Antony and Cleopatra

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 6

Original Text

Modern Text

FIRST MESSENGER

At your noble pleasure.

FIRST MESSENGER

I’ll be at your service.
Exit FIRST MESSENGER
The FIRST MESSENGER exits.

ANTONY

From Sicyon, how, the news? Speak there.

ANTONY

SECOND MESSENGER

The man from Sicyon—

SECOND MESSENGER

The man from Sicyon—

ANTONY

                                                Is there such an one?

ANTONY

Is he here?

SECOND MESSENGER

115He stays upon your will.

SECOND MESSENGER

He’s waiting outside.

ANTONY

                                               Let him appear.

ANTONY

Have him come in.
Exit SECOND MESSENGER
The SECOND MESSENGER exits.
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Or lose myself in dotage.
(to himself) I must break Cleopatra’s powerful hold over me or else I’ll lose myself in foolish infatuation.
Enter THIRD MESSENGER, with a letter
A THIRD MESSENGER enters with a letter.
                                                  What are you?
What’s your message?

THIRD MESSENGER

Fulvia thy wife is dead.

THIRD MESSENGER

Your wife, Fulvia, is dead.

ANTONY

                                              Where died she?

ANTONY

Where did she die?

THIRD MESSENGER

In Sicyon.
120Her length of sickness, with what else more serious
Importeth thee to know, this bears.

THIRD MESSENGER

In Sicyon. In this letter you’ll find details of her illness and other, more serious matters that concern you.
He gives ANTONY a letter
He hands the letter to ANTONY.

ANTONY

                                                                     Forbear me.

ANTONY

Leave me.
Exit THIRD MESSENGER
The THIRD MESSENGER exits.
(to himself) There’s a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it.
What our contempts doth often hurl from us
We wish it ours again. The present pleasure,
125By revolution lowering, does become
The opposite of itself. She’s good, being gone.
The hand could pluck her back that shoved her on.
I must from this enchanting Queen break off.
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know
130My idleness doth hatch.—How now, Enobarbus!
(to himself) A great spirit has gone from the world! This is what I wanted. Once it’s gone, the very thing we reject becomes what we desire. What’s enjoyable one day becomes the opposite as time rolls around. Now that she’s gone, I want her. Now I would call her back, though I pushed her away. I have to break from this beguiling Queen. The time I’ve wasted here has caused ten thousand more problems than the ones I know about. (calling) Are you there, Enobarbus?