A line-by-line translation

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra Translation Act 5, Scene 2

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Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, and IRAS

CLEOPATRA

My desolation does begin to make A better life. ’Tis paltry to be Caesar. Not being Fortune, he’s but Fortune’s knave, A minister of her will. And it is great To do that thing that ends all other deeds, Which shackles accidents and bolts up change, Which sleeps and never palates more the dung, The beggar’s nurse, and Caesar’s.

CLEOPATRA

My isolation has helped me better understand my life. It's no great thing to be Caesar. He doesn't control his own fate, he's controlled by fate, and does whatever fortune dictates. And it is great, to do that deed that puts an end to everything else, that puts a stop to all the accidents of fortune and to all change, that makes us sleep forever so that we never eat food from the earth again—food that nourishes beggars as well as great men like Caesar. 

Enter PROCULEIUS

PROCULEIUS

Caesar sends greeting to the Queen of Egypt,And bids thee study on what fair demandsThou mean’st to have him grant thee.

PROCULEIUS

Caesar sends greetings to the Queen of Egypt and asks what requests you have for him. 

CLEOPATRA

What’s thy name?

CLEOPATRA

Lorem ipsum dolor

PROCULEIUS

My name is Proculeius.

PROCULEIUS

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CLEOPATRA

Antony Did tell me of you, bade me trust you, but I do not greatly care to be deceived, That have no use for trusting. If your master Would have a queen his beggar, you must tell him, That majesty, to keep decorum, must No less beg than a kingdom. If he please To give me conquered Egypt for my son, He gives me so much of mine own as I Will kneel to him with thanks.

CLEOPATRA

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PROCULEIUS

Be of good cheer. You’re fall’n into a princely hand. Fear nothing. Make your full reference freely to my lord, Who is so full of grace that it flows over On all that need. Let me report to him Your sweet dependency, and you shall find A conqueror that will pray in aid for kindness Where he for grace is kneeled to.

PROCULEIUS

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CLEOPATRA

Pray you, tell him I am his fortune’s vassal, and I send him The greatness he has got. I hourly learn A doctrine of obedience, and would gladly Look him i’ th’ face.

CLEOPATRA

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PROCULEIUS

This I’ll report, dear lady.Have comfort, for I know your plight is pitiedOf him that caused it.

PROCULEIUS

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GALLUS and Roman soldiers enter from behind and take CLEOPATRA prisoner

GALLUS

You see how easily she may be surprised. [To the soldiers] Guard her till Caesar come.

GALLUS

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IRAS

Royal Queen!

IRAS

Lorem ipsum

CHARMIAN

O Cleopatra! Thou art taken, Queen.

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA draws a dagger

CLEOPATRA

Quick, quick, good hands.

CLEOPATRA

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PROCULEIUS seizes the dagger

PROCULEIUS

Hold, worthy lady, hold!Do not yourself such wrong, who are in thisRelieved but not betrayed.

PROCULEIUS

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CLEOPATRA

What, of death too,That rids our dogs of languish?

CLEOPATRA

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PROCULEIUS

Cleopatra,Do not abuse my master’s bounty byTh’ undoing of yourself. Let the world seeHis nobleness well acted, which your deathWill never let come forth.

PROCULEIUS

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CLEOPATRA

Where art thou, Death?Come hither, come! Come, come and take a queenWorth many babes and beggars!

CLEOPATRA

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PROCULEIUS

Oh, temperance, lady!

PROCULEIUS

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CLEOPATRA

Sir, I will eat no meat, I’ll not drink, sir. If idle talk will once be necessary, I’ll not sleep neither. This mortal house I’ll ruin, Do Caesar what he can. Know, sir, that I Will not wait pinioned at your master’s court, Nor once be chastised with the sober eye Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up And show me to the shouting varletry Of censuring Rome? Rather a ditch in Egypt Be gentle grave unto me. Rather on Nilus’ mud Lay me stark naked and let the waterflies Blow me into abhorring. Rather make My country’s high pyramides my gibbet And hang me up in chains!

CLEOPATRA

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PROCULEIUS

You do extendThese thoughts of horror further than you shallFind cause in Caesar.

