The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
How we cite our quotes:
But he loves Caesar best. Yet he loves Antony.
Hoo! hearts, tongues, figures, scribes, bards, poets, cannot
Think, speak, cast, write, sing, number- hoo!-
His love to Antony. But as for Caesar,
Kneel down, kneel down, and wonder.
Both he loves.
They are his shards, and he their beetle. (3.2.15)
Enobarbus and Agrippa joke about Lepidus’ love for both Caesar and Antony, which will prove to be his greatest weakness. By being loyal to them both, while they are budding enemies, his loyalty to each will be dismissed by the other. If Lepidus is the beetle between two wings, we get a hint that he’ll be torn in two when Antony and Caesar part. In this way, Lepidus, for his good heart, suffers for the treachery of others, much the same way Octavia will.
Come, sir, come;
I'll wrestle with you in my strength of love.
Look, here I have you; thus I let you go,
And give you to the gods. (3.2.62)
Antony has a little friendly tiff with Caesar about who could love Octavia more. You can’t help but be reminded of Hamlet and Laertes having this same fight as they roll around on the grave of Ophelia, both arguing then that they loved the woman more, though they really did treat her poorly when she was alive. It is suggested that, no matter what Caesar and Antony profess to feel about Octavia now, it is their very competition that will be her undoing.
A more unhappy lady,
If this division chance, ne'er stood between,
Praying for both parts.
The good gods will mock me presently
When I shall pray 'O, bless my lord and husband!'
Undo that prayer by crying out as loud
'O, bless my brother!' Husband win, win brother,
Prays, and destroys the prayer; no mid-way
'Twixt these extremes at all. (3.4.12)
Octavia refuses to choose between her brother and her husband; her loyalty to both is driven by her love for both. She’s honorable and pitiable to be so loyal in a time so guided by treachery and betrayal.