Alexandria. A room in Cleopatra’s palace.
(Demetrius; Philo; Antony; Cleopatra; Ladies; Eunuchs; First Roman Messenger)
We learn from the conversation of his subordinates that Antony is completely besotted with Cleopatra and is no longer performing his manly, war-making duties. Antony is so absorbed by Cleopatra that he refuses to listen to an emissary from Caesar, his fellow-triumvir at Rome. (71 lines)
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 gypsy’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 belov’d.
Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.
Enter First Roman Messenger.
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 pow’rful 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-tongu’d Fulvia scolds. The messengers!
Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the rang’d 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.
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 admir’d!
No messenger but thine, and all alone,
Tonight we’ll wander through the streets and note
The qualities of people. Come, my queen,
Last night you did desire it.
To the Messenger.
Speak not to us.
Exeunt Antony and Cleopatra with the Train, followed by the Messenger.
Is Caesar with Antonius priz’d 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 tomorrow. Rest you happy!