A line-by-line translation

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 2, Scene 5

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Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS

CLEOPATRA

Give me some music. Music, moody foodOf us that trade in love.

CLEOPATRA

Play me some music. Music is the best emotional sustenance for those of us who are in love. 

ALL

The music, ho!

ALL

Play the music!

Enter MARDIAN the eunuch

CLEOPATRA

Let it alone. Let’s to billiards. Come, Charmian.

CLEOPATRA

Forget the music. Let's play billiards. Come, Charmian.

CHARMIAN

My arm is sore. Best play with Mardian.

CHARMIAN

My arm is sore. You had better play with Mardian. 

CLEOPATRA

As well a woman with an eunuch playedAs with a woman.—Come, you’ll play with me, sir?

CLEOPATRA

It's the same to play with a woman as it is with a eunuch. 

[To MADRIAN] Come, you'll play with me, sir?

MARDIAN

As well as I can, madam.

MARDIAN

As well as I can, madam. 

CLEOPATRA

And when good will is showed, though ’t come too short, The actor may plead pardon. I’ll none now. Give me mine angle. We’ll to th’ river. There, My music playing far off, I will betray Tawny-finned fishes. My bended hook shall pierce Their slimy jaws, and as I draw them up I’ll think them every one an Antony And say, “Aha! You’re caught.”

CLEOPATRA

And if an actor tries his best, even if his performance isn't very good, he can still ask for pardon. I don't want to play anymore. Give me my fishing rod. We'll go to the river. There, with my music playing from a distance, I'll catch the golden-finned fishes. My curved hook will pierce their slimy jaws, and as I pull them up, I'll imagine that every one of them is Antony and say, "Aha! I've caught you!"

CHARMIAN

’Twas merry when You wagered on your angling, when your diver Did hang a salt fish on his hook, which he With fervency drew up.

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

That time—Oh, times!— I laughed him out of patience, and that night I laughed him into patience. And next morn, Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed, Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst I wore his sword Philippan.

CLEOPATRA

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Enter a MESSENGER

Oh, from Italy!Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,That long time have been barren.

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MESSENGER

Madam, madam—

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Antonio’s dead! If thou say so, villain, Thou kill’st thy mistress. But well and free, If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here My bluest veins to kiss —a hand that kings Have lipped, and trembled kissing.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

First, madam, he is well.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Why, there’s more gold. But, sirrah, mark, we use To say the dead are well. Bring it to that, The gold I give thee will I melt and pour Down thy ill-uttering throat.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Good madam, hear me.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Well, go to, I will. But there’s no goodness in thy face—if Antony Be free and healthful, so tart a favor To trumpet such good tidings! If not well, Thou shouldst come like a Fury crowned with snakes, Not like a formal man.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Will ’t please you hear me?

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

I have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak’st. Yet if thou say Antony lives, is well, Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him, I’ll set thee in a shower of gold and hail Rich pearls upon thee.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Madam, he’s well.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Well said.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

And friends with Caesar.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Th’ art an honest man.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Make thee a fortune from me.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

But yet, madam—

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

I do not like “But yet.” It does allay The good precedence. Fie upon “But yet.” “But yet” is as a jailer to bring forth Some monstrous malefactor. Prithee, friend, Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear, The good and bad together. He’s friends with Caesar, In state of health, thou say’st, and, thou say’st, free.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Free, madam, no. I made no such report.He’s bound unto Octavia.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

For what good turn?

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

For the best turn i’ th’ bed.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

I am pale, Charmian.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Madam, he’s married to Octavia.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

The most infectious pestilence upon thee!

CLEOPATRA

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Strikes him down

MESSENGER

Good madam, patience.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

What say you?

CLEOPATRA

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Strikes him

Hence, horrible villain, or I’ll spurn thine eyesLike balls before me! I’ll unhair thy head!

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She hales him up and down

Thou shalt be whipped with wire and stewed in brine,Smarting in ling’ring pickle!

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MESSENGER

Gracious madam,I that do bring the news made not the match.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Say ’tis not so, a province I will give thee And make thy fortunes proud. The blow thou hadst Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage, And I will boot thee with what gift beside Thy modesty can beg.

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

He’s married, madam.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Rogue, thou hast lived too long.

CLEOPATRA

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Draws a knife

MESSENGER

Nay then, I’ll run.What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.

MESSENGER

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Exit

CHARMIAN

Good madam, keep yourself within yourself.The man is innocent.

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

Some innocents ’scape not the thunderbolt. Melt Egypt into Nile, and kindly creatures Turn all to serpents. Call the slave again. Though I am mad, I will not bite him. Call!

CLEOPATRA

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CHARMIAN

He is afeard to come.

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

I will not hurt him. These hands do lack nobility that they strike A meaner than myself, since I myself Have given myself the cause.

CLEOPATRA

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Enter the MESSENGER again

Come hither, sir. Though it be honest, it is never good To bring bad news. Give to a gracious message An host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell Themselves when they be felt.

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MESSENGER

I have done my duty.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Is he married?I cannot hate thee worser than I doIf thou again say “yes.”

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

He’s married, madam.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

The gods confound thee! Dost thou hold there still?

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Should I lie, madam?

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Oh, I would thou didst, So half my Egypt were submerged and made A cistern for scaled snakes! Go, get thee hence. Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me Thou wouldst appear most ugly. He is married?

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

I crave your highness’ pardon.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

He is married?

CLEOPATRA

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MESSENGER

Take no offense that I would not offend you.To punish me for what you make me doSeems much unequal. He’s married to Octavia.

MESSENGER

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CLEOPATRA

Oh, that his fault should make a knave of thee, That art not what th’ art sure of! Get thee hence. The merchandise which thou hast brought from Rome Are all too dear for me. Lie they upon thy hand And be undone by ’em!

CLEOPATRA

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Exit MESSENGER

CHARMIAN

Good your highness, patience.

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

In praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.

CLEOPATRA

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CHARMIAN

Many times, madam.

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

I am paid for ’t now. Lead me from hence. I faint. O Iras, Charmian! ’Tis no matter.— Go to the fellow, good Alexas. Bid him Report the feature of Octavia: her years, Her inclination. Let him not leave out The color of her hair. Bring me word quickly.

CLEOPATRA

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Exit Alexas

Let him for ever go:—let him not—Charmian, Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon, The other way's a Mars. Bid you Alexas To MARDIAN Bring me word how tall she is. Pity me, Charmian, But do not speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.

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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.