Plutarch and Shakespeare Compared

The Life of Marcus Antonius Antony and Cleopatra
He had a faithful servant, whose name was Eros; he had engaged him formerly to kill him when he should think it necessary, and now he put him to his promise. Eros drew his sword, as designing to kill him, but, suddenly turning round, he slew himself. And as he fell dead at his feet, "It is well done, Eros," said Antony; "you show your master how to do what you had not the heart to do yourself;" and so he ran himself into the belly, and laid himself upon the couch. [ MARK ANTONY]
Thou art sworn, Eros,
That, when the exigent should come, which now
Is come indeed, when I should see behind me
The inevitable prosecution of
Disgrace and horror, that, on my command,
Thou then wouldst kill me: do't; the time is come:
Thou strikest not me, 'tis Caesar thou defeat'st.
Put colour in thy cheek.
EROS
The gods withhold me!
Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts,
Though enemy, lost aim, and could not?
MARK ANTONY
Eros,
Wouldst thou be window'd in great Rome and see
Thy master thus with pleach'd arms, bending down
His corrigible neck, his face subdued
To penetrative shame, whilst the wheel'd seat
Of fortunate Caesar, drawn before him, branded
His baseness that ensued?
EROS
I would not see't.
MARK ANTONY
Come, then; for with a wound I must be cured.
Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn
Most useful for thy country.
EROS
O, sir, pardon me!
MARK ANTONY
When I did make thee free, sworest thou not then
To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once;
Or thy precedent services are all
But accidents unpurposed. Draw, and come.
EROS
Turn from me, then, that noble countenance,
Wherein the worship of the whole world lies.
MARK ANTONY
Lo thee!
Turning from him EROS
My sword is drawn.
MARK ANTONY
Then let it do at once
The thing why thou hast drawn it.
EROS
My dear master,
My captain, and my emperor, let me say,
Before I strike this bloody stroke, farewell.
MARK ANTONY
'Tis said, man; and farewell.
EROS
Farewell, great chief. Shall I strike now?
MARK ANTONY
Now, Eros.
EROS
Why, there then: thus I do escape the sorrow
Of Antony's death.
Kills himself MARK ANTONY
Thrice-nobler than myself!
Thou teachest me, O valiant Eros, what
I should, and thou couldst not. My queen and Eros
Have by their brave instruction got upon me
A nobleness in record: but I will be
A bridegroom in my death, and run into't
As to a lover's bed. Come, then; and, Eros,
Thy master dies thy scholar: to do thus
Falling on his sword
I learn'd of thee. How! not dead? not dead?
The guard, ho! O, dispatch me!

IV.xiv.62-104


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