Open Source Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra

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Act I, Scene 1

Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA’s palace.



  • 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, 5
    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 10
    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. 15
    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.
  • Antony. There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.
  • Cleopatra. I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved. 20
  • Antony. Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

[Enter an Attendant]

  • Attendant. News, my good lord, from Rome.
  • Antony. Grates me: the sum.
  • Cleopatra. Nay, hear them, Antony: 25
    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.' 30
  • 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? 35
    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!
  • Antony. Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch 40
    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] 45
    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? 50
    I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony
    Will be himself.
  • 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: 55
    There's not a minute of our lives should stretch
    Without some pleasure now. What sport tonight?
  • Cleopatra. Hear the ambassadors.
  • Antony. Fie, wrangling queen!
    Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh, 60
    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; 65
    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, 70
    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 75
    Of better deeds to-morrow. Rest you happy!