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


Octavius . Embrace me, sister; we have won; thy wrongs
Are now avenged.
Octavia . Speak not of wrong, but right,
And bring Rome peace and happiness once more.
'Tis kind in thee (but thou wert always kind)
To come so soon to greet me, while the altar
Is warm and damp with incense for thy safety.
Octavius . Octavia! I have brought thee from the Nile
Two pretty little serpents.
Octavia . Of all beasts
The serpent is the beast I most abhor.
Take them away.
Octavius . I have not brought them here,
Be not afraid; beside, they are so young
They can not bite.
Octavia . But send them off.
Octavius . I will.
What thinkest thou are these two reptiles call'd?
Octavia . I know not, nor can guess.
Octavius . Lucius and Marcus ,
The brood of Antony. O Heaven! she faints!
Rise, sister! let me help thee up; be sure
They shall not hurt thee. Grasp not thus my wrist,
And shoot not up those leaden bolts at me,
For such are thy stiff eyes. I said, and swear,
The little monsters never shall hurt thee .
I do not like those tears; but better they
Than the cold flint they fall from, and now melt.
Octavia . Brother, I know thy purpose. On my knees . .
Octavius . Arise! There wants not this to seal their doom.
Octavia . This is my fault, not theirs, if fault there be.
Octavius . I want, and I will have, security.
Octavia . What is there now on earth to apprehend?
Octavius . I dread lest he who guards them should adopt.
Octavia . Let him! O let him! if an honest man.
Frown not, debate not, struggle not against
Thy better Genius; argue with him thus,
" Octavius! has there not been blood enough
Without the blood of children?"
Octavius . Is my safety
Not dear to thee?
Octavia . Thy glory, thy content,
Are . . no, not dearer, but almost as dear.
Hast thou not suffer'd pangs at every head
That fell?
Octavius . They fell that mine might not.
Octavia . But children
Strike not so high.
Octavius . Are children always children?
Octavia . O brother! brother! are men always men?
They are full-grown then only when grown up
Above their fears. Power never yet stood safe;
Compass it round with friends and kindnesses,
And not with moats of blood. Remember Thebes:
The towers of Cadmus toppled, split asunder,
Crasht: in the shadow of her oleanders
The pure and placid Dirce stil flows by.
What shatter'd to its base but cruelty,
(Mother of crimes, all lesser than herself)
The house of Agamemnon king of kings?
Octavius . Thou art not yet, Octavia, an old woman;
Tell not, I do beseech thee, such old tales.
Octavia . Hear later; hear what our own parents saw.
Where lies the seed of Sulla? Could the walls
Of his Praeneste shelter the young Marius,
Or subterranean passages provide
Escape? he stumbled through the gore his father
Had left in swamps on our Italian plains.
We have been taught these histories together,
Neither untrue nor profitless; few years
Have since gone by, can memory too have gone?
Ay, smile, Octavius! only let the smile
Be somewhat less disdainful.
Octavius . 'Tis unwise
To plant thy foot where Fortune's wheel runs on.
Octavia . I lack not wisdom utterly; my soul
Assures me wisdom is humanity,
And they who want it, wise as they may seem,
And confident in their own sight and strength,
Reach not the scope they aim at.
Worst of war
Is war of passion; best of peace is peace
Of mind, reposing on the watchful care
Daily and nightly of the household Gods.
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