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Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 3, Scene 12

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Enter CAESAR, AGRIPPA, THIDIAS, and DOLABELLA, with others

CAESAR

Let him appear that’s come from Antony.Know you him?

CAESAR

Call in Antony's messenger. Do you know him?

DOLABELLA

Caesar, ’tis his schoolmaster— An argument that he is plucked, when hither He sends so poor a pinion of his wing, Which had superfluous kings for messengers Not many moons gone by.

DOLABELLA

Caesar, it's his children's tutor. It's a sign that Antony is in bad shape, that he sends such a lowly person here as his messenger. Not long ago, he had so many kings in his power that he could afford to send them as messengers. 

Enter AMBASSADOR from Antony

CAESAR

Approach and speak.

CAESAR

Come forward and speak.

AMBASSADOR

Such as I am, I come from Antony. I was of late as petty to his ends As is the morn-dew on the myrtle leaf To his grand sea.

AMBASSADOR

Even though I am a lowly person, I have been sent here by Antony. Lately, I've been as insignificant and useless to him as a drop of morning dew on a myrtle leaf would be to the large sea. 

CAESAR

Be ’t so. Declare thine office.

CAESAR

Put that aside. Tell us what you came here for.

AMBASSADOR

Lord of his fortunes he salutes thee, and Requires to live in Egypt; which not granted, He lessens his requests, and to thee sues To let him breathe between the heavens and earth A private man in Athens. This for him. Next, Cleopatra does confess thy greatness, Submits her to thy might, and of thee craves The circle of the Ptolemies for her heirs, Now hazarded to thy grace.

AMBASSADOR

Antony salutes you, you now have control over his fate, and he asks to be allowed to live in Egypt. If you don't grant this request, he asks for a smaller favor and asks you to let him live out his remaining days as a private citizen in Athens. These are his requests. Next, Cleopatra acknowledges your greatness, submits herself to your power, and asks that the kingdom of Egypt, which is now at your mercy, might be given to her children.

CAESAR

For Antony, I have no ears to his request. The Queen Of audience nor desire shall fail, so she From Egypt drive her all-disgracèd friend Or take his life there. This if she perform, She shall not sue unheard. So to them both.

CAESAR

For Antony, I will not listen to his requests. The Queen will get to meet me and get what she wants, so long as she drives her completely disgraced lover out of Egypt or else kills him there. If she does this, her requests won't go unheard. Tell this to both of them.

AMBASSADOR

Fortune pursue thee!

AMBASSADOR

May you have good fortune!

CAESAR

Bring him through the bands.

CAESAR

Escort him through the ranks of soldiers.

Exit AMBASSADOR, attended

[To THIDIAS] To try thy eloquence now ’tis time. Dispatch. From Antony win Cleopatra. Promise, And in our name, what she requires. Add more, From thine invention, offers. Women are not In their best fortunes strong, but want will perjure The ne’er-touched vestal. Try thy cunning, Thidias. Make thine own edict for thy pains, which we Will answer as a law.

CAEASAR

[To THIDIAS] Now it is time to see what your eloquence can accomplish. Get going. Win over Cleopatra from Antony. Promise her in my name that she will be given what she asks for. Promise her more than that, whatever you can think of. Women can't stick to their word even at the best of times, but when they are in need, even the most devout virgin will break her vows. See what your cunning can accomplish, Thidias. Decide what reward you would like for your trouble, and I will supply it as if commanded by law.

THIDIAS

Caesar, I go.

THIDIAS

Caesar, I will go. 

CAESAR

Observe how Antony becomes his flaw,And what thou think’st his very action speaksIn every power that moves.

CAESAR

Observe how Antony reacts to his disgrace, and tell me what you think his actions reveal about him in every move that he makes. 

THIDIAS

Caesar, I shall.

THIDIAS

Caesar, I will. 

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.