Antony and Cleopatra, by William Shakespeare

Act V

Scene I. Alexandria. Octavius Caesar’s camp.

Enter Octavius Caesar, Agrippa, Dolabella, Mecaenas, Gallus, Proculeius, and others, his council of war

Octavius Caesar Go to him, Dolabella, bid him yield;
Being so frustrate, tell him he mocks
The pauses that he makes.

Dolabella Caesar, I shall.

Exit

Enter Dercetas, with the sword of Mark Antony

Octavius Caesar Wherefore is that? and what art thou that darest
Appear thus to us?

Dercetas   I am call’d Dercetas;
Mark Antony I served, who best was worthy
Best to be served: whilst he stood up and spoke,
He was my master; and I wore my life
To spend upon his haters. If thou please
To take me to thee, as I was to him
I’ll be to Caesar; if thou pleasest not,
I yield thee up my life.

Octavius Caesar What is’t thou say’st?

Dercetas I say, O Caesar, Antony is dead.

Octavius Caesar The breaking of so great a thing should make
A greater crack: the round world
Should have shook lions into civil streets,
And citizens to their dens: the death of Antony
Is not a single doom; in the name lay
A moiety of the world.

Dercetas He is dead, Caesar:
Not by a public minister of justice,
Nor by a hired knife; but that self hand,
Which writ his honour in the acts it did,
Hath, with the courage which the heart did lend it,
Splitted the heart. This is his sword;
I robb’d his wound of it; behold it stain’d
With his most noble blood.

Octavius Caesar Look you sad, friends?
The gods rebuke me, but it is tidings
To wash the eyes of kings.

Agrippa And strange it is,
That nature must compel us to lament
Our most persisted deeds.

Mecaenas His taints and honours
Waged equal with him.

Agrippa A rarer spirit never
Did steer humanity: but you, gods, will give us
Some faults to make us men. Caesar is touch’d.

Mecaenas When such a spacious mirror’s set before him,
He needs must see himself.

Octavius Caesar O Antony!
I have follow’d thee to this; but we do lance
Diseases in our bodies: I must perforce
Have shown to thee such a declining day,
Or look on thine; we could not stall together
In the whole world: but yet let me lament,
With tears as sovereign as the blood of hearts,
That thou, my brother, my competitor
In top of all design, my mate in empire,
Friend and companion in the front of war,
The arm of mine own body, and the heart
Where mine his thoughts did kindle — that our stars,
Unreconciliable, should divide
Our equalness to this. Hear me, good friends —
But I will tell you at some meeter season:

Enter an Egyptian

The business of this man looks out of him;
We’ll hear him what he says. Whence are you?

Egyptian A poor Egyptian yet. The queen my mistress,
Confined in all she has, her monument,
Of thy intents desires instruction,
That she preparedly may frame herself
To the way she’s forced to.

Octavius Caesar Bid her have good heart:
She soon shall know of us, by some of ours,
How honourable and how kindly we
Determine for her; for Caesar cannot live
To be ungentle.

Egyptian So the gods preserve thee!

Exit

Octavius Caesar Come hither, Proculeius. Go and say,
We purpose her no shame: give her what comforts
The quality of her passion shall require,
Lest, in her greatness, by some mortal stroke
She do defeat us; for her life in Rome
Would be eternal in our triumph: go,
And with your speediest bring us what she says,
And how you find of her.

Proculeius Caesar, I shall.

Exit

Octavius Caesar Gallus, go you along.

Exit Gallus

Where’s Dolabella,
To second Proculeius?

All Dolabella!

Octavius Caesar Let him alone, for I remember now
How he’s employ’d: he shall in time be ready.
Go with me to my tent; where you shall see
How hardly I was drawn into this war;
How calm and gentle I proceeded still
In all my writings: go with me, and see
What I can show in this.

Exeunt

Scene II. Alexandria. A room in the monument.

Enter Cleopatra, Charmian, and Iras

Cleopatra My desolation does begin to make
A better life. ’Tis paltry to be Caesar;
Not being Fortune, he’s but Fortune’s knave,
A minister of her will: and it is great
To do that thing that ends all other deeds;
Which shackles accidents and bolts up change;
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dug,
The beggar’s nurse and Caesar’s.

