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Antony and Cleopatra - Act 1, scene 2
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Navigate this workAntony and Cleopatra - Act 1, scene 2
Act 1, scene 2
Antony learns that Fulvia, his wife, has died. That and other news, especially news of Pompey’s threat to Caesar, make him decide to return to Rome.Enter Enobarbus, Lamprius, a Soothsayer, Rannius,
Lucillius, Charmian, Iras, Mardian the Eunuch, Alexas,
CHARMIAN 0073 Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most anything
0074 Alexas, almost most absolute Alexas, where’s the
p. 130075 soothsayer that you praised so to th’ Queen? O, that
0076 I knew this husband which you say must ⌜charge⌝
0077 5 his horns with garlands!
ALEXAS 0078 Soothsayer!
SOOTHSAYER 0079 Your will?
0080 Is this the man?—Is ’t you, sir, that know things?
0081 In nature’s infinite book of secrecy
0082 10 A little I can read.
ALEXAS, ⌜to Charmian⌝ 0083 Show him your hand.
ENOBARBUS, ⌜to Servants⌝
0084 Bring in the banquet quickly, wine enough
0085 Cleopatra’s health to drink.
CHARMIAN, ⌜giving her hand to the Soothsayer⌝ 0086 Good sir,
0087 15 give me good fortune.
SOOTHSAYER 0088 I make not, but foresee.
CHARMIAN 0089 Pray then, foresee me one.
0090 You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
CHARMIAN 0091 He means in flesh.
IRAS 0092 20No, you shall paint when you are old.
CHARMIAN 0093 Wrinkles forbid!
ALEXAS 0094 Vex not his prescience. Be attentive.
CHARMIAN 0095 Hush.
0096 You shall be more beloving than beloved.
CHARMIAN 0097 25I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
ALEXAS 0098 Nay, hear him.
CHARMIAN 0099 Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me
0100 be married to three kings in a forenoon and widow
0101 them all. Let me have a child at fifty to whom Herod
0102 30 of Jewry may do homage. Find me to marry me
0103 with Octavius Caesar, and companion me with my
0105 You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.
CHARMIAN 0106 O, excellent! I love long life better than figs.
0107 35 You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune
0108 Than that which is to approach.
CHARMIAN 0109 Then belike my children shall have no
0110 names. Prithee, how many boys and wenches must
0111 I have?
0112 40 If every of your wishes had a womb,
0113 And ⌜fertile⌝ every wish, a million.
CHARMIAN 0114 Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.
ALEXAS 0115 You think none but your sheets are privy to
0116 your wishes.
CHARMIAN, ⌜to Soothsayer⌝ 0117 45Nay, come. Tell Iras hers.
ALEXAS 0118 We’ll know all our fortunes.
ENOBARBUS 0119 Mine, and most of our fortunes tonight,
0120 shall be—drunk to bed.
IRAS, ⌜giving her hand to the Soothsayer⌝ 0121 There’s a palm
0122 50 presages chastity, if nothing else.
CHARMIAN 0123 E’en as the o’erflowing Nilus presageth
IRAS 0125 Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
CHARMIAN 0126 Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication,
0127 55 I cannot scratch mine ear.—Prithee
0128 tell her but a workaday fortune.
SOOTHSAYER 0129 Your fortunes are alike.
IRAS 0130 But how, but how? Give me particulars.
SOOTHSAYER 0131 I have said.
IRAS 0132 60Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?
CHARMIAN 0133 Well, if you were but an inch of fortune
0134 better than I, where would you choose it?
IRAS 0135 Not in my husband’s nose.
CHARMIAN 0136 Our worser thoughts heavens mend. Alexas—
0137 65 come, his fortune, his fortune! O, let him marry a
p. 170138 woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee, and
0139 let her die, too, and give him a worse, and let worse
0140 follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing
0141 to his grave, fiftyfold a cuckold. Good Isis, hear me
0142 70 this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more
0143 weight, good Isis, I beseech thee!
IRAS 0144 Amen, dear goddess, hear that prayer of the
0145 people. For, as it is a heartbreaking to see a handsome
0146 man loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to
0147 75 behold a foul knave uncuckolded. Therefore, dear
0148 Isis, keep decorum and fortune him accordingly.
CHARMIAN 0149 Amen.
ALEXAS 0150 Lo now, if it lay in their hands to make me a
0151 cuckold, they would make themselves whores but
0152 80 they’d do ’t.
ENOBARBUS 0153 Hush, here comes Antony.
CHARMIAN 0154 Not he. The Queen.
CLEOPATRA 0155 ⌜Saw⌝ you my lord?
ENOBARBUS 0156 No, lady.
CLEOPATRA 0157 85Was he not here?
CHARMIAN 0158 No, madam.
0159 He was disposed to mirth, but on the sudden
0160 A Roman thought hath struck him.—Enobarbus!
ENOBARBUS 0161 Madam?
0162 90 Seek him and bring him hither.—Where’s Alexas?
0163 Here at your service. My lord approaches.
Enter Antony with a Messenger.
0164 We will not look upon him. Go with us.
⌜All but Antony and the Messenger⌝ exit.
0165 Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.
ANTONY 0166 Against my brother Lucius?
MESSENGER 0167 95Ay.
0168 But soon that war had end, and the time’s state
0169 Made friends of them, jointing their force ’gainst
0171 Whose better issue in the war from Italy
0172 100 Upon the first encounter drave them.
