Again you break your promise. What hindered me to have led my conquering eagles To fill Octavius' bands? Sure he would sigh; for he is noble-natured, And bears a tender heart: I know him well. I bring him news will raise his drooping spirits, Give him new life. Your enemies had so embroiled the management of your office, that they looked on your advancement as the instrument of your ruin. He wanted to show them that women can be beautiful and loyal , because women in the Resoration age were not loyal because it is easy to have virtue when you are not beautiful. Last night, between the hours of twelve and one, In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked, A whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast, Shook all the dome: the doors around me clapt; The iron wicket, that defends the vault, Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid, Burst open, and disclosed the mighty dead.
Antony is infuriated by this information, but is still looking for some loophole that would confirm Cleopatra's innocence. I like this well; he shows authority. In the meantime the true poets were they who made the best markets: for they had wit enough to yield the prize with a good grace, and not contend with him who had thirty legions. How stands the queen affected? Then I have washed an Aethiop. Every remonstrance of private men has the seed of treason in it; and discourses, which are couched in ambiguous terms, are therefore the more dangerous, because they do all the mischief of open sedition, yet are safe from the punishment of the laws. A thousand wishes, and ten thousand prayers, Millions of blessings wait you to the wars; Millions of sighs and tears she sends you too, And would have sent As many dear embraces to your arms, As many parting kisses to your lips; But those, she fears, have wearied you already.
Octavia enters and both the ladies indulge in a heated discussion over Antony. Antony starts blaming her as because of her, his first wife died and he left Octavia his 2 nd wife; the sister of Octavius Caesar and because of it, Caesar has waged war against him. What occurs in these last days and hours is a series of conversations between Marc Antony, Cleopatra, and various friends, family members, and servants as they all try to influence the course of action. Why didst thou mock my hopes with promised aids, To double my despair? Meanwhile Antony and Ventidius ridicule and laugh at the cowardice of Octavius Ceasar. And who must wear them then? Antony requests him not to repeat the past statements again and tells Ventidius that he has killed 5000 Romans of Octavius Caesar. The greatest error in the contrivance seems to be in the person of Octavia; for, though I might use the privilege of a poet, to introduce her into Alexandria, yet I had not enough considered, that the compassion she moved to herself and children was destructive to that which I reserved for Antony and Cleopatra; whose mutual love being founded upon vice, must lessen the favour of the audience to them, when virtue and innocence were oppressed by it.
Some of their little zanies yet go further; for they are persecutors even of Horace himself, as far as they are able, by their ignorant and vile imitations of him; by making an unjust use of his authority, and turning his artillery against his friends. Live, Antony; and Cleopatra live! Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light, We scarce could know they live, but that they bite. Men of pleasant conversation at least esteemed so , and endued with a trifling kind of fancy, perhaps helped out with some smattering of Latin, are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the herd of gentlemen, by their poetry-- Rarus enim ferme sensus communis in illa Fortuna. But here again they are all indulgent to themselves; and every one who believes himself a wit, that is, every man, will pretend at the same time to a right of judging. Both Dolabella and Antony explain how much they missed each other. His Majesty, the most knowing judge of men, and the best master, has acknowledged the ease and benefit he receives in the incomes of his treasury, which you found not only disordered, but exhausted. Young, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, June 1999.
Portents and prodigies have grown so frequent, That they have lost their name. I would love to see this play performed. I still urge that, The fatal consequence. Felices nimium, bona si sua norint, Angligenae! But Cleopatra-- Go on; for I can bear it now. Does this weak passion Become a mighty queen? But other arms than theirs, and other sinews are required, to raise the weight of such an author; and when they would toss him against enemies-- Genua labant, gelidus concrevit frigore sanguis. Dionysius and Nero had the same longings, but with all their power they could never bring their business well about.
The play really rockets forward to its climax and I imagine it would be very effective in live performance. Heaven's blessing on your heart for that kind word! Ventidius brings Octavia and her daughters with him. From hence it comes that so many satires on poets, and censures of their writings, fly abroad. In Short, this play has narrow focus while shakespeare does not care about place and time his focus is on the panoramic history , it is a panoramic story where you are allowed to have different judgments. Three types of comedy appeared in England in the time of Dryden-- the comedy of humors, the comedy of intrigue, and the comedy of manners--and in all he did work that classed him with the ablest of his contemporaries. They'll sell those mangled limbs at dearer rates Than yon trim bands can buy.
To Dryden's favor, he grants Octavia voice and dignity, which Shakespeare failed to do: But the conditions I have brought are such, You need not blush to take: I love your honour, Because 'tis mine; it never shall be said, Octavia's husband was her brother's slave. In my humble opinion the greatest dialogue of the play happens between Cleopatra and Octavia - Antony's estranged wife. Antony blames both of them for being deceitful. Cleopatra's love was true but Antony was fickle , he left her many times but she loved him the same way. I saw him at Cilicia first, When Cleopatra there met Antony: A mortal foe was to us, and Egypt. The relation which you have by alliance to the noble family of your lady, serves to confirm to you both this happy augury. He is seen as dominating the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.
But maybe Shakespeare had so many characters to give his play scale, a quality Dryden's weak imitation hasn't considered. Alexas, in order to save his own life, concocts a lie, telling Antony that Cleopatra is dead. A little later, Dolabella and Cleopatra enter, who are unaware of the situation. Neither is it enough for them to answer, that they only intend a reformation of the government, but not the subversion of it: on such pretence all insurrections have been founded; it is striking at the root of power, which is obedience. O that thou wert my equal; great in arms As the first Caesar was, that I might kill thee Without a stain to honour! A tragedy written in blank verse, it retells the story of Roman general Marc Antony's love affair with the alluring Egyptian queen Cleopatra and their eventual double-suicide.
This is, as Dryden mentions in his introduction to the play, a reworking of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra , which, I'll admit, I prefer. I must disturb him; I can hold no longer. True, he's hard prest, by interest and by honour; Yet he but doubts, and parleys, and casts out Many a long look for succour. The occasion is fair, and the subject would be pleasant to handle the difference of styles betwixt him and Fletcher, and wherein, and how far they are both to be imitated. I read this with excitement; it seemed to re-illuminate Shakespeare's characters. John Dryden 1631-1700 , the great representative figure in the literature of the latter part of the seventeenth century, exemplifies in his work most of the main tendencies of the time. Bring them hither; There may be life in these.