Plutarch and Shakespeare Compared

The Life of Marcus Antonius Antony and Cleopatra
Having taken particular notice of the place, he returned to Caesar, and Gallus was sent to parley with her the second time; who, being come to the door, on purpose prolonged the conference, while Proculeius fixed his scaling-ladders in the window through which the women had pulled up Antony. And so entering, with two men to follow him, he went straight down to the door where Cleopatra was discoursing with Gallus. One of the two women who were shut up in the monument with her cried out, "Miserable Cleopatra, you are taken prisoner!" Upon which she turned quick, and, looking at Proculeius, drew out her dagger which she had with her to stab herself. But Proculeius ran up quickly, and seizing her with both his hands, "For shame," said he, "Cleopatra; you wrong yourself and Caesar much, who would rob him of so fair an occasion of showing his clemency, and would make the world believe the most gentle of commanders to be a faithless and implacable enemy." And so, taking the dagger out of her hand, he also shook her dress to see if there were any poison hid in it. GALLUS
You see how easily she may be surprised:
Here PROCULEIUS and two of the Guard ascend
the monument by a ladderplaced against a
window, and, having descended, come behind
CLEOPATRA.
Some of the Guard unbar and open the gates
To PROCULEIUS and the Guard

Guard her till Caesar come.
Exit
IRAS
Royal queen!
CHARMIAN
O Cleopatra! thou art taken, queen:
CLEOPATRA
Quick, quick, good hands.
Drawing a dagger
PROCULEIUS
Hold, worthy lady, hold:
Seizes and disarms her
Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this
Relieved, but not betray'd.
CLEOPATRA
What, of death too,
That rids our dogs of languish?
PROCULEIUS
Cleopatra,
Do not abuse my master's bounty by
The undoing of yourself: let the world see
His nobleness well acted, which your death
Will never let come forth.

V.ii.35-46


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