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The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Duty Quotes

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

Quote #1

You are too indulgent. Let's grant it is not
Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy,
To give a kingdom for a mirth, to sit
And keep the turn of tippling with a slave,
To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet
With knaves that smell of sweat. Say this becomes
As his composure must be rare indeed
Whom these things cannot blemish—yet must
No way excuse his foils when we do bear
So great weight in his lightness. If he filled
His vacancy with his voluptuousness,
Full surfeits and the dryness of his bones
Call on him for 't! But to confound such time
That drums him from his sport and speaks as loud
As his own state and ours, 'tis to be chid
As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge,
Pawn their experience to their present pleasure
And so rebel to judgment. (1.4.18-37)

Caesar contends that the greatest fault in Antony is not that he’s a fool for Cleopatra, which could even be excused. It’s that in order to be with her, Antony has ignored his duty in Rome and placed the burden on his friends. He compares Antony to a young man who betrays both friendship and his duty for his immediate pleasure, even though he knows better. This is an interesting comparison, since Antony, being the elder, is the one who always calls Caesar a young man.

Quote #2

Noble friends,
That which combined us was most great, and let not
A leaner action rend us. What's amiss,
May it be gently heard. When we debate
Our trivial difference loud, we do commit
Murder in healing wounds. Then, noble partners,
The rather for I earnestly beseech,
Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,
Nor curstness grow to th' matter. (2.2.21-29)

Lepidus appeals to the friendship between the three men as the basis for their civility.

Quote #3

May I never
To this good purpose, that so fairly shows,
Dream of impediment. Let me have thy hand.
Further this act of grace; and from this hour
The heart of brothers govern in our loves
And sway our great designs! (2.2.173-178)

Antony wrongs Caesar here. While he claims to become a brother to Caesar by accepting Octavia’s love, it’s not long before he’s already planning to head back to Cleopatra. It's unclear whether he honestly means to honor his duty to Rome and his new wife, or if he intentionally deceives. However, it does seem more likely that this is another of his passionately rash decisions to be a friend to Caesar and Rome, rather than a willing deception.

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