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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

What is your name?

PROCULEIUS

My name is Proculeius.

PROCULEIUS

My name is Proculeius. 

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

Antony told me about you and told me to trust you, but I am still hesitant to trust people, since I do not like being deceived. If your master wants me, a queen, to beg for favors from him, then you must tell him that a queen, if she is to act appropriately, cannot ask for anything less than a kingdom. If Caesar is willing to give Egypt back to me so I can make my son its ruler, then I will kneel down and thank him for giving me back what is rightfully mine. 

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

Take comfort. You've been conquered by a noble and generous man. Don't be afraid of anything. Make all your requests to my lord without hesitation. His generosity is so great that he will willingly meet your needs. Let me report back to him how humbly you acknowledge his power, and you'll find that this conquerer will beg you to tell him new ways to show kindness to you, once you've knelt down to ask him for mercy. 

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

Please, tell him that I am at the mercy of fortune and that I acknowledge the great power he has won through his good fortune. Every hour I learn to become more obedient, and I would gladly speak to him face to face. 

PROCULEIUS

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

PROCULEIUS

I'll tell him this, dear lady. Take comfort, for I know that Caesar, who put you in this position, pities you for what he's done. 

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

[To the soldiers] You see how easily someone can sneak up on her. Guard her until Caesar arrives.

IRAS

Royal Queen!

IRAS

Royal Queen!

CHARMIAN

O Cleopatra! Thou art taken, Queen.

CHARMIAN

Oh Cleopatra! You are captured, Queen.

CLEOPATRA draws a dagger

CLEOPATRA

Quick, quick, good hands.

CLEOPATRA

[Moving as if to stab herself] Act quickly, my good hands.

PROCULEIUS seizes the dagger

PROCULEIUS

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

PROCULEIUS

Stop, worthy lady, stop! Do not do yourself such wrong. We are trying to help you, not betray you. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

What, you are depriving me of my death, too? Even dogs are allowed to die to avoid prolonged suffering.

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

Cleopatra, do not show such ingratitude to my master's generosity by killing yourself. Let the world have a chance to see how nobly he acts; if you die, his nobility cannot be displayed. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Where are you, Death? Come here, come! Come, come, and kill me, a queen, who is worth more than the babies and beggars that you so frequently kill!

PROCULEIUS

Oh, temperance, lady!

PROCULEIUS

Oh, be patient, my lady!

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

Sir, I will eat no food and I will not drink, sir. Even if it takes idle chatter to keep me awake, I won't sleep either. I'll destroy my own body, no matter what Caesar tries to do. You should know, sir, that I won't wait around to be a captive at your master's court, or to be judged with solemn looks from dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up and display me to the shouting mobs of Rome with all their harsh judgments? I'd rather have a friendly grave in a ditch in Egypt. I'd rather be laid stark naked in the mud on the shores of the Nile and let waterflies lay eggs on me until I become disgusting. I'd rather you turned Egypt's tall pyramids into a gallows and hung me from them in chains! 

PROCULEIUS

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

PROCULEIUS

You'll learn from Caesar that you're alarming yourself needlessly.

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

Proculeius, your master Caesar knows what you have done, and he's sent for you. As for the Queen, I'll guard her. 

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

That sounds fine to me, Dolabella. Be gentle with her. 

[To CLEOPATRA] I'll tell Caesar whatever you wish, if you'll send a message to him through me. 

CLEOPATRA

Say I would die.

CLEOPATRA

Tell him I wish to die.

Exit PROCULEIUS

DOLABELLA

Most noble Empress, you have heard of me?

DOLABELLA

Most noble Empress, have you heard of me?

CLEOPATRA

I cannot tell.

CLEOPATRA

I cannot tell.

DOLABELLA

Assuredly you know me.

DOLABELLA

I'm sure that you know me. 

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

It doesn't matter, sir, what I have heard or known. You laugh when boys or women tell you about their dreams. Isn't that your habit?

DOLABELLA

I understand not, madam.

DOLABELLA

I don't understand, madam.

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

I dreamt Antony was emperor. Oh, I wish I could sleep again like that, so I could dream about another man like that!

DOLABELLA

If it might please ye—

DOLABELLA

If you care to—

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

His face was as bright and majestic as the heavens. In his face were two bright orbs, like the sun and moon, that followed their course and shed light on this whole round planet, the earth. 

