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Antony and Cleopatra

Written: c. 1606; Text: First Folio 1623 (Tragedy), no quarto editions
Source: Plutarch's Life of Antony from Sir Thomas North's translations of Plutarch's Lives in 1579 with later editions
Characters: Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar, Domitius Enobarbus, Sextus Pompeius
Setting: Alexandria, Rome, Messina, Syria and the sea
Time: c. 40-30 BC

Shakespeare drew from North's translations of Plutarch for his other Roman plays, Julius Caesar and Coriolanus.

Nay, but this dotage of our general’s

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Nay, but this dotage of our general’s
O’erflows the measure. Those his goodly eyes,
That o’er the files and musters of the war
Have glowed like plated Mars, now bend, now turn
The office and devotion of their view
Upon a tawny front. His captain’s heart,
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst
The buckles on his breast,
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Let Rome in Tiber melt

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Antony
Let Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch
Of 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,
On pain of punishment,
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Act 1
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In nature’s infinite book of secrecy

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In nature’s infinite book of secrecyMetaphor
A little I can readHyperbaton.
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Act 1
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Line 9

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Well, what worst?

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Antony
Well, what worst?
Messenger
The nature of bad news infects the teller.
Antony
When it concerns the fool or coward. On.
Things that are past are done, with me. ‘Tis thus:
Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death,
I hear him as he flattered.
Messenger
Labienus—
This is stiff news—hath with his Parthian force
Extended Asia: from Euphrates
His conquering banner shook,
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Act 1
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Fulvia thy wife is dead

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Third Messenger
Fulvia thy wife is dead.
Antony
Where died she?
Third Messenger
In Sicyon.
Her length of sickness, with what else more serious
Importeth thee to know, this bears.
He hands Antony the letter.
Antony
Forbear me.
Third Messenger exits.
There’s a great spirit gone!
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Act 1
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Line 131

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What’s your pleasure, sir?

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Enobarbus
What’s your pleasure, sir?
Antony
I must with haste from hence.
Enobarbus
Why then we kill all our women. We see
how mortal an unkindness is to them. If they suffer
our departure, death’s the word.
Antony
I must be gone.
Enobarbus
Under a compelling occasion,
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Act 1
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Line 146

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Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice

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Enobarbus
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,
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Act 1
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Line 192

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Where is he?

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Cleopatra
Where is he?
Charmian
I did not see him since.
Cleopatra, to Alexas
See where he is, who’s with him, what he does.
I did not send you. If you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report
That I am sudden sick. Quick,
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Now, my dearest queen

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Antony
Now, my dearest queen—
Cleopatra
Pray you stand farther from me.
Antony
What’s the matter?
Cleopatra
I know by that same eye there’s some good news.
What, says the married woman you may go?
Would she had never given you leave to come.
Let her not say ’tis I that keep you here.
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Act 1
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Line 21

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Hear me, queen

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Antony
Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile, but my full heart
Remains in use with you. Our Italy
Shines o’er with civil swords; Sextus Pompeius
Makes his approaches to the port of Rome;
Equality of two domestic powers
Breed scrupulous faction; the hated grown to strength
Are newly grown to love;
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Act 1
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