The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra

Act I

Scene III.

William Shakespeare

Alexandria. CLEOPATRA’S palace


Where is he?

                        I did not see him since.

See where he is, who’s with him, what he does.
I did not send you. If you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report
That I am sudden sick. Quick, and return. [Exit Alexas

Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly,
You do not hold the method to enforce
The like from him.

                        What should I do I do not?

In each thing give him way; cross him in nothing.

Thou teachest like a fool; the way to lose him.

Tempt him not so too far; I wish, forbear;
In time we hate that which we often fear.
But here comes Antony.


                        I am sick and sullen.

I am sorry to give breathing to my purpose,—

Help me away, dear Charmian; I shall fall.
It cannot be thus long; the sides of nature
Will not sustain it.

                    Now, my dearest queen—

Pray you, stand farther from me.

                                What’s the matter?

I know by that same eye there’s some good news.
What says the married woman? You may go.
Would she had never given you leave to come!
Let her not say ’tis I that keep you here—
I have no power upon you; hers you are.

The gods best know—

                                O, never was there queen
So mightily betray’d! Yet at the first
I saw the treasons planted.


Why should I think you can be mine and true,
Though you in swearing shake the throned gods,
Who have been false to Fulvia? Riotous madness,
To be entangled with those mouth-made vows,
Which break themselves in swearing!

                                                    Most sweet queen—

Nay, pray you seek no colour for your going,
But bid farewell, and go. When you sued staying,
Then was the time for words. No going then!
Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows’ bent, none our parts so poor
But was a race of heaven. They are so still,
Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world,
Art turn’d the greatest liar.

                                                    How now, lady!

I would I had thy inches. Thou shouldst know
There were a heart in Egypt.

                                                        Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile; but my full heart
Remains in use with you. Our Italy
Shines o’er with civil swords: Sextus Pompeius
Makes his approaches to the port of Rome;
Equality of two domestic powers
Breed scrupulous faction; the hated, grown to strength,
Are newly grown to love. The condemn’d Pompey,
Rich in his father’s honour, creeps apace
Into the hearts of such as have not thrived
Upon the present state, whose numbers threaten;
And quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge
By any desperate change. My more particular,
And that which most with you should safe my going,
Is Fulvia’s death.

Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
It does from childishness. Can Fulvia die?

She’s dead, my Queen.
Look here, and at thy sovereign leisure read
The garboils she awak’d. At the last, best.
See when and where she died.

                                                    O most false love!
Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill
With sorrowful water? Now I see, I see,
In Fulvia’s death how mine receiv’d shall be.

Quarrel no more, but be prepar’d to know
The purposes I bear; which are, or cease,
As you shall give th’ advice. By the fire
That quickens Nilus’ slime, I go from hence
Thy soldier, servant, making peace or war
As thou affects.

                        Cut my lace, Charmian, come!
But let it be; I am quickly ill and well—
So Antony loves.

                        My precious queen, forbear,
And give true evidence to his love, which stands
An honourable trial.

                            So Fulvia told me.
I prithee turn aside and weep for her;
Then bid adieu to me, and say the tears
Belong to Egypt. Good now, play one scene
Of excellent dissembling, and let it look
Like perfect honour.

                You’ll heat my blood; no more.

You can do better yet; but this is meetly.

Now, by my sword—

                    And target. Still he mends;
But this is not the best. Look, prithee, Charmian,
How this Herculean Roman does become
The carriage of his chafe.

I’ll leave you, lady.

                                Courteous lord, one word.
Sir, you and I must part— but that’s not it.
Sir, you and I have lov’d— but there’s not it.
That you know well. Something it is I would—
O, my oblivion is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten!

                                But that your royalty
Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
For idleness itself.

                        ’Tis sweating labour
To bear such idleness so near the heart
As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me;
Since my becomings kill me when they do not
Eye well to you. Your honour calls you hence;
Therefore be deaf to my unpitied folly,
And all the gods go with you! Upon your sword
Sit laurel victory, and smooth success
Be strew’d before your feet!

                                        Let us go. Come.
Our separation so abides and flies
That thou, residing here, goes yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee.

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra - Contents    |     Act I. Scene IV.

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