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Antony and Cleopatra

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Act II, Scene 5

Alexandria. CLEOPATRA’s palace.



  • Cleopatra. Give me some music; music, moody food
    Of us that trade in love. 1050


  • Cleopatra. Let it alone; let's to billiards: come, Charmian.
  • Charmian. My arm is sore; best play with Mardian.
  • Cleopatra. As well a woman with an eunuch play'd 1055
    As with a woman. Come, you'll play with me, sir?
  • Cleopatra. And when good will is show'd, though't come
    too short,
    The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now: 1060
    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,
    I'll think them every one an Antony, 1065
    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 he
    With fervency drew up. 1070
  • Cleopatra. That 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;
    Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst 1075
    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. 1080
  • Cleopatra. Antonius 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 kings 1085
    Have lipp'd, and trembled kissing.
  • Cleopatra. Why, there's more gold.
    But, sirrah, mark, we use
    To say the dead are well: bring it to that, 1090
    The gold I give thee will I melt and pour
    Down thy ill-uttering throat.
  • Cleopatra. Well, go to, I will;
    But there's no goodness in thy face: if Antony 1095
    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.
  • Cleopatra. I 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. 1105
  • Messenger. Caesar and he are greater friends than ever. 1110
  • Cleopatra. I do not like 'But yet,' it does allay
    The good precedence; fie upon 'But yet'!
    'But yet' is as a gaoler to bring forth 1115
    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.
  • Messenger. Free, madam! no; I made no such report: 1120
    He's bound unto Octavia.
  • Messenger. Madam, he's married to Octavia. 1125
  • Cleopatra. The most infectious pestilence upon thee!

[Strikes him down]

  • Cleopatra. What say you? Hence,
    [Strikes him again] 1130
    Horrible villain! or I'll spurn thine eyes
    Like balls before me; I'll unhair thy head:
    [She hales him up and down]
    Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in brine,
    Smarting in lingering pickle. 1135
  • Messenger. Gracious madam,
    I that do bring the news made not the match.
  • Cleopatra. Say 'tis not so, a province I will give thee,
    And make thy fortunes proud: the blow thou hadst
    Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage; 1140
    And I will boot thee with what gift beside
    Thy modesty can beg.

[Draws a knife]

  • Messenger. Nay, then I'll run.
    What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.


  • Charmian. Good madam, keep yourself within yourself:
    The man is innocent. 1150
  • Cleopatra. Some 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.
  • Cleopatra. I will not hurt him.
    [Exit CHARMIAN]
    These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
    A meaner than myself; since I myself
    Have given myself the cause. 1160
    [Re-enter CHARMIAN and Messenger]
    Come hither, sir.
    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 1165
    Themselves when they be felt.
  • Cleopatra. Is he married?
    I cannot hate thee worser than I do,
    If thou again say 'Yes.' 1170
  • Cleopatra. The gods confound thee! dost thou hold there still?
  • Cleopatra. O, I would thou didst,
    So half my Egypt were submerged and made 1175
    A cistern for scaled snakes! Go, get thee hence:
    Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
    Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?
  • Messenger. Take no offence that I would not offend you:
    To punish me for what you make me do.
    Seems much unequal: he's married to Octavia.
  • Cleopatra. O, that his fault should make a knave of thee,
    That art not what thou'rt sure of! Get thee hence: 1185
    The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome
    Are all too dear for me: lie they upon thy hand,
    And be undone by 'em!

[Exit Messenger]

  • Charmian. Good your highness, patience. 1190
  • Cleopatra. In praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.
  • Cleopatra. I am paid for't now.
    Lead me from hence:
    I faint: O Iras, Charmian! 'tis no matter. 1195
    Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
    Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
    Her inclination, let him not leave out
    The colour of her hair: bring me word quickly.
    [Exit ALEXAS] 1200
    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
    [To MARDIAN]
    Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian, 1205
    But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.