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Antony and Cleopatra

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ACT II SCENE V Alexandria. Cleopatra's palace. 
CLEOPATRAGive me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
AttendantsThe music, ho!
CLEOPATRALet it alone; let's to billiards: come, Charmian.
CHARMIANMy arm is sore; best play with Mardian.5
CLEOPATRAAs well a woman with an eunuch play'd
As with a woman. Come, you'll play with me, sir?
MARDIANAs well as I can, madam.
CLEOPATRAAnd when good will is show'd, though't come
too short,10
The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now:
Give me mine angle; we'll to the river: there,
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn'd fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws; and, as I draw them up,15
I'll think them every one an Antony,
And say 'Ah, ha! you're caught.'
CHARMIAN'Twas merry when
You wager'd on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he20
With fervency drew up.
CLEOPATRAThat time,--O times!--
I laugh'd him out of patience; and that night
I laugh'd him into patience; and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;25
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.
[Enter a Messenger]
O, from Italy
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.30
MessengerMadam, madam,--
CLEOPATRAAntonius dead!--If thou say so, villain,
Thou kill'st thy mistress: but well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss; a hand that kings35
Have lipp'd, and trembled kissing.
MessengerFirst, madam, he is well.
CLEOPATRAWhy, there's more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well: bring it to that,40
The gold I give thee will I melt and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.
MessengerGood madam, hear me.
CLEOPATRAWell, go to, I will;
But there's no goodness in thy face: if Antony45
Be free and healthful,--so tart a favour
To trumpet such good tidings! If not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Fury crown'd with snakes,
Not like a formal man.
MessengerWill't please you hear me?50
CLEOPATRAI have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak'st:
Yet if thou say Antony lives, is well,
Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him,
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.55
MessengerMadam, he's well.
MessengerAnd friends with Caesar.
CLEOPATRAThou'rt an honest man.
MessengerCaesar and he are greater friends than ever.60
CLEOPATRAMake thee a fortune from me.
MessengerBut yet, madam,--
CLEOPATRAI do not like 'But yet,' it does allay
The good precedence; fie upon 'But yet'!
'But yet' is as a gaoler to bring forth65
Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together: he's friends with Caesar:
In state of health thou say'st; and thou say'st free.
MessengerFree, madam! no; I made no such report:70
He's bound unto Octavia.
CLEOPATRAFor what good turn?
MessengerFor the best turn i' the bed.
CLEOPATRAI am pale, Charmian.
MessengerMadam, he's married to Octavia.75
CLEOPATRAThe most infectious pestilence upon thee!
[Strikes him down]
MessengerGood madam, patience.
CLEOPATRAWhat say you? Hence,
[Strikes him again]
Horrible villain! or I'll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I'll unhair thy head:80
[She hales him up and down]
Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in brine,
Smarting in lingering pickle.
MessengerGracious madam,
I that do bring the news made not the match.
CLEOPATRASay 'tis not so, a province I will give thee,85
And make thy fortunes proud: the blow thou hadst
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage;

And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.
MessengerHe's married, madam.90
CLEOPATRARogue, thou hast lived too long.
[Draws a knife]
MessengerNay, then I'll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.
CHARMIANGood madam, keep yourself within yourself:
The man is innocent.95
CLEOPATRASome innocents 'scape not the thunderbolt.
Melt Egypt into Nile! and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents! Call the slave again:
Though I am mad, I will not bite him: call.
CHARMIANHe is afeard to come.100
CLEOPATRAI will not hurt him.
These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself; since I myself
Have given myself the cause.
[Re-enter CHARMIAN and Messenger]
Come hither, sir.105
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news: give to a gracious message.
An host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.
MessengerI have done my duty.110
CLEOPATRAIs he married?
I cannot hate thee worser than I do,
If thou again say 'Yes.'
MessengerHe's married, madam.
CLEOPATRAThe gods confound thee! dost thou hold there still?115
MessengerShould I lie, madam?
CLEOPATRAO, I would thou didst,
So half my Egypt were submerged and made
A cistern for scaled snakes! Go, get thee hence:
Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me120
Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?
MessengerI crave your highness' pardon.
CLEOPATRAHe is married?
MessengerTake no offence that I would not offend you:
To punish me for what you make me do.125
Seems much unequal: he's married to Octavia.
CLEOPATRAO, that his fault should make a knave of thee,
That art not what thou'rt sure of! Get thee hence:
The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome
Are all too dear for me: lie they upon thy hand,130
And be undone by 'em!
[Exit Messenger]
CHARMIANGood your highness, patience.
CLEOPATRAIn praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.
CHARMIANMany times, madam.
CLEOPATRAI am paid for't now.135
Lead me from hence:
I faint: O Iras, Charmian! 'tis no matter.
Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
Her inclination, let him not leave out140
The colour of her hair: bring me word quickly.
Let him for ever go:--let him not--Charmian,
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way's a Mars. Bid you Alexas
Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian,145
But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 6

Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 5
From Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

1. Moody. Grave, melancholy.

4. Billiards. An English, not an Egyptian, game.

10. Short. Though the result is not a success.

12. Angle. Fishing rod.

14. Tawny. Yellow.

20. Salt-fish. See previous note.

21. Fervency. Eagerness.

25. Ninth. Nine o'clock.

26. Tires. Head-dresses.

27. Philippan. The sword was so named because Antony won the battle of Philippi, his greatest victory. It was an English, not a Roman custom, to name swords for a great victory.

34. Yield. Report.

39. Use. Are accustomed to say.

36. Go to. Here in the sense of "go on."

46. Tart a favor. So gloomy an expression.

49. Formal. Ordinary; not in the form of a man.

63. Precedence. What has gone before.

67. Pack. That is, the whole cpntents of your bundle of news.

80. Unhair. Tear out every hair.

82. Lingering. That is, you shall linger in pickle.

88. Boot. Give you to boot, give you in addition.

89. Modesty. Moderation.

93. Made. Committed.

94. Within yourself. Do you get beside yourself; control yourself.

98. All. That is, all kindly creatures.

102. Nobility. That is, it is beneath their dignity to strike a menial.

112. Worser. Shakespeare often uses this form of the comparative.

115. Hold. Stick to your word.

120. Narcissus. That is, the beauty of Narcissus, the son of Cephissus, a river god. He Was so beautiful that the nymph Echo pined away and died for love of him.

121. Ugly. On account of your news.

126. Unequal. Very unfair.

127. That art not what thou'rt sure of. This is the reading of the folios and seems to mean: You are only the messenger, not the evil message itself of which you are so sure. Some editors change the line to read thus:

"That art not; what? thou'rt sure of it?" etc.

129. Merchandise. Goods. The word is treated here as plural.

130. Hand, That is, you must be responsible for them.

139. Feature. Personal appearance.

140. Inclination. Disposition.

143. Gorgon. Medusa, a fabulous monster, who turned everyone to stone who looked upon her. The meaning is that he resembles one of the 'double" pictures formerly in vogue, which represented one subject on the front and another on the back. On one side he is as ugly as a Gorgon, on the other as splendid as Mars.

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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