Antony and Cleopatra - William Shakespeare - ebook
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Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623.The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Markus Antonius and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra's suicide. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumvirs and the future first emperor of Rome. The tragedy is a Roman play characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome. Many consider the role of Cleopatra in this play one of the most complex female roles in Shakespeare's work. She is frequently vain and histrionic, provoking an audience almost to scorn; at the same time, Shakespeare's efforts invest both her and Antony with tragic grandeur. These contradictory features have led to famously divided critical responses.

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Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

Published: 1623Categorie(s): Fiction, Drama, Tragedy
About Shakespeare:

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623 two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world. 

Act I

SCENE I. Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA's palace.

Enter DEMETRIUS and PHILO

PHILO

Nay, but this dotage of our general's O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes, That o'er the files and musters of the war Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn, The office and devotion of their view Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper, And is become the bellows and the fan To cool a gipsy's lust.

Flourish. Enter ANTONY, CLEOPATRA, her Ladies, the Train, with Eunuchs fanning her

Look, where they come: Take but good note, and you shall see in him. The triple pillar of the world transform'd Into a strumpet's fool: behold and see.

CLEOPATRA

If it be love indeed, tell me how much.

MARK ANTONY

There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.

CLEOPATRA

I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

MARK ANTONY

Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

Enter an Attendant

Attendant

News, my good lord, from Rome.

MARK ANTONY

Grates me: the sum.

CLEOPATRA

Nay, hear them, Antony: Fulvia perchance is angry; or, who knows If the scarce-bearded Caesar have not sent His powerful mandate to you, 'Do this, or this; Take in that kingdom, and enfranchise that; Perform 't, or else we damn thee.'

MARK ANTONY

How, my love!

CLEOPATRA

Perchance! nay, and most like: You must not stay here longer, your dismission Is come from Caesar; therefore hear it, Antony. Where's Fulvia's process? Caesar's I would say? both? Call in the messengers. As I am Egypt's queen, Thou blushest, Antony; and that blood of thine Is Caesar's homager: else so thy cheek pays shame When shrill-tongued Fulvia scolds. The messengers!

MARK ANTONY

Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space. Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike Feeds beast as man: the nobleness of life Is to do thus; when such a mutual pair

Embracing

And such a twain can do't, in which I bind, On pain of punishment, the world to weet We stand up peerless.

CLEOPATRA

Excellent falsehood! Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her? I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony Will be himself.

MARK ANTONY

But stirr'd by Cleopatra. Now, for the love of Love and her soft hours, Let's not confound the time with conference harsh: There's not a minute of our lives should stretch Without some pleasure now. What sport tonight?

CLEOPATRA

Hear the ambassadors.

MARK ANTONY

Fie, wrangling queen! Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh, To weep; whose every passion fully strives To make itself, in thee, fair and admired! No messenger, but thine; and all alone To-night we'll wander through the streets and note The qualities of people. Come, my queen; Last night you did desire it: speak not to us.

Exeunt MARK ANTONY and CLEOPATRA with their train

DEMETRIUS

Is Caesar with Antonius prized so slight?

PHILO

Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.

DEMETRIUS

I am full sorry That he approves the common liar, who Thus speaks of him at Rome: but I will hope Of better deeds to-morrow. Rest you happy!

Exeunt

SCENE II. The same. Another room.

Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer

CHARMIAN

Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas, almost most absolute Alexas, where's the soothsayer that you praised so to the queen? O, that I knew this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns with garlands!

ALEXAS

Soothsayer!

Soothsayer

Your will?

CHARMIAN

Is this the man? Is't you, sir, that know things?

Soothsayer

In nature's infinite book of secrecy A little I can read.

ALEXAS

Show him your hand.

Enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough Cleopatra's health to drink.

CHARMIAN

Good sir, give me good fortune.

Soothsayer

I make not, but foresee.

CHARMIAN

Pray, then, foresee me one.

Soothsayer

You shall be yet far fairer than you are.

CHARMIAN

He means in flesh.

IRAS

No, you shall paint when you are old.

CHARMIAN

Wrinkles forbid!

ALEXAS

Vex not his prescience; be attentive.

CHARMIAN

Hush!

Soothsayer

You shall be more beloving than beloved.

CHARMIAN

I had rather heat my liver with drinking.

ALEXAS

Nay, hear him.

CHARMIAN

Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all: let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage: find me to marry me with Octavius Caesar, and companion me with my mistress.

Soothsayer

You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.

CHARMIAN

O excellent! I love long life better than figs.

Soothsayer

You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune Than that which is to approach.

CHARMIAN

Then belike my children shall have no names: prithee, how many boys and wenches must I have?

Soothsayer

If every of your wishes had a womb. And fertile every wish, a million.

CHARMIAN

Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.

ALEXAS

You think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.

CHARMIAN

Nay, come, tell Iras hers.

ALEXAS

We'll know all our fortunes.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be—drunk to bed.

IRAS

There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.

CHARMIAN

E'en as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine.

IRAS

Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.

CHARMIAN

Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear. Prithee, tell her but a worky-day fortune.

Soothsayer

Your fortunes are alike.

IRAS

But how, but how? give me particulars.

Soothsayer

I have said.

IRAS

Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?

CHARMIAN

Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it?

IRAS

Not in my husband's nose.

CHARMIAN

Our worser thoughts heavens mend! Alexas,—come, his fortune, his fortune! O, let him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee! and let her die too, and give him a worse! and let worst follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!

IRAS

Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is a heartbreaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded: therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!

CHARMIAN

Amen.