Enter, to the gates of the monument, Proculeius, Gallus and Soldiers

Proculeius Caesar sends greeting to the Queen of Egypt;
And bids thee study on what fair demands
Thou mean’st to have him grant thee.

Cleopatra What’s thy name?

Proculeius My name is Proculeius.

Cleopatra Antony
Did tell me of you, bade me trust you; but
I do not greatly care to be deceived,
That have no use for trusting. If your master
Would have a queen his beggar, you must tell him,
That majesty, to keep decorum, must
No less beg than a kingdom: if he please
To give me conquer’d Egypt for my son,
He gives me so much of mine own, as I
Will kneel to him with thanks.

Proculeius Be of good cheer;
You’re fall’n into a princely hand, fear nothing:
Make your full reference freely to my lord,
Who is so full of grace, that it flows over
On all that need: let me report to him
Your sweet dependency; and you shall find
A conqueror that will pray in aid for kindness,
Where he for grace is kneel’d to.

Cleopatra Pray you, tell him
I am his fortune’s vassal, and I send him
The greatness he has got. I hourly learn
A doctrine of obedience; and would gladly
Look him i’ the face.

Proculeius This I’ll report, dear lady.
Have comfort, for I know your plight is pitied
Of him that caused it.

Gallus You see how easily she may be surprised:

Here Proculeius and two of the Guard ascend the monument by a ladder placed against a window, and, having descended, come behind Cleopatra. Some of the Guard unbar and open the gates

To Proculeius and the Guard

Guard her till Caesar come.

Exit

Iras Royal queen!

Charmian O Cleopatra! thou art taken, queen:

Cleopatra Quick, quick, good hands.

Drawing a dagger

Proculeius Hold, worthy lady, hold:

Seizes and disarms her

Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this
Relieved, but not betray’d.

Cleopatra What, of death too,
That rids our dogs of languish?

Proculeius Cleopatra,
Do not abuse my master’s bounty by
The undoing of yourself: let the world see
His nobleness well acted, which your death
Will never let come forth.

Cleopatra Where art thou, death?
Come hither, come! come, come, and take a queen
Worthy many babes and beggars!

Proculeius O, temperance, lady!

Cleopatra Sir, I will eat no meat, I’ll not drink, sir;
If idle talk will once be necessary,
I’ll not sleep neither: this mortal house I’ll ruin,
Do Caesar what he can. Know, sir, that I
Will not wait pinion’d at your master’s court;
Nor once be chastised with the sober eye
Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up
And show me to the shouting varletry
Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt
Be gentle grave unto me! rather on Nilus’ mud
Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring! rather make
My country’s high pyramides my gibbet,
And hang me up in chains!

Proculeius You do extend
These thoughts of horror further than you shall
Find cause in Caesar.

Enter Dolabella

Dolabella Proculeius,
What thou hast done thy master Caesar knows,
And he hath sent for thee: for the queen,
I’ll take her to my guard.

Proculeius So, Dolabella,
It shall content me best: be gentle to her.

To Cleopatra

To Caesar I will speak what you shall please,
If you’ll employ me to him.

Cleopatra Say, I would die.

Exeunt Proculeius and Soldiers

Dolabella Most noble empress, you have heard of me?

Cleopatra I cannot tell.

Dolabella   Assuredly you know me.

Cleopatra No matter, sir, what I have heard or known.
You laugh when boys or women tell their dreams;
Is’t not your trick?

Dolabella I understand not, madam.

Cleopatra I dream’d there was an Emperor Antony:
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man!

Dolabella If it might please ye  —

Cleopatra His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck
A sun and moon, which kept their course, and lighted
The little O, the earth.

Dolabella Most sovereign creature  —

Cleopatra His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear’d arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in’t; an autumn ’twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk’d crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp’d from his pocket.

Dolabella Cleopatra!

Cleopatra Think you there was, or might be, such a man
As this I dream’d of?

