Antony and Octavius. Scenes for the Study - Scene the Eighth

O CTAVIUS . A GRIPPA . C ÆSARION . M ECÆNAS

Octavius . What said that obstinate and proud old thief?
Couldst thou not draw him from his den, Agrippa?
Agrippa . I tried not.
Octavius . Nor perhaps desired.
Agrippa . 'Tis true,
I entered not by stealth, and broke no confidence;
Tatius, who knew and once fought under me . .
Octavius . And would not he who knows thy power, and who
Admitted thee within the royal hold,
Do more?
Agrippa . Not even this would he have done
For any other, nor for me without
Permission from his general; this obtain'd,
I enter'd.
Octavius . His audacity, no doubt,
Abated with his fortunes, and he droopt
As droops a lotus when the water fails.
Agrippa . Neither in life nor death will that man droop;
He holds down Fortune, stil too strong for her.
Octavius . We must then starve him out, or slay his sons
Before his eyes.
Agrippa . Thus nothing will remain
For him to fear, and every honest sword
Will skulk within its scabbard for mere shame.
This may not be the worst . . when brave men fall
By treachery, men like them avenge the blow;
Antonius did it . . was Antonius blamed?
Octavius . But who will answer for our own dear lives
If these boys live?
Agrippa . I will . . the boys are mine.
Octavius . Caesarion is secure.
Agrippa . I do rejoice
At this.
Octavius . I wonder he hath not arrived.
Agrippa . Rescued from Egypt is the Roman lad?
I long to see him.
Octavius . Wait then, and thou shalt.
Agrippa . Women and eunuchs and Greek parasites
Educate ill those who may one day rule.
Octavius . True, very true . . we will bear this in mind.
Agrippa . He must learn better soon.
Octavius . Be sure he shall.
Agrippa . What are those sistrums and those tamborines
That trifle with the trumpet and intrude?
Octavius . The very things thou wouldst provide against.
Heigh! who commanded such obstreperous shouts?
Agrippa . The man who gave us Egypt, sir, and thee.
The sound bursts louder from his hollow tomb:
Such are the honors which attend his child.
Octavius . Hark! the arms strike the ground!
Agrippa . Soldiers, well done!
Already do they know whom they salute.
Caesarion . Hail! hail! my cousin!
Let me kiss that hand
So soft and white. Why hold it back from me?
I am your cousin, boy Caesarion.
Octavius . Who taught you all this courtesy?
Caesarion . My heart.
Beside, my mother bade me wish you joy.
Octavius . I would myself receive it from her.
Caesarion . Come,
Come then with me; none see her and are sad.
Octavius . Then she herself is not so?
Caesarion . Not a whit,
Grave as she looks, but should be merrier stil.
Octavius . She may expect all bounty at our hands.
Caesarion . Bounty! she wants no bounty.
Look around;
Those palaces, those temples, and their gods
And myriad priests within them, all are hers;
And people bring her ships, and gems, and gold.
O cousin! do you know what some men say,
(If they do say it) that your sails ere long
Will waft all these away?
I wish 'twere true
What else they talk.
Octavius . What is it?
Caesarion . That you come
To carry off her also.
She is grown
Paler, and I have seen her bite her lip
At hearing this. Ha! well I know my mother;
She thinks it may look redder for the bite.
But will you really carry us to Rome
In triumph? thro' the streets, and up the hill,
And over arches . . foolish folks say under . .
With flowers all round them? O! what joy to see
The people that once loved my father so!
Octavius . We will do all that may oblige the queen.
Caesarion . And yet she shudders at the very thought
Of those fresh honors which delight my heart.
Octavius . For her, or for yourself?
Caesarion . We boys, you know,
Think of ourselves the first; and yet, and yet,
If my sweet mother is averse to change,
And weary of it, I would pass my days
With her; yes, even in that lonely tower
(Which to my eyes looks like a sepulcher)
Whence she protests the Gods alone shall take her.
Octavius . ( to a Guard). See due attention paid this royal guest.
Caesarion . Unwillingly I part from one so kind.
Octavius . ( to A GRIPPA ). Agrippa, didst thou mark that comely boy?
Agrippa . I did indeed.
Octavius . There is methinks in him
A somewhat not unlike our common friend.
Agrippa . Unlike? There never was such similar
Expression. I remember Caius Julius
In youth, altho' my elder by some years;
Well I remember that high-vaulted brow,
Those eyes of eagle under it, those lips
At which the senate and the people stood
Expectant for their portals to unclose;
Then speech, not womanly but manly sweet,
Came from them, and shed pleasure as the morn
Sheds light.
Octavius . The boy has too much confidence.
Agrippa . Not for his prototype. When he threw back
That hair in hue like cinnamon, I thought
I saw great Julius tossing his, and warn
The pirates he would give them their desert.
My boy, thou gazest at those arms hung round.
Caesarion . I am not strong enough for sword and shield,
Nor even so old as my sweet mother was
When I first rioted upon her knee
And seiz'd whatever sparkled in her hair.
Ah! you had been delighted had you seen
The pranks she pardon'd me. What gentleness!
What playfulness!
Octavius . Go now, Caesarion.
Caesarion . And had you ever seen my father too!
He was as fond of her as she of me,
And often bent his thoughtful brow o'er mine
To kiss what she had kist, then held me out
To show how he could manage the refractory,
Then one long smile, one pressure to the breast.
Octavius . How tedious the boy grows!
Lead him away,
Aufidius!
There is mischief in his mind,
He looks so guileless.
Agrippa . He has lived apart
From evil counsellors, with grey-hair'd men
Averse to strife, and maidens of the queen.
Octavius . This makes me think . .
We will another time
Consider what is best.
Here comes Mecaenas.

