Anthony and Cleopatra: The Novel (Digital Download)
Ever imagined Shakespeare's works as thrilling, edge-of-your-seat novels?

While Shakespeare's plays dazzle on stage, sometimes their essence can fade when confined to the printed page. This novelized rendition of "Antony and Cleopatra" revives the tale with contemporary language and a narrative style that transforms it into a riveting novel.

Dive into this innovative series that breathes new life into Shakespeare by reshaping his legendary plays into compelling fiction.






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Chapter 1
            Philo and Demetrius walked quietly through the halls of Cleopatra's palace, looking over their shoulders every so often as to assure themselves that the weren't being watched as they whispered about the state

            “No, but this silly devotion of our general's is way too much,” Philo said to Demetrius. “His good eyes that over the business of war glowed like armored Mars now bend. They turn away battle and look in a dark direction. His captain's heart- which in huge fights have burst the buckles on his chest- no longer has any passion for war and has become the avenue of manipulation for a dark woman's lust.”

            As the pair walked into the great hall, the sound of a trumpet flourished announced the arrival of Cleopatra and Antony, along with their train.

            “Look, see them come,” Philo said. “Just pay attention, and you will see it in him. The ruler and strength of the world transformed into a slut's fool: look and see.”

            “If we really are in love, tell me how much,” Cleopatra asked Antony.

            “Any love that could easily be summarized is not much at all,” he responded.

            “I'll send a ship as far as your love.”

            “Then you would have to find a new heaven, a new earth.” The two stared at each other and smiled, laughing at themselves.

            A servant approached the pair. “There is news, sir, from Rome.” The servant motioned towards Philo and Demetrius.

            “I'm busy: be brief,” Antony said.

            “Listen to them, Antony,” Cleopatra implored. “It is possible Fulvia is angry. Or maybe the thinly-bearded Caesar has sent His powerful orders to you, saying 'Do this, or that. Conquer that kingdom, and make that happen. Perform it, or else we condemn you.'”

            “Is that so, my love?”

            “Possibly! And even more likely you may not be able to stay here longer. Your order to leave has come from Caesar, so listen to it, Antony. Where is Fulvia's procession? Or I should say Caesar's? Both? Call in the messengers. As truly as I am Egypt's queen, You blush, Antony; and that blood of yours honors Caesar: or else your cheek shows shame when sharp-tongued Fulvia scolds. The messengers!”

            Antony smiled. “May Rome melt in the summer, and the wide arch of the boundaries of the empire fall! Here is my place. Kingdoms are just dirt and our common soil feeds animals the way it does humans. The noble thing in life is to act like this; when such a well-matched pair,” he embraced Cleopatra, “and two such people can do it, in which I tie together, even at the risk of punishment, to the world we are without compare.”

            “What a sweet lie! Why did he marry Fulvia, only to betray her? I'll seem more foolish than I am; Antony will be himself.”

            “But inspired by Cleopatra. Now, for the love of love and her pleasant times, let's not spoil things with serious business: There isn't a minute of our lives that should go by without some pleasure now. What fun shall we have tonight?”

            “Listen to the ambassadors.”

            “Oh come on, bossy queen! Who has become everything, to scold, to laugh, to cry; whose every emotion tries its best to make itself, in you, beautiful and admired! There is no messenger but you and all alone tonight we'll wander through the streets and observe the people. Come, my queen: last night you wanted it.” Antony turned to the Philo and Demetrius. “Do not talk to us,” he said as he walked away with Cleopatra. Their servants followed them, leaving Philo and Demetrius alone with just some other lowly palace workers who scurried about.

            “Does Antony value Caesar so little?” Demetrius asked.

            “Sir, sometimes, when he is not being himself, he comes up short of the mark that should be expected of him,” Philo responded.

            “I am very sorry that he confirms the common rumors that say such things of him in Rome: but I will hope for better things tomorrow. Have a good evening!”

            Demetrius and Philo nodded to one another, going their own ways.

Chapter 2             Two of Cleopatra's attendants- Charmian and Iras- were lounging about in the main hall when a third- Alexas- entered.

            “Lord Alexas,” started Charmian, “wonderful Alexas, best of everything Alexas, every amazing thing Alexas, where's the fortuneteller that you praised so much to the queen? Oh, if only I knew this husband, who, you say, must decorate his horns with garlands!”

            Alexas smiled and said, “Fortuneteller!” summoning him into the room.

            “What do you wish?” said the old man who walked into the room.