Dolabella Gentle madam, no.

Cleopatra You lie, up to the hearing of the gods.
But, if there be, or ever were, one such,
It’s past the size of dreaming: nature wants stuff
To vie strange forms with fancy; yet, to imagine
And Antony, were nature’s piece ’gainst fancy,
Condemning shadows quite.

Dolabella Hear me, good madam.
Your loss is as yourself, great; and you bear it
As answering to the weight: would I might never
O’ertake pursued success, but I do feel,
By the rebound of yours, a grief that smites
My very heart at root.

Cleopatra I thank you, sir,
Know you what Caesar means to do with me?

Dolabella I am loath to tell you what I would you knew.

Cleopatra Nay, pray you, sir  —

Dolabella Though he be honourable  —

Cleopatra He’ll lead me, then, in triumph?

Dolabella Madam, he will; I know’t.

Flourish, and shout within, ‘Make way there: Octavius Caesar!’

Enter Octavius Caesar, Gallus, Proculeius, Mecaenas, Seleucus, and others of his Train

Octavius Caesar Which is the Queen of Egypt?

Dolabella It is the emperor, madam.

Cleopatra kneels

Octavius Caesar Arise, you shall not kneel:
I pray you, rise; rise, Egypt.

Cleopatra Sir, the gods
Will have it thus; my master and my lord
I must obey.

Octavius Caesar   Take to you no hard thoughts:
The record of what injuries you did us,
Though written in our flesh, we shall remember
As things but done by chance.

Cleopatra Sole sir o’ the world,
I cannot project mine own cause so well
To make it clear; but do confess I have
Been laden with like frailties which before
Have often shamed our sex.

Octavius Caesar Cleopatra, know,
We will extenuate rather than enforce:
If you apply yourself to our intents,
Which towards you are most gentle, you shall find
A benefit in this change; but if you seek
To lay on me a cruelty, by taking
Antony’s course, you shall bereave yourself
Of my good purposes, and put your children
To that destruction which I’ll guard them from,
If thereon you rely. I’ll take my leave.

Cleopatra And may, through all the world: ’tis yours; and we,
Your scutcheons and your signs of conquest, shall
Hang in what place you please. Here, my good lord.

Octavius Caesar You shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.

Cleopatra This is the brief of money, plate, and jewels,
I am possess’d of: ’tis exactly valued;
Not petty things admitted. Where’s Seleucus?

Seleucus Here, madam.

Cleopatra This is my treasurer: let him speak, my lord,
Upon his peril, that I have reserved
To myself nothing. Speak the truth, Seleucus.

Seleucus Madam,
I had rather seal my lips, than, to my peril,
Speak that which is not.

Cleopatra What have I kept back?

Seleucus Enough to purchase what you have made known.

Octavius Caesar Nay, blush not, Cleopatra; I approve
Your wisdom in the deed.

Cleopatra See, Caesar! O, behold,
How pomp is follow’d! mine will now be yours;
And, should we shift estates, yours would be mine.
The ingratitude of this Seleucus does
Even make me wild: O slave, of no more trust
Than love that’s hired! What, goest thou back? thou shalt
Go back, I warrant thee; but I’ll catch thine eyes,
Though they had wings: slave, soulless villain, dog!
O rarely base!

Octavius Caesar   Good queen, let us entreat you.

Cleopatra O Caesar, what a wounding shame is this,
That thou, vouchsafing here to visit me,
Doing the honour of thy lordliness
To one so meek, that mine own servant should
Parcel the sum of my disgraces by
Addition of his envy! Say, good Caesar,
That I some lady trifles have reserved,
Immoment toys, things of such dignity
As we greet modern friends withal; and say,
Some nobler token I have kept apart
For Livia and Octavia, to induce
Their mediation; must I be unfolded
With one that I have bred? The gods! it smites me
Beneath the fall I have.

To Seleucus

Prithee, go hence;
Or I shall show the cinders of my spirits
Through the ashes of my chance: wert thou a man,
Thou wouldst have mercy on me.

Octavius Caesar Forbear, Seleucus.

