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Antony and Cleopatra

Please see the bottom of this page for explanatory notes and resources.

ACT I SCENE I Alexandria. A room in Cleopatra's house. 
PHILONay, 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 view5
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.10
[ 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.
CLEOPATRAIf it be love indeed, tell me how much.15
MARK ANTONYThere's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.
CLEOPATRAI'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.
MARK ANTONYThen must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.
[Enter an Attendant]
AttendantNews, my good lord, from Rome.
MARK ANTONYGrates me: the sum.20
CLEOPATRANay, 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;25
Perform 't, or else we damn thee.'
MARK ANTONYHow, my love!
CLEOPATRAPerchance! nay, and most like:
You must not stay here longer, your dismission
Is come from Caesar; therefore hear it, Antony.30
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!35
MARK ANTONYLet 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 pair40
And such a twain can do't, in which I bind,
On pain of punishment, the world to weet
We stand up peerless.
CLEOPATRAExcellent falsehood!
Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her?45
I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony

Will be himself.
MARK ANTONYBut stirr'd by Cleopatra.
Now, for the love of Love and her soft hours,
Let's not confound the time with conference harsh:50
There's not a minute of our lives should stretch
Without some pleasure now. What sport tonight?
CLEOPATRAHear the ambassadors.
MARK ANTONYFie, wrangling queen!
Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh,55
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;60
Last night you did desire it: speak not to us.
[ Exeunt MARK ANTONY and CLEOPATRA with their train ]
DEMETRIUSIs Caesar with Antonius prized so slight?
PHILOSir, sometimes, when he is not Antony,
He comes too short of that great property
Which still should go with Antony.65
DEMETRIUSI 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!

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 2

Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 1
From Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.

1. Dotage. Foolishness, like that of a childish old man.

2. Measure. Exceeds all limits.

2. Goodly. Fine.

3. Musters. The troops drawn up in battle array.

4. Plated Mars. The god of war arrayed in armor. Coats-of-mail were made of plates of steel.

5. Office. That is, bend their looks in devoted service.

6. Tawny front. Dark countenance. Cleopatra was a Greek, but she is usually represented as [darker-skinned].

8. Reneges. Disclaims, renounces.

8. Temper. Moderation, equanimity.

10. Gipsy. Used here contemptuously, not in a literal sense.

12. Triple pillar. Third. At this time Antony, Caesar, and Lepidus formed the second triumvirate, or group of men to rule Rome.

15. Beggary. Her love small enough to be reckoned is but beggary.

16. Bourne. Limit.

17. New heaven. That is, the present heaven and earth are not wide enough to limit my love.

18. Grates. It annoys me; tell me briefly.

21. Scarce -bearded. A taunt at Antony by reminding him how young is the man he calls master.

23. Take in. Conquer, subdue.

23. Enfranchise. Set free.

24. Damn. Condemn.

28. Process. A legal summons calling a man into court.

31. Homager. Vassal, bond servant.

31. Shame. Pays the tribute of shame or fear.

32. Shrill-tongued. Plutarch says that Fulvia was "of a peevish, crooked, and troublesome nature."

34. Ranged. Well ordered.

34. Space. Place where I would be.

37. Thus. Love as we love.

37. Mutual. When two people in such complete sympathy.

39. Weet. To know; weet is a corruption of "wit."

40. Falsehood. That is, false man.

43. Himself. Show himself in his true character.

43. Stirr'd. Inspired, influenced by.

44. Love. The goddess of love, Venus.

44. Soft. Luxurious.

45. Confound. Waste, consume.

49. Becomes. Whose every act is becoming.

50. Fully. Some read "fitly" here.

54. Qualities. Characters. See quotation from Plutarch in Introduction.

55. Speak, etc. Addressed to the messenger from Rome.

57. Not Antony. That is, when he is not in his proper frame of mind, he lacks too much those great qualities which should always be his.

61. Common liar. Proves false report to be true report.

63. Of. For.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company, 1908. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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