Antony and Cleopatra

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 2

page Act 5 Scene 2 Page 14

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CLEOPATRA

Remember’st thou any that have died on ’t?

CLEOPATRA

Do you remember anyone who died of it?

COUNTRYMAN

Very many, men and women too. I heard of one of them no longer than yesterday—a very honest woman, but something given to lie, as a woman should not do but in the way of honesty—how she died of the biting of it, what pain she felt. Truly, she makes a very good report o’ th’ worm. But he that will believe all that they say shall never be saved by half that they do. But this is most falliable, the worm’s an odd worm.

COUNTRYMAN

Many people, men and women alike. I heard of one just yesterday. She was a very honest woman but rather inclined to lie—which a woman shouldn’t do unless she’s protecting her reputation. I heard how she died of its bite, how much pain she felt. Indeed, she gives a very good testimony of the snake’s power. But if you believe everything they say, you won’t be saved by half of what they do. But this is a sure thing: the snake’s an odd snake.

CLEOPATRA

Get thee hence, farewell.

CLEOPATRA

You may leave now. Farewell.

COUNTRYMAN

I wish you all joy of the worm.

COUNTRYMAN

I hope you are pleased with the snake.
He sets down his basket
He sets down the basket.

CLEOPATRA

Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Farewell.

COUNTRYMAN

260 You must think this, look you, that the worm will do his kind.

COUNTRYMAN

You must know that the snake will act according to his nature.

CLEOPATRA

Ay, ay. Farewell.

CLEOPATRA

Yes, yes. Farewell.

COUNTRYMAN

Look you, the worm is not to be trusted but in the keeping of wise people, for indeed there is no goodness in the worm.

COUNTRYMAN

Listen, the snake is dangerous unless handled by people who are used to him. There isn’t any kindness in the snake.

CLEOPATRA

265Take thou no care. It shall be heeded.

CLEOPATRA

Don’t worry; we’ll remember your warnings.

COUNTRYMAN

Very good. Give it nothing, I pray you, for it is not worth the feeding.

COUNTRYMAN

Good. Don’t feed it, I beg you. It’s not worth feeding.

CLEOPATRA

Will it eat me?

CLEOPATRA

Will it eat me?

COUNTRYMAN

You must not think I am so simple but I know the devil himself will not eat a woman. I know that a woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not. But, truly, these same whoreson devils do the gods great harm in their women, for in every ten that they make, the devils mar five.

COUNTRYMAN

Don’t think I’m so dumb that I don’t know that the devil himself won’t eat a woman. I know that a woman is a dish fit only for the gods, as long as the devil hasn’t prepared the meal. But devils cause a lot of trouble for the gods regarding their women. For every ten women the gods make, the devils ruin five.