Act I - Act I, Scene 2
Alexandria. Another Room in CLEOPATRA'S palace.
[Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer.]
Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most anything Alexas, almost
most absolute Alexas, where's the soothsayer that you praised so
to the queen? O that I knew this husband, which you say must
charge his horns with garlands!
Is this the man?--Is't you, sir, that know things?
In nature's infinite book of secrecy
A little I can read.
Show him your hand.
Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough
Cleopatra's health to drink.
Good, sir, give me good fortune.
I make not, but foresee.
Pray, then, foresee me one.
You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
He means in flesh.
No, you shall paint when you are old.
Vex not his prescience; be attentive.
You shall be more beloving than beloved.
I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
Nay, hear him.
Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married to three
kings in a forenoon, and widow them all: let me have a child at
fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage: find me to marry me
with Octavius Caesar, and companion me with my mistress.
You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.
O, excellent! I love long life better than figs.
You have seen and prov'd a fairer former fortune
Than that which is to approach.
Then belike my children shall have no names:--pr'ythee, how many
boys and wenches must I have?
If every of your wishes had a womb,
And fertile every wish, a million.
Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.
You think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.
Nay, come, tell Iras hers.
We'll know all our fortunes.
Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be--
drunk to bed.
There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.
E'en as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine.
Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot
scratch mine ear.--Pr'ythee, tell her but worky-day fortune.
Your fortunes are alike.
But how, but how? give me particulars.
I have said.
Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?
Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where
would you choose it?
Not in my husband's nose.
Our worser thoughts heavens mend!--Alexas,--come, his fortune!
his fortune!--O, let him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet
Isis, I beseech thee! And let her die too, and give him a worse!
and let worse follow worse, till the worst of all follow him
laughing to his grave, fiftyfold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me
this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight; good
Isis, I beseech thee!
Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is
a heartbreaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a
deadly sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded: therefore, dear
Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!
Lo now, if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would
make themselves whores but they'd do't!
Hush! Here comes Antony.
Not he; the queen.
Saw you my lord?
Was he not here?
He was dispos'd to mirth; but on the sudden
A Roman thought hath struck him.--Enobarbus,--
Seek him, and bring him hither.--Where's Alexas?
Here, at your service.--My lord approaches.
We will not look upon him: go with us.
[Exeunt CLEOPATRA, ENOBARBUS, CHAR., IRAS, ALEX., and
[Enter ANTONY, with a MESSENGER and Attendants.]
Fulvia thy wife first came into the field.
Against my brother Lucius.
But soon that war had end, and the time's state
Made friends of them, jointing their force 'gainst Caesar;
Whose better issue in the war, from Italy
Upon the first encounter, drave them.
Well, what worst?
The nature of bad news infects the teller.
When it concerns the fool or coward.--On:--
Things that are past are done with me.--'Tis thus;
Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death,
I hear him as he flatter'd.
This is stiff news,--hath, with his Parthian force,
Extended Asia from Euphrates;
His conquering banner shook from Syria
To Lydia and to Ionia;
Antony, thou wouldst say,--
O, my lord!
Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue:
Name Cleopatra as she is call'd in Rome;
Rail thou in Fulvia's phrase; and taunt my faults
With such full licence as both truth and malice
Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth weeds
When our quick minds lie still; and our ills told us
Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.
At your noble pleasure.
From Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak there!
The man from Sicyon--is there such an one?
He stays upon your will.
Let him appear.--
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Or lose myself in dotage.--
[Enter another MESSENGER.]
What are you?
Fulvia thy wife is dead.
Where died she?
Her length of sickness, with what else more serious
Importeth thee to know, this bears. [Gives a letter.]
There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it:
What our contempts doth often hurl from us,
We wish it ours again; the present pleasure,
By revolution lowering, does become
The opposite of itself: she's good, being gone;
The hand could pluck her back that shov'd her on.
I must from this enchanting queen break off:
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
My idleness doth hatch--ho, Enobarbus!
What's your pleasure, sir?
I must with haste from hence.
Why, then we kill all our women: we see how mortal an unkindness
is to them; if they suffer our departure, death's the word.
I must be gone.
Under a compelling occasion, let women die: it were pity to cast
them away for nothing; though, between them and a great cause
they should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the
least noise of this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty
times upon far poorer moment: I do think there is mettle in
death, which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a
celerity in dying.
She is cunning past man's thought.
Alack, sir, no: her passions are made of nothing but the finest
part of pure love: we cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and
tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can
report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a
shower of rain as well as Jove.
Would I had never seen her!
O sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work; which
not to have been blest withal would have discredited your travel.
Fulvia is dead.
Fulvia is dead.
Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth
their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to
man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein that when old
robes are worn out there are members to make new. If there were
no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case
to be lamented: this grief is crown'd with consolation; your old
smock brings forth a new petticoat:--and, indeed, the tears live
in an onion that should water this sorrow.
The business she hath broached in the state
Cannot endure my absence.
And the business you have broached here cannot be without you;
especially that of Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your
No more light answers. Let our officers
Have notice what we purpose. I shall break
The cause of our expedience to the queen,
And get her leave to part. For not alone
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Do strongly speak to us; but the letters too
Of many our contriving friends in Rome
Petition us at home: Sextus Pompeius
Hath given the dare to Caesar, and commands
The empire of the sea; our slippery people,--
Whose love is never link'd to the deserver
Till his deserts are past,--begin to throw
Pompey the Great, and all his dignities,
Upon his son; who, high in name and power,
Higher than both in blood and life, stands up
For the main soldier: whose quality, going on,
The sides o' the world may danger: much is breeding
Which, like the courser's hair, hath yet but life
And not a serpent's poison. Say, our pleasure
To such whose place is under us, requires
Our quick remove from hence.
I shall do't.