Antony and Cleopatra

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 8

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ANTONY

155Fulvia is dead.

ANTONY

Fulvia is dead.

ENOBARBUS

Sir?

ENOBARBUS

Pardon me?

ANTONY

Fulvia is dead.

ANTONY

Fulvia is dead.

ENOBARBUS

Fulvia?

ENOBARBUS

Fulvia?

ANTONY

Dead.

ANTONY

Dead.

ENOBARBUS

160 Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth, comforting therein, that when old robes are worn out, there are members to make new. If there were no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case to be lamented. This grief is crowned with consolation. Your old smock brings forth a new petticoat, and indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.

ENOBARBUS

Then you should offer the gods a sacrifice to show your thanks. When a man’s wife dies, he can be comforted by the knowledge that there are replacements to be found. If Fulvia were the last woman on earth, there would be a reason to grieve. But in this way, grief and comfort appear together. The only kind of tears you should shed in this case are the kind you might get from holding an onion to your nose.

ANTONY

The business she hath broached in the state
170Cannot endure my absence.

ANTONY

I must go and continue the business Fulvia started.

ENOBARBUS

And the business you have broached here cannot be without you, especially that of Cleopatra’s, which wholly depends on your abode.

ENOBARBUS

The business you began here needs you as well—especially the business with Cleopatra, which only you can attend to.

ANTONY

No more light answers. Let our officers
175Have notice what we purpose. I shall break
The cause of our expedience to the Queen
And get her leave to part. For not alone
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Do strongly speak to us, but the letters too
180Of many our contriving friends in Rome
Petition us at home. Sextus Pompeius
Hath given the dare to Caesar and commands
The empire of the sea. Our slippery people,
Whose love is never linked to the deserver
185Till his deserts are past, begin to throw
Pompey the Great and all his dignities
Upon his son, who—high in name and power,
Higher than both in blood and life—stands up
For the main soldier, whose quality, going on,
190The sides o’ th’ world may danger. Much is breeding
Which, like the courser’s hair, hath yet but life,
And not a serpent’s poison. Say our pleasure,
To such whose place is under us, requires
Our quick remove from hence.

ANTONY

Enough of this frivolous talk. Give our officers notice of our intentions. I’ll tell the Queen the reason for our quick departure and get her permission to leave. Fulvia’s death and the pressing concerns related to it are not the only reasons I am eager to go; friends in Rome have also sent many letters advising my return. Sextus Pompeius has challenged Caesar. His fleet controls the sea. Our fickle citizens—who never reward service until that service is over—are now giving all the rights and honors won by Pompey the Great to his son, Sextus. Sextus has great honor and power, and his spirit and energy are even greater, all of which makes him the most formidable soldier in the empire. The empire may be in danger if he’s not restrained before he reaches his full potential. There are many troubles brewing now that have yet to become full-fledged threats.