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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene VI.

Antony and Cleopatra

Near Misenum.

Flourish.Enter POMPEY and MENAS, at one side, with drum and trumpet; at the other, CÆSAR, ANTONY, LEPIDUS, ENOBARBUS, MECÆNAS, with Soldiers marching.

Pom.Your hostages I have, so have you mine;

And we shall talk before we fight.

Cæs.Most meet

That first we come to words, and therefore have we

Our written purposes before us sent;

Which if thou hast consider’d, let us know

If ’twill tie up thy discontented sword,

And carry back to Sicily much tall youth

That else must perish here.

Pom.To you all three,

The senators alone of this great world,

Chief factors for the gods, I do not know

Wherefore my father should revengers want,

Having a son and friends; since Julius Cæsar,

Who at Philippi the good Brutus ghosted,

There saw you labouring for him. What was ’t

That mov’d pale Cassius to conspire? and what

Made the all-honour’d, honest Roman, Brutus,

With the arm’d rest, courtiers of beauteous freedom,

To drench the Capitol, but that they would

Have one man but a man? And that is it

Hath made me rig my navy, at whose burden

The anger’d ocean foams, with which I meant

To scourge the ingratitude that despiteful Rome

Cast on my noble father.

Cæs.Take your time.

Ant.Thou canst not fear us, Pompey, with thy sails;

We’ll speak with thee at sea: at land, thou know’st

How much we do o’er-count thee.

Pom.At land, indeed,

Thou dost o’er-count me of my father’s house;

But, since the cuckoo builds not for himself,

Remain in ’t as thou mayst.

Lep.Be pleas’d to tell us—

For this is from the present—how you take

The offers we have sent you.

Cæs.There’s the point.

Ant.Which do not be entreated to, but weigh

What it is worth embrac’d.

Cæs.And what may follow,

To try a larger fortune.

Pom.You have made me offer

Of Sicily, Sardinia; and I must

Rid all the sea of pirates; then, to send

Measures of wheat to Rome; this ’greed upon,

To part with unhack’d edges, and bear back

Our targets undinted.

Cæs., Ant. & Lep.That’s our offer.

Pom.Know, then,

I came before you here a man prepar’d

To take this offer; but Mark Antony

Put me to some impatience. Though I lose

The praise of it by telling, you must know,

When Cæsar and your brother were at blows,

Your mother came to Sicily and did find

Her welcome friendly.

Ant.I have heard it, Pompey;

And am well studied for a liberal thanks

Which I do owe you.

Pom.Let me have your hand:

I did not think, sir, to have met you here.

Ant.The beds i’ the east are soft; and thanks to you,

That call’d me timelier than my purpose hither,

For I have gain’d by ’t.

Cæs.Since I saw you last,

There is a change upon you.

Pom.Well, I know not

What counts harsh Fortune casts upon my face,

But in my bosom shall she never come

To make my heart her vassal.

Lep.Well met here.

Pom.I hope so, Lepidus. Thus we are agreed.

I crave our composition may be written

And seal’d between us.

Cæs.That’s the next to do.

Pom.We’ll feast each other ere we part; and let’s

Draw lots who shall begin.

Ant.That will I, Pompey.

Pom.No, Antony, take the lot:

But, first or last, your fine Egyptian cookery

Shall have the fame. I have heard that Julius Cæsar

Grew fat with feasting there.

Ant.You have heard much.

Pom.I have fair meanings, sir.

Ant.And fair words to them.

Pom.Then, so much have I heard;

And I have heard Apollodorus carried—

Eno.No more of that: he did so.

Pom.What, I pray you?

Eno.A certain queen to Cæsar in a mattress.

Pom.I know thee now; how far’st thou, soldier?


And well am like to do; for I perceive

Four feasts are toward.

Pom.Let me shake thy hand;

I never hated thee. I have seen thee fight,

When I have envied thy behaviour.


I never lov’d you much, but I ha’ prais’d ye

When you have well deserv’d ten times as much

As I have said you did.

Pom.Enjoy thy plainness,

It nothing ill becomes thee.

Aboard my galley I invite you all:

Will you lead, lords?

Cæs., Ant. & Lep.Show us the way, sir.

Pom.Come.[Exeunt all except MENAS and ENOBARBUS.

Men.Thy father, Pompey, would ne’er have made this treaty. You and I have known, sir.

Eno.At sea, I think.

Men.We have, sir.

Eno.You have done well by water.

Men.And you by land.

Eno.I will praise any man that will praise me; though it cannot be denied what I have done by land.

Men.Nor what I have done by water.

Eno.Yes, something you can deny for your own safety; you have been a great thief by sea.

Men.And you by land.

Eno.There I deny my land service. But give me your hand, Menas; if our eyes had authority, here they might take two thieves kissing.

Men.All men’s faces are true, whatsoe’er their hands are.

Eno.But there is never a fair woman has a true face.

Men.No slander; they steal hearts.

Eno.We came hither to fight with you.

Men.For my part, I am sorry it is turned to a drinking. Pompey doth this day laugh away his fortune.

Eno.If he do, sure, he cannot weep it back again.

Men.You have said, sir. We looked not for Mark Antony here: pray you, is he married to Cleopatra?

Eno.Cæsar’s sister is called Octavia.

Men.True, sir; she was the wife of Caius Marcellus.

Eno.But she is now the wife of Marcus Antonius.

Men.Pray ye, sir?

Eno.’Tis true.

Men.Then is Cæsar and he for ever knit together.

Eno.If I were bound to divine of this unity, I would not prophesy so.

Men.I think the policy of that purpose made more in the marriage than the love of the parties.

Eno.I think so too; but you shall find the band that seems to tie their friendship together will be the very strangler of their amity. Octavia is of a holy, cold, and still conversation.

Men.Who would not have his wife so?

Eno.Not he that himself is not so; which is Mark Antony. He will to his Egyptian dish again; then, shall the sighs of Octavia blow the fire up in Cæsar, and, as I said before, that which is the strength of their amity shall prove the immediate author of their variance. Antony will use his affection where it is; he married but his occasion here.

Men.And thus it may be. Come, sir, will you aboard? I have a health for you.

Eno.I shall take it, sir: we have used our throats in Egypt.

Men.Come; let’s away.[Exeunt.