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Antony and Cleopatra

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Act V, Scene 2

Alexandria. A room in the monument.



  • Cleopatra. My desolation does begin to make
    A better life. 'Tis paltry to be Caesar;
    Not being Fortune, he's but Fortune's knave,
    A minister of her will: and it is great 3380
    To do that thing that ends all other deeds;
    Which shackles accidents and bolts up change;
    Which sleeps, and never palates more the dug,
    The beggar's nurse and Caesar's.
    [Enter, to the gates of the monument, PROCULEIUS,] 3385
    GALLUS and Soldiers]
  • Proculeius. Caesar sends greeting to the Queen of Egypt;
    And bids thee study on what fair demands
    Thou mean'st to have him grant thee.
  • Cleopatra. Antony
    Did tell me of you, bade me trust you; but
    I do not greatly care to be deceived,
    That have no use for trusting. If your master 3395
    Would have a queen his beggar, you must tell him,
    That majesty, to keep decorum, must
    No less beg than a kingdom: if he please
    To give me conquer'd Egypt for my son,
    He gives me so much of mine own, as I 3400
    Will kneel to him with thanks.
  • Proculeius. Be of good cheer;
    You're fall'n into a princely hand, fear nothing:
    Make your full reference freely to my lord,
    Who is so full of grace, that it flows over 3405
    On all that need: let me report to him
    Your sweet dependency; and you shall find
    A conqueror that will pray in aid for kindness,
    Where he for grace is kneel'd to.
  • Cleopatra. Pray you, tell him 3410
    I am his fortune's vassal, and I send him
    The greatness he has got. I hourly learn
    A doctrine of obedience; and would gladly
    Look him i' the face.
  • Proculeius. This I'll report, dear lady. 3415
    Have comfort, for I know your plight is pitied
    Of him that caused it.
  • Gallus. You see how easily she may be surprised:
    [Here PROCULEIUS and two of the Guard ascend the]
    monument by a ladder placed against a window, and, 3420
    having descended, come behind CLEOPATRA. Some of
    the Guard unbar and open the gates]
    [To PROCULEIUS and the Guard]
    Guard her till Caesar come.


  • Charmian. O Cleopatra! thou art taken, queen:

[Drawing a dagger]

  • Proculeius. Hold, worthy lady, hold: 3430
    [Seizes and disarms her]
    Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this
    Relieved, but not betray'd.
  • Cleopatra. What, of death too,
    That rids our dogs of languish? 3435
  • Proculeius. Cleopatra,
    Do not abuse my master's bounty by
    The undoing of yourself: let the world see
    His nobleness well acted, which your death
    Will never let come forth. 3440
  • Cleopatra. Where art thou, death?
    Come hither, come! come, come, and take a queen
    Worthy many babes and beggars!
  • Cleopatra. Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir; 3445
    If idle talk will once be necessary,
    I'll not sleep neither: this mortal house I'll ruin,
    Do Caesar what he can. Know, sir, that I
    Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court;
    Nor once be chastised with the sober eye 3450
    Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up
    And show me to the shouting varletry
    Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt
    Be gentle grave unto me! rather on Nilus' mud
    Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies 3455
    Blow me into abhorring! rather make
    My country's high pyramides my gibbet,
    And hang me up in chains!
  • Proculeius. You do extend
    These thoughts of horror further than you shall 3460
    Find cause in Caesar.


  • Dolabella. Proculeius,
    What thou hast done thy master Caesar knows,
    And he hath sent for thee: for the queen, 3465
    I'll take her to my guard.
  • Proculeius. So, Dolabella,
    It shall content me best: be gentle to her.
    To Caesar I will speak what you shall please, 3470
    If you'll employ me to him.

