Antony and Cleopatra By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 5

ACT II. SCENE V. Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and Attendants.]

CLEOPATRA.
Give me some music, — music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.

ALL.
The music, ho!

[Enter MARDIAN.]

CLEOPATRA.
Let it alone; let's to billiards:
Come, Charmian.

CHARMIAN.
My arm is sore; best play with Mardian.

CLEOPATRA.
As well a woman with an eunuch play'd
As with a woman. — Come, you'll play with me, sir?

MARDIAN.
As well as I can, madam.

CLEOPATRA.
And when good will is show'd, though't come too short,
The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now: —
Give me mine angle, — we'll to the river. There,
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn'd fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws; and as I draw them up
I'll think them every one an Antony,
And say 'Ah ha! You're caught.'

CHARMIAN.
'Twas merry when
You wager'd on your angling; when your diver
Did hang a salt fish on his hook, which he
With fervency drew up.

CLEOPATRA.
That time? — O times! —
I laughed him out of patience; and that night
I laugh'd him into patience: and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed;
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.

[Enter a MESSENGER.]

O! from Italy! —
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
That long time have been barren.

MESSENGER.
Madam, madam, —

CLEOPATRA.
Antony's dead! —
If thou say so, villain, thou kill'st thy mistress;
But well and free,
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss, — a hand that kings
Have lipp'd, and trembled kissing.

MESSENGER.
First, madam, he's well.

CLEOPATRA.
Why, there's more gold.
But, sirrah, mark, we use
To say the dead are well: bring it to that,
The gold I give thee will I melt and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.

MESSENGER.
Good madam, hear me.

CLEOPATRA.
Well, go to, I will;
But there's no goodness in thy face: if Antony
Be free and healthful, — why so tart a favour
To trumpet such good tidings! If not well,
Thou shouldst come like a fury crown'd with snakes,
Not like a formal man.

MESSENGER.
Will't please you hear me?

CLEOPATRA.
I have a mind to strike thee ere thou speak'st:
Yet, if thou say Antony lives, is well,
Or friends with Caesar, or not captive to him,
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.

MESSENGER.
Madam, he's well.

CLEOPATRA.
Well said.

MESSENGER.
And friends with Caesar.

CLEOPATRA.
Th'art an honest man.

MESSENGER.
Caesar and he are greater friends than ever.

CLEOPATRA.
Make thee a fortune from me.

MESSENGER.
But yet, madam, —

CLEOPATRA.
I do not like 'but yet', it does allay
The good precedence; fie upon 'but yet'!
'But yet' is as a gaoler to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor. Pr'ythee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,
The good and bad together: he's friends with Caesar;
In state of health, thou say'st; and, thou say'st, free.

MESSENGER.
Free, madam! no; I made no such report:
He's bound unto Octavia.

CLEOPATRA.
For what good turn?

MESSENGER.
For the best turn i' the bed.

CLEOPATRA.
I am pale, Charmian.

MESSENGER.
Madam, he's married to Octavia.

CLEOPATRA.
The most infectious pestilence upon thee!

[Strikes him down.]

MESSENGER.
Good madam, patience.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

As the play unfolds, to whom is Antony betrothed?




Quiz