PROCULEIUS

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Enter DOLABELLA

DOLABELLA

Proculeius, What thou hast done thy master Caesar knows, And he hath sent for thee. For the Queen, I’ll take her to my guard.

DOLABELLA

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PROCULEIUS

So, Dolabella, It shall content me best. Be gentle to her. [To CLEOPATRA] To Caesar I will speak what you shall please, If you’ll employ me to him.

PROCULEIUS

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CLEOPATRA

Say I would die.

CLEOPATRA

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Exit PROCULEIUS

DOLABELLA

Most noble Empress, you have heard of me?

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

I cannot tell.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Assuredly you know me.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

No matter, sir, what I have heard or known.You laugh when boys or women tell their dreams.Is ’t not your trick?

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

I understand not, madam.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

I dreamt there was an emperor Antony.Oh, such another sleep, that I might seeBut such another man!

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

If it might please ye—

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

His face was as the heavens, and therein stuckA sun and moon, which kept their course and lightedThe little “O,” the earth.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Most sovereign creature—

DOLABELLA

Lorem ipsum dolo

CLEOPATRA

His legs bestrid the ocean. His reared arm Crested the world. His voice was propertied As all the tunèd spheres, and that to friends. But when he meant to quail and shake the orb, He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty, There was no winter in ’t, an autumn ’twas That grew the more by reaping. His delights Were dolphinlike; they showed his back above The element they lived in. In his livery Walked crowns and crownets. Realms and islands were As plates dropped from his pocket.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Cleopatra—

DOLABELLA

Lorem ipsu

CLEOPATRA

Think you there was or might be such a manAs this I dreamt of?

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Gentle madam, no.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

You lie up to the hearing of the gods. But if there be nor ever were one such, It’s past the size of dreaming. Nature wants stuff To vie strange forms with fancy, yet t’ imagine An Antony were nature’s piece ’gainst fancy, Condemning shadows quite.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Hear me, good madam. Your loss is as yourself, great, and you bear it As answering to the weight. Would I might never O’ertake pursued success, but I do feel, By the rebound of yours, a grief that smites My very heart at root.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

I thank you, sir.Know you what Caesar means to do with me?

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

I am loath to tell you what I would you knew.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

Nay, pray you, sir.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Though he be honorable—

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

He’ll lead me, then, in triumph.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

Madam, he will. I know ’t.

DOLABELLA

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Flourish. Enter CAESAR, PROCULEIUS, GALLUS, MAECENAS, and other ATTENDANTS

ATTENDANTS

Make way there! Caesar!

ATTENDANTS

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CAESAR

Which is the Queen of Egypt?

CAESAR

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DOLABELLA

[To CLEOPATRA] It is the Emperor, madam.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA kneels

CAESAR

Arise, you shall not kneel.I pray you, rise. Rise, Egypt.

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

Sir, the godsWill have it thus. My master and my lordI must obey.

CLEOPATRA

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CLEOPATRA stands

CAESAR

Take to you no hard thoughts. The record of what injuries you did us, Though written in our flesh, we shall remember As things but done by chance.

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

Sole sir o’ th’ world, I cannot project mine own cause so well To make it clear, but do confess I have Been laden with like frailties which before Have often shamed our sex.

CLEOPATRA

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CAESAR

Cleopatra, know We will extenuate rather than enforce. If you apply yourself to our intents, Which towards you are most gentle, you shall find A benefit in this change, but if you seek To lay on me a cruelty by taking Antony’s course, you shall bereave yourself Of my good purposes and put your children To that destruction which I’ll guard them from If thereon you rely. I’ll take my leave.

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

And may, through all the world! ’Tis yours, and we,Your scutcheons and your signs of conquest, shallHang in what place you please. Here, my good lord.

CLEOPATRA

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She gives him a scroll

CAESAR

You shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

This is the brief of money, plate, and jewelsI am possessed of. ’Tis exactly valued,Not petty things admitted. Where’s Seleucus?

CLEOPATRA

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Enter SELEUCUS

SELEUCUS

Here, madam.

SELEUCUS

Lorem ipsum dolor

CLEOPATRA

This is my treasurer. Let him speak, my lord, Upon his peril, that I have reserved To myself nothing. Speak the truth, Seleucus.

