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Antony and Cleopatra Scenes

Scene 4

Rome. Octavius Caesar’s house.

(Octavius Caesar; Lepidus; Caesar’s First Messenger; Caesar’s Second Messenger)

Caesar and Lepidus discuss Antony’s weakness, and how Antony dallies with Cleopatra while Pompey threatens the triumvirate. Receiving more news of Pompey’s success, they begin to plan their military response. (93 lines)

Enter Octavius Caesar reading a letter, Lepidus, and their Train.


You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,

It is not Caesar’s natural vice to hate

Our great competitor. From Alexandria

This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes

The lamps of night in revel; is not more manlike

Than Cleopatra; nor the queen of Ptolomy

More womanly than he; hardly gave audience, or

Vouchsaf’d to think he had partners. You shall find there

A man who is th’ abstract of all faults

That all men follow.


I must not think there are

Evils enow to darken all his goodness:

His faults, in him, seem as the spots of heaven,

More fiery by night’s blackness; hereditary,

Rather than purchas’d; what he cannot change,

Than what he chooses.


You are too indulgent. Let’s grant it is not

Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolomy,

To give a kingdom for a mirth, to sit

And keep the turn of tippling with a slave,

To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet

With knaves that smells of sweat: say this becomes him

(As his composure must be rare indeed

Whom these things cannot blemish), yet must Antony

No way excuse his foils, when we do bear

So great weight in his lightness. If he fill’d

His vacancy with his voluptuousness,

Full surfeits and the dryness of his bones

Call on him for’t. But to confound such time

That drums him from his sport and speaks as loud

As his own state and ours, ’tis to be chid—

As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge,

Pawn their experience to their present pleasure,

And so rebel to judgment.

Enter Caesar’s First Messenger.


Here’s more news.


Thy biddings have been done, and every hour,

Most noble Caesar, shalt thou have report

How ’tis abroad. Pompey is strong at sea,

And it appears he is belov’d of those

That only have fear’d Caesar; to the ports

The discontents repair, and men’s reports

Give him much wrong’d.


I should have known no less:

It hath been taught us from the primal state

That he which is was wish’d, until he were;

And the ebb’d man, ne’er lov’d till ne’er worth love,

Comes dear’d by being lack’d. This common body,

Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,

Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide,

To rot itself with motion.

Enter Caesar’s Second Messenger.


Caesar, I bring thee word

Menecrates and Menas, famous pirates,

Makes the sea serve them, which they ear and wound

With keels of every kind. Many hot inroads

They make in Italy; the borders maritime

Lack blood to think on’t, and flush youth revolt.

No vessel can peep forth, but ’tis as soon

Taken as seen; for Pompey’s name strikes more

Than could his war resisted.



Leave thy lascivious wassails. When thou once

Was beaten from Modena, where thou slew’st

Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel

Did famine follow, whom thou fought’st against

(Though daintily brought up) with patience more

Than savages could suffer. Thou didst drink

The stale of horses and the gilded puddle

Which beasts would cough at; thy palate then did deign

The roughest berry on the rudest hedge;

Yea, like the stag, when snow the pasture sheets,

The barks of trees thou brows’d. On the Alps

It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh,

Which some did die to look on; and all this

(It wounds thine honor that I speak it now)

Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek

So much as lank’d not.


’Tis pity of him.


Let his shames quickly

Drive him to Rome. ’Tis time we twain

Did show ourselves i’ th’ field, and to that end

Assemble we immediate council. Pompey

Thrives in our idleness.


Tomorrow, Caesar,

I shall be furnish’d to inform you rightly

Both what by sea and land I can be able

To front this present time.


Till which encounter,

It is my business too. Farewell.


Farewell, my lord. What you shall know mean time

Of stirs abroad, I shall beseech you, sir,

To let me be partaker.


Doubt not, sir,

I knew it for my bond.



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