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.
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.