[Exeunt PROCULEIUS and Soldiers]

  • Dolabella. Most noble empress, you have heard of me?
  • Cleopatra. No matter, sir, what I have heard or known.
    You laugh when boys or women tell their dreams;
    Is't not your trick?
  • Cleopatra. I dream'd there was an Emperor Antony:
    O, such another sleep, that I might see
    But such another man!
  • Cleopatra. His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck 3485
    A sun and moon, which kept their course,
    and lighted
    The little O, the earth.
  • Cleopatra. His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm 3490
    Crested the world: his voice was propertied
    As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
    But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
    He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
    There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas 3495
    That grew the more by reaping: his delights
    Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
    The element they lived in: in his livery
    Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
    As plates dropp'd from his pocket. 3500
  • Cleopatra. Think you there was, or might be, such a man
    As this I dream'd of?
  • Cleopatra. You lie, up to the hearing of the gods. 3505
    But, if there be, or ever were, one such,
    It's past the size of dreaming: nature wants stuff
    To vie strange forms with fancy; yet, to imagine
    And Antony, were nature's piece 'gainst fancy,
    Condemning shadows quite. 3510
  • Dolabella. Hear me, good madam.
    Your loss is as yourself, great; and you bear it
    As answering to the weight: would I might never
    O'ertake pursued success, but I do feel,
    By the rebound of yours, a grief that smites 3515
    My very heart at root.
  • Cleopatra. I thank you, sir,
    Know you what Caesar means to do with me?
  • Dolabella. I am loath to tell you what I would you knew.
  • Dolabella. Madam, he will; I know't.
    [Flourish, and shout within, 'Make way there:]
    Octavius Caesar!'] 3525
    MECAENAS, SELEUCUS, and others of his Train]

[CLEOPATRA kneels]

  • Octavius. Arise, you shall not kneel:
    I pray you, rise; rise, Egypt.
  • Cleopatra. Sir, the gods
    Will have it thus; my master and my lord
    I must obey. 3535
  • Octavius. Take to you no hard thoughts:
    The record of what injuries you did us,
    Though written in our flesh, we shall remember
    As things but done by chance.
  • Cleopatra. Sole sir o' the world, 3540
    I cannot project mine own cause so well
    To make it clear; but do confess I have
    Been laden with like frailties which before
    Have often shamed our sex.
  • Octavius. Cleopatra, know, 3545
    We will extenuate rather than enforce:
    If you apply yourself to our intents,
    Which towards you are most gentle, you shall find
    A benefit in this change; but if you seek
    To lay on me a cruelty, by taking 3550
    Antony's course, you shall bereave yourself
    Of my good purposes, and put your children
    To that destruction which I'll guard them from,
    If thereon you rely. I'll take my leave.
  • Cleopatra. And may, through all the world: 'tis yours; and we, 3555
    Your scutcheons and your signs of conquest, shall
    Hang in what place you please. Here, my good lord.
  • Octavius. You shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.
  • Cleopatra. This is the brief of money, plate, and jewels,
    I am possess'd of: 'tis exactly valued; 3560
    Not petty things admitted. Where's Seleucus?
  • Cleopatra. This is my treasurer: let him speak, my lord,
    Upon his peril, that I have reserved
    To myself nothing. Speak the truth, Seleucus. 3565
  • Seleucus. Madam,
    I had rather seal my lips, than, to my peril,
    Speak that which is not.
  • Seleucus. Enough to purchase what you have made known. 3570
  • Octavius. Nay, blush not, Cleopatra; I approve
    Your wisdom in the deed.
  • Cleopatra. See, Caesar! O, behold,
    How pomp is follow'd! mine will now be yours;
    And, should we shift estates, yours would be mine. 3575
    The ingratitude of this Seleucus does
    Even make me wild: O slave, of no more trust
    Than love that's hired! What, goest thou back? thou shalt
    Go back, I warrant thee; but I'll catch thine eyes,
    Though they had wings: slave, soulless villain, dog! 3580
    O rarely base!
  • Octavius. Good queen, let us entreat you.
  • Cleopatra. O Caesar, what a wounding shame is this,
    That thou, vouchsafing here to visit me,
    Doing the honour of thy lordliness 3585
    To one so meek, that mine own servant should
    Parcel the sum of my disgraces by
    Addition of his envy! Say, good Caesar,
    That I some lady trifles have reserved,
    Immoment toys, things of such dignity 3590
    As we greet modern friends withal; and say,
    Some nobler token I have kept apart
    For Livia and Octavia, to induce
    Their mediation; must I be unfolded
    With one that I have bred? The gods! it smites me 3595
    Beneath the fall I have.
    Prithee, go hence;
    Or I shall show the cinders of my spirits
    Through the ashes of my chance: wert thou a man, 3600
    Thou wouldst have mercy on me.


