William Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene II
Enter Domitius Enobarbus and Lepidus
Good Enobarbus, 'tis a worthy deed, And shall become you well, to entreat your captain To soft and gentle speech.
I shall entreat him To answer like himself: if Caesar move him, Let Antony look over Caesar's head And speak as loud as Mars. By Jupiter, Were I the wearer of Antonius' beard, I would not shave't to-day.
Enter Mark Antony and Ventidius
Enter Octavius Caesar, Mecaenas, and Agrippa
Noble friends, That which combined us was most great, and let not A leaner action rend us. What's amiss, May it be gently heard: when we debate Our trivial difference loud, we do commit Murder in healing wounds: then, noble partners, The rather, for I earnestly beseech, Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms, Nor curstness grow to the matter.
I must be laugh'd at, If, or for nothing or a little, I Should say myself offended, and with you Chiefly i' the world; more laugh'd at, that I should Once name you derogately, when to sound your name It not concern'd me.
No more than my residing here at Rome Might be to you in Egypt: yet, if you there Did practise on my state, your being in Egypt Might be my question.
You may be pleased to catch at mine intent By what did here befal me. Your wife and brother Made wars upon me; and their contestation Was theme for you, you were the word of war.
You do mistake your business; my brother never Did urge me in his act: I did inquire it; And have my learning from some true reports, That drew their swords with you. Did he not rather Discredit my authority with yours; And make the wars alike against my stomach, Having alike your cause? Of this my letters Before did satisfy you. If you'll patch a quarrel, As matter whole you have not to make it with, It must not be with this.
You praise yourself By laying defects of judgment to me; but You patch'd up your excuses.
Not so, not so; I know you could not lack, I am certain on't, Very necessity of this thought, that I, Your partner in the cause 'gainst which he fought, Could not with graceful eyes attend those wars Which fronted mine own peace. As for my wife, I would you had her spirit in such another: The third o' the world is yours; which with a snaffle You may pace easy, but not such a wife.
So much uncurbable, her garboils, Caesar Made out of her impatience, which not wanted Shrewdness of policy too, I grieving grant Did you too much disquiet: for that you must But say, I could not help it.
I wrote to you When rioting in Alexandria; you Did pocket up my letters, and with taunts Did gibe my missive out of audience.
Sir, He fell upon me ere admitted: then Three kings I had newly feasted, and did want Of what I was i' the morning: but next day I told him of myself; which was as much As to have ask'd him pardon. Let this fellow Be nothing of our strife; if we contend, Out of our question wipe him.
You have broken The article of your oath; which you shall never Have tongue to charge me with.
No, Lepidus, let him speak: The honour is sacred which he talks on now, Supposing that I lack'd it. But, on, Caesar; The article of my oath.
Neglected, rather; And then when poison'd hours had bound me up From mine own knowledge. As nearly as I may, I'll play the penitent to you: but mine honesty Shall not make poor my greatness, nor my power Work without it. Truth is, that Fulvia, To have me out of Egypt, made wars here; For which myself, the ignorant motive, do So far ask pardon as befits mine honour To stoop in such a case.
If it might please you, to enforce no further The griefs between ye: to forget them quite Were to remember that the present need Speaks to atone you.
Or, if you borrow one another's love for the instant, you may, when you hear no more words of Pompey, return it again: you shall have time to wrangle in when you have nothing else to do.
I do not much dislike the matter, but The manner of his speech; for't cannot be We shall remain in friendship, our conditions So differing in their acts. Yet if I knew What hoop should hold us stanch, from edge to edge O' the world I would pursue it.
Thou hast a sister by the mother's side, Admired Octavia: great Mark Antony Is now a widower.
Say not so, Agrippa: If Cleopatra heard you, your reproof Were well deserved of rashness.
To hold you in perpetual amity, To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts With an unslipping knot, take Antony Octavia to his wife; whose beauty claims No worse a husband than the best of men; Whose virtue and whose general graces speak That which none else can utter. By this marriage, All little jealousies, which now seem great, And all great fears, which now import their dangers, Would then be nothing: truths would be tales, Where now half tales be truths: her love to both Would, each to other and all loves to both, Draw after her. Pardon what I have spoke; For 'tis a studied, not a present thought, By duty ruminated.
May I never To this good purpose, that so fairly shows, Dream of impediment! Let me have thy hand: Further this act of grace: and from this hour The heart of brothers govern in our loves And sway our great designs!
There is my hand. A sister I bequeath you, whom no brother Did ever love so dearly: let her live To join our kingdoms and our hearts; and never Fly off our loves again!
I did not think to draw my sword 'gainst Pompey; For he hath laid strange courtesies and great Of late upon me: I must thank him only, Lest my remembrance suffer ill report; At heel of that, defy him.
So is the fame. Would we had spoke together! Haste we for it: Yet, ere we put ourselves in arms, dispatch we The business we have talk'd of.
With most gladness: And do invite you to my sister's view, Whither straight I'll lead you.
Flourish. Exeunt Octavius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Lepidus
Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance, and made the night light with drinking.
This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.
When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart, upon the river of Cydnus.
I will tell you. The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne, Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold; Purple the sails, and so perfumed that The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver, Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made The water which they beat to follow faster, As amorous of their strokes. For her own person, It beggar'd all description: she did lie In her pavilion—cloth-of-gold of tissue— O'er-picturing that Venus where we see The fancy outwork nature: on each side her Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids, With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool, And what they undid did.
Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides, So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes, And made their bends adornings: at the helm A seeming mermaid steers: the silken tackle Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands, That yarely frame the office. From the barge A strange invisible perfume hits the sense Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast Her people out upon her; and Antony, Enthroned i' the market-place, did sit alone, Whistling to the air; which, but for vacancy, Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too, And made a gap in nature.
Upon her landing, Antony sent to her, Invited her to supper: she replied, It should be better he became her guest; Which she entreated: our courteous Antony, Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard speak, Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast, And for his ordinary pays his heart For what his eyes eat only.
I saw her once Hop forty paces through the public street; And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted, That she did make defect perfection, And, breathless, power breathe forth.
Never; he will not: Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety: other women cloy The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry Where most she satisfies; for vilest things Become themselves in her: that the holy priests Bless her when she is riggish.
If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle The heart of Antony, Octavia is A blessed lottery to him.