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The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us.

      — King Lear, Act V Scene 3


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Antony and Cleopatra

Act I

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Scene 1. Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA’s palace.

Scene 2. The same. Another room.

Scene 3. The same. Another room.

Scene 4. Rome. OCTAVIUS CAESAR’s house.

Scene 5. Alexandria. CLEOPATRA’s palace.


Act I, Scene 1

Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA’s palace.

      next scene .


  • 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]

  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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!


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Act I, Scene 2

The same. Another room.

      next scene .

[Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer]

  • Charmian. Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas,
    almost most absolute Alexas, where's the soothsayer 80
    that you praised so to the queen? O, that I knew
    this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns
    with garlands!
  • 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.


  • Domitius Enobarus. Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough
    Cleopatra's health to drink.
  • Charmian. Good sir, give me good fortune.
  • Charmian. Pray, then, foresee me one. 95
  • Soothsayer. You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
  • Iras. No, you shall paint when you are old.
  • Alexas. Vex not his prescience; be attentive. 100
  • Soothsayer. You shall be more beloving than beloved.
  • Charmian. I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
  • Charmian. Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married 105
    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. 110
  • 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? 115
  • 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. 120
  • Alexas. We'll know all our fortunes.
  • Domitius Enobarus. 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. 125
  • 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.
  • Iras. But how, but how? give me particulars.
  • 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? 135
  • 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 140
    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! 145
    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!
  • Alexas. Lo, now, if it lay in their hands to make me a
    cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but
    they'ld do't!


  • Cleopatra. He was disposed to mirth; but on the sudden
    A Roman thought hath struck him. Enobarbus!
  • Cleopatra. Seek him, and bring him hither.
    Where's Alexas? 165
  • Alexas. Here, at your service. My lord approaches.
  • Cleopatra. We will not look upon him: go with us.


[Enter MARK ANTONY with a Messenger and Attendants]

  • Messenger. Fulvia thy wife first came into the field. 170
  • 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, 175
    Upon the first encounter, drave them.
  • Messenger. The nature of bad news infects the teller.
  • Antony. When it concerns the fool or coward. On:
    Things that are past are done with me. 'Tis thus: 180
    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; 185
    His conquering banner shook from Syria
    To Lydia and to Ionia; Whilst—
  • Antony. Antony, thou wouldst say,—
  • Antony. Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue: 190
    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 195
    Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.


  • Antony. From Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak there!
  • Antony. Let him appear.
    These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
    Or lose myself in dotage.
    [Enter another Messenger] 205
    What are you?
  • Second Messenger. In Sicyon:
    Her length of sickness, with what else more serious 210
    Importeth thee to know, this bears.

[Gives a letter]

  • Antony. Forbear me.
    [Exit Second Messenger]
    There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it: 215
    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. 220
    I must from this enchanting queen break off:
    Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
    My idleness doth hatch. How now! Enobarbus!


  • Antony. I must with haste from hence.
  • Domitius Enobarus. 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.
  • Domitius Enobarus. 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 235
    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.
  • Antony. She is cunning past man's thought.


  • Domitius Enobarus. 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 245
    shower of rain as well as Jove.
  • Antony. Would I had never seen her.
  • Domitius Enobarus. O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece
    of work; which not to have been blest withal would
    have discredited your travel. 250
  • Domitius Enobarus. 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 260
    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. 265
  • Antony. The business she hath broached in the state
    Cannot endure my absence.
  • Domitius Enobarus. And the business you have broached here cannot be
    without you; especially that of Cleopatra's, which
    wholly depends on your abode. 270
  • 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, 275
    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, 280
    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 285
    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 290
    Our quick remove from hence.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 3

The same. Another room.

      next scene .


  • 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. 300


  • Charmian. Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly,
    You do not hold the method to enforce
    The like from him.
  • 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. 310