            “Is this the man?” Charmian asked Alexas then turned to the man. “Is it you, sir, who knows things?”

            “Of nature's unlimited secrets I know a few,” he replied.

            “Show him your hand,” Alexas told Charmian.

            Charmian did so and the man stared at it very intentionally.

            Domitius Enobarbus- one of Antony's men- walked into the hall with a group of servants. “Bring in the feast quickly,” he ordered, “with enough wine to toast Cleopatra.” He noticed the group with the fortune teller and walked over to them.

            “Good sir, tell me a good fortune,” Charmian told the fortuneteller.

            “I do not make fortunes, just see them,” he replied.

            “Please, then, see mine.”

            The fortuneteller traced the lines in Charmian's palm. “You shall someday be more attractive than you are.”

            “He means in appearance.”

            “No, you shall wear makeup when you are old,” Iras said with a sly smile.

            “May I never get wrinkles!”

            “Don't annoy his wisdom; pay attention,” Alexas said.


            “You will love more than you are loved,” the fortuneteller said.

            “I would rather poison my liver with drinking.”

            “No, listen to him,” Alexas repeated his caution.

            “Now tell me an excellent fortune! Let me be married to three kings in a morning, and be the widow of them all. Let me have a child when I am fifty, to whom Herod of the Jews may honor. Find out that I will marry Octavius Caesar, and make me as good as my lady.”

            “You will live longer than the lady you serve,” he said.

            “Oh, excellent! I love living long better than I love figs.”

            “You have seen and had a more attractive former fortune than the one that is coming.”

            “Then it seems my children shall have no names. Please, how many boys and girls will I have?”

            “If every one of your wishes had a womb, and every wish was fertile, you would have a million.”

            Charmian took her hand back. “Out, you fool! I think you're a witch.”

            “You think no one but your bedsheets know your wishes,” Alexas said.

            The fortuneteller was about to leave when Charmian said, “No, come, tell Iras hers.”

            He nodded and sat down, with Iras giving him her palm as Charmian did.

            “We'll find out all our fortunes,” Alexas said.

            “Mine, and most of our fortunes tonight, shall be passing out drunk,” said Enobarbus, who had been watching the events quietly.

            “There's a palm that promises chastity, if nothing else,” Iras said.

            “The same way the overflowing Nile promises famine,” Charmian said.

            “Go away, you wild roommate, you cannot tell fortunes.”

            “No, if an oily palm is not a fruitful sign of the future, I cannot scratch my ear. Please, just tell her an ordinary everyday fortune.”

            “Your fortunes are all the same,” the fortuneteller finally said.

            “But how, but how? Give me specifics,” asked Iras.

            “I have.”

            “Am I not even a little bit luckier than her?”

            “Well, if you were only an inch of luck better than me, where would you want it?” Charmian asked.

            “Not as part of my husband's nose.”

            “May heaven forgive our worse thoughts! Alexas, --come, tell his fortune, his fortune! Oh, let him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beg you! and let her die too, and give him worse one! and let even worse come after worse, until the worst of all follows him laughing to his grave, a victim of adultery fifty times! Good Isis, hear this prayer from me, even if you don't give me something more important. Good Isis, I beg you!”

            “Amen,” said Iras with a laugh. “Beloved goddess, listen to that prayer of the people! For, just as it is a heartbreaking sight to see a handsome man with an unfaithful wife, it is also terribly sad to see a terrible man not betrayed by his wife. Therefore, dear Isis, keep your manners, and give him the luck he deserves!”

            “See, now, if it were possible for them to make me a victim of adultery, they would make themselves prostitutes; they would certainly do it!” Alexas said.

            “Quiet! Here comes Antony,” Enobarbus said. The attendants changed their posture, making themselves seems ready to serve at a moment's notice.

            “Not him; the queen,” Charmian said.

            Cleopatra entered the hall. “Did you see my lord?” she asked.

            “No, madam,” Enobarbus said.

            “Wasn't he here?”

            “No, lady,” Charmian replied.

            “He was in a mood for fun; but all of a sudden a serious thought struck him. Enobarbus!”

            “Lady?” Enobarbus answered.

            “Look for him, and bring him here. Where is Alexas?”

            “Here, at your service,” said Alexas. He heard footsteps and looked at the opposite end of the hall were a preoccupied Antony was approaching. “My lord is arriving, your majesty.”

            Cleopatra thought for a second. “We will not stay with him: go with us.”

            The man walking with Antony was a Roman messenger, who had brought shocking news.

            “Your wife Fulvia began the battle,” the messenger said.