  • Cleopatra. Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought
    For things that others do; and, when we fall, 3605
    We answer others' merits in our name,
    Are therefore to be pitied.
  • Octavius. Cleopatra,
    Not what you have reserved, nor what acknowledged,
    Put we i' the roll of conquest: still be't yours, 3610
    Bestow it at your pleasure; and believe,
    Caesar's no merchant, to make prize with you
    Of things that merchants sold. Therefore be cheer'd;
    Make not your thoughts your prisons: no, dear queen;
    For we intend so to dispose you as 3615
    Yourself shall give us counsel. Feed, and sleep:
    Our care and pity is so much upon you,
    That we remain your friend; and so, adieu.

[Flourish. Exeunt OCTAVIUS CAESAR and his train]

  • Cleopatra. He words me, girls, he words me, that I should not
    Be noble to myself: but, hark thee, Charmian.

[Whispers CHARMIAN]

  • Iras. Finish, good lady; the bright day is done, 3625
    And we are for the dark.
  • Cleopatra. Hie thee again:
    I have spoke already, and it is provided;
    Go put it to the haste.

[Re-enter DOLABELLA]


  • Dolabella. Madam, as thereto sworn by your command,
    Which my love makes religion to obey,
    I tell you this: Caesar through Syria
    Intends his journey; and within three days
    You with your children will he send before: 3640
    Make your best use of this: I have perform'd
    Your pleasure and my promise.
  • Cleopatra. Dolabella,
    I shall remain your debtor.
  • Dolabella. I your servant, 3645
    Adieu, good queen; I must attend on Caesar.
  • Cleopatra. Farewell, and thanks.
    [Exit DOLABELLA]
    Now, Iras, what think'st thou?
    Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shalt be shown 3650
    In Rome, as well as I. mechanic slaves
    With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
    Uplift us to the view; in their thick breaths,
    Rank of gross diet, shall be enclouded,
    And forced to drink their vapour. 3655
  • Iras. The gods forbid!
  • Cleopatra. Nay, 'tis most certain, Iras: saucy lictors
    Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
    Ballad us out o' tune: the quick comedians
    Extemporally will stage us, and present 3660
    Our Alexandrian revels; Antony
    Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
    Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
    I' the posture of a whore.
  • Iras. O the good gods! 3665
  • Iras. I'll never see 't; for, I am sure, my nails
    Are stronger than mine eyes.
  • Cleopatra. Why, that's the way
    To fool their preparation, and to conquer 3670
    Their most absurd intents.
    [Re-enter CHARMIAN]
    Now, Charmian!
    Show me, my women, like a queen: go fetch
    My best attires: I am again for Cydnus, 3675
    To meet Mark Antony: sirrah Iras, go.
    Now, noble Charmian, we'll dispatch indeed;
    And, when thou hast done this chare, I'll give thee leave
    To play till doomsday. Bring our crown and all.
    Wherefore's this noise? 3680

[Exit IRAS. A noise within]

[Enter a Guardsman]

  • Guard. Here is a rural fellow
    That will not be denied your highness presence:
    He brings you figs. 3685
  • Cleopatra. Let him come in.
    [Exit Guardsman]
    What poor an instrument
    May do a noble deed! he brings me liberty.
    My resolution's placed, and I have nothing 3690
    Of woman in me: now from head to foot
    I am marble-constant; now the fleeting moon
    No planet is of mine.

[Re-enter Guardsman, with Clown bringing in a basket]

  • Guard. This is the man. 3695
  • Cleopatra. Avoid, and leave him.
    [Exit Guardsman]
    Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there,
    That kills and pains not?
  • Clown. Truly, I have him: but I would not be the party 3700
    that should desire you to touch him, for his biting
    is immortal; those that do die of it do seldom or
    never recover.
  • Cleopatra. Rememberest thou any that have died on't?
  • Clown. Very many, men and women too. I heard of one of 3705
    them no longer than yesterday: a very honest woman,
    but something given to lie; as a woman should not
    do, but in the way of honesty: how she died of the
    biting of it, what pain she felt: truly, she makes
    a very good report o' the worm; but he that will 3710
    believe all that they say, shall never be saved by
    half that they do: but this is most fallible, the
    worm's an odd worm.
  • Clown. I wish you all joy of the worm. 3715

[Setting down his basket]

