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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

It was a good joke when you bet on your fishing, and you had your diver go down and put a dried fish on his hook, which he pulled out enthusiastically. 

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

That time—oh, the times we had!—that I laughed at him until he lost patience, and that night, I satisfied him again. And the next morning, before nine o'clock, I got him drunk and sent him to bed, and then put my clothes and headdresses on him, while I put on his sword.

Enter a MESSENGER

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

Oh, a message from Italy! Tell me your good news quickly, since I haven't had any news in so long. 

MESSENGER

Madam, madam—

MESSENGER

Madam, madam—

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

Antony's dead! If you tell me that, villain, you kill me. But if you tell me that he is well and has not been captured—if you report that about him—then I will give you gold [Gives him gold] and here, my blue-blooded hand to kiss [She holds out her hand]—a hand that kings have kissed, and trembled while they kissed it. 

MESSENGER

First, madam, he is well.

MESSENGER

First, madam, he is well. 

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

Why, there's more gold. But, sir, pay attention, we use to use the word "well" to describe the dead. If that's what you mean, I will melt the gold I've given you and pour it down that throat of yours that tells me such terrible news.

MESSENGER

Good madam, hear me.

MESSENGER

Good madam, listen to me. 

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

Well, fine, I will. But there's no goodness in your face—if Antony is free and well, it's odd that he would send such a sour face to bring such good news! But if he isn't well, you should have appeared like a Fury with a crown of snakes, not so calm and well-dressed.

MESSENGER

Will ’t please you hear me?

MESSENGER

Will you please listen to me?

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

I have half a mind to strike you before you speak. But if you tell me that Antony lives, that he's well, that he's friends with Caesar or that he's not Caesar's prisoner, then I'll shower you with gold and greet you with rich pearls. 

MESSENGER

Madam, he’s well.

MESSENGER

Madam, he's well. 

CLEOPATRA

Well said.

CLEOPATRA

Well said. 

MESSENGER

And friends with Caesar.

MESSENGER

And friends with Caesar. 

CLEOPATRA

Th’ art an honest man.

CLEOPATRA

You are a good man.

MESSENGER

Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.

MESSENGER

Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.

CLEOPATRA

Make thee a fortune from me.

CLEOPATRA

I will give you a fortune. 

MESSENGER

But yet, madam—

MESSENGER

But yet, madam—

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

I do not like the sound of "But yet." It casts a shadow on the previous good news. Down with "But yet." "But yet" are the words you'll use to introduce some terrible news. Please, friend, tell me all your news at once, both the good and the bad. He's friends with Caesar, he's well, you say, and you say that he's free.

MESSENGER

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

MESSENGER

Free, madam, no. I did not say that. He's bound to Octavia.

CLEOPATRA

For what good turn?

CLEOPATRA

For what good turn?

MESSENGER

For the best turn i’ th’ bed.

MESSENGER

For the best turn, in bed.

CLEOPATRA

I am pale, Charmian.

CLEOPATRA

I am pale, Charmian.

MESSENGER

Madam, he’s married to Octavia.

MESSENGER

Madam, he's married to Octavia. 

CLEOPATRA

The most infectious pestilence upon thee!

CLEOPATRA

May the most infectious disease come upon you!

Strikes him down

MESSENGER

Good madam, patience.

MESSENGER

Good madam, patience.

CLEOPATRA

What say you?

CLEOPATRA

What did you say?

Strikes him

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

Get out of here, horrible villain, or I'll kick your eyes in front of me like balls! I'll tear all the hair from your head!

She hales him up and down

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

You'll be whipped with wire and soaked in brine like a pickle, prolonging your pain!

MESSENGER

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

MESSENGER

Gracious madam, I brought the news, but I did not arrange the marriage.

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

Say that it isn't so, and I will give you a territory and build up your fortunes. The blow that I gave you will make up for you making me angry, and I'll enrich you with whatever other gift your lowly self can ask for.

MESSENGER

He’s married, madam.

MESSENGER

He's married, madam.

CLEOPATRA

Rogue, thou hast lived too long.

CLEOPATRA

Scoundrel, you have lived too long.

Draws a knife

MESSENGER

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

MESSENGER

No, I'll run. What are you doing, madam? I have done nothing wrong. 

Exit

CHARMIAN

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

CHARMIAN

Good madam, pull yourself together. That man is innocent. 

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

Some innocent people don't escape punishment. Let Egypt melt into the Nile and let all sweet creatures turn into serpents. Call that lowborn messenger again. Even though I am angry, I will not hurt him. Call! 

CHARMIAN

He is afeard to come.

CHARMIAN

He's afraid to come. 

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

I will not hurt him. It would be dishonorable for my hands to strike someone of lower rank than myself, since I am the cause of my anger, by caring about Antony so much.

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.

Come here, sir. Even though it is honest, it is never good to bring bad news. Send many people to bring good news, but let bad news announce itself when it becomes apparent. 

MESSENGER

I have done my duty.

MESSENGER

I have done my duty. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Is he married? I cannot hate you worse than I already do if you say "yes" again. 

MESSENGER

He’s married, madam.

MESSENGER

He's married, madam. 

CLEOPATRA

The gods confound thee! Dost thou hold there still?

CLEOPATRA

May the gods destroy you! Do you still stand by that statement? 

MESSENGER

Should I lie, madam?

MESSENGER

Should I lie, madam?

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

Oh, I wish you were lying, even if meant half of Egypt had to be submerged in water and turned into a pool for scaly snakes! Go, get out of here. Even if you were as handsome as Narcissus, you would seem entirely ugly to me. He is married?

MESSENGER

I crave your highness’ pardon.

MESSENGER

I beg your highness's pardon.

CLEOPATRA

He is married?

CLEOPATRA

He is married?

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

Do not take offense, since I do not wish to offend you. It seems very unfair to punish me for doing what you order me to. He's married to Octavia. 

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

Oh, what a pity that his fault should turn you into a scoundrel, since you aren't a bad man even though you bring bad news! Get going. The merchandise you brought with you from Rome is too expensive for me. Leave with your goods on your hands and be ruined by them!

Exit MESSENGER

CHARMIAN

Good your highness, patience.

CHARMIAN

My good queen, have patience.

CLEOPATRA

In praising Antony, I have dispraised Caesar.

CLEOPATRA

Whenever I praised Antony, I also insulted Caesar.

CHARMIAN

Many times, madam.

CHARMIAN

Many times, madam. 

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

I'm punished for it now. Lead me away from here. I faint. Oh Iras, Charmian! It doesn't matter—Go to the messenger, good Alexas. Tell him to describe Octavia's features: her age, her temperament. Don't let him leave out any detail, not even the color of her hair. Report back to me quickly.

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.

I'll forget about him forever—no I won't—Charmian, even though in some ways he seems like a monster, in other ways he's a god. 

[To MARDIAN]
 Tell Alexas to let me know how tall she is. Take pity on me, Charmian, but don't speak to me. Lead me to my chamber.

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.