Act II - Act II, Scene 2

Rome. A Room in the House of LEPIDUS.


Good Enobarbus, 'tis a worthy deed,
And shall become you well, to entreat your captain
To soft and gentle speech.

I shall entreat him
To answer like himself: if Caesar move him,
Let Antony look over Caesar's head,
And speak as loud as Mars. By Jupiter,
Were I the wearer of Antonius' beard,
I would not shave't to-day.

'Tis not a time
For private stomaching.

Every time
Serves for the matter that is then born in't.

But small to greater matters must give way.

Not if the small come first.

Your speech is passion:
But, pray you, stir no embers up. Here comes
The noble Antony.


And yonder, Caesar.


If we compose well here, to Parthia;
Hark, Ventidius.

I do not know,
Maecenas; ask Agrippa.

Noble friends,
That which combin'd us was most great, and let not
A leaner action rend us. What's amiss,
May it be gently heard: when we debate
Our trivial difference loud, we do commit
Murder in healing wounds: then, noble partners,--
The rather for I earnestly beseech,--
Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,
Nor curstness grow to the matter.

'Tis spoken well.
Were we before our armies, and to fight,
I should do thus.

Welcome to Rome.

Thank you.


Sit, sir.

Nay, then.

I learn you take things ill which are not so,
Or being, concern you not.

I must be laugh'd at
If, or for nothing or a little, I
Should say myself offended, and with you
Chiefly i' the world; more laugh'd at that I should
Once name you derogately, when to sound your name
It not concern'd me.

My being in Egypt, Caesar,
What was't to you?

No more than my residing here at Rome
Might be to you in Egypt: yet, if you there
Did practise on my state, your being in Egypt
Might be my question.

How intend you practis'd?

You may be pleas'd to catch at mine intent
By what did here befall me. Your wife and brother
Made wars upon me; and their contestation
Was theme for you, you were the word of war.

You do mistake your business; my brother never
Did urge me in his act: I did inquire it;
And have my learning from some true reports
That drew their swords with you. Did he not rather
Discredit my authority with yours;
And make the wars alike against my stomach,
Having alike your cause? Of this my letters
Before did satisfy you. If you'll patch a quarrel
As matter whole you have not to make it with,
It must not be with this.

You praise yourself
By laying defects of judgment to me; but
You patch'd up your excuses.

Not so, not so;
I know you could not lack, I am certain on't,
Very necessity of this thought, that I,
Your partner in the cause 'gainst which he fought,
Could not with graceful eyes attend those wars
Which 'fronted mine own peace. As for my wife,
I would you had her spirit in such another:
The third o' theworld is yours; which with a snaffle
You may pace easy, but not such a wife.

Would we had all such wives, that the men
Might go to wars with the women.

So much uncurbable, her garboils, Caesar,
Made out of her impatience,--which not wanted
Shrewdness of policy too,--I grieving grant
Did you too much disquiet: for that you must
But say I could not help it.

I wrote to you
When rioting in Alexandria; you
Did pocket up my letters, and with taunts
Did gibe my missive out of audience.

He fell upon me ere admitted: then
Three kings I had newly feasted, and did want
Of what I was i' the morning: but next day
I told him of myself; which was as much
As to have ask'd him pardon. Let this fellow
Be nothing of our strife; if we contend,
Out of our question wipe him.

You have broken
The article of your oath; which you shall never
Have tongue to charge me with.

Soft, Caesar!

No; Lepidus, let him speak.
The honour is sacred which he talks on now,
Supposing that I lack'd it.--But on, Caesar;
The article of my oath.

To lend me arms and aid when I requir'd them;
The which you both denied.

Neglected, rather;
And then when poison'd hours had bound me up
From mine own knowledge. As nearly as I may,
I'll play the penitent to you: but mine honesty
Shall not make poor my greatness, nor my power
Work without it. Truth is, that Fulvia,
To have me out of Egypt, made wars here;
For which myself, the ignorant motive, do
So far ask pardon as befits mine honour
To stoop in such a case.

'Tis noble spoken.

If it might please you to enforce no further
The griefs between ye: to forget them quite
Were to remember that the present need
Speaks to atone you.

Worthily spoken, Maecenas.

Or, if you borrow one another's love for the instant, you may,
when you hear no more words of Pompey, return it again: you shall
have time to wrangle in when you have nothing else to do.

Thou art a soldier only: speak no more.

That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.

You wrong this presence; therefore speak no more.

Go to, then; your considerate stone!

I do not much dislike the matter, but
The manner of his speech; for't cannot be
We shall remain in friendship, our conditions
So differing in their acts. Yet if I knew
What hoop should hold us stanch, from edge to edge
O' the world, I would pursue it.

Give me leave, Caesar,--

Speak, Agrippa.

