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Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare


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Description

Antony and Cleopatra follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Sicilian revolt to Cleopatra's suicide during the Final War of the Roman Republic. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumviri and the future first emperor of Rome. The tragedy is a Roman play characterised by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome.

Part of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World set.

This book has 132 pages in the PDF version, and was originally written in 1623.

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Excerpt from 'Antony and Cleopatra'

Alexandria. A room in CLEOPATRA's palace.

Enter DEMETRIUS and PHILO

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 gipsy'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.

CLEOPATRA: If it be love indeed, tell me how much.

MARK ANTONY: There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.

CLEOPATRA: I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

MARK ANTONY: Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

Enter an Attendant

Attendant: News, my good lord, from Rome.

MARK ANTONY: Grates me: the sum.

CLEOPATRA: Nay, hear them, Antony: Fulvia perchance is angry; or, who knows If the scarce-bearded Caesar have not sent His powerful mandate to you, 'Do this, or this; Take in that kingdom, and enfranchise that; Perform 't, or else we damn thee.'

MARK ANTONY: How, my love!

CLEOPATRA: 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-tongued Fulvia scolds. The messengers!

MARK ANTONY: Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged 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

Embracing

And such a twain can do't, in which I bind, On pain of punishment, the world to weet We stand up peerless.

CLEOPATRA: Excellent falsehood! Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her? I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony Will be himself.

MARK ANTONY: 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?

CLEOPATRA: Hear the ambassadors.

MARK ANTONY: 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 admired! No messenger, but thine; and all alone To-night we'll wander through the streets and note The qualities of people. Come, my queen; Last night you did desire it: speak not to us.

Exeunt MARK ANTONY and CLEOPATRA with their train

DEMETRIUS: Is Caesar with Antonius prized so slight?

PHILO: Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.

DEMETRIUS: I am full sorry That he approves the common liar, who Thus speaks of him at Rome: but I will hope Of better deeds to-morrow. Rest you happy!

Exeunt

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