ANTONY 0173 Well, what worst?
0174 The nature of bad news infects the teller.
0175 When it concerns the fool or coward. On.
0176 Things that are past are done, with me. ’Tis thus:
0177 105 Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death,
0178 I hear him as he flattered.
MESSENGER 0179 Labienus—
0180 This is stiff news—hath with his Parthian force
0181 Extended Asia: from Euphrates
0182 110 His conquering banner shook, from Syria
0183 To Lydia and to Ionia,
ANTONY 0185 “Antony,” thou wouldst say?
MESSENGER 0186 O, my lord!
0187 115 Speak to me home; mince not the general tongue.
0188 Name Cleopatra as she is called in Rome;
0189 Rail thou in Fulvia’s phrase, and taunt my faults
0190 With such full license as both truth and malice
0191 Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth weeds
0192 120 When our quick winds lie still, and our ills told us
0193 Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.
MESSENGER 0194 At your noble pleasure.Messenger exits.
p. 21Enter another Messenger.
0195 From Sicyon how the news? Speak there.
0196 The man from Sicyon—
⌜ANTONY⌝ 0197 125 Is there such an one?
0198 He stays upon your will.
ANTONY 0199 Let him appear.
⌜Second Messenger exits.⌝
0200 These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
0201 Or lose myself in dotage.
Enter another Messenger with a letter.
0202 130 What are you?
0203 Fulvia thy wife is dead.
ANTONY 0204 Where died she?
⌜THIRD⌝ MESSENGER 0205 In Sicyon.
0206 Her length of sickness, with what else more serious
0207 135 Importeth thee to know, this bears.
⌜He hands Antony the letter.⌝
ANTONY 0208 Forbear me.
⌜Third Messenger exits.⌝
0209 There’s a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it.
0210 What our contempts doth often hurl from us,
0211 We wish it ours again. The present pleasure,
0212 140 By revolution lowering, does become
0213 The opposite of itself. She’s good, being gone.
0214 The hand could pluck her back that shoved her on.
0215 I must from this enchanting queen break off.
0216 Ten thousand harms more than the ills I know
0217 145 My idleness doth hatch.—How now, Enobarbus!
p. 23ENOBARBUS 0218 What’s your pleasure, sir?
ANTONY 0219 I must with haste from hence.
ENOBARBUS 0220 Why then we kill all our women. We see
0221 how mortal an unkindness is to them. If they suffer
0222 150 our departure, death’s the word.
ANTONY 0223 I must be gone.
ENOBARBUS 0224 Under a compelling occasion, let women
0225 die. It were pity to cast them away for nothing,
0226 though between them and a great cause, they
0227 155 should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching
0228 but the least noise of this, dies instantly. I have seen
0229 her die twenty times upon far poorer moment. I do
0230 think there is mettle in death which commits some
0231 loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in
0232 160 dying.
ANTONY 0233 She is cunning past man’s thought.
ENOBARBUS 0234 Alack, sir, no, her passions are made of
0235 nothing but the finest part of pure love. We cannot
0236 call her winds and waters sighs and tears; they are
0237 165 greater storms and tempests than almanacs can
0238 report. This cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she
0239 makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.
ANTONY 0240 Would I had never seen her!
ENOBARBUS 0241 O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful
0242 170 piece of work, which not to have been blest
0243 withal would have discredited your travel.
ANTONY 0244 Fulvia is dead.
ENOBARBUS 0245 Sir?
ANTONY 0246 Fulvia is dead.
ENOBARBUS 0247 175Fulvia?
ANTONY 0248 Dead.
ENOBARBUS 0249 Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice.
0250 When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a
0251 man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the
p. 250252 180 Earth; comforting therein, that when old robes are
0253 worn out, there are members to make new. If there
0254 were no more women but Fulvia, then had you
0255 indeed a cut, and the case to be lamented. This grief
0256 is crowned with consolation; your old smock brings
0257 185 forth a new petticoat, and indeed the tears live in an
0258 onion that should water this sorrow.
0259 The business she hath broachèd in the state
0260 Cannot endure my absence.
ENOBARBUS 0261 And the business you have broached here
0262 190 cannot be without you, especially that of Cleopatra’s,
0263 which wholly depends on your abode.
0264 No more light answers. Let our officers
0265 Have notice what we purpose. I shall break
0266 The cause of our expedience to the Queen
0267 195 And get her ⌜leave⌝ to part. For not alone
0268 The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
0269 Do strongly speak to us, but the letters too
0270 Of many our contriving friends in Rome
0271 Petition us at home. Sextus Pompeius
0272 200 ⌜Hath⌝ given the dare to Caesar and commands
0273 The empire of the sea. Our slippery people,
0274 Whose love is never linked to the deserver
0275 Till his deserts are past, begin to throw
0276 Pompey the Great and all his dignities
0277 205 Upon his son, who—high in name and power,
0278 Higher than both in blood and life—stands up
0279 For the main soldier; whose quality, going on,
0280 The sides o’ th’ world may danger. Much is
0282 210 Which, like the courser’s hair, hath yet but life
0283 And not a serpent’s poison. Say our pleasure,
p. 270284 To such whose ⌜place is⌝ under us, ⌜requires⌝
0285 Our quick remove from hence.
ENOBARBUS 0286 I shall do ’t.