Antony and Cleopatra

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 2

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CLEOPATRA

20Nay, hear them, Antony.
Fulvia perchance is angry. Or who knows
If the scarce-bearded Caesar have not sent
His powerful mandate to you, “Do this, or this.
Take in that kingdom, and enfranchise that.
25Perform ’t, or else we damn thee.”

CLEOPATRA

No, listen to it, Antony. Perhaps

Fulvia

Fulvia is Marc Antony’s wife.

Fulvia
is angry with you. Who knows, maybe the

baby-faced Caesar

Octavius Caesar was only in his twenties at this time, about twenty years younger than Antony.

baby-faced Caesar
has orders for you: “Do this, do that; conquer that kingdom, liberate this one. Do it or we’ll condemn you.”

ANTONY

                                                                   How, my love?

ANTONY

What, my love?

CLEOPATRA

Perchance? Nay, and most like.
You must not stay here longer. Your dismission
Is come from Caesar. Therefore hear it, Antony.
Where’s Fulvia’s process? Caesar’s, I would say—both?
30Call in the messengers. As I am Egypt’s queen,
Thou blushest, Antony, and that blood of thine
Is Caesar’s homager. Else so thy cheek pays shame
When shrill-tongued Fulvia scolds. The messengers!

CLEOPATRA

Maybe? No, most likely. You can’t stay here any longer. Caesar has sent your dismissal, so pay attention, Antony. Where’s Fulvia’s summons—excuse me, I should have said Caesar’s. Or do Fulvia and Caesar both beckon you back to Rome? Call in the messengers and we’ll find out. As surely as I am the queen of Egypt, Antony, you’re blushing, which means you’re Caesar’s servant. Or that that bitch Fulvia still has the power to humiliate you. Call the messengers!

ANTONY

Let Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch
35Of the ranged empire fall. Here is my space.
Kingdoms are clay. Our dungy earth alike
Feeds beast as man. The nobleness of life
Is to do thus, when such a mutual pair
And such a twain can do ’t, in which I bind,
40On pain of punishment, the world to weet
We stand up peerless.

ANTONY

Let Rome be washed away in the Tiber

Rome was built on the river Tiber.

Let Rome be washed away in the Tiber
and let the great empire fall. My place is here. Kingdoms are only dirt. The soil feeds animals as well as people, so how does having a kingdom separate humans from beasts? The noblest thing is to do what we’re doing, particularly when the couple is as well matched as we are. I demand that the world admit we are the perfect couple or else suffer the consequences.