CLEOPATRA

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SELEUCUS

Madam, I had rather seal my lipsThan to my peril speak that which is not.

SELEUCUS

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CLEOPATRA

What have I kept back?

CLEOPATRA

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SELEUCUS

Enough to purchase what you have made known.

SELEUCUS

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CAESAR

Nay, blush not, Cleopatra. I approveYour wisdom in the deed.

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

See, Caesar! Oh, behold How pomp is followed! Mine will now be yours, And, should we shift estates, yours would be mine. The ingratitude of this Seleucus does Even make me wild. [To SELEUCUS] O slave, of no more trust Than love that’s hired! What, goest thou back? Thou shalt Go back, I warrant thee! But I’ll catch thine eyes, Though they had wings. Slave, soulless villain, dog! Oh, rarely base!

CLEOPATRA

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CAESAR

Good Queen, let us entreat you—

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

O Caesar, what a wounding shame is this, That thou, vouchsafing here to visit me, Doing the honor of thy lordliness To one so meek, that mine own servant should Parcel the sum of my disgraces by Addition of his envy! Say, good Caesar, That I some lady trifles have reserved, Immoment toys, things of such dignity As we greet modern friends withal, and say Some nobler token I have kept apart For Livia and Octavia, to induce Their mediation, must I be unfolded With one that I have bred? The gods! It smites me Beneath the fall I have. [To SELEUCUS] Prithee, go hence, Or I shall show the cinders of my spirit Through th’ ashes of my chance. Wert thou a man, Thou wouldst have mercy on me.

CLEOPATRA

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CAESAR

Forbear, Seleucus.

CAESAR

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Exit SELEUCUS

CLEOPATRA

Be it known that we, the greatest, are misthought For things that others do, and when we fall We answer others’ merits in our name, Are therefore to be pitied.

CLEOPATRA

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CAESAR

Cleopatra, Not what you have reserved nor what acknowledged Put we i’ th’ roll of conquest. Still be ’t yours. Bestow it at your pleasure, and believe Caesar’s no merchant, to make prize with you Of things that merchants sold. Therefore be cheered. Make not your thoughts your prison. No, dear Queen, For we intend so to dispose you as Yourself shall give us counsel. Feed and sleep. Our care and pity is so much upon you That we remain your friend. And so, adieu.

CAESAR

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CLEOPATRA

My master, and my lord!

CLEOPATRA

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CAESAR

Not so. Adieu.

CAESAR

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Flourish. Exeunt CAESAR and his train

CLEOPATRA

He words me, girls, he words me, that I should notBe noble to myself. But, hark thee, Charmian.

CLEOPATRA

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She whispers to CHARMIAN

IRAS

Finish, good lady. The bright day is done,And we are for the dark.

IRAS

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CLEOPATRA

[To CHARMIAN] Hie thee again.I have spoke already, and it is provided.Go put it to the haste.

CLEOPATRA

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CHARMIAN

Madam, I will.

CHARMIAN

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Enter DOLABELLA

DOLABELLA

Where’s the Queen?

DOLABELLA

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CHARMIAN

Behold, sir.

CHARMIAN

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Exit

CLEOPATRA

Dolabella!

CLEOPATRA

Lorem ipsum

DOLABELLA

Madam, as thereto sworn by your command, Which my love makes religion to obey, I tell you this: Caesar through Syria Intends his journey, and within three days You with your children will he send before. Make your best use of this. I have performed Your pleasure and my promise.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

Dolabella,I shall remain your debtor.

CLEOPATRA

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DOLABELLA

I your servant.Adieu, good Queen. I must attend on Caesar.

DOLABELLA

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CLEOPATRA

Farewell, and thanks.

CLEOPATRA

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Exit DOLABELLA

Now, Iras, what think’st thou? Thou an Egyptian puppet shalt be shown In Rome, as well as I. Mechanic slaves With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers shall Uplift us to the view. In their thick breaths, Rank of gross diet, shall be enclouded, And forced to drink their vapor.

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IRAS

The gods forbid!

IRAS

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CLEOPATRA

Nay, ’tis most certain, Iras. Saucy lictors Will catch at us like strumpets, and scald rhymers Ballad us out o’ tune. The quick comedians Extemporally will stage us and present Our Alexandrian revels. Antony Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness I’ th’ posture of a whore.

