Plutarch and Shakespeare Compared

The Life of Marcus Antonius Antony and Cleopatra
Just as he breathed his last, Proculeius arrived from Caesar; for when Antony gave himself his wound, and was carried in to Cleopatra, one of his guards, Dercetaeus, took up Antony's sword and hid it; and, when he saw his opportunity, stole away to Caesar, and brought him the first news of Antony's death, and withal showed him the bloody sword.


Harbour at Alexandria

DERCETAS
Thy death and fortunes bid thy followers fly.
This sword but shown to Caesar, with this tidings,
Shall enter me with him.

IV.xiv.110-112

Enter DERCETAS, with the sword of
MARK ANTONY

OCTAVIUS CAESAR
Wherefore is that? and what art thou that darest
Appear thus to us?
DERCETAS
I am call'd Dercetas;
Mark Antony I served, who best was worthy
Best to be served: whilst he stood up and spoke,
He was my master; and I wore my life
To spend upon his haters. If thou please
To take me to thee, as I was to him
I'll be to Caesar; if thou pleasest not,
I yield thee up my life.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR
What is't thou say'st?
DERCETAS
I say, O Caesar, Antony is dead.
OCTAVIUS CAESAR
The breaking of so great a thing should make
A greater crack: the round world
Should have shook lions into civil streets,
And citizens to their dens: the death of Antony
Is not a single doom; in the name lay
A moiety of the world.
DERCETAS
He is dead, Caesar:
Not by a public minister of justice,
Nor by a hired knife; but that self hand,
Which writ his honour in the acts it did,
Hath, with the courage which the heart did lend it,
Splitted the heart. This is his sword;
I robb'd his wound of it; behold it stain'd
With his most noble blood.

V.i.4-26


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