Near Actium. Mark Antony’s camp.
(Cleopatra; Enobarbus; Antony; Canidius; Second Roman Messenger; Scarus)
The plain-spoken Enobarbus tells Cleopatra she shouldn’t be at the army’s camp, as she will distract Antony. Foolhardily, Antony decides to fight Caesar on sea, where Caesar is much the stronger. (100 lines)
Enter Cleopatra and Enobarbus.
I will be even with thee, doubt it not.
But why, why, why?
Thou hast forespoke my being in these wars,
And say’st it is not fit.
Well; is it, is it?
If not denounc’d against us, why should not we
Be there in person?
Well, I could reply:
If we should serve with horse and mares together,
The horse were merely lost; the mares would bear
A soldier and his horse.
What is’t you say?
Your presence needs must puzzle Antony,
Take from his heart, take from his brain, from ’s time,
What should not then be spar’d. He is already
Traduc’d for levity, and ’tis said in Rome
That Photinus an eunuch and your maids
Manage this war.
Sink Rome, and their tongues rot
That speak against us! A charge we bear i’ th’ war,
And as the president of my kingdom will
Appear there for a man. Speak not against it,
I will not stay behind.
Enter Antony and Canidius.
Nay, I have done,
Here comes the Emperor.
Is it not strange, Canidius,
That from Tarentum and Brundusium
He could so quickly cut the Ionian Sea,
And take in Toryne? You have heard on’t, sweet?
Celerity is never more admir’d
Than by the negligent.
A good rebuke,
Which might have well becom’d the best of men,
To taunt at slackness. Canidius, we
Will fight with him by sea.
By sea, what else?
Why will my lord do so?
For that he dares us to’t.
So hath my lord dar’d him to single fight.
Ay, and to wage this battle at Pharsalia,
Where Caesar fought with Pompey. But these offers,
Which serve not for his vantage, he shakes off,
And so should you.
Your ships are not well mann’d,
Your mariners are muleters, reapers, people
Ingross’d by swift impress. In Caesar’s fleet
Are those that often have ’gainst Pompey fought;
Their ships are yare, yours heavy. No disgrace
Shall fall you for refusing him at sea,
Being prepar’d for land.
By sea, by sea.
Most worthy sir, you therein throw away
The absolute soldiership you have by land,
Distract your army, which doth most consist
Of war-mark’d footmen, leave unexecuted
Your own renowned knowledge, quite forgo
The way which promises assurance, and
Give up yourself merely to chance and hazard,
From firm security.
I’ll fight at sea.
I have sixty sails, Caesar none better.
Our overplus of shipping will we burn,
And, with the rest full-mann’d, from th’ head of Actium
Beat th’ approaching Caesar. But if we fail,
We then can do’t at land.
Enter Second Roman Messenger.
The news is true, my lord: he is descried;
Caesar has taken Toryne.
Can he be there in person? ’Tis impossible
Strange that his power should be. Canidius,
Our nineteen legions thou shalt hold by land,
And our twelve thousand horse. We’ll to our ship,
Away, my Thetis!
How now, worthy soldier?
O noble Emperor, do not fight by sea,
Trust not to rotten planks. Do you misdoubt
This sword, and these my wounds? Let th’ Egyptians
And the Phoenicians go a-ducking; we
Have us’d to conquer standing on the earth,
And fighting foot to foot.
Well, well, away!
Exeunt Antony, Cleopatra, and Enobarbus.
By Hercules, I think I am i’ th’ right.
Soldier, thou art; but his whole action grows
Not in the power on’t. So our leader’s led,
And we are women’s men.
You keep by land
The legions and the horse whole, do you not?
Marcus Octavius, Marcus Justeius,
Publicola, and Caelius are for sea;
But we keep whole by land. This speed of Caesar’s
Carries beyond belief.
While he was yet in Rome,
His power went out in such distractions as
Beguil’d all spies.
Who’s his lieutenant, hear you?
They say, one Taurus.
Well I know the man.
Enter Second Roman Messenger.
The Emperor calls Canidius.
With news the time’s with labor, and throes forth
Each minute some.