William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in the complete original text
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > Antony and Cleopatra > Act I. Scene II.

Antony and Cleopatra

Study Guides
Hamlet
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Macbeth
Merchant of Venice
Othello
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Trivia
Authorship
Bard Facts
Bibliography
Biography
FAQ
Films
Globe Theatre
Pictures
Quiz
Timeline

Act I. Scene II.

Scene II.—The Same. Another Room.

Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and
a Soothsayer.

Char. 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.
Alex. Soothsayer!
Sooth. Your will?
Char. Is this the man? Is't you, sir, that
know things?
Sooth. In nature's infinite book of secrecy
A little I can read.
Alex. Show him your hand.

Enter ENOBARBUS.
Eno. Bring in the banquet quickly; wine
enough
Cleopatra's health to drink.
Char. Good sir, give me good fortune.
Sooth. I make not, but foresee.
Char. Pray then, foresee me one.
Sooth. You shall be yet far fairer than you
are.
Char. He means in flesh.
Iras. No, you shall paint when you are old.
Char. Wrinkles forbid!
Alex. Vex not his prescience; be attentive.
Char. Hush!
Sooth. You shall be more beloving than
belov'd.
Char. I had rather heat my liver with drink-
ing.
Alex. Nay, hear him.
Char. Good now, some excellent fortune!
Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon,
and widow them all; let me have a child at fifty,
to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage; find
me to marry me with Octavius Cæsar, and com-
panion me with my mistress.
Sooth. You shall outlive the lady whom you
serve.
Char. O excellent! I love long life better than
figs.
Sooth. You have seen and proved a fairer
former fortune
Than that which is to approach.
Char. Then, belike, my children shall have no
names; prithee, how many boys and wenches
must I have?
Sooth. If every of your wishes had a womb,
And fertile every wish, a million.
Char. Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.
Alex. You think none but your sheets are
privy to your wishes.
Char. Nay, come, tell Iras hers.
Alex. We'll know all our fortunes.
Eno. Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-
night, shall be,—drunk to bed.
Iras. There's a palm presages chastity, if
nothing else.
Char. E'en as the overflowing Nilus presageth
famine.
Iras. Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot
soothsay.
Char. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful
prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear.
Prithee, tell her but a worky-day fortune.
Sooth. Your fortunes are alike.
Iras. But how? but how? give me particulars.
Sooth. I have said.
Iras. Am I not an inch of fortune better
than she?
Char. Well, if you were but an inch of for-
tune better than I, where would you choose it?
Iras. Not in my husband's nose.
Char. Our worser thoughts heaven mend!
Alexas,—come, his fortune, his fortune. O!
jet him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet
Isis, I beseech thee; and let her die too, and give
him a worse; and let worse follow worse, till the
worst of all follow him laughing to his grave,
fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, bear me this
prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more
weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!
Iras. Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer
of the people! for, as it is a heart-breaking to see
a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly
sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded:
therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune
him accordingly!
Char. Amen.
Alex. Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to
make me a cuckold, they would make themselves
wheres, but they'd do't!
Eno. Hush! here comes Antony.
Char. Not he; the queen.

Enter CLEOPATRA.
Cleo. Saw you my lord?
Eno. No, lady.
Cleo. Was he not here?
Char. No, madam.
Cleo. He was dispos'd to mirth; but on the
sudden
A Roman thought hath struck him. Enobarbus!
Eno. Madam!
Cleo. Seek him, and bring him hither. Where's
Alexas?
Alex. Here, at your service. My lord ap-
proaches.

