William Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Scene Xiv. The same. Another room.
Enter Mark Antony and Eros
Sometimes we see a cloud that's dragonish; A vapour sometime like a bear or lion, A tower'd citadel, a pendent rock, A forked mountain, or blue promontory With trees upon't, that nod unto the world, And mock our eyes with air. Thou hast seen these signs; They are black vesper's pageants.
That which is now a horse, even with a thought The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct, As water is in water.
My good knave Eros, now thy captain is Even such a body: here I am Antony: Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave. I made these wars for Egypt: and the queen,— Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine; Which whilst it was mine had annex'd unto't A million more, now lost,—she, Eros, has Pack'd cards with Caesar, and false-play'd my glory Unto an enemy's triumph. Nay, weep not, gentle Eros; there is left us Ourselves to end ourselves.
O! thy vile lady! She has robb'd me of my sword.
Death of one person can be paid but once, And that she has discharged: what thou wouldst do Is done unto thy hand: the last she spake Was 'Antony! most noble Antony!' Then in the midst a tearing groan did break The name of Antony; it was divided Between her heart and lips: she render'd life, Thy name so buried in her.
Unarm, Eros; the long day's task is done, And we must sleep.
That thou depart'st hence safe, Does pay thy labour richly; go.
Off, pluck off: The seven-fold shield of Ajax cannot keep The battery from my heart. O, cleave, my sides! Heart, once be stronger than thy continent, Crack thy frail case! Apace, Eros, apace. No more a soldier: bruised pieces, go; You have been nobly borne. From me awhile.
I will o'ertake thee, Cleopatra, and Weep for my pardon. So it must be, for now All length is torture: since the torch is out, Lie down, and stray no farther: now all labour Mars what it does; yea, very force entangles Itself with strength: seal then, and all is done. Eros!—I come, my queen:—Eros!—Stay for me: Where souls do couch on flowers, we'll hand in hand, And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze: Dido and her AEneas shall want troops, And all the haunt be ours. Come, Eros, Eros!
Since Cleopatra died, I have lived in such dishonour, that the gods Detest my baseness. I, that with my sword Quarter'd the world, and o'er green Neptune's back With ships made cities, condemn myself to lack The courage of a woman; less noble mind Than she which by her death our Caesar tells 'I am conqueror of myself.' Thou art sworn, Eros, That, when the exigent should come, which now Is come indeed, when I should see behind me The inevitable prosecution of Disgrace and horror, that, on my command, Thou then wouldst kill me: do't; the time is come: Thou strikest not me, 'tis Caesar thou defeat'st. Put colour in thy cheek.
The gods withhold me! Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts, Though enemy, lost aim, and could not?
Eros, Wouldst thou be window'd in great Rome and see Thy master thus with pleach'd arms, bending down His corrigible neck, his face subdued To penetrative shame, whilst the wheel'd seat Of fortunate Caesar, drawn before him, branded His baseness that ensued?
Come, then; for with a wound I must be cured. Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn Most useful for thy country.
When I did make thee free, sworest thou not then To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once; Or thy precedent services are all But accidents unpurposed. Draw, and come.
Turning from him
My dear master, My captain, and my emperor, let me say, Before I strike this bloody stroke, farewell.
Thrice-nobler than myself! Thou teachest me, O valiant Eros, what I should, and thou couldst not. My queen and Eros Have by their brave instruction got upon me A nobleness in record: but I will be A bridegroom in my death, and run into't As to a lover's bed. Come, then; and, Eros, Thy master dies thy scholar: to do thus
Falling on his sword
I learn'd of thee. How! not dead? not dead? The guard, ho! O, dispatch me!
Enter Dercetas and Guard
Thy death and fortunes bid thy followers fly. This sword but shown to Caesar, with this tidings, Shall enter me with him.
Lock'd in her monument. She had a prophesying fear Of what hath come to pass: for when she saw— Which never shall be found—you did suspect She had disposed with Caesar, and that your rage Would not be purged, she sent you word she was dead; But, fearing since how it might work, hath sent Me to proclaim the truth; and I am come, I dread, too late.
Enter four or five of the Guard of Mark Antony
Bear me, good friends, where Cleopatra bides; 'Tis the last service that I shall command you.
Nay, good my fellows, do not please sharp fate To grace it with your sorrows: bid that welcome Which comes to punish us, and we punish it Seeming to bear it lightly. Take me up: I have led you oft: carry me now, good friends, And have my thanks for all.
Exeunt, bearing Mark Antony