• Enter ANTONY and OCTAVIA

    ANTONY

    Nay, nay, Octavia, not only that—
    That were excusable, that and thousands more
    Of semblable import—but he hath waged
    New wars ’gainst Pompey; made his will, and read it
    5To public ear;
    Spoke scantly of me; when perforce he could not
    But pay me terms of honor, cold and sickly
    He vented them, most narrow measure lent me.
    When the best hint was given him, he not took ’t,
    10Or did it from his teeth.

    OCTAVIA

                                                   O my good lord,
    Believe not all, or, if you must believe,
    Stomach not all. A more unhappy lady,
    If this division chance, ne’er stood between,
    Praying for both parts.
    15The good gods will mock me presently,
    When I shall pray “O bless my lord and husband!”
    Undo that prayer by crying out as loud
    “O bless my brother!” Husband win, win brother
    Prays and destroys the prayer; no midway
    20’Twixt these extremes at all.

    ANTONY

                                                           Gentle Octavia,
    Let your best love draw to that point which seeks
    Best to preserve it. If I lose mine honor,
    I lose myself; better I were not yours
    Than yours so branchless. But, as you requested,
    25Yourself shall go between ’s. The meantime, lady,
    I’ll raise the preparation of a war
    Shall stain your brother. Make your soonest haste;
    So your desires are yours.
  • ANTONY and OCTAVIA enter.

    ANTONY

    No, no, Octavia, it’s not only that. That would be excusable—that and a thousand other offenses like it. But Caesar has gone and waged a new war against Pompey. He made his will and read it in a public assembly. He hardly refers to me at all, though official decisions are supposed to be made jointly. When he can’t avoid mentioning my services to the state, he minimizes them as much as possible. When situations arise when it would be natural to emphasize my due credit, he either ignores them or only pays me lip service. 

    He made his will and read it in a public assembly.

    Roman politicians could gain popularity among the common people by writing a will that included bequests in their favor, such as sums of money, parkland, or orchards dedicated to their use.

    OCTAVIA

    Oh, dear husband, don’t believe everything you hear—or if you must believe it, don’t let it all make you angry. No lady could be more miserable than I if you two disagree. I’ll be left in the middle, praying for both sides. The good gods will laugh at me when on the one hand I pray for my husband and on the other for my brother. “Let my husband win!” “Let my brother win!” One prayer cancels out the other. There’s no middle ground between these two extremes.

    ANTONY

    Gentle Octavia, support the one that supports you. If I’m defeated, I lose my reputation. If I lose my reputation, I lose myself. It would be better for you to have no husband than a husband who lacks honor. However, as you requested, you may go and try to negotiate with your brother. In the meantime, I’ll raise an army that will surpass his. Go as soon as possible, so your prayers may be answered the sooner.