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

Act II. Scene I.

Antony and Cleopatra

Messina.A Room in POMPEY’S House.


Pom.If the great gods be just, they shall assist

The deeds of justest men.

Mene.Know, worthy Pompey,

That what they do delay, they not deny.

Pom.Whiles we are suitors to their throne, decays

The thing we sue for.

Mene.We, ignorant of ourselves,

Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers

Deny us for our good; so find we profit

By losing of our prayers.

Pom.I shall do well:

The people love me, and the sea is mine;

My powers are crescent, and my auguring hope

Says it will come to the full. Mark Antony

In Egypt sits at dinner, and will make

No wars without doors; Cæsar gets money where

He loses hearts; Lepidus flatters both,

Of both is flatter’d; but he neither loves,

Nor either cares for him.

Men.Cæsar and Lepidus

Are in the field; a mighty strength they carry.

Pom.Where have you this? ’tis false.

Men.From Silvius, sir.

Pom.He dreams; I know they are in Rome together,

Looking for Antony. But all the charms of love,

Salt Cleopatra, soften thy wan’d lip!

Let witchcraft join with beauty, lust with both!

Tie up the libertine in a field of feasts,

Keep his brain fuming; Epicurean cooks

Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite,

That sleep and feeding may prorogue his honour

Even till a Lethe’d dulness!


How now, Varrius!

Var.This is most certain that I shall deliver:

Mark Antony is every hour in Rome

Expected; since he went from Egypt ’tis

A space for further travel.

Pom.I could have given less matter

A better ear. Menas, I did not think

This amorous surfeiter would have donn’d his helm

For such a petty war; his soldiership

Is twice the other twain. But let us rear

The higher our opinion, that our stirring

Can from the lap of Egypt’s widow pluck

The ne’er-lust-wearied Antony.

Men.I cannot hope

Cæsar and Antony shall well greet together;

His wife that’s dead did trespasses to Cæsar,

His brother warr’d upon him, although I think

Not mov’d by Antony.

Pom.I know not, Menas,

How lesser enmities may give way to greater.

Were ’t not that we stand up against them all

’Twere pregnant they should square between themselves,

For they have entertained cause enough

To draw their swords; but how the fear of us

May cement their divisions and bind up

The petty difference, we yet not know.

Be it as our gods will have ’t! It only stands

Our lives upon, to use our strongest hands.

Come, Menas.[Exeunt.