Antony and Cleopatra
Act III. Scene x.
CANIDIUS marches with his army one way across the stage, and TAURUS, with CAESAR’s army, the other way. The noise of a seafight is heard. Alarum1
- Naught, naught, all naught! I can behold no longer.
Th’ Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral2,
With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder.
To see’t, mine eyes are blasted.
- Gods and goddesses,
All the whole synod of them!
- What’s thy passion?
- The greater cantle3 of the world is lost
With very ignorance4. We have kissed away
Kingdoms and provinces.
- How appears the fight?
- On our side like the tokened pestilence,5
Where death is sure. Yon ribaudred6 nag of Egypt -
Whom leprosy o’ertake – i’th’midst o’ th’fight,
When vantage like a pair of twins appeared,
Both as the same, or rather ours the elder,7
The breeze upon her, like a cow in June,
Hoists sails and flies.
- That I beheld:
Mine eyes did sicken at the sight, and could not
Endure a further view.
- She once being loofed8,
The noble ruin of her magic, Antony
Claps on his sea-wing, and, like a doting mallard,
Leaving the fight in heighth, flies after her.
I never saw an action of such shame;
Experience, manhood, honour, ne’er before
Did violate so itself.
- Alack, alack!
- Our fortune on the sea is out of breath,
And sinks most lamentably. Had our general
Been what he knew himself, it had gone well.
O, he has given example for our flight
Most grossly by his own!
- Ay, are you thereabouts?9
Why then, good night indeed.
- Towards Peloponnesus they are fled.
- ’Tis easy to’t, and there I will attend
What further comes.
- To Casear will I render
My legions and my horse; six kings already
Show me the way of yielding.
- I’ll yet follow
The wounded chance of Antony, though my reason
Sits in the wind against me.
1. Alarum: a call to arms
2. …Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral: The Egyptian flagship, which Cleopatra had named after Antony
3. cantle: segment of a sphere
4. ignorance: means stupidity in this case
5. the tokened pestilence: Spots which were a symptom of the black death
6. ribaudred: wanton
7. when vantage…elder: when neither side had the upper hand, although if either we did
8. loofed: gone (aloof)
9. thereabouts: thinking of this
Enobarbus has left the battle scene in disgust after having witnessed the Egyptian fleet turning and fleeing. Scarus enters, and he relates what has happened since. Although it seemed as if the battle was evenly matched, Antony made the incredible decision to follow Cleopatra’s fleet, therefore throwing away any chance at victory. The two are outraged at Cleopatra’s cowardliness for fleeing the sea-battle she had argued for, but even more angry at Antony’s shameful behaviour in following her, unprofessionally allowing his personal life to intrude into politics once again. Canidius enters, and announces that with his cowardly actions Antony has lost the right to expect their loyalty and that he shall surrender to Caesar; Scarus agrees. Enobarbus declares that all is lost but decides to stay with Antony, a decision he cannot rationally justify.
I transcribed this by hand from the 1998 edition of the New Swan Shakespeare, which is published by the Longman Group and edited by John Ingledew. Hence, any errors are my own. The New Swan was also of great help with the footnotes, however the scene summary is entirely my own work.
dustfromamoth started this project, I have ripped off her format.