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The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra


by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Contrasting Regions Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.

Quote #1

But stirred by Cleopatra.
Now, for the love of Love and her soft hours,
Let's not confound the time with conference harsh. 
There's not a minute of our lives should stretch
Without some pleasure now. What sport tonight? (1.1.50-54)

Antony’s reputation at one time rested on his noble work as a soldier, with all the Roman austerity and severity that came with it. His life in Egypt (or his love) has transformed him into a man that wants pleasure all the time, which is indulgent, but also completely contrary to the Roman way.

Quote #2

You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,
It is not Caesar's natural vice to hate
Our great competitor. From Alexandria
This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
The lamps of night in revel, is not more manlike
Than Cleopatra, nor the queen of Ptolemy
More womanly than he; (1.4.1-7)

Caesar criticizes Antony’s decadent actions in Egypt, but the hint is that these are things natural to Egypt (and thus unbefitting a Roman). This decadence is also characterized by its femininity, which is linked to an Eastern way of life, and a polar opposite to the Roman austere ideal, which is linked to masculinity.

Quote #3

"Good friend," quoth he
"Say the firm Roman to great Egypt sends
This treasure of an oyster; at whose foot,
To mend the petty present, I will piece
Her opulent throne with kingdoms. All the East,
Say thou, shall call her mistress." (1.5.49-55)

Antony, in a very chivalrous fashion, sends his love to Cleopatra. He presents her a decadent bauble of a pearl (befitting the East), but it’s important that as he sets on his journey out of Egypt, he identifies himself as a "firm Roman." He goes as a soldier, and thus is leaving behind the decadence that characterized his life in Egypt, trading it for Roman austerity. He hasn’t forgotten her (and the East) in spite of this transformation; hence the gift.

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