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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 2, Scene 7

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Music plays. Enter two or three SERVANTS with a banquet

FIRST SERVANT

Here they’ll be, man. Some o’ their plants are ill-rooted already. The least wind i’ th’ world will blow them down.

FIRST SERVANT

They'll eat in here, friend. Some of them are unsteady on their feet already. The smallest breeze in the world would knock them over. 

SECOND SERVANT

Lepidus is high-colored.

SECOND SERVANT

Lepidus is flushed.

FIRST SERVANT

They have made him drink alms-drink.

FIRST SERVANT

They made him drink extra rounds.

SECOND SERVANT

As they pinch one another by the disposition, he cries out, “No more,” reconciles them to his entreaty and himself to th’ drink.

SECOND SERVANT

As their personalities clash, he cries, "No more quarreling," urges them to be friends, and resigns himself to another drink.

FIRST SERVANT

But it raises the greater war between him and his discretion.

FIRST SERVANT

But all this drinking makes him lose his judgment.

SECOND SERVANT

Why, this it is to have a name in great men’s fellowship. I had as lief have a reed that will do me noservice as a partisan I could not heave.

SECOND SERVANT

Well, this is what comes from keeping company with great men. I'd rather have a small job that I had the power to carry out than an important position I wasn't qualified for. 

FIRST SERVANT

To be called into a huge sphere, and not to be seen to move in ’t, are the holes where eyes should be, which pitifully disaster the cheeks.

FIRST SERVANT

To be given an important position and then not to be able to do anything with it, is like having empty sockets where your eyes should be, which deforms the face.

A sennet sounded. Enter CAESAR, ANTONY, POMPEY, LEPIDUS, AGRIPPA, MAECENAS, ENOBARBUS, and MENAS, with other captains and a BOY

ANTONY

Thus do they, sir: they take the flow o’ th’ Nile By certain scales i’ th’ Pyramid. They know By th’ height, the lowness, or the mean, if dearth Or foison follow. The higher Nilus swells The more it promises. As it ebbs, the seedsman Upon the slime and ooze scatters his grain, And shortly comes to harvest.

ANTONY

This is what they do, sir. They measure the depth of the Nile by certain markings on the Pyramid. They know how low it goes by measuring how high it goes, and they know by the middle position whether famine or abundance will follow. The higher the Nile floods, the more fertile it will make the land. As it ebbs, the farmer goes out on the wet, slimy ground and scatters his seeds, and he soon has a harvest.

LEPIDUS

You’ve strange serpents there?

LEPIDUS

You have strange serpents in Egypt?

ANTONY

Ay, Lepidus.

ANTONY

Yes, Lepidus.

LEPIDUS

Your serpent of Egypt is bred now of your mud by the operation of your sun. So is your crocodile.

LEPIDUS

Serpents in Egypt are bred out of mud by the working of the sun. So are the crocodiles.

ANTONY

They are so.

ANTONY

They are indeed.

POMPEY

[To LEPIDUS] Sit, and some wine. A health to Lepidus!

POMPEY

[To LEPIDUS] Sit down, and have some wine. 

[To everyone] A toast to Lepidus!

They sit and drink

LEPIDUS

I am not so well as I should be, but I’ll ne’er out.

LEPIDUS

I'm not as well as I ought to be, but I'll never miss a round.

ENOBARBUS

Not till you have slept. I fear me you’ll be in till then.

ENOBARBUS

Not till you fall asleep. I'm afraid you'll be in a drunken stupor then.

LEPIDUS

Nay, certainly, I have heard the Ptolemies’ pyramises are very goodly things. Without contradiction I have heard that.

LEPIDUS

No, certainly, I have heard the Egyptian pyramids are very magnificent things. Without doubt I've heard that.

MENAS

[aside to POMPEY] Pompey, a word.

MENAS

[So only POMPEY can hear] Pompey, let me have a word with you. 

POMPEY

[aside to MENAS] Say in mine ear. What is ’t?

POMPEY

[So only MENAS can hear] Whisper it to me. What is it?

MENAS

[aside to POMPEY] Forsake thy seat, I do beseech thee, captain,And hear me speak a word.

MENAS

[To POMPEY] Get up, I ask you, captain, and listen to me for a moment.

POMPEY

[aside to MENAS] Forbear me till anon.—This wine for Lepidus!

POMPEY

[To MENAS] Leave me alone for a while. 

[To the rest of the company] This wine is for Lepidus!

LEPIDUS

What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?

LEPIDUS

What kind of thing is a crocodile?

ANTONY

It is shaped, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth. It is just so high as it is, and moves with its own organs. It lives by that which nourisheth it, and, the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.

ANTONY

It's shaped like a crocodile, sir, and it's as long as its own length. It's just as tall as it is, and it moves by using its own body. It lives off what it eats, and when it dies, its soul moves on.

LEPIDUS

What color is it of?

LEPIDUS

What color is it?

ANTONY

Of it own color too.

ANTONY

The color that it is.

LEPIDUS

’Tis a strange serpent.