DOLABELLA

Most sovereign creature—

DOLABELLA

Most royal lady—

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

He was so tall that his legs straddled the ocean. His upraised arm reached across the whole world. When he spoke to friends, his voice had the same qualities as musical spheres. But when he wanted to frighten and shake the world, his voice rumbled like thunder. His generosity was endless. It was like an autumn harvest, that grew more bountiful the more you drew from it. The things he took delight in revealed his extraordinary character; just as a dolphin's fin rises above the water, his character made him rise above the level of common people. Kings and princes were his servants. He could give away realms and islands as easily as he could drop silver coins from his pocket. 

DOLABELLA

Cleopatra—

DOLABELLA

Cleopatra—

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Do you think there was, or could be, a man like the one I dreamed of?

DOLABELLA

Gentle madam, no.

DOLABELLA

Gentle madam, no.

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

You lie so blatantly that even the gods can hear you! But if there is or ever was such a man, he's greater than anything that could be dreamed up. Nature cannot create creatures as strange as the ones we can imagine, but if nature could create a man like Antony, it would outdo even the imagination, and reveal how pathetic and worthless our imaginary visions are. 

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

Listen to me, good madam. Your loss is great because you yourself are great, and you bear it like the heavy burden it is. May I never achieve the success I seek if this is not true: that from sympathizing with your grief, I feel a grief that strikes deep in my own heart.

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

I thank you, sir. Do you know what Caesar intends to do with me? 

DOLABELLA

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

DOLABELLA

It pains me to tell you what I want you to know. 

CLEOPATRA

Nay, pray you, sir.

CLEOPATRA

No, please, go on, sir.

DOLABELLA

Though he be honorable—

DOLABELLA

Even though Caesar is honorable—

CLEOPATRA

He’ll lead me, then, in triumph.

CLEOPATRA

He'll lead me in his triumphal procession, then.

DOLABELLA

Madam, he will. I know ’t.

DOLABELLA

Madam, he will. I know it.

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

ATTENDANTS

Make way there! Caesar!

ATTENDANTS

Make way there! Caesar is coming!

CAESAR

Which is the Queen of Egypt?

CAESAR

Which person is the Queen of Egypt?

DOLABELLA

[To CLEOPATRA] It is the Emperor, madam.

DOLABELLA

[To CLEOPATRA] It is the Emperor, madam.

CLEOPATRA kneels

CAESAR

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

CAESAR

Get up, you shouldn't kneel. Please, rise. Rise, Queen of Egypt.

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Sir, this is what the gods have willed. I must obey my lord and master. 

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

Please don't hold any grudges. Even though our bodies still bear the wounds from battle, we'll agree to forget about the injuries you inflicted on us, treating them as accidents. 

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

Only ruler of the world, I cannot explain my side of the story well enough to make it clear. I can only confess that I have some of the same weaknesses that have often brought shame to women.

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

Cleopatra, you should know that I intend to excuse your offenses rather than dwell on them. If you agree to go along with my plans, which are very generous, you'll find that this change will benefit you. But if you try to injure me by killing yourself as Antony did, you'll lose all the generosity I intend to show you and ensure that I destroy your children—which I will not do if you submit to me. I'll leave you now. 

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

And you may go freely wherever you like in the world! The world is yours, and just as you can freely display the shields of your conquered enemies, you can do whatever what you like with me.

She gives him a scroll

CAESAR

You shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.

CAESAR

You will let me know everything you need. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Here's an inventory of all the money, precious metals, and jewels that I own. I've calculated the exact value of everything except for the smaller items. Where's Seleucus? 

Enter SELEUCUS

SELEUCUS

Here, madam.

SELEUCUS

I'm here, madam. 

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

[To CAESAR] This is my treasurer. He will tell you on his honor, my lord, that I haven't held back anything for myself.

[To SELEUCUS] Speak truthfully, Seleucus. 

SELEUCUS

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

SELEUCUS

Madam, I would rather not speak than risk endangering myself by saying something false. 

CLEOPATRA

What have I kept back?

CLEOPATRA

What have I held back?

SELEUCUS

Enough to purchase what you have made known.

SELEUCUS

You've held back enough treasure to buy back everything you listed on that inventory. 

CAESAR

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

CAESAR

No, don't blush, Cleopatra. I approve of the wisdom you demonstrated in this trick. 

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

See, Caesar! Oh, see what happens when all the spectacle is over! My followers will now be your followers, and if we exchanged our positions, your followers would be my followers. Still, Seleucus's ingratitude makes me wild with anger. 

