• Enter OCTAVIUS CAESAR, reading a letter, LEPIDUS, and their train

    CAESAR

    You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,
    It is not Caesar’s natural vice to hate
    Our great competitor. From Alexandria
    This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
    5The lamps of night in revel; is not more manlike
    Than Cleopatra, nor the queen of Ptolemy
    More womanly than he; hardly gave audience, or
    Vouchsafed to think he had partners. You shall find there
    A man who is th’ abstract of all faults
    10That all men follow.

    LEPIDUS

                                            I must not think there are
    Evils enough to darken all his goodness.
    His faults in him seem as the spots of heaven,
    More fiery by night’s blackness, hereditary
    Rather than purchased, what he cannot change
    15Than what he chooses.

    CAESAR

    You are too indulgent. Let’s grant, it is not
    Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy,
    To give a kingdom for a mirth, to sit
    And keep the turn of tippling with a slave,
    20To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet
    With knaves that smell of sweat. Say this becomes him—
    As his composure must be rare indeed
    Whom these things cannot blemish—yet must Antony
    No way excuse his foils when we do bear
    25So great weight in his lightness. If he filled
    His vacancy with his voluptuousness,
    Full surfeits and the dryness of his bones
    Call on him for ’t. But to confound such time
    That drums him from his sport and speaks as loud
    30As his own state and ours, ’tis to be chid
    As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge,
    Pawn their experience to their present pleasure
    And so rebel to judgment.
  • OCTAVIUS CAESAR enters, reading a letter, with LEPIDUS and their courtiers and attendants.

    CAESAR

    Now you’ll see, Lepidus, that I don’t disdain our noble ally because of a personal whim. Here’s the news from Alexandra: Antony fishes, drinks, and celebrates all night. He’s become as frivolous and self-indulgent as Ptolemy’s queen, Cleopatra. He rarely attends to his duties or acknowledges he has partners to be considered. Here’s a man who is the epitome of all the vices known to man.

    Ptolemy

    Ptolemy was Pharaoh of Egypt and Cleopatra’s husband, now dead. (He was also her younger brother.)

    LEPIDUS

    I can’t believe there could be enough vice in the world to outshine all the good in him. His faults stand out because they must be compared to all his virtues, like stars that shine brightly against the dark night sky. They’re more likely to be the result of inherited weakness than independent choice.

    CAESAR

    You’re too forgiving. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it’s not improper to fool around with Ptolemy’s wife, or to trade a kingdom for a joke. That it’s fine to engage in drinking matches with inferiors, or stumble drunkenly through the streets in the middle of the day, or get into fist fights with sweaty servants. Even if we said that this behavior suits him—though only a man with a perfect character could avoid being disgraced by such antics—there’s no excuse for the extra work we’ve had to take on while he’s been off amusing himself. If he’s been spending his leisure time in lustful pursuits, then he’ll be punished with venereal diseases, and that’s his business. But he’s wasting time and resources vital to our cause and endangering both his position and ours. He should be chastised, like any boy who knows what’s right but chooses to satisfy his desires regardless.