The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
How we cite our quotes:
Not now to hear thee sing; I take no pleasure
In aught an eunuch has. 'Tis well for thee
That, being unseminar'd, thy freer thoughts
May not fly forth of Egypt. Hast thou affections? (1.5.9)
Cleopatra quizzes her eunuch (a man who’s been castrated) about whether he has sexual desires, or affections, as he is clearly unschooled in the way of love. She can’t imagine that a person could feel love without sex – it’s a powerful connection for her. This may negate the argument that she focuses solely on the act of sex, and not love.
Where think'st thou he is now? Stands he or sits he?
Or does he walk? or is he on his horse?
O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!
Do bravely, horse; for wot'st thou whom thou mov'st?
The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm
And burgonet of men. (1.5.19)
Cleopatra is clearly a lovesick puppy, but in her swooning over Antony, she calls him a demi-Atlas. Remember that Atlas bears the world on his shoulders, which Hercules did in a myth for at least a few minutes. Antony claims Hercules as his ancestor, and it seems Cleopatra is conscious of that power he holds and is enchanted by it as much as any other part of him.
To hold you in perpetual amity,
To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts
With an unslipping knot, take Antony
Octavia to his wife; whose beauty claims
No worse a husband than the best of men;
Whose virtue and whose general graces speak
That which none else can utter. By this marriage
All little jealousies, which now seem great,
And all great fears, which now import their dangers,
Would then be nothing. Truths would be tales,
Where now half tales be truths. Her love to both
Would each to other, and all loves to both,
Draw after her. (2.2.126)
Agrippa seizes on the notion that the love of a woman can hold everyone together. He hopes Octavia might be the bond that keeps her brother and her husband attached to each other, as she would love them both dearly. Sadly, we know that love does not conquer all in this play, as it is too often confounded by questions of power and politics.