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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter POMPEY, MENECRATES, and MENAS, in warlike manner

POMPEY

If the great gods be just, they shall assistThe deeds of justest men.

POMPEY

If the great gods are just, they will assist the actions of the most honest men. 

MENAS

Know, worthy Pompey,That what they do delay, they not deny.

MENAS

You should know, worthy Pompey, that just because the gods are slow to do something doesn't mean they won't do it. 

POMPEY

Whiles we are suitors to their throne, decaysThe thing we sue for.

POMPEY

While we spend time praying to them for help, the thing we pray for loses its value. 

MENAS

We, ignorant of ourselves, Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers Deny us for our good, so find we profit By losing of our prayers.

MENAS

We don't know ourselves well enough, and so we often pray for something that will harm us, which the wise gods withhold for our own good. So we are often better off when our prayers aren't answered. 

POMPEY

I shall do well. The people love me, and the sea is mine. My powers are crescent, and my auguring hope Says it will come to th’ full. Mark Antony In Egypt sits at dinner, and will make No wars without doors. Caesar gets money where He loses hearts. Lepidus flatters both, Of both is flattered, but he neither loves, Nor either cares for him.

POMPEY

I will do well. The people love me, and I have control of the sea. My military power is increasing, and all my knowledge tells me that it will reach its full potential. Mark Antony is off enjoying himself in Egypt and he won't fight any battles except inside the bedroom. Caesar loses the people's loyalty by taxing them to raise money. Lepidus flatters them both and is flattered by both of them, but he doesn't love either of them, and neither of them cares for him. 

MENAS

Caesar and LepidusAre in the field. A mighty strength they carry.

MENAS

Caesar and Lepidus are on the battlefield. They have a powerful army. 

POMPEY

Where have you this? ’Tis false.

POMPEY

Where did you hear that? It's false. 

MENAS

From Silvius, sir.

MENAS

From Silvius, sir. 

POMPEY

He dreams. I know they are in Rome together Looking for Antony. But all the charms of love, Salt Cleopatra, soften thy wanned lip! Let witchcraft join with beauty, lust with both. Tie up the libertine in a field of feasts, Keep his brain fuming. Epicurean cooks, Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite, That sleep and feeding may prorogue his honor Even till a Lethe’d dulness—

POMPEY

He dreamt it. I know Caesar and Lepidus are in Rome together looking for Antony. But I hope, lustful Cleopatra, that all the charms of love will make your withered lips soft! May you use witchcraft as well as beauty, and may both arouse Antony's lust. Keep that libertine occupied with feast after feast, keep him from thinking clearly. May decadent cooks increase his appetite with pleasing sauces so that sleeping and eating will make him forgetful, until he forgets his duties completely. 

Enter VARRIUS

How now, Varrius?

What's going on, Varrius?

VARRIUS

This is most certain that I shall deliver: Mark Antony is every hour in Rome Expected. Since he went from Egypt ’tis A space for farther travel.

VARRIUS

The news I have to deliver is absolutely true. Mark Antony is expected to arrive in Rome any minute now. Enough time has passed since he left Egypt that he could have traveled an even greater distance. 

POMPEY

I could have given less matter A better ear.—Menas, I did not think This amorous surfeiter would have donned his helm For such a petty war. His soldiership Is twice the other twain. But let us rear The higher our opinion, that our stirring Can from the lap of Egypt’s widow pluck The ne’er lust-wearied Antony.

POMPEY

I could have listened more eagerly to something less urgent. Menas, I didn't think that this self-indulgent lover would put on his helmet to join in such a minor war. He is twice as good a soldier as the other two. But we'll have to increase our opinion of ourselves, since my military preparations can motivate even Antony, who never tires of pleasure, to leave his Egyptian lover. 

MENAS

I cannot hope Caesar and Antony shall well greet together. His wife that’s dead did trespasses to Caesar. His brother warred upon him, although, I think, Not moved by Antony.

MENAS

I don't think that Caesar and Antony will have a friendly reunion. Antony's late wife opposed Caesar and his brother declared war on him, although I don't think he was encouraged by Antony.

POMPEY

I know not, Menas, How lesser enmities may give way to greater. Were ’t not that we stand up against them all, ’Twere pregnant they should square between themselves, For they have entertainèd cause enough To draw their swords. But how the fear of us May cement their divisions and bind up The petty difference, we yet not know. Be ’t as our gods will have ’t. It only stands Our lives upon to use our strongest hands. Come, Menas.

POMPEY

I don't know, Menas, whether a greater rivalry might not help them overlook smaller rivalries. If it weren't for the fact that we are opposing all of them, it's likely that they would fight amongst themselves, since they have enough reasons to draw their swords against each other. But it's possible their fear of our forces will heal the breach between them and end their small disagreements. Let it be as the gods will it. Our lives depend only on us using our greatest possible strength. Come, Menas.

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.