Hath, with the courage which the heart did lend it,
Splitted the heart. This is his sword;
I robb’d his wound of it; behold it stain’d
With his most noble blood. 30
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Look you sad, friends?
The gods rebuke me, but it is tidings
To wash the eyes of kings.
AGRIPPA And strange it is,
That nature must compel us to lament 35
Our most persisted deeds.
MECAENAS His taints and honours
Waged equal with him.
AGRIPPA A rarer spirit never
Did steer humanity: but you, gods, will give us 40
Some faults to make us men. Caesar is touch’d.
MECAENAS When such a spacious mirror’s set before him,
He needs must see himself.
I have follow’d thee to this; but we do lance 45
Diseases in our bodies: I must perforce
Have shown to thee such a declining day,
Or look on thine; we could not stall together

In the whole world: but yet let me lament,
With tears as sovereign as the blood of hearts, 50
That thou, my brother, my competitor
In top of all design, my mate in empire,
Friend and companion in the front of war,
The arm of mine own body, and the heart
Where mine his thoughts did kindle,–that our stars, 55
Unreconciliable, should divide
Our equalness to this. Hear me, good friends–
But I will tell you at some meeter season:
[Enter an Egyptian]
The business of this man looks out of him;
We’ll hear him what he says. Whence are you? 60
Egyptian A poor Egyptian yet. The queen my mistress,
Confined in all she has, her monument,
Of thy intents desires instruction,
That she preparedly may frame herself
To the way she’s forced to. 65
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Bid her have good heart:
She soon shall know of us, by some of ours,
How honourable and how kindly we
Determine for her; for Caesar cannot live
To be ungentle. 70
Egyptian So the gods preserve thee!
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Come hither, Proculeius. Go and say,
We purpose her no shame: give her what comforts
The quality of her passion shall require,
Lest, in her greatness, by some mortal stroke 75
She do defeat us; for her life in Rome
Would be eternal in our triumph: go,
And with your speediest bring us what she says,
And how you find of her.
PROCULEIUS Caesar, I shall. 80
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Gallus, go you along.
Where’s Dolabella,
To second Proculeius?
All Dolabella!
OCTAVIUS CAESAR Let him alone, for I remember now 85
How he’s employ’d: he shall in time be ready.
Go with me to my tent; where you shall see
How hardly I was drawn into this war;
How calm and gentle I proceeded still
In all my writings: go with me, and see 90
What I can show in this.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 2

Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 1
From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

2. Frustrate. Frustrated, worsted.

3. Pauses. His hesitation is a mere farce.

6. Thus. With Antony’s drawn and bloody sword.

19. Civil. That is, so great a shock should have rent the world and shaken lions out of their dens into the streets of the town.

21. Single. Not the doom of Antony only.

22. Moiety. Half.

25. Self. That is, self same.

32. But it is. That is, if this news be not.

36. Persisted. Those deeds which we have persisted most to do.

38. Waged. That is, his good and bad qualities were equally balanced, like the stakes in a wager.

40. Steer. Control a human being.

46. Perforce. Necessarily.

48. Stall. Dwell side by side.

52. In top of all design. That is, my rival in loftiness of purpose and endeavor.

55. His. Its. That is, Caesar’s heart.

57. Equalness. That is, should cause us, who started out equal in fortune, to come to such different ends.

58. Meeter. More fitting.

59. Looks out of him. That is, shows in his looks.

61. Yet. The force of this word is a matter of conjecture. Probably the meaning is “Still an Egyptian, even though conquered by Rome.”

69. Live. That is, however long he lives, he cannot be ungentle.

77. Eternal. That is, to have her alive in Rome would be an eternal triumph.

88. Hardly. Reluctantly, only on the greatest provocation.

90. Writings. That is, letters.


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