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The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra


by William Shakespeare

Antony Timeline and Summary

  • 1.1.14: Antony responds to Cleopatra’s desire to hear how much he loves her. He claims any love that can adequately be described is inadequate love—so we know that although his reputation has been as a fighter, his role in this play is as a lover. He’s likely to bring the same energy to love as to war.
  • 1.1.33: Antony ignores a messenger from Rome, proclaiming his place is with Cleopatra. Together they have no peer in the world.
  • 1.1.43: Antony says this is not the time for arguing; not a minute of their lives should be without pleasure. He notes that Cleopatra is tempestuous with him, but proposes to go carousing in the streets together to please her. (Cleopatra, as a fun game, used to dress up like a peasant and wander the streets, sometimes begging, sometimes partying. Antony joins in this affair.)
  • 1.2.104: A messenger brings the bad news that wars are being waged in Antony’s name against Caesar. The messenger hesitates to say these things are Antony’s fault, but Antony encourages him to say what truth he wants to. The only way to address one’s faults is to hear them from others, if you don’t see them yourself.
  • 1.2.116: Antony resolves that he must leave Egypt, where he’s shackled, or lose himself to being a lovesick and doting disaster.
  • 1.2.122: Hearing the news of Fulvia’s death, Antony laments that he had wished for it so often, and now wishes it undone. (He’s sort of a good guy after all!) He resolves again that he must leave Egypt, as he can only imagine what mischief has been happening in Rome during his absence.
  • 1.2.145, 151: Antony speaks with Enobarbus, who says it will metaphorically kill Cleopatra if Antony leaves her. Antony claims the woman is cunning beyond men’s wits, and he wishes he’d never met her.
  • 1.2.176: Antony admits it isn’t Fulvia’s death alone that calls him back to Rome. The younger Pompey has challenged Caesar, and Romans, ever fickle, begin to favor him. Duty calls Antony to set things right.
  • 1.3.41: Antony declares to Cleopatra that he’s "got to go!" Finally, he explains the reason: duty calls him abroad. But she should never fear, he explains, because his heart will be with her. He briefly details the Pompey situation, and tells her, for further assurance, that Fulvia is dead.
  • 1.3.66: Antony resolves to leave Cleopatra, even as she makes a fuss. In turns, she drives him to anger, frustration, and begging until he finally decides to go, saying that though they’re separate in space, they’re with each other still.
  • 2.3.44: Antony confers with Caesar and Lepidus, and defends his honor against Caesar’s claims that Antony was at the root of his brother's and wife’s treachery. Antony claims Caesar wants to quarrel, and should find better stuff than this to quarrel about. They continue for a while, and Antony has to keep apologizing to Caesar for small things. He couldn’t control his wife, he was too drunk to talk to the messenger, and his negligence kept him from lending Caesar arms when he asked for them. Antony keeps accommodating Caesar as the younger man keeps whining, though it’s clear that Antony’s getting to the end of his patience.
  • 2.2.123: Antony listens to Agrippa’s suggestion that he might marry Octavia to bond him and Caesar. Antony agrees and the men shake on it, with Antony promising they’re brothers now. They get back to planning what to do about Pompey, and Antony laments that they didn’t meet about this sooner (which is clearly his fault). He reminds Caesar again of "the business we have talk’d of," referencing the marriage to Octavia, which he’d like to get done before they go to battle.
  • 2.3.1: Antony confers with his new wife, Octavia, telling her the unfortunate news that his work will often keep him away from Rome. Still, he pledges to her that no matter what she’s heard about his playboy past, she should trust that he’ll be faithful.
  • 2.3.16: Antony asks a soothsayer whether his or Caesar’s fortunes will rise higher. The man promises that Caesar’s will, and urges Antony to get out from under Caesar’s shadow and back to Egypt as soon as possible. Antony isn’t hearing it, and dismisses the man. Once alone, he admits that Caesar always has better luck than he does, whether playing dice, cockfighting, or waging war. Antony resolves that he’ll go back to Egypt, abandoning his political marriage to Octavia for Cleopatra in Egypt.
  • 2.3.23: Antony has frank negotiations with Pompey about their relative strengths. He doesn’t beg or wheedle, he just tells Pompey to think about the offer. He graciously concedes he should’ve been more grateful to Pompey for being so nice to his mom, and thanks Pompey for bringing him away from the East. Antony admits he wouldn’t have left so early if it had been up to him, but he feels he’s gained by the move. As they prepare to celebrate the truce, Pompey gets in a few digs at Antony about Cleopatra’s previous affair with Julius Caesar. Fortunately, Antony keeps his cool, and Enobarbus diffuses the whole situation.