[To SELEUCUS] Oh you villainous man, you are less trustworthy than a mercenary! What, do you retreat from me? I bet you do! But even if your eyes had wings to fly away, I would catch them. Scoundrel, soulless villain, dog! Oh, you uncommonly corrupt man! 

CAESAR

Good Queen, let us entreat you—

CAESAR

Good Queen, let me ask you to—

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

Oh Caesar, I am so ashamed—you agreed to visit me here and honor me in my humiliation with your great presence, and my own servant adds to all my disgraces out of spite! Let's suppose, good Caesar, that I did hold back some little feminine, insignificant trinkets, the kind of common items that we give them away to our ordinary friends; and let's suppose that I did hold back some more valuable objects to give to your wife Livia and to Octavia, to persuade them to intervene for me—even supposing all that, do I deserve to be betrayed by a servant I have nurtured? The gods! This causes me more agony than the embarrassment I've already endured. 

[To SELEUCUS] Get out of here, or I'll show what's left of my strong will with what resources luck has left me. If you were a real man, you would have had sympathy for me. 

CAESAR

Forbear, Seleucus.

CAESAR

Hold back, Seleucus.

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

Let it be known that we, the greatest, are misjudged for the things other people do, and when we fall, we have to answer for the things that others have done in our name. We should therefore be pitied. 

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

Cleopatra, I don't claim as a right of conquest either the treasure you have held back or the treasure you have declared in your inventory. Let it all still belong to you. Do what you like with it, and do not think that I am like a common merchant, so concerned with material things that I would haggle with you over your property. Therefore, be cheerful. Don't imprison yourself in gloomy thoughts. No, dear, Queen, because I intend to treat you in whatever way you yourself advise me to. Eat and sleep. I have so much care and pity for you that I will continue to be your friend. And so, goodbye. 

CLEOPATRA

My master, and my lord!

CLEOPATRA

My master, and my lord! 

CAESAR

Not so. Adieu.

CAESAR

I am not your master or your lord. Goodbye.

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

He tries to pacify me with empty words, girls, empty words, so that I will not do the noble thing and commit suicide. But, listen to me, Charmian.

She whispers to CHARMIAN

IRAS

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

IRAS

Wrap things up, my lady. The bright day is over and night is upon us. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

[To CHARMIAN] Hurry back. I have already given instructions, and everything is arranged. Go set things in motion quickly. 

CHARMIAN

Madam, I will.

CHARMIAN

Madam, I will.

Enter DOLABELLA

DOLABELLA

Where’s the Queen?

DOLABELLA

Where is the Queen?

CHARMIAN

Behold, sir.

CHARMIAN

She's there, sir.

Exit

CLEOPATRA

Dolabella!

CLEOPATRA

Dolabella! 

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

Madam, I vowed to obey your commands, and my devotion compels me to uphold that vow. Therefore, I must tell you this: Caesar intends to travel back through Syria, and within three days, he'll send you and your children on the road ahead of him. Make the best use of this information that you can. I've carried out my promise and served you well. 

CLEOPATRA

Dolabella,I shall remain your debtor.

CLEOPATRA

Dolabella, I will always be in your debt.

DOLABELLA

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

DOLABELLA

And I will always be your servant. Goodbye, good Queen. I must go to Caesar. 

CLEOPATRA

Farewell, and thanks.

CLEOPATRA

Goodbye, and thank you.

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.

Now, Iras, what do you think about this? You'll be displayed in Rome like an Egyptian puppet, and so will I. Common laborers with greasy aprons, rulers, and hammers will lift us up for everyone to see. We'll be suffocated by their foul breath that stinks from the unwholesome food they eat, and forced to breathe in their stench. 

IRAS

The gods forbid!

IRAS

May the gods forbid it! 

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

No, it will certainly happen, Iras. Insolent officers will grab at us as if we were prostitutes, and good-for-nothing poets will make up vulgar ballads about us. Witty actors will improvise plays about us and dramatize the parties we had in Alexandria. They'll bring out some drunken man to play Antony, and I'll see some squeaky-voiced boy play me, in all my greatness, as if I were nothing more than a whore.

IRAS

Oh, the good gods!

IRAS

Oh, may the good gods forbid it!

CLEOPATRA

Nay, that’s certain.

CLEOPATRA

No, it's certain.

IRAS

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

IRAS

I'll never see it! For I'm sure I have enough will-power to tear out my eyes with nails first. 