CLEOPATRA

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IRAS

Oh, the good gods!

IRAS

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CLEOPATRA

Nay, that’s certain.

CLEOPATRA

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IRAS

I’ll never see ’t! For I am sure mine nailsAre stronger than mine eyes.

IRAS

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CLEOPATRA

Why, that’s the wayTo fool their preparation and to conquerTheir most absurd intents.

CLEOPATRA

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Enter CHARMIAN

Now, Charmian! Show me, my women, like a queen. Go fetch My best attires. I am again for Cydnus, To meet Mark Antony. —Sirrah Iras, go.— Now, noble Charmian, we’ll dispatch indeed, And when thou hast done this chare I’ll give thee leave To play till doomsday. [To IRAS] Bring our crown and all.

CLEOPATRA

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Lorem ips
Lorem ipsum dolor

Lorem ipsum d
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Lorem ips
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, cons

Exit IRAS. A noise within

Wherefore’s this noise?

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Enter a GUARDSMAN

GUARDSMAN

Here is a rural fellowThat will not be denied your Highness’ presence.He brings you figs.

GUARDSMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Let him come in.

CLEOPATRA

Lorem ipsum dolo

Exit GUARDSMAN

What poor an instrument May do a noble deed! He brings me liberty. My resolution’s placed, and I have nothing Of woman in me. Now from head to foot I am marble-constant. Now the fleeting moon No planet is of mine.

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Enter GUARDSMAN, and COUNTRYMAN bringing in a basket

GUARDSMAN

This is the man.

GUARDSMAN

Lorem ipsum dolo

CLEOPATRA

Avoid, and leave him.

CLEOPATRA

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Exit GUARDSMAN

Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there,That kills and pains not?

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COUNTRYMAN

Truly, I have him, but I would not be the party that should desire you to touch him, for his biting is immortal. Those that do die of it do seldom or never recover.

COUNTRYMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Remember’st thou any that have died on ’t?

CLEOPATRA

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COUNTRYMAN

Very many, men and women too. I heard of one of them nolonger than yesterday—a very honest woman, but something given to lie, as a woman should not do but in the way of honesty —how she died of the biting of it, what pain she felt. Truly, she makes a very good report o’ th’ worm. But he that will believe all that they say shall never be saved by half that they do. But this is most falliable, the worm’s an odd worm.

COUNTRYMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Get thee hence, farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Lorem ipsum dolor si

COUNTRYMAN

I wish you all joy of the worm.

COUNTRYMAN

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He sets down his basket

CLEOPATRA

Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Lorem ips

COUNTRYMAN

You must think this, look you, that the worm will do his kind.

COUNTRYMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Ay, ay. Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

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COUNTRYMAN

Look you, the worm is not to be trusted but in the keeping of wise people, for indeed there is no goodness in the worm.

COUNTRYMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Take thou no care. It shall be heeded.

CLEOPATRA

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COUNTRYMAN

Very good. Give it nothing, I pray you, for it is not worth the feeding.

COUNTRYMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Will it eat me?

CLEOPATRA

Lorem ipsum dolo

COUNTRYMAN

You must not think I am so simple but I know the devil himself will not eat a woman. I know that a woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not. But, truly, these same whoreson devils do the gods great harmin their women, for in every ten that they make, the devils mar five.

COUNTRYMAN

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CLEOPATRA

Well, get thee gone. Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

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COUNTRYMAN

Yes, forsooth. I wish you joy o’ th’ worm.

COUNTRYMAN

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Exit

Enter IRAS with royal attire

CLEOPATRA

Give me my robe. Put on my crown. I haveImmortal longings in me. Now no moreThe juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip.

CLEOPATRA

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The women dress her

Yare, yare, good Iras, quick. Methinks I hear Antony call. I see him rouse himself To praise my noble act. I hear him mock The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men To excuse their after wrath. —Husband, I come! Now to that name my courage prove my title! I am fire and air, my other elements I give to baser life. —So, have you done? Come then and take the last warmth of my lips. Farewell, kind Charmian. Iras, long farewell.

