Serap. Tis strange that Antony, for some days past,
Has not beheld the face of Cleopatra;
But here, in
Isis temple, lives retired,
And makes his heart a prey to black despair.
Alex. Tis true; and we much fear he hopes by absence
To cure his mind of love.
Serap. If he be vanquished,
Or make his peace, Egypt is doomed to be
A Roman province; and our plenteous
Must then redeem the scarceness of their soil.
While Antony stood firm, our Alexandria
proud Rome (dominions other seat),
And Fortune striding, like a vast Colossus,
Could fix an equal foot of
Alex. Had I my wish, these tyrants of all nature,
Who lord it oer mankind, should perish,perish,
by the others sword; but since our will
Is lamely followed by our power, we must
Depend on one; with him
to rise or fall.
Serap. How stands the queen affected?
Alex. Oh, she dotes,
She dotes, Serapion, on this vanquished man,
And winds herself about his mighty
Whom would she yet forsake, yet yield him up,
This hunted prey, to his pursuers hands,
preserve us all: but tis in vain
This changes my designs, this blasts my counsels,
And makes me use
all means to keep him here,
Whom I could wish divided from her arms,
Far as the earths deep centre.
Well, you know
The state of things; no more of your ill omens
And black prognostics; labour to confirm
Enter Ventidius, talking aside with a Gentleman of Antonys.
Serap. These Romans will oerhear us.
But, whos that stranger? By his warlike port,
His fierce demeanour,
and erected look,
Hes of no vulgar note.
Alex. Oh tis Ventidius,
Our emperors great lieutenant in the East,
Who first showed Rome that Parthia
could be conquered.
When Antony returned from Syria last,
He left this man to guard the Roman frontiers.
Serap. You seem to know him well.
Alex. Too well. I saw him at Cilicia first,
When Cleopatra there met Antony:
A mortal foe he was to us,
But,let me witness to the worth I hate,
A braver Roman never drew a sword;
Firm to his
prince, but as a friend, not slave.
He neer was of his pleasures; but presides
Oer all his cooler hours, and
In short the plainness, fierceness, rugged virtue,
Of an old true-stampt Roman lives in
His coming bodes I know not what of ill
To our affairs. Withdraw to mark him better;
And Ill acquaint
you why I sought you here,
And whats our present work. [They withdraw to a corner of the stage; and
Ventidius, with the other, comes forward to the front.
Vent. Not see him, say you?
I say, I must, and will.
Gent. He has commanded,
On pain of death, none should approach his presence.
Vent. I bring him news will raise his drooping spirits,
Give him new life.
Gent. He sees not Cleopatra.
Vent. Would he had never seen her!
Gent. He eats not, drinks not, sleeps not, has no use
Of anything, but thought; or if he talks,
Tis to himself,
and then tis perfect raving:
Then he defies the world, and bids it pass;
Sometimes he gnaws his lip, and
The boy Octavius; then he draws his mouth
Into a scornful smile, and cries, Take all,
worlds not worth my care.