Exit Seleucus

Cleopatra Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought
For things that others do; and, when we fall,
We answer others’ merits in our name,
Are therefore to be pitied.

Octavius Caesar Cleopatra,
Not what you have reserved, nor what acknowledged,
Put we i’ the roll of conquest: still be’t yours,
Bestow it at your pleasure; and believe,
Caesar’s no merchant, to make prize with you
Of things that merchants sold. Therefore be cheer’d;
Make not your thoughts your prisons: no, dear queen;
For we intend so to dispose you as
Yourself shall give us counsel. Feed, and sleep:
Our care and pity is so much upon you,
That we remain your friend; and so, adieu.

Cleopatra My master, and my lord!

Octavius Caesar Not so. Adieu.

Flourish. Exeunt Octavius Caesar and his train

Cleopatra He words me, girls, he words me, that I should not
Be noble to myself: but, hark thee, Charmian.

Whispers Charmian

Iras Finish, good lady; the bright day is done,
And we are for the dark.

Cleopatra Hie thee again:
I have spoke already, and it is provided;
Go put it to the haste.

Charmian Madam, I will.

Re-enter Dolabella

Dolabella Where is the queen?

Charmian Behold, sir.

Exit

Cleopatra Dolabella!

Dolabella Madam, as thereto sworn by your command,
Which my love makes religion to obey,
I tell you this: Caesar through Syria
Intends his journey; and within three days
You with your children will he send before:
Make your best use of this: I have perform’d
Your pleasure and my promise.

Cleopatra Dolabella,
I shall remain your debtor.

Dolabella I your servant,
Adieu, good queen; I must attend on Caesar.

Cleopatra Farewell, and thanks.

Exit Dolabella

Now, Iras, what think’st thou?
Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shalt be shown
In Rome, as well as I mechanic slaves
With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
Uplift us to the view; in their thick breaths,
Rank of gross diet, shall be enclouded,
And forced to drink their vapour.

Iras The gods forbid!

Cleopatra Nay, ’tis most certain, Iras: saucy lictors
Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o’ tune: the quick comedians
Extemporally will stage us, and present
Our Alexandrian revels; Antony
Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
I’ the posture of a whore.

Iras O the good gods!

Cleopatra Nay, that’s certain.

Iras I’ll never see ’t; for, I am sure, my nails
Are stronger than mine eyes.

Cleopatra Why, that’s the way
To fool their preparation, and to conquer
Their most absurd intents.

Re-enter Charmian

Now, Charmian!
Show me, my women, like a queen: go fetch
My best attires: I am again for Cydnus,
To meet Mark Antony: sirrah Iras, go.
Now, noble Charmian, we’ll dispatch indeed;
And, when thou hast done this chare, I’ll give thee leave
To play till doomsday. Bring our crown and all.
Wherefore’s this noise?

Exit Iras. A noise within

Enter a Guardsman

Guard Here is a rural fellow
That will not be denied your highness presence:
He brings you figs.

Cleopatra Let him come in.

Exit Guardsman

What poor an instrument
May do a noble deed! he brings me liberty.
My resolution’s placed, and I have nothing
Of woman in me: now from head to foot
I am marble-constant; now the fleeting moon
No planet is of mine.

Re-enter Guardsman, with Clown bringing in a basket

Guard This is the man.

Cleopatra Avoid, and leave him.

Exit Guardsman

Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there,
That kills and pains not?

Clown Truly, I have him: but I would not be the party that should desire you to touch him, for his biting is immortal; those that do die of it do seldom or never recover.

Cleopatra Rememberest thou any that have died on’t?

Clown Very many, men and women too. I heard of one of them no longer than yesterday: a very honest woman, but something given to lie; as a woman should not do, but in the way of honesty: how she died of the biting of it, what pain she felt: truly, she makes a very good report o’ the worm; but he that will believe all that they say, shall never be saved by half that they do: but this is most fallible, the worm’s an odd worm.

Cleopatra Get thee hence; farewell.

Clown I wish you all joy of the worm.

Setting down his basket

Cleopatra Farewell.

