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

Act II. Scene VII.

Antony and Cleopatra

On board POMPEY’S Galley off Misenum.

Music.Enter two or three Servants, with a banquet.

First Serv.Here they’ll be, man. Some o’ their plants are ill-rooted already; the least wind i’ the world will blow them down.

Sec. Serv.Lepidus is high-coloured.

First Serv.They have made him drink almsdrink.

Sec. Serv.As they pinch one another by the disposition, he cries out, ‘No more;’ reconciles them to his entreaty, and himself to the drink.

First Serv.But it raises the greater war between him and his discretion.

Sec. Serv.Why, this it is to have a name in great men’s fellowship; I had as lief have a reed that will do me no service as a partisan I could not heave.

First Serv.To be called into a huge sphere, and not to be seen to move in ’t, are the holes where eyes should be, which pitifully disaster the cheeks.

A sennet sounded.Enter CÆSAR, ANTONY, LEPIDUS, POMPEY, AGRIPPA, MECÆNAS, ENOBARBUS, MENAS, with other Captains.

Ant.Thus do they, sir. They take the flow o’ the Nile

By certain scales i’ the pyramid; they know

By the height, the lowness, or the mean, if dearth

Or foison follow. The higher Nilus swells

The more it promises; as it ebbs, the seedsman

Upon the slime and ooze scatters his grain,

And shortly comes to harvest.

Lep.You’ve strange serpents there.

Ant.Ay, Lepidus.

Lep.Your serpent of Egypt is bred now of your mud by the operation of your sun; so is your crocodile.

Ant.They are so.

Pom.Sit,—and some wine! A health to Lepidus!

Lep.I am not so well as I should be, but I’ll ne’er out.

Eno.Not till you have slept; I fear me you’ll be in till then.

Lep.Nay, certainly, I have heard the Ptolemies’ pyramises are very goodly things; without contradiction, I have heard that.

Men.Pompey, a word.

Pom.Say in mine ear; what is ’t?

Men.Forsake thy seat, I do beseech thee, captain,

And hear me speak a word.

Pom.Forbear me till anon.

This wine for Lepidus!

Lep.What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?

Ant.It is shaped, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth; it is just so high as it is, and moves with it own organs; it lives by that which nourisheth it; and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.

Lep.What colour is it of?

Ant.Of it own colour too.

Lep.’Tis a strange serpent.

Ant.’Tis so; and the tears of it are wet.

Cæs.Will this description satisfy him?

Ant.With the health that Pompey gives him, else he is a very epicure.

Pom.Go hang, sir, hang! Tell me of that? away!

Do as I bid you. Where’s this cup I call’d for?

Men.If for the sake of merit thou wilt hear me,

Rise from thy stool.

Pom.I think thou’rt mad. The matter?[Walks aside.

Men.I have ever held my cap off to thy fortunes.

Pom.Thou hast serv’d me with much faith. What’s else to say?

Be jolly, lords.

Ant.These quick-sands, Lepidus,

Keep off them, for you sink.

Men.Wilt thou be lord of all the world?

Pom.What sayst thou?

Men.Wilt thou be lord of the whole world? That’s twice.

Pom.How should that be?

Men.But entertain it,

And though thou think me poor, I am the man

Will give thee all the world.

Pom.Hast thou drunk well?

Men.No, Pompey, I have kept me from the cup.

Thou art, if thou dar’st be, the earthly Jove:

Whate’er the ocean pales, or sky inclips,

Is thine, if thou wilt ha ’t.

Pom.Show me which way.

Men.These three world-sharers, these competitors,

Are in thy vessel: let me cut the cable;

And, when we are put off, fall to their throats:

All there is thine.

Pom.Ah! this thou shouldst have done,

And not have spoke on ’t. In me ’tis villany;

In thee ’t had been good service. Thou must know

’Tis not my profit that does lead mine honour;

Mine honour it. Repent that e’er thy tongue

Hath so betray’d thine act; being done unknown,

I should have found it afterwards well done,

But must condemn it now. Desist, and drink.

Men.[Aside.]For this,

I’ll never follow thy pall’d fortunes more.

Who seeks, and will not take when once ’tis offer’d,

Shall never find it more.

Pom.This health to Lepidus!

Ant.Bear him ashore. I’ll pledge it for him, Pompey.

Eno.Here’s to thee, Menas!

Men.Enobarbus, welcome!

Pom.Fill till the cup be hid.

Eno.There’s a strong fellow, Menas.[Pointing to the Attendant who carries off LEPIDUS.


Eno.A’ bears the third part of the world, man; see’st not?

Men.The third part then is drunk; would it were all,

That it might go on wheels!

Eno.Drink thou; increase the reels.


Pom.This is not yet an Alexandrian feast.

Ant.It ripens towards it. Strike the vessels, ho!

Here is to Cæsar!

Cæs.I could well forbear ’t.

It’s monstrous labour, when I wash my brain,

And it grows fouler.

Ant.Be a child o’ the time.

Cæs.Possess it, I’ll make answer;

But I had rather fast from all four days

Than drink so much in one.

Eno.[To ANTONY.]Ha! my brave emperor;

Shall we dance now the Egyptian Bacchanals,

And celebrate our drink?

Pom.Let’s ha ’t, good soldier.

Ant.Come, let’s all take hands,

Till that the conquering wine hath steep’d our sense

In soft and delicate Lethe.

Eno.All take hands.

Make battery to our ears with the loud music;

The while I’ll place you; then the boy shall sing,

The holding every man shall bear as loud

As his strong sides can volley.[Music plays.ENOBARBUS places them hand in hand.

  • SONG.
  • Come, thou monarch of the vine,
  • Plumpy Bacchus, with pink eyne!
  • In thy fats our cares be drown’d,
  • With thy grapes our hairs be crown’d:
  • Cup us, till the world go round,
  • Cup us, till the world go round!
  • Cæs.What would you more? Pompey, good night. Good brother,

    Let me request you off; our graver business

    Frowns at this levity. Gentle lords, let’s part;

    You see we have burnt our cheeks; strong Enobarb

    Is weaker than the wine, and mine own tongue

    Splits what it speaks; the wild disguise hath almost

    Antick’d us all. What needs more words? Good night.

    Good Antony, your hand.

    Pom.I’ll try you on the shore.

    Ant.And shall, sir. Give ’s your hand.

    Pom.O, Antony!

    You have my father’s house,—But, what? we are friends.

    Come down into the boat.

    Eno.Take heed you fall not.[Exeunt POMPEY, CÆSAR, ANTONY, and Attendants.

    Menas, I’ll not on shore.

    Men.No, to my cabin.

    These drums! these trumpets, flutes! what!

    Let Neptune hear we bid a loud farewell

    To these great fellows: sound and be hang’d! sound out![A flourish of trumpets with drums.

    Eno.Hoo! says a’. There’s my cap.

    Men.Hoo! noble captain! come.[Exeunt