Enter ANTONY, with a Messenger and
Attendants.
Cleo. We will not look upon him; go with us.
[Exeunt CLEOPATRA, ENOBARBUS, ALEXAS,
IRAS, CHARMIAN, Soothsayer, and At-
tendants
Mess. Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.
Ant. Against my brother Lucius?
Mess. Ay:
But soon that war had end, and the time's state
Made friends of them, jointing their force
'gainst Cæsar,
Whose better issue in the war, from Italy
Upon the first encounter drave them.
Ant. Well, what worst?
Mess. The nature of bad news infects the
teller.
Ant. When it concerns the fool, or coward. On;
Things that are past are done with me. 'Tis
thus:
Who tells me true, though in his tale lay death,
I hear him as he flatter'd.
Mess. Labienus—
This is stiff news—hath, with his Parthian force
Extended Asia; from Euphrates
His conquering banner shook from Syria
To Lydia and to lonia: whilst—
Ant. Antony, thou wouldst say,—
Mess. O! my lord.
Ant. Speak to me home, mince not the
general tongue;
Name Cleopatra as she is called in Rome;
Rail thou in Fulvia's phrase; and taunt my
faults
With such full licence as both truth and malice
Have power to utter. O! then we bring forth
weeds
When our quick winds lie still; and our ills told
us
Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.
Mess. At your noble pleasure. [Exit.
Ant. From Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak
there!
First Att. The man from Sicyon, is there
such an one?
Sec. Att. He stays upon your will.
Ant. Let him appear.
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Or lose myself in dotage.

Enter another Messenger.
What are you?
Sec. Mess. Fulvia thy wife is dead.
Ant. Where died she?
Sec. Mess. In Sicyon:
Her length of sickness, with what else more
serious
Importeth thee to know, this bears.
[Giving a letter.
Ant. Forbear me.
[Exit Second Messenger.
There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it:
What our contempts do often hurl from us
We wish it ours again; the present pleasure,
By revolution lowering, does become
The opposite of itself: she's good, being gone;
The hand could pluck her back that shov'd her
on.
I must from this enchanting queen break off;
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
My idleness doth hatch. How now! Enobarbus!

Re-enter ENOBARBUS.
Eno. What's your pleasure, sir?
Ant. I must with haste from hence.
Eno. Why, then, we kill all our women. We
see how mortal an unkindness is to them; if
they suffer our departure, death's the word.
Ant. I must be gone.
Eno. Under a compelling occasion let women
die; it were pity to cast them away for nothing;
though between them and a great cause they
should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catch-
ing but the least noise of this, dies instantly; I
have seen her die twenty times upon far poorer
moment. I do think there is mettle in death
which commits some loving act upon her, she
hath such a celerity in dying.
Ant. She is cunning past man's thought.
Eno. Alack! sir, no; her passions are made
of nothing but the finest part of pure love. We
cannot call her winds and waters sighs and
tears; they are greater storms and tempests
than almanacs can report: this cannot be
cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of
rain as well as Jove.
Ant. Would I had never seen her!
Eno. O, sir! you had then left unseen a
wonderful piece of work which not to have been
blessed withal would have discredited your travel.
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Eno. Sir?
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Eno. Fulvia!
Ant. Dead.
Eno. Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacri-
fice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the
wife of a man from him, it shows to man the
tailors of the earth; comforting therein, that
when old robes are worn out, there are members
to make new. If there were no more women
but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the
case to be lamented: this grief is crowned with
consolation; your old smock brings forth a new
petticoat; and indeed the tears live in an onion
that should water this sorrow.
Ant. The business she hath broached in the
state
Cannot endure my absence.
Eno. And the business you have broached
here cannot be without you; especially that of
Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your
abode.
Ant. No more light answers. Let our officers
Have notice what we purpose. I shall break
The cause of our expedience to the queen,
And get her leave to part. For not alone
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Do strongly speak to us, but the letters too
Of many our contriving friends in Rome
Petition us at home. Sextus Pompeius
Hath given the dare to Csesar, and commands
The empire of the sea; our slippery people—
Whose love is never link'd to the deserver
Till his deserts are past—begin to throw
Pompey the Great and all his dignities
Upon his son; who, high in name and power,
Higher than both in blood and life, stands up
For the main soldier, whose quality, going on,
The sides o' the world may danger. Much is
breeding,
Which, like the courser's hair, hath yet but
life,
And not a serpent's poison. Say, our pleasure,
To such whose place is under us, requires
Our quick remove from hence.
Eno. I shall do it. [Exeunt.
< PREVIOUS
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards