Some things don't change. Leaders do not like being told bad news and can lose their temper with the messenger. Shakespeare, inevitably, catches this impeccably:
MESSENGER Madam, he’s married to Octavia.
CLEOPATRA The most infectious pestilence upon thee!
Strikes him down
MESSENGER Good madam, patience.
CLEOPATRA What say you?
Hence, horrible villain, or I’ll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me! I’ll unhair thy head!
She hauls him up and down
Thou shalt be whipped with wire and stewed in brine,
Smarting in ling’ring pickle!
MESSENGER Gracious madam,
I that do bring the news made not the match.
CLEOPATRA Say ’tis not so, a province I will give thee,
And make thy fortunes proud: the blow thou hadst
Shall make thy peace for moving me to rage,
And I will boot thee with what gift beside
Thy modesty can beg.
MESSENGER He’s married, madam.
CLEOPATRA Rogue, thou hast lived too long! Draws a knife
MESSENGER Nay then, I’ll run.
What mean you, madam? I have made no fault. Exit
CHARMIAN Good madam, keep yourself within yourself.
The man is innocent.
CLEOPATRA Some innocents scape not the thunderbolt.
Great stage direction, that: she hauls him up and down.
The Invisible Gift, a Selected Poems by David Morley
9 months ago