The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
How we cite our quotes:
She once being loof'd,
The noble ruin of her magic, Antony,
Claps on his sea-wing, and, like a doting mallard,
Leaving the fight in height, flies after her.
I never saw an action of such shame;
Experience, manhood, honour, ne'er before
Did violate so itself. (3.10.17)
Scarus suggests that by following his love of a woman, not his country in battle, Antony has betrayed himself as a man, a soldier, and an honorable Roman. Loyalty to love of a woman has no place in battle, just as a woman has no place in battle.
Had our general
Been what he knew himself, it had gone well.
O, he has given example for our flight
Most grossly by his own! (3.10.25)
It’s at this point that Canidius decides to betray Antony, which is arguably not a betrayal of a good man, because Antony betrayed himself first, by being less than he could be. Canidius will give himself and his men to Caesar’s side (as arguably Caesar is being more loyal to the facts and necessities of war).
He knows that you embrace not Antony
As you did love, but as you fear'd him.
The scars upon your honour, therefore, he
Does pity, as constrained blemishes,
Not as deserv'd.
He is a god, and knows
What is most right. Mine honour was not yielded,
But conquer'd merely.
[Aside] To be sure of that,
I will ask Antony. Sir, sir, thou art so leaky
That we must leave thee to thy sinking, for
Thy dearest quit thee. (3.13.57)
This is arguably Cleopatra’s lowest moral point. We don’t know if she’s swayed by Thidias’ words, or her own fear over her bad fortunes, but she really fails to stand by her man here, confirming all the worst suspicions Caesar has of women.