ALEXAS

Lo, now, if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they'ld do't!

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Hush! here comes Antony.

CHARMIAN

Not he; the queen.

Enter CLEOPATRA

CLEOPATRA

Saw you my lord?

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

No, lady.

CLEOPATRA

Was he not here?

CHARMIAN

No, madam.

CLEOPATRA

He was disposed to mirth; but on the sudden A Roman thought hath struck him. Enobarbus!

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Madam?

CLEOPATRA

Seek him, and bring him hither. Where's Alexas?

ALEXAS

Here, at your service. My lord approaches.

CLEOPATRA

We will not look upon him: go with us.

Exeunt

Enter MARK ANTONY with a Messenger and Attendants

Messenger

Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.

MARK ANTONY

Against my brother Lucius?

Messenger

Ay: But soon that war had end, and the time's state Made friends of them, joining their force 'gainst Caesar; Whose better issue in the war, from Italy, Upon the first encounter, drave them.

MARK ANTONY

Well, what worst?

Messenger

The nature of bad news infects the teller.

MARK ANTONY

When it concerns the fool or coward. On: Things that are past are done with me. 'Tis thus: Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death, I hear him as he flatter'd.

Messenger

Labienus— This is stiff news—hath, with his Parthian force, Extended Asia from Euphrates; His conquering banner shook from Syria To Lydia and to Ionia; Whilst—

MARK ANTONY

Antony, thou wouldst say,—

Messenger

O, my lord!

MARK ANTONY

Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue: Name Cleopatra as she is call'd in Rome; Rail thou in Fulvia's phrase; and taunt my faults With such full licence as both truth and malice Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth weeds, When our quick minds lie still; and our ills told us Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.

Messenger

At your noble pleasure.

Exit

MARK ANTONY

From Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak there!

First Attendant

The man from Sicyon,—is there such an one?

Second Attendant

He stays upon your will.

MARK ANTONY

Let him appear. These strong Egyptian fetters I must break, Or lose myself in dotage.

Enter another Messenger

What are you?

Second Messenger

Fulvia thy wife is dead.

MARK ANTONY

Where died she?

Second Messenger

In Sicyon: Her length of sickness, with what else more serious Importeth thee to know, this bears.

Gives a letter

MARK ANTONY

Forbear me.

Exit Second Messenger

There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it: What our contempt doth often hurl from us, We wish it ours again; the present pleasure, By revolution lowering, does become The opposite of itself: she's good, being gone; The hand could pluck her back that shoved her on. I must from this enchanting queen break off: Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know, My idleness doth hatch. How now! Enobarbus!

Re-enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

What's your pleasure, sir?

MARK ANTONY

I must with haste from hence.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Why, then, we kill all our women: we see how mortal an unkindness is to them; if they suffer our departure, death's the word.

MARK ANTONY

I must be gone.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Under a compelling occasion, let women die; it were pity to cast them away for nothing; though, between them and a great cause, they should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty times upon far poorer moment: I do think there is mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying.

MARK ANTONY

She is cunning past man's thought.

Exit ALEXAS

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Alack, sir, no; her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love: we cannot call her winds and waters sighs and tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.

MARK ANTONY

Would I had never seen her.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work; which not to have been blest withal would have discredited your travel.

MARK ANTONY

Fulvia is dead.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Sir?

MARK ANTONY

Fulvia is dead.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Fulvia!

MARK ANTONY

Dead.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein, that when old robes are worn out, there are members to make new. If there were no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case to be lamented: this grief is crowned with consolation; your old smock brings forth a new petticoat: and indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.

MARK ANTONY

The business she hath broached in the state Cannot endure my absence.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

And the business you have broached here cannot be without you; especially that of Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your abode.

MARK ANTONY

No more light answers. Let our officers Have notice what we purpose. I shall break The cause of our expedience to the queen, And get her leave to part. For not alone The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches, Do strongly speak to us; but the letters too Of many our contriving friends in Rome Petition us at home: Sextus Pompeius Hath given the dare to Caesar, and commands The empire of the sea: our slippery people, Whose love is never link'd to the deserver Till his deserts are past, begin to throw Pompey the Great and all his dignities Upon his son; who, high in name and power, Higher than both in blood and life, stands up For the main soldier: whose quality, going on, The sides o' the world may danger: much is breeding, Which, like the courser's hair, hath yet but life, And not a serpent's poison. Say, our pleasure, To such whose place is under us, requires Our quick remove from hence.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

I shall do't.

Exeunt

SCENE III. The same. Another room.

Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS

CLEOPATRA

Where is he?

CHARMIAN

I did not see him since.

CLEOPATRA

See where he is, who's with him, what he does: I did not send you: if you find him sad, Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report That I am sudden sick: quick, and return.

Exit ALEXAS

CHARMIAN

Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly, You do not hold the method to enforce The like from him.

CLEOPATRA

What should I do, I do not?

CHARMIAN

In each thing give him way, cross him nothing.

CLEOPATRA

Thou teachest like a fool; the way to lose him.

CHARMIAN

Tempt him not so too far; I wish, forbear: In time we hate that which we often fear. But here comes Antony.

Enter MARK ANTONY

CLEOPATRA

I am sick and sullen.

MARK ANTONY

I am sorry to give breathing to my purpose,—

CLEOPATRA

Help me away, dear Charmian; I shall fall: It cannot be thus long, the sides of nature Will not sustain it.

MARK ANTONY

Now, my dearest queen,—

CLEOPATRA

Pray you, stand further from me.

MARK ANTONY

What's the matter?

CLEOPATRA