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Lorem ipsum do
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She kisses them. IRAS falls and dies

Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall? If thou and nature can so gently part, The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch, Which hurts, and is desired. Dost thou lie still? If thus thou vanishest, thou tell’st the world It is not worth leave-taking.

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CHARMIAN

Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain, that I may sayThe gods themselves do weep!

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

This proves me base. If she first meet the curlèd Antony, He’ll make demand of her and spend that kiss Which is my heaven to have. —Come, thou mortal wretch,

CLEOPATRA

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She places an asp on her breast

With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate Of life at once untie. Poor venomous fool Be angry and dispatch. Oh, couldst thou speak, That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass Unpolicied!

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CHARMIAN

O eastern star!

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

Peace, peace!Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,That sucks the nurse asleep?

CLEOPATRA

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CHARMIAN

Oh, break! Oh, break!

CHARMIAN

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CLEOPATRA

As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle—O Antony!—Nay, I will take thee too.

CLEOPATRA

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Applying another asp to her arm

What should I stay—

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Dies

CHARMIAN

In this wild world? So, fare thee well.Now boast thee, Death, in thy possession liesA lass unparalleled. Downy windows, close,

CHARMIAN

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She closes CLEOPATRA’s eyes

And golden Phoebus never be beheldOf eyes again so royal! Your crown’s awry.I’ll mend it and then play—

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Enter the GUARD, rustling in

FIRST GUARD

Where’s the Queen?

FIRST GUARD

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CHARMIAN

Speak softly. Wake her not.

CHARMIAN

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FIRST GUARD

Caesar hath sent—

FIRST GUARD

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CHARMIAN

Too slow a messenger.

CHARMIAN

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She applies an asp to herself.

Oh, come apace, dispatch! I partly feel thee.

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FIRST GUARD

[calling] Approach, ho! All’s not well. Caesar’s beguiled.

FIRST GUARD

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SECOND GUARD

There’s Dolabella sent from Caesar. Call him.

SECOND GUARD

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Exit SECOND GUARD

FIRST GUARD

What work is here, Charmian? Is this well done?

FIRST GUARD

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CHARMIAN

It is well done and fitting for a princessDescended of so many royal kings.Ah, soldier!

CHARMIAN

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CHARMIAN dies

Enter DOLABELLA

DOLABELLA

How goes it here?

DOLABELLA

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SECOND GUARD

All dead.

SECOND GUARD

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DOLABELLA

Caesar, thy thoughts Touch their effects in this. Thyself art coming To see performed the dreaded act which thou So sought’st to hinder.

DOLABELLA

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Enter CAESAR and all his train, marching

ALL

A way there, a way for Caesar!

ALL

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DOLABELLA

O sir, you are too sure an augurer.That you did fear is done.

DOLABELLA

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CAESAR

Bravest at the last, She leveled at our purposes and, being royal, Took her own way. The manner of their deaths? I do not see them bleed.

CAESAR

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DOLABELLA

Who was last with them?

DOLABELLA

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FIRST GUARD

A simple countryman that brought her figs.This was his basket.

FIRST GUARD

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CAESAR

Poisoned, then.

CAESAR

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FIRST GUARD

Oh, Caesar, This Charmian lived but now. She stood and spake. I found her trimming up the diadem On her dead mistress. Tremblingly she stood And on the sudden dropped.

FIRST GUARD

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CAESAR

Oh, noble weakness! If they had swallowed poison, ’twould appear By external swelling, but she looks like sleep, As she would catch another Antony In her strong toil of grace.

CAESAR

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DOLABELLA

Here on her breastThere is a vent of blood, and something blown.The like is on her arm.

DOLABELLA

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FIRST GUARD

This is an aspic’s trail, and these fig leavesHave slime upon them, such as th’ aspic leavesUpon the caves of Nile.

FIRST GUARD

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CAESAR

Most probable That so she died, for her physician tells me She hath pursued conclusions infinite Of easy ways to die. Take up her bed And bear her women from the monument. She shall be buried by her Antony. No grave upon the earth shall clip in it A pair so famous. High events as these Strike those that make them, and their story is No less in pity than his glory which Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall In solemn show attend this funeral, And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see High order in this great solemnity.

CAESAR

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Exeunt, bearing the dead bodies

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.