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Antony and Cleopatra

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Act II, Scene 2

Rome. The house of LEPIDUS.



  • Lepidus. Good Enobarbus, 'tis a worthy deed,
    And shall become you well, to entreat your captain
    To soft and gentle speech.
  • Domitius Enobarus. I shall entreat him
    To answer like himself: if Caesar move him, 685
    Let Antony look over Caesar's head
    And speak as loud as Mars. By Jupiter,
    Were I the wearer of Antonius' beard,
    I would not shave't to-day.
  • Lepidus. 'Tis not a time 690
    For private stomaching.
  • Lepidus. But small to greater matters must give way.
  • Lepidus. Your speech is passion:
    But, pray you, stir no embers up. Here comes
    The noble Antony.



  • Antony. If we compose well here, to Parthia:
    Hark, Ventidius.
  • Octavius. I do not know,
    Mecaenas; ask Agrippa. 705
  • Lepidus. Noble friends,
    That which combined us was most great, and let not
    A leaner action rend us. What's amiss,
    May it be gently heard: when we debate
    Our trivial difference loud, we do commit 710
    Murder in healing wounds: then, noble partners,
    The rather, for I earnestly beseech,
    Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,
    Nor curstness grow to the matter.
  • Antony. 'Tis spoken well. 715
    Were we before our armies, and to fight.
    I should do thus.


