Alexandria. Cleopatra’s palace.
(Cleopatra; Charmian; Iras; Alexas; Mardian the Eunuch; Egyptian Messenger)
Cleopatra is lazing about. A terrified messenger informs her that Antony has married Octavia. Furious, she strikes him and threatens to kill him, but he runs away. She apologizes and sends him to gather as much information on Octavia as he can. (146 lines)
Enter Cleopatra, Charmian, Iras, and Alexas.
Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
The music, ho!
Enter Mardian the Eunuch.
Let it alone, let’s to billards. Come, Charmian.
My arm is sore, best play with Mardian.
As well a woman with an eunuch play’d
As with a woman. Come, you’ll play with me, sir?
As well as I can, madam.
And when good will is show’d, though’t come too short,
The actor may plead pardon. I’ll none now.
Give me mine angle, we’ll to th’ river; there,
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn’d fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws; and as I draw them up,
I’ll think them every one an Antony,
And say, “Ah, ha! Y’ are caught.”
’Twas merry when
You wager’d on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he
With fervency drew up.
That time? O times!
I laugh’d him out of patience; and that night
I laugh’d him into patience; and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.
Enter an Egyptian Messenger.
O, from Italy!
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.
Antonio’s dead! If thou say so, villain,
Thou kill’st thy mistress; but well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss—a hand that kings
Have lipp’d, and trembled kissing.
First, madam, he is well.
Why, there’s more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well. Bring it to that,
The gold I give thee will I melt and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.
Good madam, hear me.
Well, go to, I will.
But there’s no goodness in thy face, if Antony
Be free and healthful—so tart a favor
To trumpet such good tidings! If not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Fury crown’d with snakes,
Not like a formal man.
Will’t please you hear me?
I have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak’st;
Yet if thou say Antony lives, ’tis well,
Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him,
I’ll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.
Madam, he’s well.
And friends with Caesar.
Th’ art an honest man.
Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.
Make thee a fortune from me.
But yet, madam—
I do not like “but yet,” it does allay
The good precedence; fie upon ’but yet’!
“But yet” is as a jailer to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together: he’s friends with Caesar,
In state of health thou say’st, and thou say’st free.
Free, madam, no; I made no such report.
He’s bound unto Octavia.
For what good turn?
For the best turn i’ th’ bed.
I am pale, Charmian.
Madam, he’s married to Octavia.
The most infectious pestilence upon thee!
Strikes him down.
Good madam, patience.
What say you?
Horrible villain, or I’ll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I’ll unhair thy head,
She hales him up and down.
Thou shalt be whipt with wire, and stew’d in brine,
Smarting in ling’ring pickle.
I that do bring the news made not the match.
Say ’tis not so, a province I will give thee,
And make thy fortunes proud; the blow thou hadst
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage,
And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.
He’s married, madam.
Rogue, thou hast liv’d too long.
Draw a knife.
Nay then I’ll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.
Good madam, keep yourself within yourself,
The man is innocent.
Some innocents scape not the thunderbolt.
Melt Egypt into Nile! And kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents! Call the slave again,
Though I am mad, I will not bite him. Call!
He is afeard to come.
I will not hurt him.
These hands do lack nobility that they strike
A meaner than myself, since I myself
Have given myself the cause. Come hither, sir.
Enter the Egyptian Messenger again.
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news. Give to a gracious message
An host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.
I have done my duty.
Is he married?
I cannot hate thee worser than I do,
If thou again say yes.
He’s married, madam.
The gods confound thee, dost thou hold there still?
Should I lie, madam?
O, I would thou didst;
So half my Egypt were submerg’d and made
A cistern for scal’d snakes! Go get thee hence!
Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?
I crave your Highness’ pardon.
He is married?
Take no offense that I would not offend you;
To punish me for what you make me do
Seems much unequal. He’s married to Octavia.
O, that his fault should make a knave of thee,
That art not what th’ art sure of. Get thee hence;
The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome
Are all too dear for me. Lie they upon thy hand,
And be undone by ’em!
Exit Egyptian Messenger.
Good your Highness, patience.
In praising Antony I have disprais’d Caesar.
Many times, madam.
I am paid for’t now.
Lead me from hence;
I faint, O Iras, Charmian! ’Tis no matter.
Go to the fellow, good Alexas, bid him
Report the feature of Octavia, her years,
Her inclination; let him not leave out
The color of her hair. Bring me word quickly.
Let him forever go—let him not, Charmian—
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way’s a Mars.
Bid you Alexas
Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian,
But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.