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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 1, Scene 5

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Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and MARDIAN

CLEOPATRA

Charmian!

CLEOPATRA

Charmian!

CHARMIAN

Madam?

CHARMIAN

Yes, madam? 

CLEOPATRA

Ha, ha! Give me to drink mandragora.

CLEOPATRA

Ha, ha! Give me mandragora to drink. 

CHARMIAN

Why, madam?

CHARMIAN

Why, madam?

CLEOPATRA

That I might sleep out this great gap of timeMy Antony is away.

CLEOPATRA

So I can sleep through this long period while my Antony is away.

CHARMIAN

You think of him too much.

CHARMIAN

You think about him too much.

CLEOPATRA

Oh, ’tis treason!

CLEOPATRA

Oh, that's treasonous to say!

CHARMIAN

Madam, I trust, not so.

CHARMIAN

Madam, I trust that it isn't. 

CLEOPATRA

Thou, eunuch Mardian!

CLEOPATRA

You, Mardian the eunuch!

MARDIAN

What’s your highness’ pleasure?

MARDIAN

What does your highness want?

CLEOPATRA

Not now to hear thee sing. I take no pleasure In aught an eunuch has. ’Tis well for thee That, being unseminared, thy freer thoughts May not fly forth of Egypt. Hast thou affections?

CLEOPATRA

I don't wish to hear you sing right now. I don't take pleasure in anything that a eunuch has. It's lucky for you, since you've been castrated, that your fantasies don't involve anything outside of Egypt. Do you have desires?

MARDIAN

Yes, gracious madam.

MARDIAN

Yes, gracious madam.

CLEOPATRA

Indeed?

CLEOPATRA

Indeed?

MARDIAN

Not in deed, madam, for I can do nothing But what indeed is honest to be done. Yet have I fierce affections, and think What Venus did with Mars.

MARDIAN

Not in deed, madam, since I can't do anything except what is honest to do. But I still have strong desires, and I think about what Venus did with Mars.

CLEOPATRA

O Charmian, Where think’st thou he is now? Stands he or sits he? Or does he walk? Or is he on his horse? O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony! Do bravely, horse, for wott’st thou whom thou mov’st? The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm And burgonet of men. He’s speaking now, Or murmuring “Where’s my serpent of old Nile?” For so he calls me. Now I feed myself With most delicious poison. Think on me, That am with Phoebus’ amorous pinches black And wrinkled deep in time. Broad-fronted Caesar, When thou wast here above the ground, I was A morsel for a monarch. And great Pompey Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow. There would he anchor his aspect, and die With looking on his life.

CLEOPATRA

Oh Charmian, where do you think he is now? Is he standing or sitting? Or is he walking? Or he is on horseback? Oh what a lucky horse, to have Antony on top of him! Run with style and courage, horse, for do you know who is riding you? The demi-Atlas of this earth, the champion and guardian of humankind. Perhaps he's speaking now, or murmuring, "Where's my serpent of  the old Nile?" For that's what he calls me. Now I cheer myself up with delicious thoughts of the thing that pains me most. Think about me, whose skin is dark from the sun's loving beams and wrinkled with old age. Wide-browed Caesar, when you were still alive, I was magnificent enough even for a great monarch like you. And great Pompey would stand and gaze for hours at my forehead. There he would fix his gaze, and die from looking at the woman who sustained his life.

Enter ALEXAS

ALEXAS

Sovereign of Egypt, hail!

ALEXAS

Ruler of Egypt, hail! 

CLEOPATRA

How much unlike art thou Mark Antony! Yet, coming from him, that great med’cine hath With his tinct gilded thee. How goes it with my brave Mark Antony?

CLEOPATRA

How very unlike Mark Antony you are! But, since you were sent by him, some of his greatness has rubbed off on you. How is my brave Mark Antony doing? 

ALEXAS

Last thing he did, dear Queen,He kissed—the last of many doubled kisses—This orient pearl.

ALEXAS

The last thing he did, dear Queen, was to kiss—the last kiss of many such kisses—this pearl from India.