  • Antony. I learn, you take things ill which are not so,
    Or being, concern you not. 725
  • Octavius. I must be laugh'd at,
    If, or for nothing or a little, I
    Should say myself offended, and with you
    Chiefly i' the world; more laugh'd at, that I should
    Once name you derogately, when to sound your name 730
    It not concern'd me.
  • Antony. My being in Egypt, Caesar,
    What was't to you?
  • Octavius. No more than my residing here at Rome
    Might be to you in Egypt: yet, if you there 735
    Did practise on my state, your being in Egypt
    Might be my question.
  • Antony. How intend you, practised?
  • Octavius. You may be pleased to catch at mine intent
    By what did here befal me. Your wife and brother 740
    Made wars upon me; and their contestation
    Was theme for you, you were the word of war.
  • Antony. You do mistake your business; my brother never
    Did urge me in his act: I did inquire it;
    And have my learning from some true reports, 745
    That drew their swords with you. Did he not rather
    Discredit my authority with yours;
    And make the wars alike against my stomach,
    Having alike your cause? Of this my letters
    Before did satisfy you. If you'll patch a quarrel, 750
    As matter whole you have not to make it with,
    It must not be with this.
  • Octavius. You praise yourself
    By laying defects of judgment to me; but
    You patch'd up your excuses. 755
  • Antony. Not so, not so;
    I know you could not lack, I am certain on't,
    Very necessity of this thought, that I,
    Your partner in the cause 'gainst which he fought,
    Could not with graceful eyes attend those wars 760
    Which fronted mine own peace. As for my wife,
    I would you had her spirit in such another:
    The third o' the world is yours; which with a snaffle
    You may pace easy, but not such a wife.
  • Domitius Enobarus. Would we had all such wives, that the men might go 765
    to wars with the women!
  • Antony. So much uncurbable, her garboils, Caesar
    Made out of her impatience, which not wanted
    Shrewdness of policy too, I grieving grant
    Did you too much disquiet: for that you must 770
    But say, I could not help it.
  • Octavius. I wrote to you
    When rioting in Alexandria; you
    Did pocket up my letters, and with taunts
    Did gibe my missive out of audience. 775
  • Antony. Sir,
    He fell upon me ere admitted: then
    Three kings I had newly feasted, and did want
    Of what I was i' the morning: but next day
    I told him of myself; which was as much 780
    As to have ask'd him pardon. Let this fellow
    Be nothing of our strife; if we contend,
    Out of our question wipe him.
  • Octavius. You have broken
    The article of your oath; which you shall never 785
    Have tongue to charge me with.
  • Antony. No,
    Lepidus, let him speak:
    The honour is sacred which he talks on now, 790
    Supposing that I lack'd it. But, on, Caesar;
    The article of my oath.
  • Octavius. To lend me arms and aid when I required them;
    The which you both denied.
  • Antony. Neglected, rather; 795
    And then when poison'd hours had bound me up
    From mine own knowledge. As nearly as I may,
    I'll play the penitent to you: but mine honesty
    Shall not make poor my greatness, nor my power
    Work without it. Truth is, that Fulvia, 800
    To have me out of Egypt, made wars here;
    For which myself, the ignorant motive, do
    So far ask pardon as befits mine honour
    To stoop in such a case.
  • Mecaenas. If it might please you, to enforce no further
    The griefs between ye: to forget them quite
    Were to remember that the present need
    Speaks to atone you.
  • Lepidus. Worthily spoken, Mecaenas. 810
  • Domitius Enobarus. Or, if you borrow one another's love for the
    instant, you may, when you hear no more words of
    Pompey, return it again: you shall have time to
    wrangle in when you have nothing else to do.
  • Antony. Thou art a soldier only: speak no more. 815
  • Antony. You wrong this presence; therefore speak no more.
  • Octavius. I do not much dislike the matter, but
    The manner of his speech; for't cannot be 820
    We shall remain in friendship, our conditions
    So differing in their acts. Yet if I knew
    What hoop should hold us stanch, from edge to edge
    O' the world I would pursue it.
  • Agrippa. Give me leave, Caesar,— 825
  • Agrippa. Thou hast a sister by the mother's side,
    Admired Octavia: great Mark Antony
    Is now a widower.
  • Octavius. Say not so, Agrippa: 830
    If Cleopatra heard you, your reproof
    Were well deserved of rashness.
  • Antony. I am not married, Caesar: let me hear
    Agrippa further speak.
  • Agrippa. To hold you in perpetual amity, 835
    To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
    With an unslipping knot, take Antony
    Octavia to his wife; whose beauty claims
    No worse a husband than the best of men;
    Whose virtue and whose general graces speak 840
    That which none else can utter. By this marriage,
    All little jealousies, which now seem great,
    And all great fears, which now import their dangers,
    Would then be nothing: truths would be tales,
    Where now half tales be truths: her love to both 845
    Would, each to other and all loves to both,
    Draw after her. Pardon what I have spoke;
    For 'tis a studied, not a present thought,
    By duty ruminated.
  • Antony. Will Caesar speak? 850
  • Octavius. Not till he hears how Antony is touch'd
    With what is spoke already.
  • Antony. What power is in Agrippa,
    If I would say, 'Agrippa, be it so,'
    To make this good? 855
  • Octavius. The power of Caesar, and
    His power unto Octavia.
  • Antony. May I never
    To this good purpose, that so fairly shows,
    Dream of impediment! Let me have thy hand: 860
    Further this act of grace: and from this hour
    The heart of brothers govern in our loves
    And sway our great designs!
  • Octavius. There is my hand.
    A sister I bequeath you, whom no brother 865
    Did ever love so dearly: let her live
    To join our kingdoms and our hearts; and never
    Fly off our loves again!
  • Antony. I did not think to draw my sword 'gainst Pompey; 870
    For he hath laid strange courtesies and great
    Of late upon me: I must thank him only,
    Lest my remembrance suffer ill report;
    At heel of that, defy him.
  • Lepidus. Time calls upon's: 875
    Of us must Pompey presently be sought,
    Or else he seeks out us.
  • Antony. What is his strength by land? 880
  • Octavius. Great and increasing: but by sea
    He is an absolute master.
  • Antony. So is the fame.
    Would we had spoke together! Haste we for it:
    Yet, ere we put ourselves in arms, dispatch we 885
    The business we have talk'd of.
  • Octavius. With most gladness:
    And do invite you to my sister's view,
    Whither straight I'll lead you.
  • Antony. Let us, Lepidus, 890
    Not lack your company.
  • Lepidus. Noble Antony,
    Not sickness should detain me.
    [Flourish. Exeunt OCTAVIUS CAESAR, MARK ANTONY,]
    and LEPIDUS] 895
  • Domitius Enobarus. Half the heart of Caesar, worthy Mecaenas! My
    honourable friend, Agrippa!
  • Mecaenas. We have cause to be glad that matters are so well 900
    digested. You stayed well by 't in Egypt.
  • Domitius Enobarus. Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance, and
    made the night light with drinking.
  • Mecaenas. Eight wild-boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and
    but twelve persons there; is this true? 905
  • Domitius Enobarus. This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more
    monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.
  • Mecaenas. She's a most triumphant lady, if report be square to
  • Domitius Enobarus. When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up 910
    his heart, upon the river of Cydnus.
  • Agrippa. There she appeared indeed; or my reporter devised
    well for her.
  • Domitius Enobarus. I will tell you.
    The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne, 915
    Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
    Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
    The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
    Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
    The water which they beat to follow faster, 920
    As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
    It beggar'd all description: she did lie
    In her pavilion—cloth-of-gold of tissue—
    O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
    The fancy outwork nature: on each side her 925
    Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
    With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
    To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
    And what they undid did.
  • Domitius Enobarus. Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides,
    So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
    And made their bends adornings: at the helm
    A seeming mermaid steers: the silken tackle
    Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands, 935
    That yarely frame the office. From the barge
    A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
    Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
    Her people out upon her; and Antony,
    Enthroned i' the market-place, did sit alone, 940
    Whistling to the air; which, but for vacancy,
    Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
    And made a gap in nature.
  • Domitius Enobarus. Upon her landing, Antony sent to her, 945
    Invited her to supper: she replied,
    It should be better he became her guest;
    Which she entreated: our courteous Antony,
    Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard speak,
    Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast, 950
    And for his ordinary pays his heart
    For what his eyes eat only.
  • Agrippa. Royal wench!
    She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed:
    He plough'd her, and she cropp'd. 955
  • Domitius Enobarus. I saw her once
    Hop forty paces through the public street;
    And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted,
    That she did make defect perfection,
    And, breathless, power breathe forth. 960
  • Mecaenas. Now Antony must leave her utterly.
  • Domitius Enobarus. Never; he will not:
    Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
    Her infinite variety: other women cloy
    The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry 965
    Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
    Become themselves in her: that the holy priests
    Bless her when she is riggish.
  • Mecaenas. If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle
    The heart of Antony, Octavia is 970
    A blessed lottery to him.
  • Agrippa. Let us go.
    Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest
    Whilst you abide here.