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The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Power Quotes

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

Quote #7

Who does i' th' wars more than his captain can
Becomes his captain's captain; and ambition,
The soldier's virtue, rather makes choice of loss
Than gain which darkens him.
I could do more to do Antonius good,
But 'twould offend him; and in his offence
Should my performance perish. (3.1.23-29)

Ventidius hits on a central notion of powersubordinates should not show up their masters, even in their masters’ names, because their acts will seem like threats instead of honors. Power is a tricky thing, and even Antony can’t be trusted, Ventidius thinks, to interpret his actions as noble instead of treacherous. (This is challenged later when Antony wholeheartedly praises Scarus for his valiant fighting, but it’s a point to consider nonetheless.)

Quote #8

Nay, nay, Octavia, not only that—
That were excusable, that and thousands more
Of semblable import—but he hath waged
New wars 'gainst Pompey; made his will, and read it
To public ear;
Spoke scantly of me; when perforce he could not
But pay me terms of honour, cold and sickly
He vented them, most narrow measure lent me;
When the best hint was given him, he not took 't,
Or did it from his teeth. (3.4.1-10)

Antony rankles not only at Caesar’s betrayal of their truce with Pompey, but that Caesar is also full of gossip against Antony. The biggest affront is that Caesar refuses to praise Antony’s power when he should, and if he ever does, it’s in weak terms. Caesar’s slander of Antony’s power offends Antony as much as the obvious act of treachery Caesar has committed.

Quote #9

For Antony,
I have no ears to his request. The Queen
Of audience nor desire shall fail, so she
From Egypt drive her all-disgracèd friend,
Or take his life there. This if she perform,
She shall not sue unheard. So to them both. (3.12.23-28)

Caesar can’t accept his victory gracefully, and instead must take away from Antony the one thing he loves the most, by the most treacherous way he knows how. There’s a hint that Caesar resents the love between Antony and Cleopatra (remember his adopted father, Julius Caesar, was also her lover). The young Caesar will try his damndest to rob Antony and Cleopatra of their feelings for each other by setting them against each other. It’s clear the power Caesar gained via military victory is not enough. He wishes for power over Antony's and Cleopatra’s emotions, because he envies their strength in that sacred arena, not in the least because he seems to have no capacity to inspire such strong love himself. (Remember Pompey’s comment that Caesar can raise funds, but not fondness from the people.)

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