Thou hast a sister by the mother's side,
Admir'd Octavia: great Mark Antony
Is now a widower.

Say not so, Agrippa:
If Cleopatra heard you, your reproof
Were well deserv'd of rashness.

I am not married, Caesar: let me hear
Agrippa further speak.

To hold you in perpetual amity,
To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
With an unslipping knot, take Antony
Octavia to his wife; whose beauty claims
No worse a husband than the best of men;
Whose virtue and whose general graces speak
That which none else can utter. By this marriage
All little jealousies, which now seem great,
And all great fears, which now import their dangers,
Would then be nothing: truths would be tales,
Where now half tales be truths: her love to both
Would each to other, and all loves to both,
Draw after her. Pardon what I have spoke;
For 'tis a studied, not a present thought,
By duty ruminated.

Will Caesar speak?

Not till he hears how Antony is touch'd
With what is spoke already.

What power is in Agrippa,
If I would say 'Agrippa, be it so,'
To make this good?

The power of Caesar, and
His power unto Octavia.

May I never
To this good purpose, that so fairly shows,
Dream of impediment!--Let me have thy hand:
Further this act of grace; and from this hour
The heart of brothers govern in our loves
And sway our great designs!

There is my hand.
A sister I bequeath you, whom no brother
Did ever love so dearly: let her live
To join our kingdoms and our hearts; and never
Fly off our loves again!

Happily, amen!

I did not think to draw my sword 'gainst Pompey;
For he hath laid strange courtesies and great
Of late upon me. I must thank him only,
Lest my remembrance suffer ill report;
At heel of that, defy him.

Time calls upon's:
Of us must Pompey presently be sought,
Or else he seeks out us.

Where lies he?

About the Mount Misenum.

What is his strength
By land?

Great and increasing; but by sea
He is an absolute master.

So is the fame.
Would we had spoke together! Haste we for it:
Yet, ere we put ourselves in arms, despatch we
The business we have talk'd of.

With most gladness;
And do invite you to my sister's view,
Whither straight I'll lead you.

Let us, Lepidus,
Not lack your company.

Noble Antony,
Not sickness should detain me.

[Flourish. Exeunt CAESAR, ANTONY, and LEPIDUS.]

Welcome from Egypt, sir.

Half the heart of Caesar, worthy Maecenas!--my honourable friend,

Good Enobarbus!

We have cause to be glad that matters are so well digested. You
stay'd well by it in Egypt.

Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance, and made the night
light with drinking.

Eight wild boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and but twelve
persons there. Is this true?

This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more monstrous
matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.

She's a most triumphant lady, if report be square to her.

When she first met Mark Antony she pursed up his heart, upon the
river of Cydnus.

There she appeared indeed; or my reporter devised well for her.

I will tell you.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description: she did lie
In her pavilion,--cloth-of-gold of tissue,--
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy out-work nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.

O, rare for Antony!

Her gentlewomen, like the Nereids,
So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
And made their bends adornings: at the helm
A seeming mermaid steers: the silken tackle
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands
That yarely frame the office. From the barge
A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her; and Antony,
Enthron'd i' the market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to the air; which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in nature.

Rare Egyptian!

Upon her landing, Antony sent to her,
Invited her to supper: she replied
It should be better he became her guest;
Which she entreated: our courteous Antony,
Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard speak,
Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast,
And, for his ordinary, pays his heart
For what his eyes eat only.

Royal wench!
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed:
He ploughed her, and she cropp'd.

I saw her once
Hop forty paces through the public street;
And, having lost her breath, she spoke and panted,
That she did make defect perfection,
And, breathless, power breathe forth.

Now Antony must leave her utterly.

Never; he will not:
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed; but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies: for vilest things
Become themselves in her; that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.

If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle
The heart of Antony, Octavia is
A blessed lottery to him.

Let us go.--
Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest
Whilst you abide here.

Humbly, sir, I thank you.



  1. Enobarbus is able to describe Cleopatra's extravagant barge, but the woman herself defies description. To "beggar" meant to exhaust or impoverish. In other words, Cleopatra's beauty "impoverishes" the English language because there are no words to describe her. The only way to describe her is to compare her to Venus, the goddess of love who is famed for her beauty. With this introduction, Cleopatra is set up to be the most objectively desirable and beautiful woman on earth.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Here, Enobarbus describes the addictive quality of Cleopatra's love. He claims that while men grow tired of all other women in the world, loving Cleopatra only makes men desire her more. Notice that this description of Cleopatra's enticing nature comes from a third party rather than Antony. This suggests that Cleopatra is known far and wide for her irresistibly seductive nature. His paean not only foreshadows Antony's eventual return to his lover, but begins to create a mythic image of Cleopatra as the most sensual, and erotically powerful woman in all the world.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff