William Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra, Act I

Act I

Scene I

Alexandria. A room in Cleopatra's palace

Enter Demetrius and Philo

Philo

Nay, but this dotage of our general's O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes, That o'er the files and musters of the war Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn, The office and devotion of their view Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper, And is become the bellows and the fan To cool a gipsy's lust.

Flourish. Enter Antony, Cleopatra, her Ladies, the Train, with Eunuchs fanning her

Look, where they come: Take but good note, and you shall see in him. The triple pillar of the world transform'd Into a strumpet's fool: behold and see.

Cleopatra

If it be love indeed, tell me how much.

Mark Antony

There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.

Cleopatra

I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

Mark Antony

Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

Enter an Attendant

Attendant

News, my good lord, from Rome.

Mark Antony

Grates me: the sum.

Cleopatra

Nay, hear them, Antony: Fulvia perchance is angry; or, who knows If the scarce-bearded Caesar have not sent His powerful mandate to you, “Do this, or this; Take in that kingdom, and enfranchise that; Perform 't, or else we damn thee.

Mark Antony

How, my love!

Cleopatra

Perchance! nay, and most like: You must not stay here longer, your dismission Is come from Caesar; therefore hear it, Antony. Where's Fulvia's process? Caesar's I would say? both? Call in the messengers. As I am Egypt's queen, Thou blushest, Antony; and that blood of thine Is Caesar's homager: else so thy cheek pays shame When shrill-tongued Fulvia scolds. The messengers!

Mark Antony

Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space. Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike Feeds beast as man: the nobleness of life Is to do thus; when such a mutual pair

Embracing

And such a twain can do't, in which I bind, On pain of punishment, the world to weet We stand up peerless.

Cleopatra

Excellent falsehood! Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her? I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony Will be himself.

Mark Antony

But stirr'd by Cleopatra. Now, for the love of Love and her soft hours, Let's not confound the time with conference harsh: There's not a minute of our lives should stretch Without some pleasure now. What sport tonight?

Cleopatra

Hear the ambassadors.

Mark Antony

Fie, wrangling queen! Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh, To weep; whose every passion fully strives To make itself, in thee, fair and admired! No messenger, but thine; and all alone To-night we'll wander through the streets and note The qualities of people. Come, my queen; Last night you did desire it: speak not to us.

Exeunt Mark Antony and Cleopatra with their train

Demetrius

Is Caesar with Antonius prized so slight?

Philo

Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.

Demetrius

I am full sorry That he approves the common liar, who Thus speaks of him at Rome: but I will hope Of better deeds to-morrow. Rest you happy!

Exeunt