LEPIDUS

That's a strange animal.

ANTONY

’Tis so. And the tears of it are wet.

ANTONY

It is. And its tears are wet.

CAESAR

[aside to ANTONY] Will this description satisfy him?

CAESAR

[So only ANTONY can hear] Will he be satisfied with that description?

ANTONY

[aside to CAESAR] With the health that Pompey gives him, else he is a very epicure.

ANTONY

[So only CAESAR can hear] He'll be satisfied with that and with the toast that Pompey drank with him, or else he really has an insatiable appetite.

MENAS whispers again

POMPEY

[aside to MENAS] Go hang, sir, hang! Tell me of that? Away!Do as I bid you.—Where’s this cup I called for?

POMPEY

[So only MENAS can hear] Go to hell, sir, go! You talk to me about that? Get away! Do as I told you. 

[To the company] Where's the drink I asked for?

MENAS

[aside to POMPEY] If for the sake of merit thou wilt hear me,Rise from thy stool.

MENAS

[So only POMPEY can hear] If you'll listen to me for the sake of your own greatness, get up from your seat.

POMPEY

[aside to MENAS] I think th’ art mad.

POMPEY

[So only MENAS can hear] I think you're crazy.

He rises, and they walk aside

The matter?

What is it?

MENAS

I have ever held my cap off to thy fortunes.

MENAS

I have always done my best to help you.

POMPEY

Thou hast served me with much faith. What’s else to say?— [To the others] Be jolly, lords.

POMPEY

You have served me faithfully. What else do you have to say?

[To the company] Be merry, lords.

ANTONY

These quicksands, Lepidus,Keep off them, for you sink.

ANTONY

Keep away from the drinks, Lepidus, for you're drowning in them.

MENAS

[aside to POMPEY] Wilt thou be lord of all the world?

MENAS

[So only POMPEY can hear] Do you want to be the ruler of the whole world?

POMPEY

What sayst thou?

POMPEY

[So only MENAS can hear] What do you mean?

MENAS

Wilt thou be lord of the whole world? That’s twice.

MENAS

Do you want to be the ruler of the whole world? Now I've said it twice.

POMPEY

How should that be?

POMPEY

How could that come about?

MENAS

But entertain it,And, though thou think me poor, I am the manWill give thee all the world.

MENAS

Listen to what I have to say, and even though you think I'm a poor man, I'll be the person who gave you the whole world.

POMPEY

Hast thou drunk well?

POMPEY

Are you drunk?

MENAS

No, Pompey, I have kept me from the cup. Thou art, if thou dar’st be, the earthly Jove. Whate’er the ocean pales or sky inclips Is thine, if thou wilt ha ’t.

MENAS

No, Pompey, I haven't had a drink tonight. You could, if you dared, be the king of the gods on earth. Whatever land the ocean surrounds or the sky stretches over, will be yours, if you wish. 

POMPEY

Show me which way.

POMPEY

Tell me how. 

MENAS

These three world-sharers, these competitors, Are in thy vessel. Let me cut the cable, And, when we are put off, fall to their throats. All there is thine.

MENAS

Your competitors, the three men who govern the world between them, are on your ship. Let me cut the ropes, and, when we have set off from shore, let me kill them. Then all the world will be yours.

POMPEY

Ah, this thou shouldst have done And not have spoke on ’t! In me ’tis villainy, In thee ’t had been good service. Thou must know, ’Tis not my profit that does lead mine honor; Mine honor, it. Repent that e’er thy tongue Hath so betrayed thine act. Being done unknown, I should have found it afterwards well done, But must condemn it now. Desist, and drink.

POMPEY

Oh, you should have done this and not told me beforehand! It would be villainous of me to do it—for you, it would just have been the act of a good servant. You should know that I don't sacrifice my honor for profit; rather, I give up profit for the sake of my honor. You should regret that you ever mentioned this plan to me. If you had done it without my knowledge, I would have said afterwards that you had done well—but now, I must condemn the action. Put the thought of it aside, and drink.

He returns to the feast

MENAS

[aside] For this, I’ll never follow thy palled fortunes more. Who seeks and will not take when once ’tis offered Shall never find it more.

MENAS

[To himself] Because of this, I'll no longer follow you and hope for your success. Whoever seeks power and won't take it when it is offered will never find the opportunity again.

POMPEY

This health to Lepidus!

POMPEY

A toast to Lepidus!

ANTONY

[To a servant] Bear him ashore.—I’ll pledge it for him,Pompey.

ANTONY

[To a SERVANT] Carry Lepidus ashore. 

[To POMPEY] I'll drink for him, Pompey.

ENOBARBUS

Here’s to thee, Menas!

ENOBARBUS

Here's to you, Menas!

They drink

MENAS

Enobarbus, welcome.

MENAS

Enobarbus, welcome.

POMPEY

Fill till the cup be hid.

POMPEY

Fill the cup until it overflows.

ENOBARBUS

There’s a strong fellow, Menas.

ENOBARBUS

There's a strong man, Menas.

