|The Life of Marcus Antonius||Antony and Cleopatra|
| Antony's empire
extended from Euphrates and Armenia to the Ionian sea and the
Illyrians; Caesar's, from Illyria to the westward ocean, and from
the ocean all along the Tuscan and Sicilian sea. Of Africa, Caesar had
all the coast opposite to Italy, Gaul, and Spain, as far as the
Pillars of Hercules, and Antony the provinces from Cyrene to
But so wholly was he now the mere appendage to the person of
Cleopatra that, although he was much superior to the enemy in
land-forces, yet, out of complaisance to his mistress, he wished the
victory to be gained by sea, and that, too, when he could not but
see how, for want of sailors, his captains, all through unhappy
Greece, were pressing every description of men, common travellers
and ass-drivers, harvest labourers and boys, and for all this the
vessels had not their complements, but remained. most of them,
ill-manned and badly rowed. Caesar, on the other side, had ships
that were built not for size or show, but for service, not pompous
galleys, but light, swift, and perfectly manned. [I]t would not be any kind of
disparagement to him [Antony] to yield the sea to Caesar, who, in the
Sicilian wars, had had such long practice in ship-fighting; on the
contrary, it would be simply ridiculous for Antony, who was by land
the most experienced commander living, to make no use of his
well-disciplined and numerous infantry, scattering and wasting his
forces by parcelling them out in the ships...
But for all this, Cleopatra prevailed that a sea-fight should determine all, having already an eye to flight, and ordering all her affairs, not so as to assist in gaining a victory, but to escape with the greatest safety from the first commencement of a defeat.
Will fight with him by sea.
By sea! what else?
Why will my lord do so?
For that he dares us to't.
So hath my lord dared him to single fight.
Ay, and to wage this battle at Pharsalia.
Where Caesar fought with Pompey: but these offers,
Which serve not for his vantage, be shakes off;
And so should you.
Your ships are not well mann'd;
Your mariners are muleters, reapers, people
Ingross'd by swift impress; in Caesar's fleet
Are those that often have 'gainst Pompey fought:
Their ships are yare; yours, heavy: no disgrace
Shall fall you for refusing him at sea,
Being prepared for land.
By sea, by sea.
Most worthy sir, you therein throw away
The absolute soldiership you have by land;
Distract your army, which doth most consist
Of war-mark'd footmen; leave unexecuted
Your own renowned knowledge; quite forego
The way which promises assurance; and
Give up yourself merely to chance and hazard,
From firm security.
I'll fight at sea.
I have sixty sails, Caesar none better.