  • Clown. You must think this, look you, that the worm will
    do his kind.
  • Clown. Look you, the worm is not to be trusted but in the
    keeping of wise people; for, indeed, there is no
    goodness in worm.
  • Cleopatra. Take thou no care; it shall be heeded.
  • Clown. Very good. Give it nothing, I pray you, for it is 3725
    not worth the feeding.
  • Clown. You must not think I am so simple but I know the
    devil himself will not eat a woman: I know that a
    woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her 3730
    not. But, truly, these same whoreson devils do the
    gods great harm in their women; for in every ten
    that they make, the devils mar five.
  • Clown. Yes, forsooth: I wish you joy o' the worm. 3735


[Re-enter IRAS with a robe, crown, &c]

  • Cleopatra. Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
    Immortal longings in me: now no more
    The juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip: 3740
    Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
    Antony call; I see him rouse himself
    To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
    The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
    To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come: 3745
    Now to that name my courage prove my title!
    I am fire and air; my other elements
    I give to baser life. So; have you done?
    Come then, and take the last warmth of my lips.
    Farewell, kind Charmian; Iras, long farewell. 3750
    [Kisses them. IRAS falls and dies]
    Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall?
    If thou and nature can so gently part,
    The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch,
    Which hurts, and is desired. Dost thou lie still? 3755
    If thus thou vanishest, thou tell'st the world
    It is not worth leave-taking.
  • Charmian. Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain; that I may say,
    The gods themselves do weep!
  • Cleopatra. This proves me base: 3760
    If she first meet the curled Antony,
    He'll make demand of her, and spend that kiss
    Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou
    mortal wretch,
    [To an asp, which she applies to her breast] 3765
    With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
    Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
    Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
    That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass
    Unpolicied! 3770
  • Cleopatra. Peace, peace!
    Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
    That sucks the nurse asleep?
  • Cleopatra. As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,—
    O Antony!—Nay, I will take thee too.
    [Applying another asp to her arm]
    What should I stay—


  • Charmian. In this vile world? So, fare thee well.
    Now boast thee, death, in thy possession lies
    A lass unparallel'd. Downy windows, close;
    And golden Phoebus never be beheld
    Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry; 3785
    I'll mend it, and then play.

[Enter the Guard, rushing in]

  • Charmian. Too slow a messenger.
    [Applies an asp]
    O, come apace, dispatch! I partly feel thee.
  • First Guard. Approach, ho! All's not well: Caesar's beguiled.
  • Second Guard. There's Dolabella sent from Caesar; call him. 3795
  • First Guard. What work is here! Charmian, is this well done?
  • Charmian. It is well done, and fitting for a princess
    Descended of so many royal kings.
    Ah, soldier!


[Re-enter DOLABELLA]

  • Dolabella. Caesar, thy thoughts
    Touch their effects in this: thyself art coming 3805
    To see perform'd the dreaded act which thou
    So sought'st to hinder.

[Within 'A way there, a way for Caesar!']

[Re-enter OCTAVIUS CAESAR and all his train marching]

  • Dolabella. O sir, you are too sure an augurer; 3810
    That you did fear is done.
  • Octavius. Bravest at the last,
    She levell'd at our purposes, and, being royal,
    Took her own way. The manner of their deaths?
    I do not see them bleed. 3815
  • First Guard. A simple countryman, that brought her figs:
    This was his basket.
  • First Guard. O Caesar, 3820
    This Charmian lived but now; she stood and spake:
    I found her trimming up the diadem
    On her dead mistress; tremblingly she stood
    And on the sudden dropp'd.
  • Octavius. O noble weakness! 3825
    If they had swallow'd poison, 'twould appear
    By external swelling: but she looks like sleep,
    As she would catch another Antony
    In her strong toil of grace.
  • Dolabella. Here, on her breast, 3830
    There is a vent of blood and something blown:
    The like is on her arm.
  • First Guard. This is an aspic's trail: and these fig-leaves
    Have slime upon them, such as the aspic leaves
    Upon the caves of Nile. 3835
  • Octavius. Most probable
    That so she died; for her physician tells me
    She hath pursued conclusions infinite
    Of easy ways to die. Take up her bed;
    And bear her women from the monument: 3840
    She shall be buried by her Antony:
    No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
    A pair so famous. High events as these
    Strike those that make them; and their story is
    No less in pity than his glory which 3845
    Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
    In solemn show attend this funeral;
    And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see
    High order in this great solemnity.