Pointing to the servant who carries off LEPIDUS

MENAS

Why?

MENAS

What's going on there?

ENOBARBUS

He bearsThe third part of the world, man. Seest not?

ENOBARBUS

He carries one third of the world, man. Don't you see?

MENAS

The third part, then, is drunk. Would it were all,That it might go on wheels!

MENAS

His third, then, is drunk. If only the whole world were drunk, so it would all spin with joy!

ENOBARBUS

Drink thou. Increase the reels.

ENOBARBUS

Have a drink. Increase the spinning.

MENAS

Come.

MENAS

Come.

POMPEY

This is not yet an Alexandrian feast.

POMPEY

This feast is not yet as wild as an Egyptian feast.

ANTONY

It ripens towards it. Strike the vessels, ho!Here’s to Caesar.

ANTONY

It's getting there. Open more casks, I say! Here's to Caesar.

CAESAR

I could well forbear ’t.It’s monstrous labor when I wash my brainAnd it grows fouler.

CAESAR

I could do without it. It's unnatural for me to drink if it makes my brain become cloudy.

ANTONY

Be a child o’ th’ time.

ANTONY

Get into the spirit of things. 

CAESAR

Possess it, I’ll make answer.But I had rather fast from all four daysThan drink so much in one.

CAESAR

You take a drink and I'll take another. But I'd rather go without eating for four days than drink so much in one day.

ENOBARBUS

[To ANTONY] Ha! My brave emperor,Shall we dance now the Egyptian bacchanalsAnd celebrate our drink?

ENOBARBUS

[To ANTONY] Ha! My noble emperor, shall we dance the Egyptian bacchanals now and celebrate our drinking?

POMPEY

Let’s ha ’t, good soldier.

POMPEY

Let's see it, good soldier.

ANTONY

Come, let’s all take handsTill that the conquering wine hath steeped our senseIn soft and delicate Lethe.

ANTONY

Come, let's all take hands, until this wine conquers us and sends us into a calm, gentle, forgetful stupor. 

ENOBARBUS

All take hands. Make battery to our ears with the loud music, The while I’ll place you; then the boy shall sing. The holding every man shall beat as loud As his strong sides can volley.

ENOBARBUS

Everyone grab hands. Batter our ears with the loud music, while I position you. Then the boy will sing. Every man will beat out the refrain as loudly as his strong body is able. 

Music plays. ENOBARBUS places them hand in hand

The Song.

BOY

(Sings) Come, thou monarch of the vine, Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne! In thy vats our cares be drowned, With thy grapes our hairs be crowned.

BOY

[Singing] Come, you king of the vine,
Plump Bacchus with pink eyes!
In your vats, we will drown our cares,
With your grapes, we will crown our hair.

ALL

(Singing) Cup us till the world go round, Cup us till the world go round!

ALL

[Singing] Fill our cups until the world spins,
Fill our cups until the world spins.

CAESAR

What would you more? —Pompey, good night. [To ANTONY] Good brother, Let me request you off. Our graver business Frowns at this levity. —Gentle lords, let’s part. You see we have burnt our cheeks. Strong Enobarb Is weaker than the wine; and mine own tongue Splits what it speaks. The wild disguise hath almost Anticked us all. What needs more words? Good night. Good Antony, your hand.

CAESAR

What more of a feast could you want? 

[To POMPEY] Pompey, good night. 

[To ANTONY] Good brother, let me ask you to come off the ship. Given our serious business, we shouldn't be fooling around like this. 

[To the company]  Noble lords, let's part. You see we've become flushed. Strong Enobarbus is not strong enough to handle the wine, and I cannot articulate my words clearly. This wild drunkenness has almost made fools out of all of us. What else needs to be said? Good night. Good Antony, give me your hand. 

POMPEY

I’ll try you on the shore.

POMPEY

I'll test your endurance at drinking on shore.

ANTONY

And shall, sir. Give ’s your hand.

ANTONY

Yes you will, sir. Give me your hand.

POMPEY

O Antony, You have my father’s house.But what? We are friends. Come, down into the boat.

POMPEY

Oh Antony, you took my father's house. But what does that matter? We're friends. Come, get into the boat

ENOBARBUS

Take heed you fall not.

ENOBARBUS

Be careful not to fall. 

Exeunt all but MENAS and ENOBARBUS

Menas, I’ll not on shore.

Menas, I won't go to shore.

MENAS

No, to my cabin. These drums, these trumpets, flutes! What!Let Neptune hear we bid a loud farewellTo these great fellows. Sound and be hanged, sound out!

MENAS

No, come to my cabin. What's going on with all these drums, trumpets, and flutes! The whole sea can hear how loudly we say goodbye to these great men. Let them go to hell if they keep playing. One final flourish and that's all!

Sound a flourish, with drums

ENOBARBUS

Hoo! says ’a. There’s my cap.

ENOBARBUS

Hoo, I say! There's my cap! 

He flings it in the air

MENAS

Hoo! Noble captain, come.

MENAS

Hoo! Noble captain, come.

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.