  • 2.7.17: Antony explains some of the particulars of Egyptian agricultural life, especially how the Nile can be measured to predict whether there will be famine or plenty. As they drink, he has a good-natured chat with Lepidus, who is sauced, about Egypt’s snakes and crocodiles, and continues to tease the man for his drunkenness, while drinking himself.
  • 2.7.97: He declares that their revels are getting closer to being like an Alexandrian feast, and happily toasts to Caesar. He urges everyone to enjoy these good times and join hands, as the wine helps them forget any old ills between them.
  • 3.2.34: Caesar reminds Antony to cherish Octavia, and Antony replies he would be offended at the suggestion that he’d do any less than cherish her. He again promises Caesar has nothing to fear, and he watches Octavia tearfully part with her brother while he praises her graciousness and sorrow.
  • 3.4.1: Antony rails against Caesar to Octavia—not only has Caesar broken their pact by waging war against Pompey, but he’s also trash-talked Antony publicly.
  • 3.4.20: Antony makes a complex argument: he argues that waging war with Caesar preserves his honor, which he must have in order to be himself, and best love Octavia. He’ll allow her to go to her brother back in Rome, and have anything else she wants. In the meantime, he’ll be preparing to destroy Caesar.
  • 3.4.33: Octavia laments more about the war between her brother and husband; she's not sure which man to support. Antony suggests she consider who started the fight in the first place and disfavor that man (Caesar, in his opinion). Antony says that Caesar shouldn’t be able to keep her love as much as the man who is merely defending himself honorably (Antony).
  • 3.7.20: Antony marvels at how quickly Caesar moves, while Cleopatra taunts him for his own negligence. He will fight Caesar by sea, though he’s weaker there, because Caesar has dared him to do it.
  • 3.11.1: Antony has fled the naval battle, following Cleopatra’s ship as it ran. He laments that he’s set an example of cowardice for his own men, and instructs them to take one of his ships, laden with gold, and leave his service. He says simply that he has lost command, and bids everyone to leave him. Instead, he remembers the battle where Cassius and Brutus fell, and how Caesar paled in comparison to him then.
  • 3.11.48: Antony grieves that he has lost all honor. He asks Cleopatra how she could lead him to such destruction, as she must have known he’d follow her out of battle. He claims his heart was tied to her rudders, and she had full supremacy over his spirit.
  • 3.11.62: Antony further laments that he must now humbly send his pleas to Caesar, though he once ruled half of the world. He again calls to Cleopatra that she must have known she’d conquered him, which made his sword weak. Hearing that she’s sorry, he relents, and says he’ll forgive her for a kiss. He’s sent the children’s tutor to be his ambassador to Caesar, and plans to have some wine. He celebrates by scorning Fortune, who’s been treating him so poorly.
  • 3.13.16: Antony has received word that Caesar denies his requests, and will grant Cleopatra’s requests only if she betrays Antony. Antony claims Caesar’s youth is all that makes him so luckyCaesar’s victory has nothing to do with his honor. Antony resolves to fight Caesar alone, man to man, and goes off to write a letter to this effect.
  • 3.13.95: Antony returns to find Cleopatra making eyes with Thidias, Caesar’s messenger. Antony flies into an absolute rage, and orders Thidias whipped until he begs for mercy. He turns his fury to Cleopatra. He renounces her for distracting him from being with the honest Octavia and having legitimate heirs to Rome, and further claims he has been a fool without clear judgment because of her. He calls her the leftover scraps of other men, and accuses her of knowing no moderation. Then he bemoans his status as a cuckold, or, as we say in modern parlance, whipped.
  • 3.13.134: Antony moves on to berating Thidias again. He tells Thidias to bring a message back to Caesar about how he (Thidias) was treated. Caesar is making Antony angry, especially now that his fortunes have seemed to change. If Caesar doesn’t like how Thidias was treated, or anything that Antony says, Antony invites him to whip Hipparchus, one of Antony’s men that Caesar has captured.
  • 3.13.156: Antony seems to have calmed a little once Thidias has left, and he asks Cleopatra if she’d make eyes with the man that laces up Caesar’s clothes, if it flattered Caesar. She makes a brief apology, and he forgives her merely by saying "I am satisfied." He mentions he’s getting his navy back together, his army is still intact, and he will again fight Caesar in Alexandria.
  • 3.13.177: Antony’s courage has come back to him againwith a vengeance. He promises to fight maliciously and wildly, and he pledges to send anything that opposes him into darkness. In honor of this resolution, the two lovers plan on having another party night, so crazy that men will bleed wine from their wounds. Antony promises the next time he fights, he’ll put so many men in their graves that it will be a competition with Death himself. He’s out for blood.
  • 4.2.1: At Cleopatra’s palace, Antony’s just gotten word that Caesar won’t fight him man-to-man. He vows to fight tomorrow at sea with everything he’s got. He then directs everyone to have a wonderful meal, and begins to talk to them in such a way that it seems he’s wishing them farewell. He thanks them for their honest loyalty, and hints that this might be their last night of service to him.