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Why, that's the best way to ruin their plans and undermine the terrible things they intend to do. 

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

Now, Charmian! Dress me, my women, like a queen. Go get my best robes. I am going to Cydnus, to meet Mark Antony.

[To IRAS]
Iras, get going.

[To CHARMIAN]
Now, noble Charmian, we'll put our plans into action, and when you've done this task, I give you permission to do as you please until the end of the world.

[To IRAS]
Bring my crown and everything. 

Exit IRAS. A noise within

Wherefore’s this noise?

What's this noise?

Enter a GUARDSMAN

GUARDSMAN

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

GUARDSMAN

Here's a country peasant who insists on seeing the Queen. He brings you figs. 

CLEOPATRA

Let him come in.

CLEOPATRA

Let him come in.

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.

See how a humble person can help accomplish a noble deed! This peasant brings me freedom. I am fully resolved to do this, and I have no more feminine fear or weakness in me. Now I am so completely dedicated to my purpose that my will cannot be shaken. Now I am unchangeable.

Enter GUARDSMAN, and COUNTRYMAN bringing in a basket

GUARDSMAN

This is the man.

GUARDSMAN

This is the man.

CLEOPATRA

Avoid, and leave him.

CLEOPATRA

Get out, and leave him here.

Exit GUARDSMAN

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

[To the COUNTRYMAN] Did you bring that attractive serpent of the Nile, the one that kills without causing pain?

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

Yes, I have him, but I wouldn't advise you to touch him, for his bite is fatal. Those that die from the bite seldom or never recover.

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Do you know of any people who have died from it?

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

Very many, both men and women. I heard of one just yesterday. She was a very honest woman, but had a slight tendency to lie, which women should not do except when it's honest. I heard she died from its bite and the pain. Really, she had very favorable things to say about the serpent. But if you believe what they say about the serpent and act on it, you'll never reach heaven. But this is definitely certain, that the serpent is an odd creature.

CLEOPATRA

Get thee hence, farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Get going, goodbye. 

COUNTRYMAN

I wish you all joy of the worm.

COUNTRYMAN

I wish you luck with the serpent.

He sets down his basket

CLEOPATRA

Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Goodbye. 

COUNTRYMAN

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

COUNTRYMAN

Be careful, you should be aware that the serpent will do what serpents typically do. 

CLEOPATRA

Ay, ay. Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Yes, yes. Goodbye. 

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

See here, it isn't safe for anyone except a wise person to hold on to that serpent, for it really is a dangerous animal.

CLEOPATRA

Take thou no care. It shall be heeded.

CLEOPATRA

Don't worry. I will listen to your warnings. 

COUNTRYMAN

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

COUNTRYMAN

Very good. Don't give it any food, I advise you, for it isn't worth keeping alive. 

CLEOPATRA

Will it eat me?

CLEOPATRA

Will it eat me? 

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

You can't think I'm so foolish—I know that even the devil would not eat a woman. I know that a woman is worthy food for the gods, so long as the devil doesn't corrupt her. But in fact, those terrible devils do the gods great harm by ruining so many women. For every ten women the gods make, the devil ruins five.

CLEOPATRA

Well, get thee gone. Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Well, get going. Goodbye.

COUNTRYMAN

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

COUNTRYMAN

Yes, indeed. I wish you luck with the worm. 

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

Give me my robe. Put on my crown. I long to enter into the afterlife. I will never again drink wine made from Egypt's grapes.

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.

Quickly, quickly, good Iras, quickly. I think I hear Antony calling me. I see his spirit lifting itself up to praise my noble act. I hear him mocking Caesar's fortunes; the gods may give men good luck at first, but only to make up for giving them bad luck later. 

[As if to ANTONY] Husband, I'm coming! Now may I be brave enough to prove myself worthy to call you husband! Now I am only a soul, I leave my body behind on earth where coarser, less noble creatures live.

[To her women]
So, have you finished? Come then and receive my final kiss. Farewell, kind Charmian. Iras, farewell forever.

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.

Do I have poison in my lips? Do you fall? If you can die so peacefully, then death's stroke hurts no more than a lover's pinch, a pain that we desire. Are you dead? If you depart like this, you tell the world that it isn't worth saying goodbye to. 

CHARMIAN

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

CHARMIAN

May the thick clouds dissolve and rain so that I can say the gods themselves weep!