( To M ECÆNAS .)

Cilnius! you met upon the stairs that boy?
Mecaenas . I did.
Octavius . What think you of him?
Mecaenas . At one glance
'Twere rashness to decide.
Octavius . Seems he not proud?
Mecaenas . He smiled, and past me by.
Octavius . What insolence! quite insupportable!
Mecaenas . Perhaps he knew me not; and, if he knew me,
I have no claim on affability
From Caesar's enemies.
Agrippa . ( to himself ). By Jove! the man
At first so calm begins at last to chafe.
O, the vain Tuscan of protuberant purse!
Octavius . What said Agrippa?
Agrippa . That our friend here chafes,
Altho' the mildest of all mortal men.
Octavius . Excepting one; one whom no wrongs can ruffle.
I must give orders for some small affairs,
And will rejoin you soon.
Agrippa . My gentle Cilnius!
Do save this lad! Octavius is so calm,
I doubt he hath some evil in his breast
Against the only scion of the house,
The orphan child of Julius.
Mecaenas . Think, Agrippa,
If there be safety where such scion is,
Safety for you and me.
Agrippa . The mother must
Adorn the triumph, but that boy would push
Rome, universal Rome, against the steeds
That should in ignominy bear along
The image of her Julius. Think; when Antony
Show'd but his vesture, sprang there not tears, swords,
Curses? and swept they not before them all
Who shared the parricide? If such result
Sprang from torn garment, what must from the sight
Of that fresh image which calls back again
The latest of the Gods, and not the least,
Who nurtured every child within those walls,
And emptied into every mother's lap
Africa, Sicily, Sardinia, Gaul,
And this inheritance of mighty kings.
No such disgrace must fall on Caesar's son.
Spare but the boy, and we are friends for ever.
Mecaenas . Friends are we, but Octavius is our master.
Agrippa . Let him brush kings away and blow off queens,
But there are some of us who never struck
At boys, nor trampled on a prostrate head;
Some of us are there too who fain would see
Rome better than they left her, with high blood
Bounding along her veins; enough hath flowed.
Mecaenas . Here comes Octavius. We attend his will.
Octavius . Enough that I know yours, my truest friends!
I look into your hearts and find my own.
Thy wishes, O Agrippa, I divine.
Antony was thy comrade in the wars
Of Julius; Fulvia was thy enemy
And mine: her children to the Infernal Gods
Devote I, but the born of Cleopatra
Thou shalt have saved: Caesarion shall rest here.
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