  • 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 315
    Will not sustain it.
  • Antony. Now, my dearest queen,—
  • Cleopatra. I know, by that same eye, there's some good news. 320
    What says the married woman? You may go:
    Would she had never given you leave to come!
    Let her not say 'tis I that keep you here:
    I have no power upon you; hers you are.
  • Antony. The gods best know,— 325
  • Cleopatra. O, never was there queen
    So mightily betray'd! yet at the first
    I saw the treasons planted.
  • Cleopatra. Why should I think you can be mine and true, 330
    Though you in swearing shake the throned gods,
    Who have been false to Fulvia? Riotous madness,
    To be entangled with those mouth-made vows,
    Which break themselves in swearing!
  • Antony. Most sweet queen,— 335
  • Cleopatra. Nay, pray you, seek no colour for your going,
    But bid farewell, and go: when you sued staying,
    Then was the time for words: no going then;
    Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
    Bliss in our brows' bent; none our parts so poor, 340
    But was a race of heaven: they are so still,
    Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world,
    Art turn'd the greatest liar.
  • Cleopatra. I would I had thy inches; thou shouldst know 345
    There were a heart in Egypt.
  • Antony. Hear me, queen:
    The strong necessity of time commands
    Our services awhile; but my full heart
    Remains in use with you. Our Italy 350
    Shines o'er with civil swords: Sextus Pompeius
    Makes his approaches to the port of Rome:
    Equality of two domestic powers
    Breed scrupulous faction: the hated, grown to strength,
    Are newly grown to love: the condemn'd Pompey, 355
    Rich in his father's honour, creeps apace,
    Into the hearts of such as have not thrived
    Upon the present state, whose numbers threaten;
    And quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge
    By any desperate change: my more particular, 360
    And that which most with you should safe my going,
    Is Fulvia's death.
  • Cleopatra. Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
    It does from childishness: can Fulvia die?
  • Antony. She's dead, my queen: 365
    Look here, and at thy sovereign leisure read
    The garboils she awaked; at the last, best:
    See when and where she died.
  • Cleopatra. O most false love!
    Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill 370
    With sorrowful water? Now I see, I see,
    In Fulvia's death, how mine received shall be.
  • Antony. Quarrel no more, but be prepared to know
    The purposes I bear; which are, or cease,
    As you shall give the advice. By the fire 375
    That quickens Nilus' slime, I go from hence
    Thy soldier, servant; making peace or war
    As thou affect'st.
  • Cleopatra. Cut my lace, Charmian, come;
    But let it be: I am quickly ill, and well, 380
    So Antony loves.
  • Antony. My precious queen, forbear;
    And give true evidence to his love, which stands
    An honourable trial.
  • Cleopatra. So Fulvia told me. 385
    I prithee, turn aside and weep for her,
    Then bid adieu to me, and say the tears
    Belong to Egypt: good now, play one scene
    Of excellent dissembling; and let it look
    Life perfect honour. 390
  • Antony. You'll heat my blood: no more.
  • Cleopatra. You can do better yet; but this is meetly.
  • Cleopatra. And target. Still he mends;
    But this is not the best. Look, prithee, Charmian, 395
    How this Herculean Roman does become
    The carriage of his chafe.
  • Antony. I'll leave you, lady.
  • Cleopatra. Courteous lord, one word.
    Sir, you and I must part, but that's not it: 400
    Sir, you and I have loved, but there's not it;
    That you know well: something it is I would,
    O, my oblivion is a very Antony,
    And I am all forgotten.
  • Antony. But that your royalty 405
    Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
    For idleness itself.
  • Cleopatra. 'Tis sweating labour
    To bear such idleness so near the heart
    As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me; 410
    Since my becomings kill me, when they do not
    Eye well to you: your honour calls you hence;
    Therefore be deaf to my unpitied folly.
    And all the gods go with you! upon your sword
    Sit laurel victory! and smooth success 415
    Be strew'd before your feet!
  • Antony. Let us go. Come;
    Our separation so abides, and flies,
    That thou, residing here, go'st yet with me,
    And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee. Away! 420


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Act I, Scene 4

Rome. OCTAVIUS CAESAR’s house.

      next scene .

[Enter OCTAVIUS CAESAR, reading a letter, LEPIDUS,] [p]and their Train]

  • Octavius. You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,
    It is not Caesar's natural vice to hate 425
    Our great competitor: from Alexandria
    This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
    The lamps of night in revel; is not more man-like
    Than Cleopatra; nor the queen of Ptolemy
    More womanly than he; hardly gave audience, or 430
    Vouchsafed to think he had partners: you shall find there
    A man who is the abstract of all faults
    That all men follow.
  • Lepidus. I must not think there are
    Evils enow to darken all his goodness: 435
    His faults in him seem as the spots of heaven,
    More fiery by night's blackness; hereditary,
    Rather than purchased; what he cannot change,
    Than what he chooses.
  • Octavius. You are too indulgent. Let us grant, it is not 440
    Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy;
    To give a kingdom for a mirth; to sit
    And keep the turn of tippling with a slave;
    To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet
    With knaves that smell of sweat: say this 445
    becomes him,—
    As his composure must be rare indeed
    Whom these things cannot blemish,—yet must Antony
    No way excuse his soils, when we do bear
    So great weight in his lightness. If he fill'd 450
    His vacancy with his voluptuousness,
    Full surfeits, and the dryness of his bones,
    Call on him for't: but to confound such time,
    That drums him from his sport, and speaks as loud
    As his own state and ours,—'tis to be chid 455
    As we rate boys, who, being mature in knowledge,
    Pawn their experience to their present pleasure,
    And so rebel to judgment.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. Thy biddings have been done; and every hour,
    Most noble Caesar, shalt thou have report
    How 'tis abroad. Pompey is strong at sea;
    And it appears he is beloved of those
    That only have fear'd Caesar: to the ports 465
    The discontents repair, and men's reports
    Give him much wrong'd.
  • Octavius. I should have known no less.
    It hath been taught us from the primal state,
    That he which is was wish'd until he were; 470
    And the ebb'd man, ne'er loved till ne'er worth love,
    Comes dear'd by being lack'd. This common body,
    Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,
    Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide,
    To rot itself with motion. 475
  • Messenger. Caesar, I bring thee word,
    Menecrates and Menas, famous pirates,
    Make the sea serve them, which they ear and wound
    With keels of every kind: many hot inroads
    They make in Italy; the borders maritime 480
    Lack blood to think on't, and flush youth revolt:
    No vessel can peep forth, but 'tis as soon
    Taken as seen; for Pompey's name strikes more
    Than could his war resisted.
  • Octavius. Antony, 485
    Leave thy lascivious wassails. When thou once
    Wast beaten from Modena, where thou slew'st
    Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel
    Did famine follow; whom thou fought'st against,
    Though daintily brought up, with patience more 490
    Than savages could suffer: thou didst drink
    The stale of horses, and the gilded puddle
    Which beasts would cough at: thy palate then did deign
    The roughest berry on the rudest hedge;
    Yea, like the stag, when snow the pasture sheets, 495
    The barks of trees thou browsed'st; on the Alps
    It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh,
    Which some did die to look on: and all this—
    It wounds thine honour that I speak it now—
    Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek 500
    So much as lank'd not.
  • Octavius. Let his shames quickly
    Drive him to Rome: 'tis time we twain
    Did show ourselves i' the field; and to that end 505
    Assemble we immediate council: Pompey
    Thrives in our idleness.
  • Lepidus. To-morrow, Caesar,
    I shall be furnish'd to inform you rightly
    Both what by sea and land I can be able 510
    To front this present time.
  • Octavius. Till which encounter,
    It is my business too. Farewell.
  • Lepidus. Farewell, my lord: what you shall know meantime
    Of stirs abroad, I shall beseech you, sir, 515
    To let me be partaker.
  • Octavius. Doubt not, sir;
    I knew it for my bond.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 5

