Document:  All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > Antony and Cleopatra > Act V, scene II


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.

	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.


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.


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 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!']

	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.

	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.


		   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.


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.

	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!


	[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.


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.


		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.


	[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

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--


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!


	[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.


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