Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

Description

A magnificent drama of love and war, this riveting tragedy presents one of Shakespeare’s greatest female characters–the seductive, cunning Egyptian queen Cleopatra. The Roman leader Mark Antony, a virtual prisoner of his passion for her, is a man torn between pleasure and virtue, between sensual indolence and duty . . . between an empire and love. Bold, rich, and splendid in its setting and emotions, “Antony And Cleopatra” ranks among Shakespeare’s supreme achievements.


107 pages, with a reading time of ~3.5 hours (26,791 words), and first published in 1607. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

SCENE I

Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA’s palace.

[Enter DEMETRIUS and PHILO]

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, 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 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. 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.

MARK ANTONY

There’s beggary in the love that can be reckon’d.

CLEOPATRA

I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

MARK ANTONY

Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

[Enter an Attendant]

Attendant

News, my good lord, from Rome.

MARK ANTONY

Grates me: the sum.

CLEOPATRA

Nay, hear them, Antony: 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.’

MARK 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? 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!

MARK ANTONY

Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch 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

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? I’ll seem the fool I am not; Antony Will be himself.

MARK 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: There’s not a minute of our lives should stretch Without some pleasure now. What sport tonight?

CLEOPATRA

Hear the ambassadors.

MARK ANTONY

Fie, wrangling queen! Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh, 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; 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, 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 Of better deeds to-morrow. Rest you happy!

[Exeunt]

SCENE II

The same. Another room.

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

CHARMIAN

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

ALEXAS

Soothsayer!

Soothsayer

Your will?

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.

ALEXAS

Show him your hand.

[Enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS]

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough Cleopatra’s health to drink.

CHARMIAN

Good sir, give me good fortune.

Soothsayer

I make not, but foresee.

CHARMIAN

Pray, then, foresee me one.

Soothsayer

You shall be yet far fairer than you are.

CHARMIAN

He means in flesh.

IRAS

No, you shall paint when you are old.

CHARMIAN

Wrinkles forbid!

ALEXAS

Vex not his prescience; be attentive.

CHARMIAN

Hush!