Act II


Enter Cleopatra, Iras, and Alexas.

Cleo. What shall I do, or whither shall I turn?
Ventidius has o’ercome, and he will go.

Alex. He goes to fight for you.

Cleo. Then he would see me, ere he went to fight:
Flatter me not: If once he goes, he’s lost,
And all my hopes destroyed.

Alex. Does this weak passion
Become a mighty queen?

Cleo. I am no queen:
Is this to be a queen, to be besieged
By yon insulting Roman, and to wait
Each hour the victor’s chain? These ills are small:
For Antony is lost, and I can mourn
For nothing else but him. Now come, Octavius,
I have no more to lose! prepare thy bands;
I’m fit to be a captive: Antony
Has taught my mind the fortune of a slave.

Iras. Call reason to assist you.

Cleo. I have none,
And none would have: My love’s a noble madness,
Which shows the cause deserved it. Moderate sorrow
Fits vulgar love, and for a vulgar man:
But I have loved with such transcendent passion,
I soared, at first, quite out of reason’s view,
And now am lost above it. No, I’m proud
’Tis thus: Would Antony could see me now
Think you he would not sigh, though he must leave me?
Sure he would sigh; for he is noble-natured.
And bears a tender heart: I know him well.
Ah, no, I know him not; I knew him once,
But now ’tis past.

Iras. Let it be past with you:
Forget him, madam.

Cleo. Never, never, Iras.
He once was mine; and once, though now ’tis gone,
Leaves a faint image of possession still.

Alex. Think him inconstant, cruel, and ungrateful.

Cleo. I cannot: If I could, those thoughts were vain.
Faithless, ungrateful, cruel, though he be,
I still must love him.

Enter Charmion.

Now, what news, my Charmion?
Will he be kind? and will he not forsake me?
Am I to live, or die?—nay, do I live?
Or am I dead? for when he gave his answer,
Fate took the word, and then I lived or died.

Char. I found him, madam—

Cleo. A long speech preparing?
If thou bring’st comfort, haste, and give it me,
For never was more need.

Iras. I know he loves you.

Cleo. Had he been kind, her eyes had told me so,
Before her tongue could speak it: Now she studies,
To soften what he said; but give me death,
Just as he sent it, Charmion, undisguised,
And in the words he spoke.

Char. I found him, then,
Encompassed round, I think, with iron statues;
So mute, so motionless his soldiers stood,
While awfully he cast his eyes about,
And every leader’s hopes or fears surveyed:
Methought he looked resolved, and yet not pleased.
When he beheld me struggling in the crowd,
He blushed, and bade make way.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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