Antony and Cleopatra

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and MARDIAN
CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and MARDIAN enter.

CLEOPATRA

Charmian!

CLEOPATRA

Charmian!

CHARMIAN

Madam?

CHARMIAN

Madam?

CLEOPATRA

Ha, ha! Give me to drink mandragora.

CLEOPATRA

Ah, give me some

mandragora

narcotic syrup

mandragora
to drink.

CHARMIAN

Why, madam?

CHARMIAN

Why, madam?

CLEOPATRA

5That I might sleep out this great gap of time
My Antony is away.

CLEOPATRA

So I can sleep away the time while my Antony is gone.

CHARMIAN

You think of him too much.

CHARMIAN

You think about him too much.

CLEOPATRA

Oh, ’tis treason!

CLEOPATRA

That’s treason!

CHARMIAN

                                Madam, I trust, not so.

CHARMIAN

I hope not, Madam.

CLEOPATRA

Thou, eunuch Mardian!

CLEOPATRA

Eunuch! Mardian!

MARDIAN

                                                What’s your highness’ pleasure?

MARDIAN

What can I do for your highness?

CLEOPATRA

10Not now to hear thee sing. I take no pleasure
In aught an eunuch has. ’Tis well for thee
That, being unseminared, thy freer thoughts
May not fly forth of Egypt. Hast thou affections?

CLEOPATRA

I don’t want to hear you sing. I’m not interested in anything a eunuch can do. It’s a good thing for you that, being castrated, you can better concentrate on my needs. Do you have desires?

MARDIAN

Yes, gracious madam.

MARDIAN

Yes, dear madam.

CLEOPATRA

15Indeed?

CLEOPATRA

Indeed?

MARDIAN

Not in deed, madam, for I can do nothing
But what indeed is honest to be done.
Yet have I fierce affections, and think
What Venus did with Mars.

MARDIAN

Well, not in deed, madam, since I can’t do anything unchaste. But I do have intense passions—and I do think about

what Venus did with Mars

Venus, goddess of love, and Mars, god of war, were legendary lovers.

what Venus did with Mars
.

CLEOPATRA

                                                        O Charmian,
20Where think’st thou he is now? Stands he or sits he?
Or does he walk? Or is he on his horse?
O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!
Do bravely, horse, for wott’st thou whom thou mov’st?
The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm
25And burgonet of men. He’s speaking now,
Or murmuring “Where’s my serpent of old Nile?”
For so he calls me. Now I feed myself
With most delicious poison. Think on me,
That am with Phoebus’ amorous pinches black
30And wrinkled deep in time. Broad-fronted Caesar,
When thou wast here above the ground, I was
A morsel for a monarch. And great Pompey
Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow.
There would he anchor his aspect, and die
35With looking on his life.

CLEOPATRA

Oh, Charmian, where do you think he is now? Is he standing or sitting? Or is he walking? Or is he on his horse? Oh, how fortunate that horse is to have Antony on him. Do well, horse. Do you know whom it is you carry? A man who carries responsibility for a third of the world on his shoulders. He’s speaking now, or perhaps he’s whispering, “Where’s my serpent of the Nile?” For that’s his pet name for me. I’m killing myself with this provocative speculation . . . Are you thinking about me? Even though I’ve been darkened by the sun and wrinkled with age? Caesar, with your broad forehead, when you were alive,

I was the perfect young consort for a king. And powerful Pompey used to stare at me as if he were frozen in time.

Referring to two previous lovers, Julius Caesar and Gneius Pompey (son of Pompey the Great and elder brother of Sextus Pompeius).

I was the perfect young consort for a king. And powerful Pompey used to stare at me as if he were frozen in time.