The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra

Act IV

Scene XIV.

William Shakespeare

Cleopatra’s palace


Eros, thou yet behold’st me?

                                        Ay, noble lord.

Sometime we see a cloud that’s dragonish;
A vapour sometime like a bear or lion,
A tower’d citadel, a pendent rock,
A forked mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon’t that nod unto the world
And mock our eyes with air. Thou hast seen these signs;
They are black vesper’s pageants.

                                        Ay, my lord.

That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct,
As water is in water.

                        It does, my lord.

My good knave Eros, now thy captain is
Even such a body. Here I am Antony;
Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.
I made these wars for Egypt; and the Queen,—
Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine,
Which, whilst it was mine, had annex’d unto’t
A million more, now lost,—she, Eros, has
Pack’d cards with Cæsar, and false-play’d my glory
Unto an enemy’s triumph.
Nay, weep not, gentle Eros; there is left us
Ourselves to end ourselves.


                                O, thy vile lady!
She has robb’d me of my sword.

                                        No, Antony;
My mistress lov’d thee, and her fortunes mingled
With thine entirely.

                Hence, saucy eunuch; peace!
She hath betray’d me, and shall die the death.

Death of one person can be paid but once,
And that she has discharg’d. What thou wouldst do
Is done unto thy hand. The last she spake
Was ‘Antony! most noble Antony!’
Then in the midst a tearing groan did break
The name of Antony; it was divided
Between her heart and lips. She rend’red life,
Thy name so buried in her.

                                Dead then?


Unarm, Eros; the long day’s task is done,
And we must sleep. That thou depart’st hence safe
Does pay thy labour richly. Go.[Exit Mardian
                                        Off, pluck off!
The sevenfold shield of Ajax cannot keep
The battery from my heart. O, cleave, my sides!
Heart, once be stronger than thy continent,
Crack thy frail case. Apace, Eros, apace!
No more a soldier. Bruised pieces, go;
You have been nobly borne.- From me awhile.
[Exit Eros
I will o’ertake thee, Cleopatra, and
Weep for my pardon. So it must be, for now
All length is torture. Since the torch is out,
Lie down, and stray no farther. Now all labour
Mars what it does; yea, very force entangles
Itself with strength. Seal then, and all is done.
Eros!—I come, my queen.—Eros!—Stay for me;
Where souls do couch on flowers, we’ll hand in hand,
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze.
Dido and her Æneas shall want troops,
And all the haunt be ours. Come, Eros, Eros!

Re-enter EROS

What would my lord?

                                Since Cleopatra died,
I have liv’d in such dishonour that the gods
Detest my baseness. I, that with my sword
Quarter’d the world, and o’er green Neptune’s back
With ships made cities, condemn myself to lack
The courage of a woman; less noble mind
Than she which by her death our Cæsar tells
‘I am conqueror of myself.’ Thou art sworn, Eros,
That, when the exigent should come,—which now
Is come indeed,—when I should see behind me
Th’ inevitable prosecution of
Disgrace and horror, that, on my command,
Thou then wouldst kill me. Do’t; the time is come.
Thou strik’st not me; ’tis Cæsar thou defeat’st.
Put colour in thy cheek.

                                The gods withhold me!
Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts,
Though enemy, lost aim and could not?

Wouldst thou be window’d in great Rome and see
Thy master thus with pleach’d arms, bending down
His corrigible neck, his face subdu’d
To penetrative shame, whilst the wheel’d seat
Of fortunate Cæsar, drawn before him, branded
His baseness that ensued?

                                I would not see’t.

Come, then; for with a wound I must be cur’d.
Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn
Most useful for thy country.

                                    O, sir, pardon me!

When I did make thee free, swor’st thou not then
To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once,
Or thy precedent services are all
But accidents unpurpos’d. Draw, and come.

Turn from me then that noble countenance,
Wherein the worship of the whole world lies.

Lo thee![Turning from him

My sword is drawn.

                                Then let it do at once
The thing why thou hast drawn it.

                                        My dear master,
My captain and my emperor, let me say,
Before I strike this bloody stroke, farewell.

’Tis said, man; and farewell.

Farewell, great chief. Shall I strike now?

                                                Now, Eros.

Why, there then! Thus do I escape the sorrow
Of Antony’s death.[Kills himself

Thrice nobler than myself!
Thou teachest me, O valiant Eros, what
I should, and thou couldst not. My queen and Eros
Have, by their brave instruction, got upon me
A nobleness in record. But I will be
A bridegroom in my death, and run into’t
As to a lover’s bed. Come, then; and, Eros,
Thy master dies thy scholar. To do thus
[Falling on his sword
I learn’d of thee. How? not dead? not dead?—
The guard, ho! O, dispatch me!

Enter DERCETAS and a Guard

                                What’s the noise?

I have done my work ill, friends. O, make an end
Of what I have begun.

                        The star is fall’n.

And time is at his period.

                                Alas, and woe!

Let him that loves me, strike me dead.

Not I.

Nor I.

Nor any one.[Exeunt guard

Thy death and fortunes bid thy followers fly.
This sword but shown to Cæsar, with this tidings,
Shall enter me with him.


Where’s Antony?

                                There, Diomed, there.

                                                Lives he?
Wilt thou not answer, man?[Exit Dercetas

Art thou there, Diomed? Draw thy sword and give me
Sufficing strokes for death.

                                Most absolute lord,
My mistress Cleopatra sent me to thee.

When did she send thee?

                                Now, my lord.

Where is she?

Lock’d in her monument. She had a prophesying fear
Of what hath come to pass; for when she saw—
Which never shall be found—you did suspect
She had dispos’d with Cæsar, and that your rage
Would not be purg’d, she sent you word she was dead;
But fearing since how it might work, hath sent
Me to proclaim the truth; and I am come,
I dread, too late.

Too late, good Diomed. Call my guard, I prithee.

What, ho! the Emperor’s guard! The guard, what ho!
Come, your lord calls!

Enter four or five of the guard of ANTONY

Bear me, good friends, where Cleopatra bides;
’Tis the last service that I shall command you.

Woe, woe are we, sir, you may not live to wear
All your true followers out.

                                Most heavy day!

Nay, good my fellows, do not please sharp fate
To grace it with your sorrows. Bid that welcome
Which comes to punish us, and we punish it,
Seeming to bear it lightly. Take me up.
I have led you oft; carry me now, good friends,
And have my thanks for all.
[Exeunt, bearing Antony

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

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