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

Iras's act makes mine seem less noble. If she meets the curly-haired Antony in the afterlife before I do, he'll speak to her and give her that heavenly kiss that belongs to me. 

[To the serpent] Come, you wretched, poisonous thing.

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!

With your sharp teeth, end my life immediately. Poor silly venomous thing, get angry and finish me off. Oh, if only you could speak, so I could hear you call great Caesar an ass now that I've outwitted him!

CHARMIAN

O eastern star!

CHARMIAN

Oh goddess!

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

Quiet, quiet! Don't you see this baby that's lulling me to sleep by sucking on my breast?

CHARMIAN

Oh, break! Oh, break!

CHARMIAN

Oh, I wish my heart would break!

CLEOPATRA

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

CLEOPATRA

This feeling is as sweet as perfumed oil, as soft as air, as gentle—O Antony!—Oh yes, I will take you too.

Applying another asp to her arm

What should I stay—

Why should I stay—

Dies

CHARMIAN

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

CHARMIAN

In this wild world? So, farewell. Now, Death, you can boast that you have taken a woman who has no equal. Let's close these soft eyelids.

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—

And may no person as royal ever live to see the sun! Your crown is askew. I'll adjust it and then play—

Enter the GUARD, rustling in

FIRST GUARD

Where’s the Queen?

FIRST GUARD

Where's the Queen?

CHARMIAN

Speak softly. Wake her not.

CHARMIAN

Speak softly. Don't wake her up.

FIRST GUARD

Caesar hath sent—

FIRST GUARD

Caesar has sent—

CHARMIAN

Too slow a messenger.

CHARMIAN

A messenger that was too slow.

She applies an asp to herself.

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

Oh, hurry up, finish me off! I partly feel the poison working. 

FIRST GUARD

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

FIRST GUARD

[Calling] Hey there, come here! Something's gone wrong. Caesar has been tricked.

SECOND GUARD

There’s Dolabella sent from Caesar. Call him.

SECOND GUARD

There's Dolabella, who was sent from Caesar. Call him.

Exit SECOND GUARD

FIRST GUARD

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

FIRST GUARD

What happened here, Charmian? Was this a good thing to do?

CHARMIAN

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

CHARMIAN

It was a good thing to do, and it was fitting for a princess who was descended from so many royal kings. Ah, soldier!

CHARMIAN dies

Enter DOLABELLA

DOLABELLA

How goes it here?

DOLABELLA

What's going on here?

SECOND GUARD

All dead.

SECOND GUARD

They are all dead. 

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

Caesar, this is the effect of all your planinng. You'll arrive and see she's done the dreaded act you tried so hard to prevent.

Enter CAESAR and all his train, marching

ALL

A way there, a way for Caesar!

ALL

Make way there, make way for Caesar!

DOLABELLA

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

DOLABELLA

Oh sir, your prediction came true. What you feared has happened. 

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

She was bravest at the very end; she guessed what I planned to do and, being noble, took matters into her own hands. How did they die? I don't see any blood. 

DOLABELLA

Who was last with them?

DOLABELLA

Who was the last person with them?

FIRST GUARD

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

FIRST GUARD

A simple peasant who brought her figs. This was his basket.

CAESAR

Poisoned, then.

CAESAR

They must have been poisoned, then. 

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

Oh, Caesar, this woman Charmian was alive until a moment ago. She stood and spoke. I found her adjusting the crown of her dead mistress. She stood trembling and then suddenly collapsed. 

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

Oh, these women were weak but noble, too! If they had taken poison, we would be able to tell by the swelling of their bodies, but Cleopatra just looks as if she were sleeping—as if she were dreaming of catching another man like Antony with her strong, bewitching charms. 

DOLABELLA

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

DOLABELLA

There's a trail of blood here on her breast, and some discharge. The same thing appears on her arm. 

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

This is the trail of a serpent. These fig leaves have a slimy discharge on them too, just as a serpent leaves in the caves of the Nile. 

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

It's most likely that she died from the serpents' bite, for her doctor tells me that she performed countless experiments to find easy ways to die. Pick up her bed and carry her women out of the tomb. She will be buried beside her Antony. No grave on earth will contain such a famous couple. Great events like these strike the hearts of those who brought them about. The pity of their story is as great as the glory of that person who brought them to this lamentable end. Our army will solemnly watch this funeral, and then they will go to Rome. Come, Dolabella, and observe the great decorum that this solemn occasion requires. 

Exeunt, bearing the dead bodies

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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.