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Intro

Salad days

I'm Cleopatra. I'm the Queen of Egypt and I have a lot of lovers. I'm fickle with my emotions, passionate about love, and enjoying being a woman in power. And you know what I think?

My salad days,
When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
To say as I said then! But, come, away;
Get me ink and paper:
He shall have every day a several greeting,
Or I'll unpeople Egypt. (1.5.73-78)

Who Said It and Where

In Alexandria, Cleopatra verbally toys with Mardian, her eunuch (male servants who were castrated so they could protect women without the usual distractions), about whether he can feel anything for women, alluding to the woman standing in front of him (ahem, herself).

She's thinking about whether she's still got it or not, now that she's no spring chicken. She then returns to sighing over Antony, and laments that when she was Julius Caesar's mistress, she was "a morsel fit for a monarch." Her other lover, one of the elder Pompeys, was overcome by her looks alone. She worries she's past her prime. Cleopatra's in love with Antony, but his buddy (and co-leader of the Roman Republic), Caesar, isn't so hot on the idea of the two of them together.

Just then, Alexas, another of her servants, enters with a pearl. It's a gift from Antony, who made a big deal about the thing before giving it to Alexas to take to the Queen. Antony promises Cleopatra will soon be called mistress of the East, because of the kingdoms he'll win for her.

Cleopatra asks Alexas how Antony looked, and is glad to hear he wasn't really sad or really happy. Um, okay. She praises his moderation: seeming sad would make his followers sad, while seeming merry would make it seem like he took his job in Rome lightly.

She's so pleased that she demands twenty messengers immediately, so she can write a ton of love letters to Antony. She claims she never loved Julius Caesar this way, but Charmian points out she has a habit of being in and out of love. Cleopatra dismisses her sighs over Caesar as youthful folly, and goes back to penning her affections for Antony.

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