Antony and Cleopatra

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 2

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Enter FIRST MESSENGER
The FIRST MESSENGER enters.

LEPIDUS

                                                   Here’s more news.

LEPIDUS

Here’s more news.

FIRST MESSENGER

Thy biddings have been done, and every hour,
35Most noble Caesar, shalt thou have report
How ’tis abroad. Pompey is strong at sea,
And it appears he is beloved of those
That only have feared Caesar. To the ports
The discontents repair, and men’s reports
40Give him much wronged.

FIRST MESSENGER

We’ve followed your commands, lord Caesar. You shall have hourly updates regarding the situation at sea. Pompey has a strong navy. All the people who only stayed with you out of fear are gathering at the port to join him, in the opinion he’s been treated unfairly.

CAESAR

                                                  I should have known no less.
It hath been taught us from the primal state
That he which is was wished until he were,
And the ebbed man, ne’er loved till ne’er worth love,
Comes deared by being lacked. This common body,
45Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,
Goes to and back, lackeying the varying tide
To rot itself with motion.

CAESAR

I should have known it. It’s been this way ever since the first government was organized. People will transfer their support to a strong figure until he becomes their actual leader. Then they will value their former leader, even though the loss of their support has made him powerless. The common crowd changes like the tide, to and fro, serving whoever is on the rise. Their power is worn away by their fickleness.
Enter SECOND MESSENGER
The SECOND MESSENGER enters.

SECOND MESSENGER

Caesar, I bring thee word
Menecrates and Menas, famous pirates,
50Make the sea serve them, which they ear and wound
With keels of every kind. Many hot inroads
They make in Italy—the borders maritime
Lack blood to think on ’t—and flush youth revolt.
No vessel can peep forth, but ’tis as soon
55Taken as seen, for Pompey’s name strikes more
Than could his war resisted.

SECOND MESSENGER

Caesar, I have news about Menecrates and Menas, notorious pirates who prowl the sea in a variety of ships. They’ve made many raids upon Italy—and the naval patrols go pale at even the thought of resisting them. The young, energetic men are joining Pompey. These pirates can capture a ship as soon as it leaves the harbor, since the simple mention of the name “Pompey” carries as much power as a fleet of troops in battle.