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Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 3

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Leave thy lascivious wassails. When thou once
Wast beaten from Modena, where thou slew’st
Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel
60Did famine follow, whom thou fought’st against,
Though daintily brought up, with patience more
Than savages could suffer. Thou didst drink
The stale of horses and the gilded puddle
Which beasts would cough at. Thy palate then did deign
65The roughest berry on the rudest hedge.
Yea, like the stag, when snow the pasture sheets,
The barks of trees thou browsèd. On the Alps
It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh,
Which some did die to look on. And all this—
70It wounds thine honor that I speak it now—
Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek
So much as lanked not.


Antony, it’s time to stop your wild hedonism. When you were defeated at the battle of Modena—where you killed the consuls, Hirtius and Pansa—and then driven away, you had to face hunger and thirst. And even though you were brought up as a gentleman, you patiently tolerated more hardships than savages could withstand. You drank horses’ urine and water from scum-covered puddles that even animals would refuse. Though you were used to the finest foods, you didn’t turn up your nose at the bitterest berries on the thorniest bushes. You even ate bark from trees, as deer do in winter. Going over the Alps, you ate strange meat that some men would rather die than consume. And you went through all this—the comparison between then and now shames you—in such a soldier-like way that you didn’t seem to suffer at all.


’Tis pity of him.


It’s too bad.


Let his shames quickly
75Drive him to Rome. ’Tis time we twain
Did show ourselves i’ th’ field, and to that end
Assemble we immediate council. Pompey
Thrives in our idleness.


Let’s hope his sense of shame will send him back to Rome quickly. It’s time that we brought our armies into the field. Let’s call a council of war immediately. Pompey is making the most of our absence.