A monologue from the play by George Bernard Shaw
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Three Plays for Puritans. Bernard Shaw. London: Grant Richards, 1901.
If one man in all the world can be found, now or forever, to know that you did wrong, that man will have either to conquer the world as I have, or be crucified by it.
[The uproar in the streets again reaches them.] Do you hear? These knockers at your gate are also believers in vengeance and in stabbing. You have slain their leader: it is right that they shall slay you.
If you doubt it, ask your four counsellors here. And then in the name of that right [he emphasizes the word with great scorn] shall I not slay them for murdering their Queen, and be slain in my turn by their countrymen as the invader of their fatherland?
Can Rome do less then than slay these slayers, too, to show the world how Rome avenges her sons and her honor. And so, to the end of history, murder shall breed murder,
always in the name of right and honor and peace, until the gods are tired of blood and create a race that can understand. [Fierce uproar. Cleopatra becomes white with terror.]
Hearken, you who must not be insulted. Go near enough to catch their words: you will find them bitterer than the tongue of Pothinus. What has held them baffled at the gate all these months?
Was it my folly, as you deem it, or your wisdom? In this Egyptian Red Sea of blood, whose hand has held all your heads above the waves? [Turning on Cleopatra.] And yet, when Caesar says to such an one,
“Friend, go free,” you, clinging for your little life to my sword, dare steal out and stab him in the back? And you, soldiers and gentlemen, and honest servants as you forget that you are,
applaud this assassination, and say “Caesar is in the wrong.” By the gods, I am tempted to open my hand and let you all sink into the flood.