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

Act IV. Scene XII.

Antony and Cleopatra

The Same.Another Room.

Enter ANTONY and EROS.

Ant.Eros, thou yet behold’st me?

Eros.Ay, noble lord.

Ant.Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish;

A vapour sometime like a bear or lion,

A tower’d citadel, a pendant rock,

A forked mountain, or blue promontory

With trees upon ’t, that nod unto the world

And mock our eves with air: thou hast seen these signs;

They are black vesper’s pageants

Eros.Ay, my lord.

Ant.That which is now a horse, even with a thought

The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct,

As water is in water.

Eros.It does, my lord.

Ant.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 Cæsar, 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.

Mar.No, Antony;

My mistress lov’d thee, and her fortunes mingled

With thine entirely.

Ant.Hence, saucy eunuch; peace!

She hath betray’d me and shall die the death.

Mar.Death of one person can be paid but once,

And that she has discharg’d. 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.

Ant.Dead, then?


Ant.Unarm, Eros; the long day’s task is done,

And we must sleep.[To MARDIAN.]That thou depart’st hence safe,

Does pay thy labour richly; go.[Exit MARDIAN.

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.[Exit EROS.

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 further. 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 Æneas shall want troops,

And all the haunt be ours. Come, Eros! Eros!

Re-enter EROS.

Eros.What would my lord?

Ant.Since Cleopatra died,

I have liv’d 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 Cæsar 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 strik’st not me, ’tis Cæsar thou defeat’st.

Put colour in thy cheek.

Eros.The gods withhold me!

Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts,

Though enemy, lost aim and could not?


Wouldst thou be window’d in great Rome, and see

Thy master thus with pleach’d arms, bending down

His corrigible neck, his face subdu’d

To penetrative shame, whilst the wheel’d seat

Of fortunate Cæsar, drawn before him, branded

His baseness that ensu’d?

Eros.I would not see ’t.

Ant.Come, then; for with a wound I must be cur’d.

Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn

Most useful for thy country.

Eros.O, sir! pardon me.

Ant.When I did make thee free, swor’st thou not then

To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once,

Or thy precedent services are all

But accidents unpurpos’d. Draw, and come.

Eros.Turn from me then that noble countenance,

Wherein the worship of the whole world lies.

Ant.Lo thee![Turning from him.

Eros.My sword is drawn.

Ant.Then let it do at once

The thing why thou hast drawn it.

Eros.My dear master,

My captain, and my emperor, let me say,

Before I strike this bloody stroke, farewell.

Ant.’Tis said, man; and farewell.

Eros.Farewell, great chief. Shall I strike now?

Ant.Now, Eros.

Eros.Why, there then; thus do I escape the sorrow[Kills himself.

Of Antony’s death.

Ant.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[Falls on his sword.

I learn’d of thee. How! not dead? not dead?

The guard, ho! O! dispatch me.

Enter DERCETAS and Guard.

First Guard.What’s the noise?

Ant.I have done my work ill, friends: O! make an end

Of what I have begun.

Sec. Guard.The star is fallen.

First Guard.And time is at his period.

All.Alas, and woe!

Ant.Let him that loves me strike me dead.

First Guard.Not I.

Sec. Guard.Nor I.

Third Guard.Nor any one.[Exeunt Guard.

Der.Thy death and fortunes bid thy followers fly.

This sword but shown to Cæsar, with this tidings,

Shall enter me with him.


Dio.Where’s Antony?

Der.There, Diomed, there.

Dio.Lives he?

Wilt thou not answer, man?[Exit DERCETAS.

Ant.Art thou there, Diomed? Draw thy sword, and give me

Sufficing strokes for death.

Dio.Most absolute lord,

My mistress Cleopatra sent me to thee.

Ant.When did she send thee?

Dio.Now, my lord.

Ant.Where is she?

Dio.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 dispos’d with Cæsar, and that your rage

Would not be purg’d, 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.

Ant.Too late, good Diomed. Call my guard, I prithee.

Dio.What, ho! the emperor’s guard! The guard, what, ho!

Come, your lord calls!

Enter four or five of the Guard of ANTONY.

Ant.Bear me, good friends, where Cleopatra bides;

’Tis the last service that I shall command you.

First Guard.Woe, woe are we, sir, you may not live to wear

All your true followers out.

All.Most heavy day!

Ant.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 ANTONY.