Alexandria. CLEOPATRA’s palace.



  • Cleopatra. Ha, ha!
    Give me to drink mandragora.
  • Cleopatra. That I might sleep out this great gap of time
    My Antony is away.
  • Mardian. What's your highness' pleasure?
  • Cleopatra. Not now to hear thee sing; I take no pleasure
    In aught an eunuch has: 'tis well for thee,
    That, being unseminar'd, thy freer thoughts 535
    May not fly forth of Egypt. Hast thou affections?
  • Mardian. Not in deed, madam; for I can do nothing
    But what indeed is honest to be done: 540
    Yet have I fierce affections, and think
    What Venus did with Mars.
  • Cleopatra. O Charmian,
    Where think'st thou he is now? Stands he, or sits he?
    Or does he walk? or is he on his horse? 545
    O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!
    Do bravely, horse! for wot'st thou whom thou movest?
    The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm
    And burgonet of men. He's speaking now,
    Or murmuring 'Where's my serpent of old Nile?' 550
    For so he calls me: now I feed myself
    With most delicious poison. Think on me,
    That am with Phoebus' amorous pinches black,
    And wrinkled deep in time? Broad-fronted Caesar,
    When thou wast here above the ground, I was 555
    A morsel for a monarch: and great Pompey
    Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow;
    There would he anchor his aspect and die
    With looking on his life.


  • Alexas. Sovereign of Egypt, hail!
  • Cleopatra. How much unlike art thou Mark Antony!
    Yet, coming from him, that great medicine hath
    With his tinct gilded thee.
    How goes it with my brave Mark Antony? 565
  • Alexas. Last thing he did, dear queen,
    He kiss'd,—the last of many doubled kisses,—
    This orient pearl. His speech sticks in my heart.
  • Alexas. 'Good friend,' quoth he, 570
    'Say, the firm Roman to great Egypt sends
    This treasure of an oyster; at whose foot,
    To mend the petty present, I will piece
    Her opulent throne with kingdoms; all the east,
    Say thou, shall call her mistress.' So he nodded, 575
    And soberly did mount an arm-gaunt steed,
    Who neigh'd so high, that what I would have spoke
    Was beastly dumb'd by him.
  • Alexas. Like to the time o' the year between the extremes 580
    Of hot and cold, he was nor sad nor merry.
  • Cleopatra. O well-divided disposition! Note him,
    Note him good Charmian, 'tis the man; but note him:
    He was not sad, for he would shine on those
    That make their looks by his; he was not merry, 585
    Which seem'd to tell them his remembrance lay
    In Egypt with his joy; but between both:
    O heavenly mingle! Be'st thou sad or merry,
    The violence of either thee becomes,
    So does it no man else. Met'st thou my posts? 590
  • Alexas. Ay, madam, twenty several messengers:
    Why do you send so thick?
  • Cleopatra. Who's born that day
    When I forget to send to Antony,
    Shall die a beggar. Ink and paper, Charmian. 595
    Welcome, my good Alexas. Did I, Charmian,
    Ever love Caesar so?
  • Cleopatra. Be choked with such another emphasis!
    Say, the brave Antony. 600
  • Cleopatra. By Isis, I will give thee bloody teeth,
    If thou with Caesar paragon again
    My man of men.
  • Charmian. By your most gracious pardon, 605
    I sing but after you.
  • Cleopatra. My salad days,
    When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
    To say as I said then! But, come, away;
    Get me ink and paper: 610
    He shall have every day a several greeting,
    Or I'll unpeople Egypt.