He gives a pearl.

His speech sticks in my heart.

His parting words stuck in my mind. 

CLEOPATRA

Mine ear must pluck it thence.

CLEOPATRA

I must hear them from you. 

ALEXAS

“Good friend,” quoth he, “Say the firm Roman to great Egypt sends This treasure of an oyster, at whose foot, To mend the petty present, I will piece Her opulent throne with kingdoms. All the East, Say thou, shall call her mistress.” So he nodded, And soberly did mount an arm-gaunt steed, Who neighed so high that what I would have spoke Was beastly dumbed by him.

ALEXAS

"Good friend," he said, "Say that the stalwart Roman sends this treasure from an oyster to the great queen of Egypt, at whose feet—to improve this meager present—I will lay kingdoms, to add glory to her splendid throne. Tell her that all the East will call her their queen." So he nodded, and somberly mounted a thin, spirited warhorse, who neighed so loudly that the reply I would have made was drowned out by the beast. 

CLEOPATRA

What was he, sad or merry?

CLEOPATRA

What mood was he in, sad or happy?

ALEXAS

Like to the time o’ th’ year between the extremesOf hot and cold, he was nor sad nor merry.

ALEXAS

Like the midpoint of the year between extreme heat and extreme cold, he was neither sad nor happy.

CLEOPATRA

O well-divided disposition! Note him, Note him, good Charmian, ’tis the man, but note him. He was not sad, for he would shine on those That make their looks by his. He was not merry, Which seemed to tell them his remembrance lay In Egypt with his joy, but between both. O heavenly mingle! Be’st thou sad or merry, The violence of either thee becomes, So does it no man else.—Mett’st thou my posts?

CLEOPATRA

Oh well-balanced temperament! Take notice of him, take notice, good Charmian, that's exactly how he is, but take notice of him. He wasn't sad, because he wanted to look cheerfully at those people whose moods depend on his. He was not merry, which seems to say that he was remembering Egypt and his joy, but he was between sorrow and merriment. Oh heavenly mixture! Whether you are sad or happy, the extreme of either emotion suits you as it suits no other man. Did you encounter my messengers? 

ALEXAS

Ay, madam, twenty several messengers.Why do you send so thick?

ALEXAS

Yes, madam, twenty different messengers. Why did you send so many? 

CLEOPATRA

Who’s born that day When I forget to send to Antony Shall die a beggar. Ink and paper, Charmian. Welcome, my good Alexas. Did I, Charmian, Ever love Caesar so?

CLEOPATRA

Whoever is born on the day that I forget to write to Antony will die a beggar. Bring me ink and paper, Charmian. Welcome, my good Alexas. Did I, Charmian, ever love Caesar this much!

CHARMIAN

Oh, that brave Caesar!

CHARMIAN

Oh, that brave Caesar!

CLEOPATRA

Be choked with such another emphasis!Say, “the brave Antony.”

CLEOPATRA

May you choke if you ever say such a thing again! Say, "the brave Antony."

CHARMIAN

The valiant Caesar!

CHARMIAN

The valiant Caesar!

CLEOPATRA

By Isis, I will give thee bloody teethIf thou with Caesar paragon againMy man of men.

CLEOPATRA

I swear by Isis, I will strike you in the mouth if you compare Caesar again with my man who surpasses all other men. 

CHARMIAN

By your most gracious pardon,I sing but after you.

CHARMIAN

I beg your pardon, your highness, I'm only repeating what you said. 

CLEOPATRA

My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood, To say as I said then. [To everyone] But, come, away. [To CHARMIAN] Get me ink and paper. He shall have every day a several greeting, Or I’ll unpeople Egypt.

CLEOPATRA

I was in the days of my youth, when I was inexperienced and my emotions weren't very strong, and that's the only reason I said such things then.

[To everyone] But come, away.

[To CHARMIAN] Get me ink and paper. Antony will have a new greeting every day, even if I have to get rid of all of Egypt to send them. 

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.