  • 4.2.36: On hearing that he’s making all his men nervous, Antony promises he meant to comfort them with his speech, and also to get them to drink up. He declares that tomorrow he hopes and expects to lead them to victorious life, rather than a violent death.
  • 4.4.1: Antony wakes and readies for battle in great spirits. He has Eros help him with his armor, and as Cleopatra tries to help, he stops her, saying she need only be the armor around his heart. He only wishes Cleopatra could see him in action. He kisses Cleopatra goodbye, and leads the men off to battle.
  • 4.5.12: Antony briefly laments to his soldier that he didn’t listen the first time and fight on land. He then finds out that Enobarbus has deserted him. He’s a bit shocked at first, but charges Eros to send the treasure that Enobarbus left behind after him, and to add a note with hellos and goodbyes, as well as a wish that Enobarbus never again find the need to change a master. Antony privately laments that his own fortunes have corrupted even the honest men around him, leading them to betrayal.
  • 4.8.1: Antony celebrates with his men after they’ve won the day’s battle. He’s promised to reward them for their high spirits, and even more for their valor. Ready to celebrate their victory, he promises that tomorrow they’ll kill anyone that escaped today. He praises each man for fighting for the cause as if it were his own, and bids them celebrate by taking back the streets. Seeing Cleopatra, he offers her to leap on his neck and ride his panting heart. He also presents Scarus, a wounded and brave soldier, to Cleopatra.
  • 4.8.18: Antony says that though he’s getting a little old, his brain nourishes his nerves and he can still play at this game of war with the youth. Antony again praises Scarus’s bravery.
  • 4.8.30: Finally, he resolves that they should all have a raucous march through Alexandria and drink and celebrate together.
  • 4.12.9: Antony curses Cleopatra for betraying himhe has watched his fleet yield to the enemy and greet Caesar’s army as friends. He doesn’t hate them, only Cleopatra, and resolves to dispatch with the woman who bewitched him (and, it seems, betrayed him). Alone, he mourns that Fortune has left him forever. Even worse is that he is still under the spell of Cleopatra’s charm. When she arrives unexpectedly, he curses her and hopes that Caesar will display her in his victory parade for all the hordes to see. As she leaves, he vows to kill her for what he believes is her betrayal of him to Caesar, the "young Roman boy."
  • 4.14.1: Antony pontificates about the shifting of the sky, and how the night looks as it falls. He claims to Eros that he is as insubstantial as a shifting cloud; he made the wars for Egypt’s queen, thinking he had her heart, because he had given her his. He grieves that he lost so many lives of others by giving his heart to her, as she betrayed him and stacked the deck in Caesar’s favor. He hints at suicide, and cries out again that Cleopatra has robbed him of his sword.
  • 4.14.35: Mardian enters and tells Antony that Cleopatra is dead. He replies calmly, telling Eros that the day’s task is done, so they can go to bed. He sends Mardian on his way, and alone with Eros, grieves openly. He then dismisses Eros to no longer be a soldier, though he might also refer to himself having lost his will to be a solider due to his broken heart. Alone, he pledges to take his own life. With Cleopatra gone, so has his will to live. Antony speaks beautifully to the presumably dead Cleopatra; if she’ll only wait a little longer, he’ll be with her in death.
  • 4.14.55: Antony announces to Eros that Cleopatra has shown him the way. Though his sword once conquered kingdoms, he should have the courage of this woman, to be his own conqueror as she was hers. He bids Eros to kill him, as the soldier once promised him he’d do Antony’s every bidding. Unless Eros would rather see Antony shamed before Caesar and carried along in that man’s triumphant march, he should end Antony’s life.
  • 4.14.95: Antony grieves because Eros, instead of killing Antony, has turned the sword upon himself. Antony resolves to be a bridegroom to death. He falls on his own sword only to find he hasn’t immediately killed himself. Diomedes enters, and Antony asks him to finish the job. Antony then hears that Cleopatra hasn’t actually killed herself. He asks his men not to weep, but to take him to Cleopatra, so he can die with her.
  • 4.15.14: Antony pleads with a panicking Cleopatra to be easyhe announces it was not Caesar, but Antony who has triumphed over Antony. He asks Cleopatra for a last kiss, and she interrupts him constantly in her panic. He asks that she go to Caesar to seek her honor and her safetytrusting only Proculeius, who is one of Caesar’s more honorable men.
  • 4.15.41: As he dies, he asks his friends not to grieve over his death, but to remember his past fortunes, and think of him as he was when he was a prince in the world. He wishes to be thought of as a Roman, and by a Roman valiantly vanquished, dead by his own hand, and no other.