Clown You must think this, look you, that the worm will do his kind.

Cleopatra Ay, ay; farewell.

Clown Look you, the worm is not to be trusted but in the keeping of wise people; for, indeed, there is no goodness in worm.

Cleopatra Take thou no care; it shall be heeded.

Clown Very good. Give it nothing, I pray you, for it is not worth the feeding.

Cleopatra Will it eat me?

Clown You must not think I am so simple but I know the devil himself will not eat a woman: I know that a woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not. But, truly, these same whoreson devils do the gods great harm in their women; for in every ten that they make, the devils mar five.

Cleopatra Well, get thee gone; farewell.

Clown Yes, forsooth: I wish you joy o’ the worm.

Exit

Re-enter Iras with a robe, crown, & c

Cleopatra Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip:
Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life. So; have you done?
Come then, and take the last warmth of my lips.
Farewell, kind Charmian; Iras, long farewell.

Kisses them. Iras falls and dies

Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall?
If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch,
Which hurts, and is desired. Dost thou lie still?
If thus thou vanishest, thou tell’st the world
It is not worth leave-taking.

Charmian Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain; that I may say,
The gods themselves do weep!

Cleopatra This proves me base:
If she first meet the curled Antony,
He’ll make demand of her, and spend that kiss
Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou mortal wretch,

To an asp, which she applies to her breast

With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass
Unpolicied!

Charmian   O eastern star!

Cleopatra Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

Charmian O, break! O, break!

Cleopatra As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle —
O Antony! — Nay, I will take thee too.

Applying another asp to her arm

What should I stay  —

Dies

Charmian In this vile world? So, fare thee well.
Now boast thee, death, in thy possession lies
A lass unparallel’d. Downy windows, close;
And golden Phoebus never be beheld
Of eyes again so royal! Your crown’s awry;
I’ll mend it, and then play.

Enter the Guard, rushing in

First Guard Where is the queen?

Charmian Speak softly, wake her not.

First Guard Caesar hath sent  —

Charmian   Too slow a messenger.

Applies an asp

O, come apace, dispatch! I partly feel thee.

First Guard Approach, ho! All’s not well: Caesar’s beguiled.

Second Guard There’s Dolabella sent from Caesar; call him.

First Guard What work is here! Charmian, is this well done?

Charmian It is well done, and fitting for a princess
Descended of so many royal kings.
Ah, soldier!

Dies

Re-enter Dolabella

Dolabella How goes it here?

Second Guard   All dead.

Dolabella Caesar, thy thoughts
Touch their effects in this: thyself art coming
To see perform’d the dreaded act which thou
So sought’st to hinder.

[Within] ‘A way there, a way for Caesar!’

Re-enter Octavius Caesar and all his train marching

Dolabella O sir, you are too sure an augurer;
That you did fear is done.

Octavius Caesar Bravest at the last,
She levell’d at our purposes, and, being royal,
Took her own way. The manner of their deaths?
I do not see them bleed.

Dolabella Who was last with them?

First Guard A simple countryman, that brought her figs:
This was his basket.

Octavius Caesar Poison’d, then.

First Guard O Caesar,
This Charmian lived but now; she stood and spake:
I found her trimming up the diadem
On her dead mistress; tremblingly she stood
And on the sudden dropp’d.

Octavius Caesar O noble weakness!
If they had swallow’d poison, ’twould appear
By external swelling: but she looks like sleep,
As she would catch another Antony
In her strong toil of grace.

Dolabella Here, on her breast,
There is a vent of blood and something blown:
The like is on her arm.

First Guard This is an aspic’s trail: and these fig-leaves
Have slime upon them, such as the aspic leaves
Upon the caves of Nile.

Octavius Caesar Most probable
That so she died; for her physician tells me
She hath pursued conclusions infinite
Of easy ways to die. Take up her bed;
And bear her women from the monument:
She shall be buried by her Antony:
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them; and their story is
No less in pity than his glory which
Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
In solemn show attend this funeral;
And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see
High order in this great solemnity.

Exeunt

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Last updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 23:07