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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, 2016.
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Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA’s palace.
[Enter DEMETRIUS and 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.
If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
There’s beggary in the love that can be reckon’d.
I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved.
Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.
[Enter an Attendant]
News, my good lord, from Rome.
Grates me: the sum.
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.’
How, my love!
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!
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
And such a twain can do’t, in which I bind, On pain of punishment, the world to weet We stand up peerless.
Excellent falsehood! Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her? I’ll seem the fool I am not; Antony Will be himself.
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?
Hear the ambassadors.
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]
Is Caesar with Antonius prized so slight?
Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.
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!
The same. Another room.
[Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer]
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!
Is this the man? Is’t you, sir, that know things?
In nature’s infinite book of secrecy A little I can read.
Show him your hand.
[Enter DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS]
Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough Cleopatra’s health to drink.
Good sir, give me good fortune.
I make not, but foresee.
Pray, then, foresee me one.
You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
He means in flesh.
No, you shall paint when you are old.
Vex not his prescience; be attentive.