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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 1, Scene 4

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Enter OCTAVIUSCAESAR, reading a letter, LEPIDUS, and their train

CAESAR

You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know, It is not Caesar’s natural vice to hate Our great competitor. From Alexandria This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes The lamps of night in revel; is not more manlike Than Cleopatra, nor the queen of Ptolemy More womanly than he; hardly gave audience, or Vouchsafed to think he had partners. You shall find there A man who is th’ abstract of all faults That all men follow.

CAESAR

You will see Lepidus, and know for the future, that I am not naturally inclined to hate this great competitor of mine. Here's the news from Alexandria. He fishes, drinks, and stays up all night wasting his time with fun and games. He is no more masculine than Cleopatra is, and she, the Egyptian queen, is no more feminine than him. He hardly listened to my messenger or admitted that he had political partners back here at home. In this letter, you'll read about a man who exemplifies the faults of all men.

LEPIDUS

I must not think there are Evils enough to darken all his goodness. His faults in him seem as the spots of heaven, More fiery by night’s blackness, hereditary Rather than purchased, what he cannot change Than what he chooses.

LEPIDUS

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CAESAR

You are too indulgent. Let’s grant, it is not Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy, To give a kingdom for a mirth, to sit And keep the turn of tippling with a slave, To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet With knaves that smell of sweat. Say this becomes him— As his composure must be rare indeed Whom these things cannot blemish—yet must Antony No way excuse his foils when we do bear So great weight in his lightness. If he filled His vacancy with his voluptuousness, Full surfeits and the dryness of his bones Call on him for ’t. But to confound such time That drums him from his sport and speaks as loud As his own state and ours, ’tis to be chid As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge, Pawn their experience to their present pleasure And so rebel to judgment.

CAESAR

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Enter FIRST MESSENGER

LEPIDUS

Here’s more news.

LEPIDUS

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FIRST MESSENGER

Thy biddings have been done, and every hour, Most noble Caesar, shalt thou have report How ’tis abroad. Pompey is strong at sea, And it appears he is beloved of those That only have feared Caesar. To the ports The discontents repair, and men’s reports Give him much wronged.

FIRST MESSENGER

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CAESAR

I should have known no less. It hath been taught us from the primal state That he which is was wished until he were, And the ebbed man, ne’er loved till ne’er worth love, Comes deared by being lacked. This common body, Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream, Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide To rot itself with motion.

CAESAR

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Enter SECOND MESSENGER

SECOND MESSENGER

Caesar, I bring thee word Menecrates and Menas, famous pirates, Make the sea serve them, which they ear and wound With keels of every kind. Many hot inroads They make in Italy—the borders maritime Lack blood to think on ’t—and flush youth revolt. No vessel can peep forth, but ’tis as soon Taken as seen, for Pompey’s name strikes more Than could his war resisted.

SECOND MESSENGER

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Exit

CAESAR

Antony, Leave thy lascivious wassails. When thou once Wast beaten from Modena, where thou slew’st Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel Did famine follow, whom thou fought’st against, Though daintily brought up, with patience more Than savages could suffer. Thou didst drink The stale of horses and the gilded puddle Which beasts would cough at. Thy palate then did deign The roughest berry on the rudest hedge. Yea, like the stag, when snow the pasture sheets, The barks of trees thou browsèd. On the Alps It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh, Which some did die to look on. And all this— It wounds thine honor that I speak it now— Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek So much as lanked not.

CAESAR

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LEPIDUS

’Tis pity of him.

LEPIDUS

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CAESAR

Let his shames quickly Drive him to Rome. ’Tis time we twain Did show ourselves i’ th’ field, and to that end Assemble we immediate council. Pompey Thrives in our idleness.

CAESAR

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LEPIDUS

Tomorrow, Caesar, I shall be furnished to inform you rightly Both what by sea and land I can be able To front this present time.

LEPIDUS

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CAESAR

Till which encounterIt is my business too. Farewell.

CAESAR

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LEPIDUS

Farewell, my lord. What you shall know meantimeOf stirs abroad, I shall beseech you, sir,To let me be partaker.

LEPIDUS

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CAESAR

Doubt not, sir. I knew it for my bond.

CAESAR

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Exeunt

Antony and cleopatra
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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.