            “Against Lucius, my brother?” Antony asked.

            “Yes. But soon the war ended, and the changing circumstances made them into friends, joining their forces against Caesar whose best troops in the war, from Italy, beat them the first time they met.”

            “Well, what could be worse?”

            “The nature of bad news upsets the messenger.”

            “When it is about a fool or a coward. Continue, I don't dwell on the past. It's like this: whoever tells me the truth, even if they bring bad news, I listen as though he were flattering me.”         

            “Labienus – this is difficult news– has, with his Parthian forces, expanded Asia from the Euphrates river. His conquering flag flies from Syria to Lydia and to Ionia; While–”

            “Antony, you would say, –”

            “Oh, sir!”

            “Talk to me frankly, do not mince words. Refer to Cleopatra as they call her in Rome. Go on in praise of Fulvia and mock my faults with the full ability that both truth and hate Have power to speak. Oh, then we will take offense when our clever minds lie still and our flaws are told to us in our hearing. Goodbye for a while.”

            “As you wish,” the messenger walked away.

            “The news from Sicyon, hey! Speak there!”

            “The man from Sicyon, -- is there one?” an attendant asked.

            “He stays because you asked him to,” answered a second attendant.

            “Tell him to come here,” Antony said. They left and Antony stood in the hall. “I must break these strong Egyptians chains or lose myself in foolishness.” Another messenger entered the hall. “Where are you from?”

            “Your wife Fulvia is dead.”

            “Where did she die?”

            “In Sicyon: How long she was sick, and other more serious matters you need to know, are in this letter.” The messenger handed him leather pouch which contained the letters.

            “Leave me alone,” Antony said. The messenger did so. The hall was now completely empty, as the servants had finished up their preparations. “Now a great spirit is gone! I wanted it this way. What our hatred often throws away from us we want it for ourselves again. The current pleasure becomes less as it turns; it becomes the opposite of itself. She is better now that she is gone. That hand could pull her back that shoved her away. I must leave this enchanting queen. Ten thousand problems, more than the bad things I know, my lazing around causes. Enobarbus!”

            Enobarbus entered. “What is your wish, sir?”

            “I must quickly leave here.”

            “Why, then, we would kill all our women. We see how terribly they take any unkindness. If they must deal with us leaving, they will die.”     

            “I must leave.”

            “If there is a good enough reason, let the women die. It would be a pity to throw them away for nothing, though, between them and an important cause they should be considered nothing. Cleopatra, hearing the smallest portion of this, will die instantly. I have seen her die twenty times for a much worse reason/ I do think there is courage in death, which gives some loving act to her, she has such a dramatic habit of dying.”

            “She is more cunning than any man could think.”

            “Unfortunately, sir, no. Her emotions are made of nothing but the best part of pure love. We cannot call her winds and waters sighs and tears. They are far more huge storms and typhoons than almanacs can predict. This cannot be her being cunning; if it is, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.”

            “I wish I had never seen her.”

            “Oh, sir, but then you would have not seen a wonderful piece of work, which to not have been blessed with would have been a shame on your travels.”

            “Fulvia died.”


            “Fulvia is dead.”



            Enobarbus was silent for a moment, then said: “Well, sir, thank the gods with a sacrifice. When it pleases the gods to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to mankind the tailors of the earth and comforting them with this: that when old robes are worn out, there are new ones made. If there were no more women except Fulvia, then you would have an injury indeed, and we would mourn. This grief instead is topped with comfort. Your old clothes can now be replaced with new ones and indeed there are enough tears in an onion to provide water for this sadness.”

            “The business she has begun in politics cannot stand my being away.”

            “And the business you have begun here cannot be without you. Especially Cleopatra's, which completely depends on where you live.”

            “No more silliness. Let our officers know what we intend to do. I will break the news of our required actions to the queen and get her permission to leave. For it is not only the death of Fulvia, with more urgent reasons, speak to us strongly, but also the many letters that our friends in Rome demand we come home. Sextus Pompeius has challenged Caesar and orders the empire of the sea. Our unfaithful people, whose love is never for the person who deserves it until he no longer deserves it, have begun to throw Pompey the Great and all this authority upon his win. Who, high up in name and power, higher than both in ancestry and life, stands up for the common soldier. Whose quality, going on, the borders of the world may put in danger. There is much in heritage, which, like the horse's hair, has still only life, and not a snake's poison. Say what we want to those whose position is under us as events require us to leave here quickly.”

            “I'll make the preparations, sir,” Enobarbus said.
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