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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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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 glowed 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 gypsy’s lust.

PHILO

I'm telling you, our general's ridiculous infatuation goes beyond the limits of reasonable behavior. Those handsome eyes of his, that used to shine like Mars's when he looked over the lines of troops, now turn away and give their duty and love to a woman with a dark complexion. He used to have the heart of a military commander, which swelled so much during the battles of great wars that it split open the armor on his chest, but now he abandons all self-restraint and only lives to stir up and then satisfy an Egyptian's sexual desire. 

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 transformed Into a strumpet’s fool. Behold and see.

See, here they come. Pay attention, and you'll see one of the three most powerful men in the world behaving like a fool to entertain a strumpet. Look and see.

CLEOPATRA

If it be love indeed, tell me how much.

CLEOPATRA

If you really love me, tell me how much. 

ANTONY

There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned.

ANTONY

My love for you could not be very great if I could tell you how much I love you. 

CLEOPATRA

I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

CLEOPATRA

I'll mark off boundaries to see how far your love extends. 

ANTONY

Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

ANTONY

If you want to see how far my love extends, you'll need to discover a new world, because my love extends beyond this one. 

Enter a MESSENGER

MESSENGER

News, my good lord, from Rome.

MESSENGER

I have news from Rome, my good lord. 

ANTONY

Grates me, the sum.

ANTONY

That irritates me. Summarize it for me. 

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.”

CLEOPATRA

No, listen to him, Antony. Maybe Fulvia is angry. Or perhaps the young Caesar has sent a stern command, ordering you, "Do this, or this. Conquer that kingdom, and free that one. Do it, or I'll be very angry with you."

ANTONY

How, my love?

ANTONY

Why are you talking like this, 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!

CLEOPATRA

Maybe? No, this is definitely the news. You shouldn't stay here any longer. Caesar has given you your orders. So, pay attention, Antony. Where's the summons from Fulvia? From Caesar, I should say—or both? Call in the messengers. As sure as I'm Egypt's queen, I say you're blushing, Antony, and your blush shows your loyalty to Caesar. Either that, or it shows you're shame when Fulvia scolds you with her shrill tongue. Call in the messengers! 

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

ANTONY

Let Rome collapse into the Tiber River and the whole extent of the wide empire fall. The only empire I want is right here. Conquering foreign lands is worthless. Land is just something that animals feed off of, the same way humans do. The noble way to live is like this when there are two people like us who share the same greatness and the same great feelings—and I order the world to recognize, on pain of punishment, that no one else comes close to our greatness. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

[To the court] What an eloquent lie! Why did Antony marry Fulvia if he didn't love her? I'll pretend to believe him. I know that Antony will keep acting so foolishly.

ANTONY

But stirred 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?

ANTONY

Yes, but only because of you. Now, since we love Love and the relaxing hours it brings, let's not ruin our time together by arguing. We shouldn't let a minute pass without pleasure. How shall we entertain ourselves tonight? 

CLEOPATRA

Hear the ambassadors.

CLEOPATRA

Listen to the messengers. 

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 Tonight we’ll wander through the streets and note The qualities of people. Come, my Queen, Last night you did desire it.— [To the MESSENGER] Speak not to us.

ANTONY

Don't talk like that, you stubborn Queen! But everything you do is endearing, whether you criticize, laugh, or cry; every emotion you express becomes attractive and admirable! The only messages I want to hear are yours, and tonight we'll wander through the streets alone and observe the people we meet. Come, my Queen, this was what you wanted last night.

[To the MESSENGER] Don't talk to me.

Exeunt ANTONY and CLEOPATRA with the train

DEMETRIUS

Is Caesar with Antonius prized so slight?

DEMETRIUS

Does Antony care so little about Caesar's orders?

PHILO

Sir, sometimes when he is not AntonyHe comes too short of that great propertyWhich still should go with Antony.

PHILO

Sir, sometimes he doesn't behave like Antony, and he doesn't care about the things that the Antony we know should care about. 

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 tomorrow. Rest you happy!

DEMETRIUS

There are people back in Rome who say he's not acting the way he should, and I'm sorry that he's proving them right. But I hope he'll behave better tomorrow. Sleep well! 

Exeunt

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Maria devlin
About the Translator: Maria Devlin

Maria Devlin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University, where she specialized in Renaissance drama. She has worked as a bibliographical and editorial assistant for The Norton Anthology of English Literature and for The Norton Shakespeare. She is currently working with Stephen Greenblatt to design online courses on Shakespeare, including the modules "Hamlet's Ghost" and "Shylock's Bond" offered through HarvardX. She is writing a book on Renaissance comedy.

Maria Devlin wishes to credit the following sources, which she consulted extensively in composing her translations and annotations:

William Shakespeare. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Eds. Gary Taylor et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

William Shakespeare. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2016.